Stylized House FMP Blog
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Stylized House FMP Blog

by artise1 on 14 Sep 2020

Blog posts on the development of a stylized house environment that I will be developing over year 3. The environment takes inspiration from a number of different games. mostly Zelda and Sea of Thieves.

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Update - 24 May 2021

This is my final post on my blog for my final major project. I learnt a lot throughout this whole building this environment. I'm really pleased with how well this turned out in the end. It was a lot of work and I put on more work than  I could finish. But what I did finish in the end was to a reasonably high standard for myself and I'm proud of what I achieved.

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Update - 9 May 2021

I remade my tree and decided on doing a pine tree instead. This they were much less tri count heavy by a huge margin. 

I opted for making high poly 4 different branches with pine leaves and then a low poly plane beneath them. 

I started using Substance designer a lot more and it helped a lot with making this tree. I took the high and low poly into designer and baked the details onto the low poly planes. 

Taking it into the engine and applying the shader with wind sway made it look really good and a lot more optimised for having many in the scene. 

Once I was back in the engine it was time to put everything I've built to this point inside, but first I needed to sculpt the terrain and then add the trees in to build the forest.

The next screenshots were taken from a fixed angle with Unreal Engines cameras and shows the progress of the environments exterior. I also made a floating rocking that would be hovering in the distance. 

I really liked how the environment was shaping up but I felt like there needed to be more variety with the trees in the height as well as their colour.

I made multiple shaders to make different colour trees as well as height variations. This looked really nice in the end with the different colours filling the scene.

I played even more with the colours of the trees as well as the lighting of the scene and colour grading. The whole project was coming together nicely. 

The next bunch of screenshots will show the changes to the exterior, the house and its interior.

I am really happy with how this project has progressed and I have done a majority of my assets that need creating have been ticked off the list for my Trello board.

Update - 9 May 2021

I finished texturing the table and chair but will come back to the cloth or either scrap it later on. 

I came back to texturing the potions I made quite some time ago. I made the glass transparent but I didn't like the end result. I made a happy discovery when I removed opacity to it and the colours of the bottle looked much better-being opaque.

I made some plant pots and vases to help fill out the house and provide some more colour to the place. The plants still need some work with the model and texturing.

A simple candle with its wax spreading out at the bottom. I could place this on one of the plates scaled-down and add a flame to it later on.

Retopologised the fireplace, unwrapped and textured it. I later added logs to sit on the coal, I just need to texture these next as they're already unwrapped.

I modeled a barrel to sit in the corner of the house and fill out space some more. I retopologised and deleted any unnecessary faces inside to save more UV space for more texture detail once I took it into a substance painter. 

I feel I've been doing well with my assets texturing and keeping it consistent throughout. I've also gotten quicker with texturing the same style and to the same standard as my previous assets.

Update - 7 Mar 2021

A bookcase that would hold a variety of items such as books, potions and some kitchenware. I exaggerated parts like the bottom flaring out to give it a little more stylized touch.

The end result looked very nice with the chips and dents as well as the colour of the wood and metals it.

Next was a little single bed. I mirrored parts over that would be identical to save UV space and bring more detail into it. For being quite low poly; the sculpted details and texturing really upped the quality of the asset. I was really please with how this turned out.

WIP of a dining table with a cloth over the centre of it. I used a free asset so I could get the scale of the chairs and table correct. I'll have those complete in my next update post.

WIP Fireplace. I wanted to give it a little bit of a unique look and also have a section of it used as a sort of cooker hob to place frying pans and pots to cook the food. Sculpted to high poly but this needs to be retopologised as well as a little door added to the bottom hole.

Front and side view concept art of the house. Part of the roof will be smashed in due to a tree collapsing. This will let in a ton of natural light to fill the room. There will also be vines growing down the walls of the hole and some grass in the corner.

