John Chung: The beginning

John Chung: The beginning

John Chung
by Traxx on 31 May 2022 for Rookie Awards 2022

Growing up, I was never really good at Math. I always knew I wanted to be an artists. So I aimed to become a graphic designer. However, that just wasn't enough and as fate decided, I had the opportunity to move to the United States. This is where my journey began as a 3D Environment Artist at Gnomon.

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Atlantic River Market

When I was in the 6th grade, I had the opportunity to visit my relatives for the very first time in Taipei, Taiwan. It was such a grand experience, I could never forget seeing the cultural and lifestyle differences. It was especially more apparent to me as a kid, who was born and raised in South Africa up until that point. 

Though what fascinated me the most were the night markets. I remember the smell of delicious street food, the sound of people laughing and children playing games at the arcade. It was a dream come true. 

The Atlantic River Market is dedicated to that dream. This project is an accumulation of the many skill sets I have learned throughout my 2 years studying at Gnomon.

Original concept by 榴莲场景班


The aim of this project was to create a semi-stylized exterior environment in Unreal Engine 5. This was my first time creating such a large and detailed environment, therefore followed along a few challenges. 

My first order of business is getting a quick and basic blockout in Maya and importing it into UE5. This allows me to setup my cinematic camera shots and lighting early to generate a first pass and get a grasp of how much and what needs to be done.

I split the concept into 3 sections. This helps me keep track of which section of the environment I am working on and for better managing my assets. All assets and naming conventions I have will stay consistent from the beginning, in Maya, and to the end, in UE5. This includes managing my texture maps. 

Assets were modelled in Maya and sculpted zBrush. Hero and more organic assets were textured Substance Painter and others were textured in Substance Designer as Tileables.

After the modeling process I created a list of textures to be used for my 5 layer blend material I learned in my Texturing & Shading 2 for Games class (credits to Bobby Rice). After applying some vertex painting, I move on to decals and mesh decals to refine the environment and create more breakup from the tiling textures. 

Lighting up the night time scene was the most satisfying process of this project. By adding a day to night time cycle, I was able to see the environment come to life. To compensate this, I used a series of Mixamo animations to push the effect of the day/night cycle even further. By keyframing the visibility of each animation I was able to further articulate the amount of people that come and go throughout the different times of the day.

Grandma's kitchen

My Grandmother use to visit me quite often back when I was still too young to travel. She use to travel thousands of kilometers away from home to take care of me when I was sick and cook for me whenever I was hungry. I was and still am still very fond of her. To all the dear Grandmothers other out there, no matter how abandoned the kitchen is, there will always be food!

Based on a concept by Julien Long. This interior environment was created for my Environment Creation for Games class at Gnomon taught by Bobby Rice. This project was originally done in UE4 and eventually lit with Lumen after the official release of UE5. Modelled in Maya, textured in Substance Designer, final render in UE5.


Portals are cool. I like portals. 

Taught by Anton Napierala for my Game Creation 2 class in combination with my VFX for games class taught by Kevin Milmoe. This was my first exterior environment created in UE4. Using Gaea as a foundation to generate my height map and applying it to the landscape in UE4. Based on a concept by Sin jong hun

With the same workflow as my other projects, I started out with a basic blockout in Maya and imported it into UE4 to get my cameras and lighting setup. I wanted to get the right composition with the portal as the main focus. The aim was to create an immersive and compelling environment.


This project was created using Substance Painter for the first time in my Texturing 2 class taught by Christophe Desse. Robotany is about a robot living in a post apocalyptic world, slowly but surely wandering around the world repairing it.

Only the beginning

I would like to give a heartfelt thanks to all my instructors who have taught me so much over the course of my 2 years studying at Gnomon, without them, I would not be where I am today. Most importantly my friends, whom some I would even call family, have taught me so much more than what it means to be more than just an artists. For that, they will forever have my gratitude. 

Though, this is only the beginning of my journey, I hope to make more life long friends and better art as time moves on. If you're interested in seeing more of my work, please feel free to follow me on Artstation, Instagram, or LinkedIn.

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