Damian Gerrits - The Rookies 2021
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Damian Gerrits - The Rookies 2021

Damian Gerrits
by damiangerrits on 1 Jun 2021 for Rookie Awards 2021

Welcome to my The Rookies 2021 entry! In this post I will be sharing my year of Substance Designer journey as well as my contribution to our game Limes Legends that we've made in our 3rd year at the University of the Arts Utrecht.

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The Year of Designer

Welcome to my The Rookies 2021 entry!

This year I've set a goal for myself to learn the ins and outs of Substance Designer, as I had no prior experience with the software I wanted to push myself in learning as much as I could before I shifted my focus back to Environment Art during summer.

Below you can find all the materials in day and night lighting and a more in depth overview of each material can be found further down.

Limes Legends

Don't forget to scroll down beyond the materials to see all the content for Limes Legends.

Forest Ground

This is my first realistic material that I've made during my mentorship with Josh Lynch.

For this material I decided to step out of my comfort zone and tackle something realistic and organic.
The main focus of the mentorship was to learn Substance Designer, layer elements properly on top of each other to create a good rhythm and have an organic distribution of these elements.

Forest Ground material made using Substance Designer, leaves are from Substance Source, twigs from Textures.com, and rendered in Marmoset Toolbag.

Note: This is a more in depth breakdown to give some insights into my material creation process.

Forest Ground | Breakdown

When starting out with this material it was important to decide beforehand what the Environment was going to be like where this material lives. Is the environment going to be dry or wet? indoor or outdoor? All of these factors would have a big impact on the material so it was good to decide these conditions before I started to look for reference.

I decided that the environment was going to be a Red Wood Forest and that this material was going to be a forest ground, as this gave a lot of different elements to work on.

Most of the scene references I've used are part of this Red Wood Forest reference pack by Gaëlle Seguillon. It contains a huge amount of high quality photos and even a 360 panorama, which I've used for some of my final renders in Marmoset Toolbag.

Reference

After collecting a bunch of references and choosing the Environment conditions, it was time to identify the major points of interest in the material. Analysing the reference with a Macro to Micro workflow helped to digest the different elements and details in the material. Ultimately this helped to control the amount of noise and to organize every element in Substance Designer as well.

Generators

To be able to get a nice distribution between the different elements, it was important to have a lot of control over each element. (Leaves, twigs, pine needles and pebbles)
This is where my mentor (Josh Lynch) advised me to use generators/atlases to scatter these elements around. This gave more control and it was much easier to add variation.

Pine Needle Generator

What really helped me in creating these generators was to dissect materials from other artists and analyse how they approached this. There are so many ways to get certain results in Substance Designer and everyone does things differently, which also means that there is a lot to learn from it.

For the pine needles I stumbled upon this Forest Ground material from Bohdan Bilous and his pine needle generator was a perfect example of how I wanted them to look.

Not only did I learn how to make the pine needle generator, I also learned how to expose parameters by dissecting his material and sub graphs.

Because my reference contained multiple layers of pine needles, I decided to create multiple generators that contained different amounts of needles growing out of the sheath. This way it was much easier to create the variety in the layers of pine needles.

Pebble Generators

Looking at my reference I noticed that the forest grounds contained a lot of different types of pebbles. From more angular rocks to these smoother river rocks. I decided to create two different generators for these pebbles to also get some variety in the layers of rocks.

Utilizing scan data

For the Leaves and twigs I decided to utilize scan data from Substance Source and Textures.com. I had previously never used any scan data as I never tackled any realistic materials, so I thought this was a good opportunity to use them.

Apart from this, it was good to see how my own elements hold up in combination with the scanned leaves and twigs. By using these scans it gave me an easier time to iterate on what kind of leaves and twigs worked well for the material.

Base Color

The most challenging of all was getting the base color to feel right. For this I looked a lot at the base color of scanned textures on Textures.com. It's a great resource to see how much color variety there actually is.
As I organised my graph with the different elements well, it was easy to grab different layers and add color variety to each individual layer.

To get even more color variety I utilized Ben Wilson his Color Variation node. This gave some subtle variety in the sand and the pebbles, which really helped push it.

Below you can scroll through the big color changes throughout the material.

Lighting

For the lighting I used the scene reference that I mentioned earlier from the Red Wood forest pack.
What I noticed was that the lighting in this reference shots had some interesting elements. It had both harsh and soft shadows as well as almost over exposed spots where the sun hit the ground directly through the openings in between the trees.

