My First UE4 Environment - Update 2

Work In Progress / 26 February 2019

Hi everyone.

I took a short break from this project recently to finish and release my wave filter pack and was away for a few days, but I'm back on it this week and thought I'd update you on some of my progress.

One of my main focuses has been to get learning blueprint visual scripting, which is something I've been keen to learn for some time. As any of you who have seen my Substance Designer material studies and work with custom nodes will know, I have a love of the more technical side of game art and firmly believe in the power of procedural workflows. So I wanted to apply this approach to working in UE4. The balusters on the staircases banister seemed like the perfect place to start.

The goal was to create a blueprint actor that would spawn a given number of baluster meshes evenly spaced along a spline path. I decided that I could probably get away with using just one baluster mesh, providing each instance is rotated on it's Z axis by a random multiple of 90 degrees to create the necessary breakup in repetition. If this proves not to be enough, I could adapt it to use an array for selection of more baluster meshes but I'll see how I get on. To make it as easy as possible to position it correctly in the scene, I wanted it work when the spline points are placed in the same X and Y positions as the newel posts. This meant that the width of the newel posts had to be factored in to ensure the space at each end matched the spaces in-between balusters, so I included a variable for inputting this value.

The above image shows the result with 4 copies of the blueprint for each of the 4 spaces between newel posts. Once the paths were setup correctly I could just change the baluster count based on my reference images.

The above shows the parameters used by the long banister on the lower part of the staircase.

And here's the construction script graph. I really should comment it I know, but bare in mind it's still a work in progress. ;)

I've also made some of the lighting fixture meshes. I thought these should also be blueprint objects so that I can attach lights to them and set the light defaults for all instances from within the blueprint. Also, the ceiling lights hang from the ceiling by chains, and due to the sloping ceiling they needed to have different chain lengths. So I made the chain lengths parametric. The pivot is set to the centre of the canopy (ceiling attachment) so they can just be placed in the correct position on the ceiling. The position of the shade is then determined by the number of links in the chain, which is controlled per instance by a 'chain link count' parameter. I used the reference images to get the approximate chain lengths for all the hanging lamp blueprint actors. Each chain link is rotated by 90 degrees on it's Z axis and then this can be randomised with the 'random rotation angle' parameter. A value of 25 degrees seems to provide a nice level of variation.

I also included a 'light is on?' parameter to easily switch the light component on or off.

Again, no comments, but all of this is still subject to change at this stage. There's still a lot for me to learn about blueprints, and I may come across better ways of handling these scenarios, but for now they're working pretty well.

I've also made a start on some of the textures/materials. Mostly just the tileables for now using world space coordinates to eradicate seams and stretching. Some of the materials aren't looking quite right at the moment, which I think has to do with the lack of lights in the daylight scene. Oh, and I've started trying to set up the lighting scenarios, which also needs some attention to get it working correctly.

That's all for now. More updates to come.

Thanks for reading!

Update - My First UE4 Environment.

Work In Progress / 06 February 2019

Hi everyone,

It's been a couple of months now since my last post and I thought I should take the time to explain and update you all on my current situation. Firstly, thank you all so much for following me and encouraging me, and a big thanks to those of you who have supported me by buying my materials. It's really appreciated! The reaction I've had from all of you has helped to give me the confidence to leave my job of 10 years to pursue a career in the video games industry, something I've wanted to do since I left university. As I'm sure you can tell from my portfolio, I'm passionate about texturing and materials. I'd love to become a material/texture artist in the industry, but those jobs seem fairly rare. So I'm looking to build on the skills I've developed as a generalist and transition into an environment artist, a position that's much more common and would allow me to still do a lot of texturing work. So I'm currently putting all my time into learning Unreal Engine 4 and building my first environment!

I toyed around with a lot of different ideas about what to make. I wanted something that was an enclosed space, not too big, and not too complex or cluttered (I don't want to run before I can walk!). I decided in the end to make Matt Murdock's apartment from the Netflix Daredevil series. I gathered as much reference from the show as I could and began blocking out the space. Here's what I've managed to get into the engine so far:

I've been mostly focusing on light mapping this week... I've had better weeks. Still, it all needs to be learnt. I'm making plenty of mistakes, but that's okay because it's the best way to learn. I'm intending to do 2 different lighting setups using UE4's lighting scenarios: daytime and night. This will help me get to grips with lighting a scene almost entirely from exterior light, as well as a scene that's all manmade lighting. I've also attempted to make it as modular as possible, but that's caused some light map seams. I'm contemplating merging some of the meshes together into larger, more contiguous meshes. There's also an issue with the skirting boards. They all come out dark when I build the lighting. I've checked the normals and they're not inverted, so if anyone's got any idea what's going on there I'd love to hear from you. :)

Anyway, there's lots to do so I'm going to park the light map stuff for now and get onto making some of the primary props and lighting fixtures. I'll post more progress on this over the coming weeks. Comments and criticisms are welcome. Advice is even more welcome! ;)