I wanted the forest to have lush thick grass and did some research into how the Breath of the wild did there's. Instead of planes that were crossing each other with a texture of the grass on the theme. They were in fact all individual planes for the blades of grass. This gave it the realistic dense lushness to it that I was going for and used this technique to make mine. This also didn't affect the number of draw calls. So it didn't bring performance down and looked great.

The end result looked great and with some messing around with its shader I was able to have wind affect it and bring more life to the environment. 

I played around with making volumetric clouds as well as trees. I want the clouds to be more fluffy looking rather than realistic.  The WIP tree looks quite nice but is far too high poly to fill a forest. I need to rework this and bring the tri count way down.

Update - 7 Mar 2021

For this axe I wanted to give it a poorly made look as if the person that made it wasn't a professional and I think I reflected that well in its final apperance.

The shield I wanted to be from before the event that caused the destruction of this world. I gave it some wear and tear like chips and scratches to show its use. I love how this one turned out. At first, it was a little too dull looking, so I punched up the saturation a little to give more of that cartoonish stylized look I was after.

I'm really happy how this bucket turned out, when the lighting conditions are right, the way it hits just looks perfect. I think I captured the look really well with the chunky wood and metal with the little rounded bolts holding it together.   

I wanted to keep the scroll simple and have it rolled up and held together by a little metal band that has a slightly illuminated symbol on it. I also added some little rips in the scroll to give it that a little extra flair so it wasn't too simple and boring.

Update - 23 Dec 2020

The past few weeks I've been experimenting with the texturing to get the stylised look I'm going for. I spent my time making assets to fill out the interior and texturing them. Such as fruit, generic books, cutlery and kitchenware and meat. I'm really happy how these assets turned out once fully textured. 

I first came back to my fruit I made to finish it off. This took a lot of tweaking to get it to look right for me because of the rules I set with how the style must be achieved and how it should look. Which is it should have a lot of visual noise made from tiny normal map details. 

So I experimented with roughness to get a little of that bumpy skin look of the orange without the normal maps detail pushing it too close to realism. I think it turned out really well as good between realism and cartoonishness without going too far in either direction.

I think the banana could do with some extra tweaking as it has areas that are too shiny and could use more roughness there.

I also returned to my kitchenware assets and finished texturing them too. I love how these turned out with a rustic look to them. I like the painted detail on the plates that chip and faded away. I may come back and make a second version of these with plates and bowls with chips taken out of them to give more wear and tear and show their age more. 

Some generic books quickly modelled and textured, these will be in the bookcase and dotted around the house.

These last two assets were complete during the last week of this term. The cup was very simple to model and unwrap. So I got that done and textured quickly and kept the look I was going for to match the other kitchenware style.

The cooked ham I really proud of how it turned out, it took me far too long to get the look right but it was worth it. I think the herb leaves could do with another pass as they look a little plastic but overall I'm very happy with the progress of all of these assets.

Update - 12 Nov 2020

The past two weeks have been a bit busy. I've been learning how to use Unreal as that's my engine of choice for this final assignment. I had a presentation to show to the class and tutor my projects proposal in a more fleshed out manner compared to my small document at the start of the year. 

I talk about my influences and the mood boards I have created that will help shape my ideas with this project. I also went into a little detail about the research I've done with stylised visuals like Sea of thieves. 

Other parts I talked about was my blogging on this site as well as how I will manage my work and deadlines I will set with Trello. I broke it down and went in-depth with cards so that the tutor gets a better understanding and also sees I put a lot of work in planning this out.

I also began blocking out the house interior in Unreal to present to the class. This was good for me getting used to the tools as I've only ever worked un Unity. 

I created a rough layout with a couple of assets dotted around, along with a mannequin just to get a sense of the scale of the room. 

Some feedback I got was to make the whole in the roof a lot bigger to let in more natural light from the sun. I'll take this into account when modelling the final version of the house. 

This week I began making more assets. A bunch of different kitchenware. These are all modelled unwrapped and packed into a single 1k UV, I may bump this to 2k if I need to. 

These are the following items I modelled. Fork, knife, spoon, ladle, butcher knife, frying pan, plate and bowl.