I wanted to create a similar lighting scenario and therefore I painted a custom shadow to use inside Marmoset.

Beach Sand

This beach sand material was made for the summer prompt, during the Mayterials challenge.
For this material I wanted the focus to be on convincing detail in the sand, organic distribution of the pebbles/twigs and good breakup in the sand waves.

Beach Sand material made using Substance Designer, big pebbles are from Substance Source, twigs from Textures.com, and rendered in Marmoset Toolbag 3.

Wood planks

After focussing a lot on ground type materials, it was time to tackle something man made.
For this I decided to go for some rough wood planks where I focussed a lot on the layers of detail to really sell the realistic look.

Wood planks material made using Substance Designer and rendered in Marmoset Toolbag 3.

Stylized Pavement

After playing Borderlands 3, I fell in love with the style of the game. At this time I was just getting into Substance Designer so I thought it would be a nice challenge to create a Borderlands inspired material.

Stylized Pavement material made using Substance Designer, the inking of the material was done in Photoshop, and rendered in Marmoset Toolbag 3.

Stylized Concrete

My second Borderlands inspired material where I wanted the focus to be more on the inking and less on the height information.

Stylized Concrete material made using Substance Designer, the inking of the material was done in Photoshop, and rendered in Marmoset Toolbag.

Limes Legends | Official Trailer

Limes Legends | Gameplay

Core Team

Damian Gerrits | Environment / Prop Artist
Guyon Leen | Game Design / Level Design / Project Management
Niels Weber | Character Art / Rigging / Animation
Pim Horeman | Programmer
Stan van den Heuvel | Tech Art / VFX / Prop Artist
Yannick Adriaansen | Sound Design / Composition / Audio Implementation

All that is created by me is clarified in the posts below but a big shout out to these amazing people above that I've had the privilege to work with this last year!
This game wasn't possible without the hard work and dedication of the team.

ABOUT LIMES LEGENDS

LIMES LEGENDS is a couch co-op party game for 4 players.

In this vertical slice you and your fellow Romans must escort your Emperor to their Castellum.

Make sure to work together, because you're not the only team that fights for the title of Legends.

Haul the ship, repair the bridges and roads to safely arrive to your destination. But beware of the gods, dodge their brutal powers and continue your mission.

Who will win and become a LIMES LEGEND?!

My contribution

My primary focus on Limes Legends was Environment art, but I've worked on multiple aspects of the game.

A few of my other responsibilities during this project were:
● Art Direction Management (Make sure the team is on schedule and all art is created following the style guides)
● Establishing a style guide for the art team
● Work closely with Design on level design and set dressing
● Creating modular assets and kitbashing
● High/low poly modelling, sculpting and PBR texturing
● Material creation and implementation
● Creating the user interface for the mobile component of the game
● Marketing, social media and promotion material

Mobile Application

Originally we designed the game for a museum program, which contains a group of 15 students.

The main game is playable with 4 players, but what will these other 11 students do?

We’ve come up with a great solution to not exclude anyone from the game by adding a mobile application. While the 4 players are racing against each other, the bystanders become part of the council of the gods.
These players will influence the game by using their mobile phone to vote for which god, will unleash their power upon the players.

Contribution
As I had previous experience with creating user interfaces I took the task upon myself to create this for the mobile application. We had a lot of wood elements in our game so I tried to incorporate this into the UI design as well.


Below you can find screenshots of the mobile application:

Modularity and Kit-bashing

Limes Legends started out as a project for a museum through our university and as we only had 20 weeks to realise the game we had to think of good ways to speed up the production process. I decided to work as modular as I could by creating a set of some wood planks, logs and a couple ropes to create most of the Architectural elements in the game and kit-bash most of it in Engine to be able to quickly iterate.

Below you can find screenshots of the modular pieces and all the models I created by using this set:

Level Design & Set Dressing

During the production of Limes Legends I worked closely with Design to come up with a level design that could work on a narrow split screen view. There were multiple elements that needed to be taken account, like overall readability and scale of the level in combination with a time limit of the max play duration of the level.

I was solely responsible for the set dressing in the game, this was something I really enjoyed as it was fun and challenging to set dress a level with limited resources.

Below you can find multiple screenshots of the Level Design and Set Dressing:

Game of the Year

We've also entered Limes Legends to The Rookies, Game of the Year category, so make sure to check out the full game post here: Limes Legends | The Rookies 2021

Outro

Thanks a lot for taking the time to read through all of this! I hope you enjoyed it as much as I enjoyed  creating it and lets have another great artistic year!

- Damian


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