3D Artist - - THE PIPELINE -

In this tu­to­rial you will learn tips on how to cre­ate a fan­tasy un­der­wa­ter scene in Un­real En­gine 4 us­ing tech­niques from AAA game pipe­lines. You will also get a bet­ter un­der­stand­ing of how to block out the nec­es­sary com­po­nents for a strong com­po­si­tion with an in­ter­est­ing nar­ra­tive. We will then look at dif­fer­ent meth­ods of adding fo­liage in­clud­ing tra­di­tional mod­el­ling tech­niques and adding Speedtree fo­liage to the scene. In the fi­nal stages we will ex­plore light­ing and add caus­tics and the fi­nal pol­ish, which will bring the whole scene to­gether.

Block out the scene I wanted to show some­thing beau­ti­ful in the dragon and nest, and then draw the eye to the boat and oil spill to make the con­trast­ing emo­tion of the scene re­ally strong. I made use of the rule of thirds and used the most sat­u­rated colours in the scene to make the dragon the ini­tial fo­cus. I then used the lead­ing lines of the kelp, the dragon’s gaze and the fish to draw at­ten­tion to the boat so that the viewer dis­cov­ers the story as they look at the scene. Nail­ing this in the block­out is cru­cial to the suc­cess of the im­age.

Shape the kelp The kelp fo­liage was key in the com­po­si­tion of this scene and was cre­ated us­ing 3ds Max as I needed very spe­cific shapes. I be­gan by mak­ing one straight sec­tion of kelp that can tile and looks in­ter­est­ing from all an­gles. I then cre­ated a spline, which made up the shape of the kelp. I du­pli­cated the mesh to cre­ate the cor­rect length and then used the path de­form mod­i­fier in Max to de­form the kelp to fit the spline. I made vari­ants of the model by du­pli­cat­ing and chang­ing the spline to dif­fer­ent shapes and by tweak­ing the de­formed mesh to give it more shape vari­a­tion.

Add move­ment to the kelp When mak­ing the leaf UVS, I laid out the base of the leaf at the bot­tom of the tex­ture and the tip of the leaves at the top. Now, by us­ing a ver­ti­cal gra­di­ent to mask this, we can have the leaf base static and the tips mov­ing, which will give us some nice leaf sway but al­low us to keep the over­all com­po­si­tion that the kelp shape is al­low­ing. To do this, mul­ti­ply a sine node by a gra­di­ent tex­ture and plug this into the world po­si­tion off­set of your ma­te­rial. Adding a mul­ti­plier means that you can con­trol the strength of the ef­fect.

Speedtree fo­liage The small grasses and al­gae bushes are made us­ing Speedtree. I be­gan by cre­at­ing a sim­ple blades gen­er­a­tor and tweak­ing the prop­er­ties to de­fine the ra­dius of the plant. By tweak­ing the fre­quency and the length seg­ments, I had pre­cise con­trol of the poly­count and op­ti­mi­sa­tion. I en­abled the wind be­fore sav­ing the file and im­port­ing in to Un­real. Once in Un­real, add a Wind Di­rec­tional Source and your fo­liage will sway. For the plants, I tweaked the wind an­i­ma­tion prop­er­ties in Speedtree to get a slow, sway­ing move­ment that looked as if it be­longed un­der­wa­ter with drift­ing cur­rents.

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