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Control Fan Art- Ritual Division - Realtime Unreal Engine Environment
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Control Fan Art- Ritual Division - Realtime Unreal Engine Environment

Quentin Bosc
by QuentinBosc on 23 Jan 2024

As a big fan of remedy productions, I wanted to pay homage to one of my favorite games by reproducing an environment from the CONTROL game. The game's style and brutalism provided a good challenge for creating realistic assets and working hard on lighting to recreate the dark, oppressive atmosphere.

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TRIBUTE TO CONTROL

I wanted to be able to experiment with the whole workflow of creating an environment by mixing modular/unique assets, tileable materials, but also to be able to better master Ue5 and the new lumen technology.

Being a big fan of remedy productions, I wanted to pay homage to one of my favorite games by reproducing an environment from the CONTROL game by Remedy. The game's style and brutalism provided a good challenge for creating realistic assets and working hard on lighting to recreate the dark, oppressive atmosphere.

Try to create different atmospheres in the same shot

A quick look at how the environment progressed from blockout to final rendering 

Props

For my modeling workflow, I alternated between 3ds max and blender. The first to model the assets in Lp then I switched to blender for the unwrap thanks to the ZenUv and Uvpackmaster tools to save time. The Hp version of the models was also done on Blender.

All the vegetation was done on speedtree, and the textures were a mix of megascan atlases and substance painter textures.

Quickview on my texture set up in substance painter

Vegetation

For the scene's vegetation, I decided to use speedtree, a program that can be a little frightening, but which resembles substance design with the principle of using nodes.

I knew in this project that the vegetation was going to represent a challenge for the rendering, as the center of the scene is occupied by vegetation elements, with small miniature trees and flowers littering the ground, breaking the brutalism of the architecture.

Quixel's megascan textures saved me a lot of trouble with the grass and long-leaved plants, and making the models on speedtree wasn't too complicated and helped me to master the software better, but there were still those famous trees.

For them, I proceeded a little differently from the other plants. I had to give the tree a very particular shape, whereas I can usually just move certain parameters, but in this case I had to control the precise position of each tree branch, starting with the largest. I was able to reproduce a shape that resembled what you'd see in the game.

With some of speedtree's tools, you really do have total control over the shape of your model, which is really nice, but one disadvantage of working with a procedural model is that changing the position of a large branch on which other smaller branches are already placed tends to break the whole model, so you have to be careful. That's why I advise you to always have a backup save, as it's very easy to break everything quickly.

The atlas-based texture assignment system is also a real time-saver.

Decals

I also had to work hard on the props' decals. Often these are safety instruction sheets, the problem being that during my research phase, I found that their textures were not of high enough quality to understand the writing, so I had to adapt even if in the majority of cases this type of decal is never read by the players, I wanted to be as rigorous as possible.

This is a point that can also be underestimated in the creation of props/enviro, as all the thumbnails, posters and stickers require a few notions of graphic design, respecting margins, choosing fonts and creating logos. In my case, it was simply reproduction, but the work involved for the production teams often tends to be underestimated.

Materials

For much of my texture work, I've opted for substance designer wherever possible. The software's procedural approach allows great flexibility in my work.

For example, I had quite a few concrete materials to make, and in the same way as Miro Vesterinen explained in his adobe interview ( I really invite you to watch it, it's very interesting about the production pipeline behind the development of control on the materials part ) With designer, you can quickly create variants without having to redo everything.

Thanks to this, I could very quickly import the material into UE to see the difference in rendering.

One piece of advice I'd give anyone wishing to take designer in hand is to be as organized as possible, dividing your graph into several small islands for better readability and to be able to reuse them on other projects.

I'd also like to thank all the remedy artists who have posted their work on this platform, it's a real mine of information and in particular I invite you to see the conference given by Miro Vesterinen on the whole creation pipeline for game materials. Special thanks to him, without his content and presentations I'd have had a much harder time remaking the materials on stage.

Conlusion and some tips 

Before concluding, I'd like to come back to a few important points when embarking on an ambitious project like this, because yes, creating a complete environment on your own is very time-consuming, and it's easy to underestimate just how long it can take. So it's important to keep several things in mind when you start out on a project that's going to take months to complete:

Planning

Plan as much as possible and make a schedule.

Obviously, you're not going to be able to plan everything, there are going to be unexpected things, but making a list of all the stages, estimating how much time you'll spend on each part, what new elements you'll need to learn... All these things need to be written down somewhere to keep a record, because after several weeks of work, some things are easy to forget. 

 Here's an example of a schedule I made for myself:

References

Looking for references is a good excuse to restart the game and wander around to find the place I wanted to reproduce. In the end, I chose "THE RITUAL DIVISION", a room built lengthways with very high ceilings and fairly large concrete blocks containing vegetation. I saw several advantages:

-good modularity, with assets large enough to be used several times

-Several types of tileable materials that can be made directly on the designer and used to create several variants.

-Good work on lighting to highlight such an imposing area.

Analysis of some in game screens, I break down into several categories, identify tileable materials and set elements that can be used several times.

Estimating and measuring the room's elements is also part of the job. It's not easy, and not the most fun part, but it's a great way to learn a lot. For example, while watching a conference on the game, I learned that the level blockout had been done using Houdini to couple with other procedural texturing systems. All this to say that to get a general idea of the dimensions I used the size of the character and npc's corpse. 

Blockout

In a way, blockout is linked to your references: the more solid your references, the more you'll be able to rely on them for your blockout, and so on.

For the blockout, spending time calculating the size of the room served me well, even if I had to adapt to get the most modular assets possible; unreal's primitive shapes are perfect for this, and I was able to define my entire room with them.

Don't hesitate to spend time on the blockout, it's a crucial step, a good blockout makes the rest of the work more serene and allows you to focus fully on all the modeling and texturing. It's always complicated when you realize that an asset doesn't fit in with the environment, it's frustrating and it adds extra work, so take your time to have a blockout that's as rigorous as possible.

One tip I can give to people who want to make fan art environments of a particular game or in a style that comes close. Take an interest in the production team's workflow: how did they design their game? Watch GDCs, go to the studio's official youtube channel, often team members talk about a specific point in their work during development, follow them on artstation to see breakdowns of their assets. In my case, the talk given by Miro Vesterinen (Head of Environment Art at Remedy Entertainment) on their environment creation and material of control pipeline was a great help in understanding their workflow.

In conclusion, this project was a real test of motivation. I had never done anything so ambitious. I'm very happy with the result and hope to continue improving on the creation of environment. 

I'd like to thank all the remedy artists who have posted their work on this platform, it's a real mine of information and in particular I invite you to see the conference given by Miro Vesterinen on the whole creation pipeline for game materials.


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