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The Moonhouse

The Moonhouse

Julianna Ip
by juliannaip on 18 Apr 2023 for Rookie Awards 2023

Growing up I watched a lot of Studio Ghibli films, it was something that always made me happy. so I’m so excited to show you guys my Moonhouse piece which was inspired by their soft painterly scenes. I hope the viewers can feel calm and happy when seeing my environment, it was an absolute joy to make!

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I am so excited to present my Moonhouse project with you all! In this project I decided to try something new and go down a stylised route, which is something I have not done fully before. I created everything in my scene and really proud of the outcome. I have loved Studio Ghibli since I was a child so making this piece was an absolute joy. I spent time trying to make the foliage and all textures have a painterly effect to try and mimic the Studio Ghibli style. My aim for this project was to make the viewer feel peace and joy, and to get lost in the environment. Much like how I feel when watching Spirited Away. If you love this piece and want to see more of my work, here is my Artstation. Enjoy! 

In this project had used Catell-Ruz concept art and created it in 3D which inspired me to make a Studio Ghibli inspired environment to go with it after. You can see her amazing concept here!

Assets were modelled in Maya, sculpted in ZBrush, Textured in Substance Painter and then implemented in UE5. I had also use Niagara in UE5 to do the smoke, little fireflies and butterflies within the scene which was definitely fun to play with! I also made the tree's in Treeit, and then fine tuned them in Maya/UE5. 

I also animate the stars so they are moving in the wind within Maya and exported the animation over to UE5 which gave it even more life. The small details definitely made the difference! 

Above are still renders of my Moonhouse. I am really proud of how my grass came out and I will talk more about it too later on and show you the blueprints I made within UE5! 
And below shows my turntable and the wireframes.

Here is also some more close-up renders of my Moonhouse that I did in Maya. 

Below I show you my UV'S and my texture maps for my Moonhouse. I had used UDIMS for the house to make sure I could add as much detail and to separate the textures as the main wood and base of the house to ensure texturing was easier for me. 

Now for the fun technical stuff! My grass went through a lot of testing. Here I show you my blueprint of how it all works. 

I began modelling a lowpoly tuff of grass in Maya to implement into UE5 after. I found modelling a tuff of grass instead of one blade made scattering a lot easier and made the grass a lot more fluffy looking. I actually also tested out the criss-cross method and did not like how it came out. Once I bent out the grass blades out into a desired look, I went onto importing it into UE5 where I also textured it. I made it so the grass would have a gradient look to give it a soft stylized look which was achieved by using the lerp node to combine the green colours, and making sure it was dark at the bottom and light at the top.

Now for the actual movement of the grass! Wind was the main part of this which helped make the grass come alive. I had used a wave texture map and created a separate green colour for it, so when it was combined with the main grass it would be visible and look like wind was passing through it. 

Above I also show a screenshot of my leaf blueprints! Another aspect of my project that took a while. I think I went through 9 alphas for the leaves in photoshop before it was perfect. This blueprint was made for both trees and shrubs in my project! 

Below is a screenshot of my plants in Maya after creating alphas for the flowers in Photoshop. 

Here I show how some of the assets look. The tree trunk from Treeit was not to my liking so I modelled a low poly version in Maya and imported it in ZBrush to sculpt and baked the high poly version in Substance. I also used this method for the Spirited Away rock and majority of my assets in the scene. 

To achieve my painted effect in Substance I used  the effect 'blur slope' a lot to get that blended paint brush look. I also added in colours such as blues and purples to imitate  painting in real life which helped me a lot. As I love to paint in acrylic and water colours, it was a joy to see how it all worked very similarly in Substance.  I also show my apple texture as I was so pleased how well it came out! 

And lastly here is a shot of all my assets in UE5 I made! 

And that's it! Thankyou so much for taking time to look at my project and I really hope you love it as much as I did making it. If you would like to see more please have a look at my Artstation! Ask me any questions or pop me a message, I really enjoy talking to other artists and sharing knowledge :) 

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