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Zora Fu | Environment Creation in Unreal Engine 5

Zora Fu | Environment Creation in Unreal Engine 5

Zora Fu
by zoraskyfu on 31 May 2023 for Rookie Awards 2023

Hi I'm Zora. I'm currently attending the Certificate in Digital Production program at Gnomon. My ambition is to become a 3D Environment Artist. My projects are built in Unreal Engine 5 with asset created in Maya, ZBrush, Substance 3D Painter, Substance 3D Designer, Houdini, SpeedTree, and other production tools.

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Old Street

2022 - Environment Creation for Games - Final

Modeled in Maya and ZBrush
Textured in Substance 3D Painter and Substance 3D Designer
Rendered in Unreal Engine 5 and Marmoset Toolbag 4

Responsible for all aspects except megascans plants and word decals
Based on the concept by 
Jay Wang

Old Street - Breakdown

I utilized multiple light sources on the puddles in the alley and the surrounding walls to make the reflections pop while retaining a natural look. This directs the viewer's attention to the gate at the end, which can be used as a checkpoint.
Exponential height fog and post process volume was used to give the scene more depth and set the mood.

I organized the materials with different color keys. Blue surfaces represent the model which I want to use as tiling materials; pink ones represent props; green ones are sculpted in ZBursh, etc. I created clean edge loops for all my models and only added back extra edge loops on the parts I wanted to utilize vertex painting. 
I added tiny bumps to decals inside ZBrush to mimic the brick wall texture in real life. This allows the walls and decals to cast realistic shadows on the surfaces of adjacent objects.
By changing the material color I was able to introduce a variety of stains on the walls which gives the street a more run-down vibe.  

ZBrush was used to create bricks that vary in size so the individual bricks in the walls can retain their clear geometry and lighting effects when the viewpoint is upclose. 
I used the same bricks to create my own tiling texture in ZBrush then applied texture to them in Substance 3D Painter. This enables me to use vertex painting on the brick walls with the texture I created in Substance 3D Desinger which gives it a consistent look throughout the scene.

Using Vertex painting and blend material in Unreal Engine 5, I combined multiple materials to create my own layered tiling material. With the separate channels in color painting I can then form the terrain by layering them on top of one another with the mesh painting tool. 

To be able to reuse some of the textures on multiple surfaces, I imported tiling texture from Substance 3D Painter and Substance 3D Desinger into Unreal Engine 5 as a material function. 
Then, I used the break material attribute node combined with the RGB maps to define areas where I want to introduce subtle variances.

Forest Remains

2023 - Game Creation 2 - Final

Modeled in Maya, ZBrush, SpeedTree, and Houdini
Textured in Substance 3D Painter
Rendered in Unreal Engine 5

Responsible for all aspects
Based on the concept by Sergey Vasnev

Forest Remains - Breakdown

I lit the scene with multiple light sources and adjusted post process volume to match my render to the concept art.
I then used emitter to suspend dust particles in the air and added exponential height fog to give it a more mystic feel. Finally, I used niagara actor to create a firefly effect to make the scene more dynamic. 

Tree trunks, branches, vines, and plants were created in SpeedTree; rock blockouts were created in Maya; leaves were sculpted in ZBrush. 
All of the polygons and UV were cleaned up in Maya. Everything was then textured in Substance 3D Painter.

I created a unique shape in Maya as the building block for moss bushes and painted the plants using ZBrush. This allows me to use real geometry to add more depth and realism compared to using plain textures.
Unreal Engine 5's nanite system helps me achieve high poly models while keeping file sizes lightweight.
To build the scene, I scattered leaves and stones using the foliage tool to build up variance in both texture and vibrance.

Created a custom moss material in Unreal Engine 5 using vertex painting and world aligned blend node so the texture is always on top of the object where it naturally grows. 
Vertex painting allows me to replicate the same effect quickly throughout the scene for a consistent look. 

Created rough landscape layout in Unreal Engine 5 using the landscape tool. 
Exported the geometry to Houdini to fix the UV density with the remesh node and refined the jagged edges on polygons for a more natural appearance. 

Chinese Tea Room

2022 - Game Creation 1 - Final

Modeled in Maya, ZBrush and Marvelous Designer 
Textured in Substance 3D Painter
Rendered in Unreal Engine 5 and Marmoset Toolbag 4

Responsible for all aspects except megascans plants and food
Based on the concept by 魚依

Chinese Tree Room - Breakdown

Used auto exposure for the lighting setting. Played around with the directional light settings such as indirect lighting intensity and volumetric scattering intensity. These settings combined gave the scene very natural reflections.

Created clean bevel model without extra edgeloops in Maya. 
I broke down the UV on the props to align the grains of the material so they would have the same orientation in Substance 3D Painter. 
To optimize UV space, I employed UDIM textures for the larger props. For the smaller props in the scene, I consolidated them within the same material.
The curtains and tablecloth were simulated in Marvelous Designer, then used Maya transfer attributes tool to retopology and apply UV to the cloth.

I studied a variety of wood surfaces commonly used in furniture and construction to recreate them as smart materials so I can have a library of different wood colors and textures. 
The variance in color, grains, and sheen on these base textures brings out more depth to the scene by allowing better distinction between the materials used in the furnitures and the backdrop. 

Zora Fu

3D Environment Artist

LinkedIn  |
Email | [email protected]
ArtStation  |

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