During this course, students are going to create an environment for games, with a heavy focus on vegetation and plants. Over the course of 5 weeks we will be going over the creation of plants, trees, rocks and a few blend textures, importing them into the Unreal Development Kit and composing a final, lit scene. We will be using various tools, including: Maya, Zbrush, Substance and the Unreal Development Kit to accomplish our goals. I will provide my own examples and help the students to narrow their style and focus on specific details that will help to create a stronger final piece. We will discuss colors, composition and shape language in order to form a cohesive look. This will serve as a valuable learning exercise which can then translate directly to modern studios. At the end of the class, students will have a final piece which can be used for their portfolio and a knowledge that will serve as a great foundation for their careers in games.
Gather reference and create a style guide comprised of photos, films, animation or anything else that inspires you, try to focus on a certain region and create a large collage of inspiration. For my example I chose a rainforest, because the environments are lush and full of colors. I will provide my own example and help the students to narrow their style and focus on specific details. We will discuss colors and shape language in order to form a cohesive look. Together we will pare our reference down to an effective style guide. Students will save their reference collage out as a .jpg that we both can use as a style guide for the environment all throughout the course.
Create rocks and trees, which we will use as building blocks for our scenes and will act as a ground for your plants. In order to save time and be more efficient, we will only focus on shape and texture these assets later. We will compose a basic scene and composition in UDK. I will provide a video showing my workflow from Zbrush using Dynamesh to get interesting shapes, exporting to maya, building the lowpoly cages around these and baking the normal and ambient occlusion maps out.
We can now discern what plants and other details are still missing from the scene. Make notes of what is working in the scene and what isn’t and supplement the scene with textures and more plants accordingly.
Create a point of interest to help inspire your scene and give you a focal point to compose your scene around. Telling a story will hold the viewer’s attention longer and make your piece stronger as a whole.
Continue to work on the scene and try to get all of the blends correlating, so that your small plants blend into your medium and large, vines should be draped across objects with weight, etc. Make sure that everything is seamlessly blended along with a bed of moss, mulch, mud or rock to help it all feel grounded and purposeful.
Final and critique.