Abandoned Church

Abandoned Church

by sashaHoncharova on 1 Jun 2023 for Rookie Awards 2023

An abandoned church environment modeled after the dilapidated Woodward Avenue Presbytarian Church. Created in Unreal Engine 5.1. Big thank you to Gabriel Cervantes and Anton Napierala for their mentorship! Another thank you to Rain Rouhani, Adam Eli and Hasan Efendi for their support and help!

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Abandoned Church

I’ve loved the process of working on every piece I’ve made so far, but I’ve never been as excited to share my work as I am now! This environment was my first time both in Unreal Engine and Designer. And despite me awkwardly stumbling through the process of creating a pipeline, learning new software, and getting used to a modular workflow, I completely fell in love with every step of the way!

This Abandoned Church is a real place in Detroit, Michigan, that was abandoned many years ago, yet still kept an ethereal beauty at the heart of its harmonious architecture. The photographs of this place caught my eye immediately as I saw them. And so, for the next few months, this project became my personal little playground, and a cradle to my environment creation learning. 

I wanted to take myself through the process of trying out all of the modular workflows I could find: tillable texture creation, modular kits, creation and usage of trims, vertex painting, and RGB masking. Vast majority of the assets and textures (with the exception of very few) were created by me. While I would approach some aspects differently now, I am absolutely happy with how this environment turned out! Hope you will enjoy it too!

Huge thank you to Gabriel Cervantes and Anton Napierala for all of the guidance throughout this project! 

Substance Designer | Material Breakdown

I used mainly 4 different material setups in this project: vertex painting materials with the RGBA vertex color channels used for blending, RGB masking materials with optional baked normal maps, baked map materials for smaller props and modular kits, and trim materials with parallax occlusion mapping for the details along the balcony railing and around the base of the dome. 

Substance Designer | Stained Glass Material 

This was the most fun and rewarding material to work on! I was inspired by Jonathan Benainous' beautiful stained glass materials for The Last of Us Part I. I began by designing the edge patterns of the metal frames connecting the glass pieces. Two of the main stained glass designs' color values were hand painted due to the nature of their designs. For the rest I used an automatically generated color assignment by splitting off the pieces into different sections through grayscale fill, and then controlling their colors in groups from there. 

Assets Breakdown

While I was trying to make sure that this environment was as modular as possible, due to its very organic and curvy nature it wasn't always achievable. For instance, I tried creating the pews and some of the railings and trims using blueprints in order to reuse very few bits of the geometry. However, due to the issues with UV stretching and disconnected geometry edges, I ended up using blueprints only to give the pews their desired shape, and later taking those meshes out into Maya for further adjustment. As for the railings, I ended up using parallex occlusion mapping instead.

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