Update - 28 Oct 2020

This week I went ahead and finished modelling, unwrapping and packing all of the fruit. I duplicated the high poly of the apple and adjust the shape into a pear. I then subdivided a cube and use the shrinkwrap modifier so as I shape the lower poly version it will snap into place of the high poly. This is a great way to make clean quaded topology easily.

The Banana I used a reference and box modelled by extruded a cube into the shape. I then added edge loops at top and bottom to keep them sharper and added two through the sides and top. After this, I used set flow to round edges giving it the round banana shape.

I used the same box model technique on the grapes stem and extruded added loop cuts and extruded again to have parts branch off. The grapes themselves are a subdivided cube that I stretched in the z-axis. Finally, the Orange was just a cube subdivided again and a little extrusion on the top of it.

After modelling and unwrapping each fruit. I packed their UVs into a single 1024 UV map so that later when I import into Unreal I can use a single material for all of the fruit. I made sure the texel density was all equal by using a texel density add on to save the density of one of the fruit and then apply it onto each of the other fruits so they are exactly the same. 

Update - 21 Oct 2020

These past 2 weeks I've been experimenting with modelling and baking normal maps within Blender 2.9; while also learning the Unreal Engine  which is my chosen engine for my FMP.

I made a low poly book and then a high poly version sculpt which was then baked down into a normal map.

The result was quite pleasing, I showed this to other students and the tutor for feedback and suggestions were to make the metallic parts a bit sharper as they were currently a little soft looking. 

I need to implement their suggestions and also finalise how I want the final textured version to look. What colour and texture would front and back faces have, what the hinges will work if they are metal and so on.

If I go ahead with the gold hinges of this special book. I need to model it so that it's something that is functional in the real world. How would this open if it was made of these materials? I'll sketch up some ideas to more refine this asset.

I created 3 bottles that I think look rather nice in their current state. I will add some extra details such as labels and string around them to give them more character.

With these bottles, I also used them to get a better understanding of how to set texel density correctly, so that the assets are not of a higher or lower quality next to other assets in the scene.

This also gave me some UV unwrapping and packing practice, to use as much of the UV map and not have any wasted UV space, so that the assets get the most resolution as possible out of the textures.

I also started having a go at modelling the fruit, starting with an apple. I used a cube and the multiresolution modifier to add extra geometry and round it off while still keeping quadded. 

I added resolution until it was to a reasonable amount, with the modifier I can drop it down and up at will like how Zbrush does it. I went to a lower subdivision and in sculpt mode moved around vertices to get the silhouette of an apple. I then went up to the higher subdivision and did some extra move of vertices to get a more refined and realistic shape.

This current version is 838 Tri's, I discussed if this is reasonable at LOD 0 and it was suggested there is no need to LOD such assets but to think about is all of that geometry necessary for the player to see, will they ever be that close to the asset?

With the feedback, I went back and used the decimate modifier and set it to Un-Subdivide mode and reduced it by 2 to keep it quaded still. This cut the tri count down from 838 to 210 and still kept the silhouette of the higher version.


Update - 14 Sep 2020

This week I started getting all of my ideas and inspiration written down and put all of my references into a mood board. I broke these up into three sections the assets, exterior and interior of the house.

I've decided on doing a stylised small house that is within a forest. It will be quite run down from a catastrophic event that happened a long time ago. Nature has overgrown all over the house. A tree has fallen and taken part of the roof out letting in a lot of natural light.

This environment will be enhabited by a survivor and will contain assets that are a mixture of the past and homemade objects from the survivor such as tool, weapons and furniture. I want to have this environment be rich with colour from the foliage and the warm glow of a fire under a pot cooking food.

A lot of inspiration came from Breath of the wild and the links awakening remake along with other stylised games like Sea of Thieves. 

I hope to have a reasonably high poly count for assets as I wish this to be played in first person within the Unreal 4 engine so that the player can get up close to assets and see all the details within them.