Unreal work

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Before I started doing this project, had to think for some time how I want to approach texturing. To be honest, I consider texturing my weakest discipline therefore whenever possible I try to plan texturing out ASAP. With this project I decided to focus on making good sculpts, extract relevant data (normal maps, AO, cavities, other potential masks) and use that to blend bunch of stuff inside shader.

I’ve used this approach before and always had good results with it. I’ve been inspecting Epic’s work on Unreal Tournament and they doing fantastic job with it, lots of great things to learn from there. The approach they quite often use is the one I’m using for this project too, except that they tend to have even more masks and stuff than I do.

So here is the breakdown – I got my masks in what I call mixmap, it’s a texture with a different mask in each channel. I’m sure you’ve seen that stuff before. I got my AO in red channel, cavity in green and edge highlights in blue. Rendered AO and Normal in Xnormal, then passed the rendered normal map into Knald to get cavity and edge highlights (or concavity and convexity info). Used Knald most because it’s so much faster than rendering this stuff from high poly, even AO is pretty slow, but it’s much more accurate than from Knald. I can live with cavity/edge inaccuracies since I’ll be using them as simple masks, but I want AO to be good because I’ll plug that directly into AO slot in Unreal shader. So those are the maps so far – AO, Normal, Cavity, Edge highlights. Here is my shader noodle soup:

I reckon the screenshot itself isn’t much of a help for someone who wants to learn some stuff so I’m thinking of releasing small project with just one asset, fully textured and with the shader done. I can’t release whole project because it’s supposed to go to Unreal Marketplace but I guess one asset wouldn’t hurt things and could prove helpful to some folks.

So here is how the assets look so far, some basic lighting/PP done too:

There also is the leaking stuff. For that I’m using separate (3rd) UV channel, basically projected from front. The leak texture is horizontally tiling, you can increase/decrease tiling amount. Since its using projected UV map that took 5 secs to make there is some unwanted, dare I say, leaking here and there. Now I was considering several ways to get rid of that and the easiest in my opinion is vertex painting. Leak texture is lerped on top of everything else based on red vertex channel. So you can go to mesh paint mode and manually mask out areas you don’t want the leaking to be at.

Will see how things will go from there, there might be some problems with this lighting/PP setup in the long run but nothing that can’t be solved.

Sculpts, sculpts everywhere!

Saturday, October 1, 2016

Almost forgot how much time sculpting can take. Perhaps not the sculpting itself but the process of turning sculpt into game ready asset. This can quickly become into tedious crap that will slow creation process down so my main concern for a long time was to speed up low-polying/unwrapping/baking and while at the moment it’s fastest it’s ever I still sometimes feel like I’m hamstrung by loads of technical steps I have to take for things to be at highest quality possible.

Well, while this might sound like a rant, but I still like sculpting. Might like it less when I do it for a zillionth time but it still feels rewarding once you complete something that both looks good and is optimized and “properly” done.

Here are some sculpts I recently did:

Last one is a quickie I did in over an hour. Fairly simple one but I like it, some kind of rock/rubble thing. There are couple more sculpts but feel like these are most worth sharing. Next step - bringing all of this into Unreal, see ya in couple of days!