UNSC Outpost on Instillation 01
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UNSC Outpost on Instillation 01

Stephen Alexander Falk
by stephenfalk on 8 Mar 2020 for Rookie Awards 2020

This structure was inspired by the Halo 5 art style but I designed all aspects myself. It's a deployable UNSC garrison hidden in the mountains of the Instillation 01 Halo ring. This structure is a temporary base that can be flown in by pelicans and used as a forward base. The structure includes extendable leg

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I tried to focus on composition in this shot, using the storm blasted stump in the foreground to bring darker values into the scene and frame the composition so your eye is guided towards the center. Thomas Cole's paintings heavily inspired this.

Around 95% of the building is using the same trim sheet material. Further down I'll show my process putting that together and why I chose not to use it for some assets.

I'm a huge fan of all the Halo games so I tried to blend all of their art styles together in this piece. A lot of the surrounding environments was inspired by Halo 1-3 while the structure was modeled after buildings in Halo 5 on planet Meridian.

There are no stairs leading from the ground to the top levels of the building so soldiers can use a latch accessible from the interior to climb atop the roof.

In multiplayer games of Halo, being able to quickly traverse the map to gain vantage points is key so I thought it would make sense to put a gravity lift on the far side to quickly take players to the highest level.

A close up of the bottom of the Gravity Lift.

A close up of the top of the Gravity Lift.

A goal of mine while building this structure was to design every part to look as if it has a real purpose or function. If this is supposed to be a mobile base, it needs to use its small space efficiently.

The garage was made to house vehicles like a warthog or mongoose to be used on scouting missions around Installation 01.

I feel a trademark of Halo is the lush green mountain environments surrounded by blue sky while sitting on the doorstep of the Halo ring. The juxtaposition of a familiar landscape next to a massive alien structure was something I wanted to emulate.

I got inspiration for composition from paintings by Albert Bierstadt and Thomas Cole. I love the way they used light to illuminate the mountains and highlight their magisterial/heavenly quality. I wanted to emphasize this when lighting the Halo Ring.

Composition notes I made on the movement and focal point of the piece.

As mentioned earlier almost the entirety of the building was textured using one trim sheet material. I used two trim sheets in one material so I could have many options for detailing. This is 1 out of those two that I modeled.  

For the main material texture I actually exported all the masks it used from Painter and recreated it in UE4 so I could instance the material and change the colors quickly. Every asset using the trim sheet material had 4 UV sets including the light map.

My trim sheet blueprint. This also shows how i recreated the main texture in Unreal with parameters exposed.

Material Instance

I used these images as reference for texturing my assets. Something I struggled with initially was how worn I should make my models. I wanted them to look realistic, but not so destroyed that it made the composition too messy or not feel like Halo.

When I first decided I was going to use trim sheets to texture my assets I went into Halo 5 custom games and looked around at their environments. I was really trying to figure out when/where to use a trim sheet and when to texture an asset in painter.

I noticed the main shapes of the structures in halo were often very round/abstract shaped and they would reserve the more traditional geometric sci-fi forms for detail. These main shapes also were very thick and armored.

Some reference for modeling. Something I really liked about 343's style of hard surface is how industrial yet futuristic their structures look. Each building looks incredibly sturdy. I really tried to pay attention to shape language here.

Some images from real life I took of mechanical objects. I was focusing on use of color on industrial machinery here.


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