New Challenge: Flash Gordon Modeling Contest
East Forest of Kaxz
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East Forest of Kaxz

A mystical forest fill with unique vegetations located on the planet of Kaxz.

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Update - 15 May 2021

Final Deliverables

Cinematic Flythrough

https://youtu.be/mFbYvnXJB84

Static Renders


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Update - 15 May 2021

Final Deliverables

Cinematic Flythrough

Static Renders


Update - 15 May 2021

Final Update

Started to created different kind of foliage that represent the environment I am creating. There are 4 main types of it, and all of them have the ability to flow in the dark. For this, I use spot lights and point lights to fake the emissive on it. After duplicating them in the scene, the scene become quite heavy, hence I try to use bake lightings for them. 

Besides that, I also created a hero assets which was creature bones. I wanted to give the environment a feel that is was beautiful but also mysterious at the same time. Below are the assets I added in Unreal.

As I still find it quite plain for the hero asset, I did some research and try to use Quixel bridge to find the asset I want. I end up using something that is quite suitable for the creature bones and lastly did some modification on the material to generate procedural moss. Below is the preview of the original mesh from Megascans - Ram Skull.


Update - 5 May 2021

Assets

Below is the assets I imported into Unreal for creating for the environment.

Besides this, I also used a few assets from the Unreal Market place to add more variety to my scene. To be specific, I use 3 assets from it, which are spruce_full_3,  spruce_half_4 and spruce_small_4.  

Set Dressing (Progress)

Used the foliage tool to paint over the landscape. For the instance setting, I set them to moveable as I am planning to use dynamic lights for the scene.

Lighting (Progress)

I have decided to use dynamic lighting for the environment as the scene is quite huge and most of the static mesh are foliage. The lighting setup consist of one moveable skylight and a moveable directional light. To create the god rays, I added the exponential height fog component and play with the volumetric settings.

In this project, I have also try out ray tracing rendering features for AO, reflections and shadows. The result really amaze me as it really gives really accurate and realistic result. After going through some tutorials, I managed to add a moon in the sky which adds more interest in the scene.


Update - 5 May 2021

More Floaters 

This floaters is created for the type of foliage that don't really require normal maps. Hence, most of them are compiled from flat textures in photoshop. They include Coconut Leaf, Ferns, Leaf and a small branch. The leaf and small branch will be use for creating the tree in the later process.  

Ceiba Tree

Tropical trees tends to have more sub branches and smaller leaf compare to coconut trees and banana trees I create before. Hence I try to use another workflow for creating them. I have split them into 3 sections: tree trunk, big branches, secondary branches with leaves. 

For creating the secondary branches with leaves, I import the textures from the floaters that contain the branches and leaves in to 3Ds Max. Then making use of the object paint tool, I paint the leaves onto the branches which are both just a plane in this case. In this process, I can have the freedom to create as many variation of leaves and branches by tweaking the position, size, rotations and even colors to make things more interesting. In this case I created 3 variations from them.  

After creating 3 variations, I rendered them out as a single flat plane for a diffuse map in Unreal. This would help to save up memory to avoid fps draw in the game engine. 

The tree trunk and big tree branches was just model out of 3Ds Max, then later on using object paint again, painting the flat diffuse I created around the branches. After doing some research, I found out that converting the plane's Normals to a the sphere's Normals would improve the lighting and gives the tree more volume.  

However, I am still not satisfy with the end result of the tree. Hence I am happy to receive any feedback and comment to improve it.


Update - 23 Apr 2021

Creating Floaters for Various Types of Leaves

As the whole environment will be full of instances of the modular asset, hence I decided to use alpha masking with textures on planes. This will help optimize the game engine and also create a more efficient workflow for creating foliage.

I have roughly planned out how each types of leaves would fit in the UV space before starting. For the leaves that would be closely seen, I would sculpted them in Zbrush so I could get a normal map from it. On the other hand, leaves that are seen far away would just have a diffuse map to it. 

During this week, I managed to block out and sculpt 2 types of leaves with 2 textures variations to each. During the blockout phase, the asset doesn't need to have good topology as I could Z remesh it in Z brush later.

I mainly use the MoveBrush and DamStandardBrush for the sculpting process. I did not use the symmetric tool when sculpting as I wanted to keep the organic feel to the leaves.   

After sculpting, I duplicate and rearrange the high polys above a plane in 3Ds max in order to prepare it for the baking process. The reason I duplicate it was because I plan to create 2 variation of each leaves: Normal State and Decay State. One thing to take note when baking to a plane is that tweaking the MaxFrontalDistance will help in having a better bake as it helps the rays to cast further to the Highpoly.

