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  • Writer's pictureKatie Lofts

The Set Up: Log #1

Updated: Feb 23, 2022


#1 - Research

I wanted to approach this brief from a 3D artist point of view, specifically wanting to display my texturing and custom PBR smart materials I've made using Substance Designer and Substance Painter. I knew straight away that I wanted to have a really mystical and fantasy feel to my scene, and big mushroom houses as the main point of interest. With this in mind for my research, I looked at various fantasy concept art and even miniature clay mushroom houses for inspiration, which you can find above via my Pinterest board.

I looked at a lot of different art, but here I've collaged my main inspiration pictures. A lot of the landscape scenes are used as reference for composition and perspective in my own scene. A common idea or trope I noticed in this sort of art-style is that the main object or point of interest seems to be really exaggerated in its proportions, and that the surrounding environment (mountains, trees, etc) works to actually frame the point of interest rather than try and create something completely natural looking.

#2 - Initial Development

Yes, this was made in MS Paint! For my first ideas, I actually just quickly drew over a hill shape I made in UE4. I usually find it a lot more effective to do my first sketches in MS Paint rather than start with blocking out in UE4 for example, since there are so little tools to work with, it's harder to actually stray away or get carried away from whatever idea I have at that moment! Breaking this down, the most important aspect I wanted to focus on was the potential player pathing and making the final destination, being the big mushroom castle/tower on the top of the hill, actually *feel* like the objective here.

The main way I thought to do this was by having this very imposing and obviously important building be literally at the highest point of this environment - I feel like this creates a natural sense of importance compared to just having it on the same level as everything else. There is also a sort of wooden plank pathway leading up to the mushroom castle, and I wanted to include this because I feel like the change in colour (e.g: brown wood compared to the red/cream mushrooms) makes the difference in environment feel purposeful in the level design to indicate the optimal pathing.

Modelling a modular mushroom set in Maya

One of the first things I made was a very simple sort of asset pack of 'modular mushrooms', which took about 20 minutes, with some variations of mushroom stems, caps, and small bits of growths. All of these objects are separated in the export, so I can mix and match them in UE4!

Importing rock set into UE4

Texturing assets in Substance Painter with a custom Smart Material

A very simple rock set was the next thing I made, as I knew that I could re-use these so many different times and change them in Unreal to make my scene more organic. Above you can see the mossy stone smart material I made in Substance Painter, which can then be used to be seamlessly automatically applied on any model I want - making this process a lot quicker than hand-texturing each model myself!

Of course, I used the same process in Substance Painter to create my own mushroom caps and stem smart materials. It was very easy to just drag the smart material I made onto each piece of my set and change anything I wanted in the folder to add variation!

Next week, I plan to import everything into UE4 for future use and start the block out of my scene.

Please take a look at my next blog post to see this project's progression!

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