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  • Writer's pictureKatie Lofts

Honours Blog - Buildings - Week 6

Updated: May 8

28/11/22 - 4/12/22

Above is a quick mock up image I made of my first house in UE5 and a duplicate with a blue and orange gradient map on the side. I did this really quickly because I thought it would help me figure out a complimenting colour palette for my second house, as I did not want to just use the same roof and wall colours again, since I thought this would look a bit too repetitive.

Above is my second building with the original house colours on. I was able to work much quicker on this house compared to the first, as now I was able to re-use a lot of pieces and only added some small details. Another reason why I was able to work a lot quicker was now I was able to use the smart materials of my previous building on this one, and this only required little tweaking for it to look good, compared to painting everything from scratch again. I am really glad that I made the brush alphas that I did a few weeks ago, as now I have them in my Substance Painter library and it was a very effective but quick way to add colour variation in my textures. For example, when placing the smart materials on to my next house, I only had to tweak some generator values and the placement of the brush alphas.

After creating the second house using the first house's colour scheme, I put it in UE5 to see how it looks next to the other. I then duplicated the base colours of my second house within UE5 and quickly changed some of the hue sliders to test what would palette would look best next to my previous house. Above, you can see I tested the blue and orange colour scheme again, which I thought would work quite nicely. At this moment though it is way too bright, and since I played with the hue sliders in UE5 compared to individually and manually changing the colours in Substance Painter, I lost a lot of my colour variation layering.


Making the third building

For my third building, I was really inspired by this street in London. I thought it had really nice silhouette and gave me the opportunity to model some new features for my third building. I was looking for an opportunity to model some new pieces for my modular set so that my third building is not looking so boring or repetitive next to my first or second building.

Here, I tried modelling the unqiue rounded windows that are seen on the reference photos. I wanted to give it a go because I was concerned that my windows were beginning to seem repetitive. However, I did not like how this turned out, and I end up making a variation of my classic windows for the second floor instead.


Here is how my buildings look in UE5 all lined up together!


I wanted to make some small props to help fill out the environment and imply some life in my scene. I made a hanging shop sign inspired by a lot of different victorian signs:

At first I was hesitant to model the iron attachment part of the asset because of the unique shapes, but I then remembered the curves tool in Maya. It is not something I use a lot so I was quite happy to get the chance to use it here and get more comfortable with it.

I recorded these quick videos to demonstrate how I used the curve tool here, I found it really useful in this instance because I was also able to go back and mess around with the curve at any point. After realising I could use this tool here, I think this is something I would think to use more often for any trickier shapes like this.


Ivy attempt #1

My mum suggested that I add some ivy or wisteria that goes along some of the faces of my houses and I was really excited to try it. However, I didn't really know how to approach something like ivy because all of my plant assets so far have been really small and quick to make, with only about 10 planes for one asset or even less. The thing with ivy is that I knew I would have to manually make all of the individual planes and add variation to my liking, which I thought would be just way too time-consuming. I also use Maya to model, without any plugins, and a lot of the tutorials I found online were for Blender and used a plugin that automatically made the meshes for you, so I could not find a lot online to help me.

However, I came across this one video (above) that showed me a technique I had no idea was possible. This technique utilises Maya's paint effects and the premade Ivy mesh in the content browser, and combines it with the curve tool (which, since I used before to make the sign, I was a lot more confident in using - yay!)

From initially playing around with this, I made the above ivy. As you can see, this has a lot going on! A lot of planes and geometry!! I really enjoy the shape and variation here though. I played around with every setting of this tool to just work out what is and is not possible. Ultimately, I decided not to develop this one further and start over, because I wanted to keep performance in mind. A good thing about this tool is that once you're done and convert the paint effects to geometry, it automatically UV's your stems/leaf planes automatically like so:

Attempting for a second time, I imported one of my building models and set it to a live surface so that I could draw the curve / paint effects literally on top of the building, as if the plant is realistically climbing on top of it. Above is a gif I made to show what it looks like to mess around with the path sliders, although this is one of many things you can change, it was just something in particular that amazed me! Another thing I found very cool was the gravity slider:

At this point I felt like I was getting quite close to my goal of making climbing wisteria!

I popped my new ivy mesh into my scene in UE5 and played around with some material editor nodes to get a similar effect to my foliage in my previous honours project (mushbutts). I really see the potential in this, but in my opinion, I just don't think this style of foliage fits my style of buildings too well. I don't think it is horrible as a technique, but I want to try a more hands-on approach with my ivy going forward.

Ultimately, I am really glad I tried this method, even though I am not going to be using it for my final showcase. This technique is something I am genuinely still amazed at and hope to get more aquainted with in the future, because I feel like it has an opportunity to turn out really good if I am able to spend more time to figuring it out and tweaking it. Again as well, I was able to use the curve tool again and become more confident with that, and even experienced far less problems with it now! Still a success in my eyes. :)



Making the Ivy - But Better!

Above is a video I made to explain my process of creating the ivy shapes. I talk though my thought process during the video, so I won't write so much in text here for this part.

After making all of my individual leaf shapes, I started by making three "clusters", basically a circle of three different leaf planes. I then make a curve that would connect these clusters in the middle, and create a cylinder vine using the curve as a base. Again, I was able to use the curve tool, which as we know is something I felt intimidated by - so yay!

Now, I just kept duplicating the shape I made before with the clusters and the vine, and I was able to build up a nicely shaped climbing ivy mesh. In the second photo above, you can see that I ended up making a few different modular ivy pieces that I then exported seperately into UE5, which allowed me to make unique variations for each house and place them how I wanted.

Here you can see how the bake turned out in Substance Painter, as well as my UV and the overall texture. I ended up handpainting the actual leaves, as I felt this was a quicker way to get the desired look compared to procedural texturing, since this time I only had to paint far less compared to every part of the houses.



Firstly, I started off making a very simple material in Substance Designer.

This was mainly utilising the Arc Pavement node, and I only needed to add some little cracks and warping for variation. I wanted to create a very simple pavement for my buildings to sit on, and sort of frame the eye as if it was a diorama. I created a very simple mesh and had to check how it fit in UE5 underneath my buildings, so what I did was export my buildings row from UE5 into Maya to make sure my scale would be correct.

I only wanted to use the height, normals, and ambient occlusion from my material in Designer, and do a lot of the colouring in Substance Painter. I chose to approach it this way because I knew it would be a lot less time consuming, as of course I had all of my Substance Painter smart materials I made from the previous buildings as well as my brush alphas. Essentially, I just wanted the 3D effect from the designer material.



With all of my rendered photos, I just now need to create some showcase sheets and I'm done! :)


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