Environment Art & Props
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Environment Art & Props

by jenniewold on 31 May 2022 for Rookie Awards 2022

I am an Environment Artist for games who recently graduated from Gnomon School. I love storytelling via the environments that players interact with. These are a few pieces from my time at Gnomon.

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Cave Temple

This is my most recent Unreal environment - for this scene, I focused on practicing my sculpting and retopologizing skills. I modeled all of the hard surface assets in Maya, then brought them into ZBrush for sculpting and back into Maya for retopology before texturing. 

I sculpted the large hero tree in ZBrush, then brought it into SpeedTree to add additional, smaller, branches and foliage. I also sculpted the tiling stone texture on the pathway in ZBrush and baked it in Substance Designer. I created a carved stone trim sheet in ZBrush and used it in Substance Painter on the large columns. 

In the end, almost every part of my scene went through ZBrush at least a little bit! 

I modeled and textured all assets. Lighting and rendering done in Unreal Engine 4. The hanging ornaments on the tree were made with splines inside UE and blow in the breeze thanks to their material that uses wind to animate world position offset.

Breakdown of Cave Temple - 

You can see my process in Unreal Engine below, starting with a basic blockout all the way up to my finished textured scene.

I learned how ZBrush can be used to sculpt tiling textures and decided to use that workflow for some of the tiling textures in the scene. I started them in Maya, sculpted them in ZBrush, then brought them into Substance Designer to bake and add surface details. The tiling stone was used for the middle pathway; the trim sheet was used on the stone columns.

Below are some high poly sculpts of modular assets. I broke the columns into multiple pieces so the individual parts could be rotated, to introduce some variation.

Modular pieces I made for the scene and the reference board I created - 

The environment was based on Masashi Kageyama's painting.

I really enjoyed working on the Cave Temple piece! Making tiling textures using ZBrush and Substance Designer was fun, and sculpting all of the modular stone pieces taught me a lot. It was a good lesson on the importance of efficiency when working in such a ZBrush-heavy scene.

The Book Club

My first bigger environment in Unreal Engine. I modeled all assets in Maya and ZBrush and textured everything in Substance Designer and Painter. I designed it to be modular and have efficient use of textures.

Breakdown of Book Club 

Process shots, taken in Unreal Engine: 

I created all the assets in the scene, from the bigger architectural pieces to the small props. I sculpted high res models of the armchair and lion sculpture in ZBrush, then retopologized in Maya and baked in Substance Painter. I textured all of the props in Substance Painter. 

I made all of the tiling textures in Substance Designer. I had a lot of fun researching materials and recreating them! I learned a lot about nodes I hadn't used before in Designer.

Here are some of my Substance Designer graphs below (for the fabric and book cover textures).

All the modular assets I made for the scene, and the reference board I created - 

The Book Club was based on Andreas Rocha's painting of the same name.

Octopus Lantern

I made this lantern in a game props class and had to stay under a stated poly count (4000 tris). To keep things efficient, all textures are on one map. I built the low-poly asset in Maya, then sculpted it in ZBrush, baked and textured it in Substance Painter. The environmental render is in Unreal Engine, using assets from Megascans in the background - the other renders were done in Marmoset.

The texture set for the prop - albedo / normal / roughness / metallic / AO

The lantern was based on a concept piece by Kevin Ua-wanapaksa.

Robot Sushi Vending Machine

I also built this hero prop for my game props class - I stayed under the stated poly count (18k tris) and used three texture sets for the piece. The final environmental render was done in Unreal Engine using background textures from Megascans - the other renders were done in Marmoset.

Two of the texture sets shown below, painted in Substance Painter.

The vending machine was based on a concept piece by John Soegiarto.

Thank you for checking out my pieces!!


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