Environment Creation by Robert Lasica
Hello everyone! Here is my Rookie Awards 2021 entry. This submission contains three 14 week school projects from my time at DigiPen Institute of Technology, which I graduated from two months ago. I recently started an internship at Sidefx, and I'm looking forward to my first year in the industry. Here is my entry!
The first project I want to share was my first delve into unreal engine 4. Based off of a reference image I created this scene in Maya and Houdini, before taking each piece into substance painter, and finally into ue4. I used volume noises in Houdini to generate the noise and bumps in the brick walls, debris, metal rails and stair steps, and procedural curves to manage the decorative window grill.
In retrospect nearly every workflow I used here was very time consuming and resource intensive, but going through these foolish workflows helped me figure out better methods.
Looking back on this project it is fascinating to see some of the bizarre choices I made, and which choices were influential in future projects.
The next project is a hotel lobby infested by a seeping glowing mess. I wanted to start working with more abstract shapes and concepts to break up conventional architectural spaces, and this was my first step in that direction.
Lighting this space was super fun, and had me step out of my comfort zone to push ue4 a bit. This had me balancing emissive materials, volumetric fog, bloom, and IES light profiles to shape the scene, while also using reflection cubemaps to fake bright, detailed reflections in the chandelier. Speaking of which, I developed the chandelier in Houdini procedurally, so I could reshape it as the needs of the scene evolved. I also created a procedural twisting rope line that is driven by a simple curve so I could reposition it to change up the composition of the scene.
Overall this was fun to work on, and had me reaching into new workflows.
This final project was the last thing I worked on during my time at DigiPen Institute of Technology. I decided to create a scenario around an untextured Zbrush sculpture I made in a previous semester.
I enjoyed texturing this scene, really taking my time to experiment with workflows and see what I could pull off. For a while I fed baked mesh maps through a substance designer network to get great directionality, sun damage, and dirt buildup directly in the base material, but that slowed down the bake and loading times to a ridiculous extent. I may revisit using mesh maps in Designer for fully procedural projects, but for now smart masks in painter just work better.