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Floating Market
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Floating Market

Juthapat Limpattanakul
by jtpnz on 27 Dec 2022

I spent the last 13 weeks working on a 3D Environment project, as a part of DigiPen's portfolio class, based on 'Dishonored,' which is the game that solidified my decision to fully pursue a career as a 3D Environment Artist! I am happy that it is finally ready to be shown to the world! here's a breakdown of it.

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A Thai floating market with Sino-Portuguese architecture style inspired by the world of 'Dishonored', Arkane Studios.

Pre-Production

During the summer of 2022, I had the opportunity to revisit 'Dishonored,' the game that solidified my decision to pursue a career as a 3D Environment Artist, and I thought to myself that it would be fantastic if I could create an environment that exists inside its universe while adding my own 'twist'.

I gathered a few photos from the internet, as well as screenshots from the game that I captured throughout my playthrough. I tried to be as specific as possible about the objects I'd use in the scene, but as the program goes, I found myself adding additional references along the way.​

The foundation to all existence comes from 'The Void', so do my concept. I made an illustration in Photoshop to visualize the world I'm going to create. I was originally troubled by how muted it looked, so I made some iterations based on feedback from my colleagues, also to help the modeling process by improving various item silhouettes.

Production

With a modularity mindset, I grayboxed the scene in Maya while keeping the proportions accurate. Later, I run them through Unreal Engine with simple directional lighting.

Modular Buildings

"Corvo saved Emily Kaldwin by becoming an assassin, I saved myself from strict deadline by using modular buildings."

If I had to build a portion of a city in a short amount of time, modularity will be my hero. The rule is simple: search for buildings online and divide them into modules.

However, modularity is followed with repetitive textures. In real life, you are unlikely to see five buildings with identical grimes.

Height-blend materials come into play at this point. In Substance Designer, I created two tileable materials, then used a HeightLerp node in the editor to blend them with RGB channels input from Mesh Paint.

Different materials versions are shown below.

Props

My approach in creating props is quite simple. I started making a base model then put them in Zbrush for higher resolution sculpting. Since most of the props are simple geometric shapes, I could easily get away with poly grouping based on normals, creasing polygroups border, then subdividing.

Organic-surface objects

Because I was racing against the clock, I thought the character to be an excellent time-trial challenge. I finished modeling to texturing in around 4 hours.

I begin with the DemoSoldier project in Zbrush as a base and work my way down, modifying and sculpting features to my liking.

Graphics

I had quite a few experience working with vector graphics software like Adobe Illustrator, but in this project I chose to do them in Photoshop since this doesn't need to be printed.

Some graphics were extracted from photos found online using color range selection and edge masking and some are taken from in-game screenshots.

(Fun fact: The Coca-Cola parody is actually my first name written in Thai to match the calligraphy.)

Lighting

Because the setting is similar, I drew a little inspiration from Flooded District in the original Dishonored, but I tried to tone down the somber/hostile vibe to a more bright mid-day vibe.

Lumen in UE5 is making things easier to make physically correct in a short amount of time. For my scene, I was using simple directional light as the main light source and a few additional point lights to fill in dark areas.

I wanted to get a clean image, without a lot of post-processing interference so I make sure to nail the green-ish ambient lights with a customized BP_Skysphere, Atmospheric Fog, and ExponentialHeight Fog.

Compositions and Storytelling

Throughout the process, each composition was iterated multiple times to improve the story-telling aspect. I was first focused on the primary composition, and the rest were lacking, so I added objects that leaves trail to the story behind them.

"In order to maintain the safety of the aristocrats in the Royal Palace, the city watch sealed down the city after a dreadful mysterious incident unfolded in the inner city. Citizens of a Thai town hid in their homes, intending to see the Emerald Temple, Wat Phra Kaew, one day."

"KILL THE RATS graffiti, a precursor to the Rat Plague, as appeared in Dishonored."

(No rats were harm in the making of this project)

"Light poles with gold-plated bird sculptures, influenced by the reign of the Royal Palace, that seemed out of place with the worn-down structures may indicate a lack of proper sighting of outskirts well-being."

"OBEY THE CITY WATCH!, A fortified wall that seals off the city's outskirts. It appears that someone attempted to confront the citywatch, and the outcome was not pleasant."

"A man sitting in shade of a building seeking for help with his sickness, and right beside him is a sign written with a left-over Tuna tomato can."

"When everything is normal, the market must be bustling with shoppers, but right now it seems so empty."

Conclusion

That's quite a journey! I am so happy with how this project turned out. This is the first first outdoor scene I've had the opportunity to create with this degree of freedom and there are so many new things I've learned for the first time, such as Substance Designer, Water System, and Height-blend materials.

And finally, without the comments from my friends and professors, I would not have gotten this far. Thank you so much for taking the time to read this! and hope to see you on the next one.


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