I learned about the anchor point when I am dealing with the decays on the leaves. It is a very efficient and non destructive way to create a mask and keep on working on it with different layers on top. Here, I first paint out the decays spot on the banana leaf and put a warp filter to it. Then I create an anchor and keep on working on a different layer which would eventually still effect the mask area. Another take away from this session is that I could actually create most of the detail's normal in the texturing process rather that working on the Z brush.

This is the outcome of the diffuse, normal and roughness/ metallic/AO maps from substance painter. I will compile all the leaves into the floaters in the next update.


Update - 13 Apr 2021

Sculpting : Rocks

Spend the last few days sculpting high poly rocks in Z Brush. My workflow mainly consist of 3 stages: Silhouette Blockout, Secondary Shape Blockout and lastly Adding Details. 

In silhouette blockout, I often use the MoveTopology brush to freely blockout the overall form of the rocks. After getting the general shape of it, I will then Dynamesh it and apply Z Remesher to it to get more even and clean polygons to sculpt with.  

Secondary shape Blockout usually uses brushes like ClayBuildUp, ClayTube, TrimDynamic and even TrimSmoothBorder. In this stage, I would also start to pump up the sub division in order to have more details in to the overall form of the sculpt.


The last step which was adding details to the sculp was one of the process I enjoy a lot. In this step, I mainly use alpha brush to get the surface detail on the rock. Brushes like DamStandard and OrbSlash also help a lot in creating the cracks and cut on the rocks.

Outcome of 2 Sculpted Rock Asset


Update - 12 Apr 2021

Landscape Material

I first did some research on the properties and usages of a landscape material as it is quite new to me. After searching around, I manage to found a very well made free landscape material that was done by Unreal Sensei. I decided to use this landscape material not only because it is set up in a way to be easy customize, it also include a slope detection where the material will change between different layers according to the height of the landscape.    

I am using the grass foliage and textures provided in this material as a placeholder for now. I plan to recreate and replace them after getting most of the highpoly assets work done.


Update - 12 Apr 2021

ASSETS BLOCKOUT

Done a blockout pass on some of the modular assets in the environment. This assets includes: Rocks, various types of Trees, Ferns, Liana and Tree branches.

GREYBOX

After having placeholders for the modular assets done, I went into Unreal Engine to create the overall landscape of my environment. I done this by using the sculpting function in Unreal. I first use the sculpt tool to get the overall shape of the landscape, then proceed by using the smoothing and flatten tool to refine the shape for better composition for the environment. The details from the noise tool also helps in creating a more realistic landscape. Then I imported the placeholders into the scene and done the first pass of the set dressing. 


Update - 20 Mar 2021

Hi I am Sam.

OBJECTIVE

For this contest, my goal is to learn and create better quality foliage and vegetation for the environment.

REFERENCES

Since foliage would be a huge part of the environment, one of the main references I have taken is from the film Avatar by James Cameron. Everything from the concept to the art direction inside Avatar have really inspired me in this project. Monster Hunter World is also another good reference as the placement and composition of the assets in the environment is well planned. One of the maps named Ancient Forest in the game really resembles the environment I am going for. Concept Art from Fish032 also really gives me a better idea on how the overall forest concept will turn out.  

As for the types of foliage in the environment, I have decided to go for a hybrid style. This means that I will be using a mixture of Earth's foliage and some unique fantasy type foliage for it. Most of the fantasy type foliage would be referenced from Avatar.  

CONCEPT

Environment Setting

The 2 travelers are located within the East Forest of Kaxz after going through the temporal breach. Kaxz is a planet that has a denser atmosphere and lower gravity compared to Earth. Due to these reasons, most of planet Kaxz is covered with forest that has a similar structure as a tropical forest. However the scale of Kaxz’s foliage is visibly larger than the one on Earth. Besides that, the atmosphere has also affected some of the foliage here to glow in the dark.

The lighting would be a night scene as it is more suitable in creating a mystical feel to the environment. There will be 2 main light source in the scene: The Moonlight and Emissive Lights from foliage. 

Top View of Environment

I have come out with a top view plan of the environment to make the 3D Blockout stage later easier.  

ASSETS BLOCKOUT

Done a blockout pass on some of the modular assets in the environment. This assets includes: Rocks, various types of Trees, Ferns, Liana and Tree branches.

GREYBOX

After having  placeholders for the modular assets done, I went into Unreal Engine to create the overall landscape of my environment. I done this by using the sculpting function in Unreal. I first use the sculpt tool to get the overall shape of the landscape, then proceed by using the smoothing and flatten tool to refine the shape for better composition for the environment. The details from the noise tool also helps in creating a more realistic landscape. Then I imported the placeholders into the scene and done the first pass of the set dressing.