Update - 4 May 2021
Hey folks! This is going to be my last update before the final submission. After receiving some great feedback from Moritz Eichinger and Valentin Pavliuchenko I continued to develop the look of the scene.
I made further changes to lighting and composition, as well as adding fog cards and particle effects to enhance the mood. I also worked on establishing four additional camera angles in order to comply with the submission requirements.
Until the deadline, I will continue tweaking everything and will try to implement any additional feedback I might still receive. As the final step, I will need to do some post processing and create a video sequence from the shots I already established.
Thanks to everyone who followed my progress until now. Looking forward to submitting my entry and seeing everyone else's finished work!
Update - 22 Apr 2021
Since the last update, I continued iterating the lighting and colors of the scene, which will be a continuous process until the end of the project. The main focus this time was to rework the planet to make it look a bit more stylized and convincing in terms of scale.
For the planet, I simply painted some continents and applied the blur slope technique I mentioned last time. On top of that, I painted a layer of clouds and added it separately into the material so that the clouds can be moving. The last step was to add a Fresnel effect to my material and match it to the direction of my scene light.
Next week I will continue on making improvements and try to implement the feedback I am receiving. I am also working on creating additional camera shots to fulfill the 5 render requirements of the challenge. Unfortunately, this turned out to be quite the challenge, since I only had one main perspective in mind until now.
Apart from that, I also plan to add some VFX including scrolling textures, particles and fog cards in order to enhance the atmosphere. I want to be done early enough with all these things ideally so that I have enough time for polishing and working on the presentation.
Thanks for reading my update, until next time!
Update - 15 Apr 2021
After last update I received a lot of great feedback from the EXP community for the lighting and colors of the scene. I spent much time iterating these aspects and figuring out a setup that could look nice while continuing to work on the textures.
For the texturing I wanted to go for a more stylized look and I came closer to achieving that by using the Blur Slope technique I learned from this amazing Stylized Station video. Apart from that I used the Baked Stylized Lighting feature from Substance Painter, which works quite well for getting a stylized look since otherwise the lighting in my scene is fully dynamic.
I also did a bit of work on the landscape and painted some grass and foliage for it. Other than that, I remade the skybox to simplify the colors in the scene and making it drag less attention.
There is still a month left for the challenge, so I would say that I am good in time. My plan is to continue tweaking the lighting, composition and textures as well as reworking the planet to give it a more stylized look. I also want to add smaller details for storytelling where I can and also do some VFX work in order to bring the environment more to life.
See you in the next update!
Update - 8 Apr 2021
This time I only have little progress to share. I have been making some tweaks to the lighting and the mushrooms and I also had the chance to block out some rocks as well as a landing capsule for the foreground.
For the landscape, I started adding handpainted textures as a base. I noticed that they are barely visible in the current lighting setup, so I will not spend more time on polishing them. Instead, I want to add grass and other types of foliage to enhance the landscape.
My next goal is to give the new objects I blocked out some textures and adding more foliage like the grass. I also want to revisit the giant robot since I did not get the chance to properly texturize it yet. Also, I am still not happy with the mushrooms but I feel kind of stuck with them, so I will leave them again for a while and maybe come back later.
I hope you enjoyed this small update, until next time!
Update - 30 Mar 2021
As you can see, everything is still very WIP. I focused the last week on creating a first iteration of the pyramids and the giant robot as well as making some adjustments to the composition. I am still unsure about in which direction I want to take these aspects, but I definitely want my textures to be more stylized than they currently are.
Experimenting with alien type of material is kind of fun. The next materials I want to tackle are the landscape ones which may be unique and alien or just generic looking, depending on what would fit better in the overall scene.
A certain panda has pointed out to me that I need to implement some smaller scale details and establish a path for the player character, which I want to do soon as well. For now, I hope you liked this insight into my latest progress.
Update - 23 Mar 2021
I have been iterating a lot the composition and colors of the scene and I am still not sure if this is the direction I will be going for. Adding textures to the mushrooms have helped to get a better sense of how to light the scene, but the mushrooms did not turn out too well, so I will need to remake them.
Apart from the mushrooms I also experimented with the skybox and the planet for the background. I wanted the skybox to have a surreal and mystical look, I also might add scrolling textures VFX to reinforce these aspects.
The planet is supposed to contain forests and rivers, so nothing too complicated. I still need to experiment with the degree of stylization of the planet as well as trying out additional geometry for the forest areas.
For now I will take a break from figuring out these macro type of things and focus on making a textured version of the character and the pyramids. I plan to do weekly updates, so stay tuned for the next one! :)
Update - 16 Mar 2021
This is the blockout for my environment in Unreal Engine. I am going for an alien world with a lot of mushrooms and pyramids. It will be stylized PBR with a bit of handpainting here and there. Below you can see a few concept sketches I did to develop the idea.