The Scavenger's Colony
[Student at Rubika Supinfogame] In the heart of a miniature colony settled in an old mansion attic. Embody the Scavengers, a small species embarking on a journey across their colossal world in search of the forbidden truth behind their existence.
Hi! My name is Arnaud, I’m a 3D environment artist studying at Rubika Supinfogame, France.
For a few months, I have been carrying “The Scavenger's Colony”, a project in which a tiny city is built by a miniature species with everyday-life objects and I wanted to share it with the community as my first 3D Environment. :)
Here is the showcase video in 4k for the environment made with the voice of Trinity Santos and Matthiew Reed Kriner.
Music : "Musica" by Hiroyuki Sawano.
For this scene, I have challenged myself to build a miniature city only made with tiny objects that a small species would have used to build it.
3 mains references inspired me for this scene:
The movie: “The secret world of Arrietty” from Studio Ghibli for the extensive use of a tiny object for useful everyday life purposes.
The city of Havana trapped in the 60’s for its pastel colors, its “Art Nouveau” Architectural style, and the 60’s props inspiration.
The Maeklong Railway Market in Thailand for the messy aspect of the market’s props stacking everywhere onto one another and for the numerous veils covering the place and obviously the train that passes throughout the place.
I modeled the scene with 3DSmax, textured it in Substance Painter, Substance Designer, and Procreate. Made the cloth simulation for the veils in Marvelous Designer and rendered in Unreal Engine 4 (I also used a lot MassFx feature from 3DSmax to create the object piles)
I have used old flour and cereal metal boxes to create the colony’s buildings. I have used only one model but with two different textures, one at each side. Those textures are made in procreate and are inspired by the 60’s adverts art style and use specific colors that could be changed directly in the editor by shifting the hue to create the 4 main pastel colors I used ( yellow, blue, pink and orange as used in the Havana’s colonial streets.
Moreover, this scene, being more targeted to an English-speaker public, I decided to write in french on those metal boxes in order to create a feeling of being in a strange world made of ancient artifacts that the player would not totally understand.
For the doors and windows, I mainly referred to Art Nouveau architectural art style in Havana’s colonial streets.
For the doors: I used a long tin can with its opener still in place. The dark green part of the doors is inspired by old Havana’s doors: half wood, half rusted metal. I used tack as handle to open it.
For the windows: Pencils and barbed wire are used to depict the Art Nouveau’s balcony art style used in the colonial streets.
This old teapot from the 60’s represents a café where the citizens of the colony meet to drink their favorite drink in a thimble or in an ink cartridge. Due to the fact that I wasn’t yet able to model 3D characters to fill this place, I decided to give a personality to each market stand, here represented by the Hat-shaped Cup of tea among other things.
The green metal part and the hexagonal shape of a classical tea box make it a perfect candidate to create a kiosk from it. I finished it by adding golden Art Nouveau embellishments.
The fountain is made out of 3 types of instruments: a saxophone, 2 trumpets, and different parts of a trombone. Placed at the center of the colony, it aims at making the viewer recalls the Jazz culture of my main reference: Havana. I then added Art Nouveau Engraving as it is done on certain musical instruments.
Inspired by the cobblestone streets especially inside marketplaces, I wanted to picture them using a Puzzle-inspired ground with a displacement map and vertex painting to add more variations such as volume, cracks or puddles.
I have first created a multiple-mended rags fabric in order to create all the veil present in the scenes. But by placing it everywhere, it created large shadow parts in the scene. So I replaced some of them by a Lace tissue that I have made transparent enough in order to give more light to the scene and let the lace geometrical pattern have its shadow moving on the floors due to the wind.
The pencils are mainly used in the scene as architectural support. They are used as pillars, archways, balconies, or even awning above the windows. They’re full of scratch and wear at their edges.
For all the tiny objects, I first modeled and textured separately the contained objects and the containers. Then I used massFx, (The physic simulation feature of 3Ds max) to simulate the placement on those object inside different containers scenarii (such as alphabet blocks used as crates or plastic bottle cap as bowls). Then, I exported each stack of objects that was simulated as one Fbx file in Ue4. This allowed me to lower the draw call (a pile of 30 objects would be less efficient in terms of draw calls compared to one object made of 30 elements that would be called only once). But it also allowed me to iterate more for the placement of objects (I only had to move one crate and one stack of objects instead of selecting and moving each object of the pile).
I modeled in 3DSmax the contained objects in differents categories in order to place each category in a different stand and to offer a variety of uses while avoiding repetitions.
I textured the contained object specifically in one single color (or with an additional gray color) in order to have the possibility to shift its hue directly in the editor and increased the color variation without having too many texture maps.
One of the challenges of this environment was to create an overloaded market but without making it too noisy. In order to improve the readability of the project. I’ve used different composition techniques with the help of my Art Teacher: Gael Giudicelli.
In order to harmonize all the different colors in the scene, I used a magenta-based LUT color table, bringing an additional summer-atmosphere feeling to the scene.
Another challenge was to create a world only using tiny objects, but more complex objects (as the doors or windows for instance) needed to be readable and understandable. For example, It should be obvious that a door would be recognized as a door but also that it is made of specific objects easily identifiable.
In order to create an Action-Rpg feeling, I decided to emphasize the importance of the wind. To do so, Marvelous Designer Helped a lot to create veils attached to the windows, walls and pencil pillars.