Vegetation & Plants for Games
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Registration Starts On
May 3, 2017
Class Begins On
1st Week of July | 2017
Jeremy Huxley
Senior Environment Artist
Jeremy Huxley has been working at Naughty dog for over 6 years on the Uncharted franchise, and 13 years in the industry total. He has worked full time and contract in multiple cities and countries around the world. Some of Jeremy's experiences include projects for Naughty Dog Inc., Runic Studios, Flagship Studios, Planet Moon Studios. Previous work includes: Uncharted 4, The Lost Legacy, Uncharted 4, Uncharted 3, Torchlight 1, Pre Production for Torchlight 2.

Course Description

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.

Course Outline

Wk1

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.

  • Isolate 5-6 plants and textures on you style guide including small, medium and large plants along with any ground, moss or rock textures.
  • Create two or three plants from your guide, for now focus on simpler ones that aren’t too complex, to get used to the creation process. We will work from Maya, Zbrush, Substance and UDK. (I will be providing videos of my personal workflow as a guide)
  • Layout your plants to bake out texture sheets and export from Zbrush or Substance.
  • Create plant variants in Maya using the textures you have exported
  • Save and upload to the directory which we will provide, under sub folders titled Screenshots, Assets, Reference and Textures, please include a few shots of some of your favorite plants in maya.

Wk2

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.

  • Create one rock that can be used both horizontally and vertically
  • Create a medium supporting rock
  • Create a small rock or rubble pile
  • Create a tree
  • Create a log
  • Export out and create a lowpoly cage for each in Maya
  • Bake out the textures
  • Import and setup a scene in UDK using these as your building blocks. Reference your style guide for direction and inspiration. (I will provide a video for guidance and suggestion)
  • Import the first few plants that you have created and add them to your environment
  • Set up basic lighting and render out a shot that you like, upload your work to the directory.

Wk3

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 2 to 3 more plants, small medium or large
  • Create one coverage type foliage, like ivy, grass or small leafy plants, these are used to fill out an environment with detail. (I will be doing a demonstration for this.)
  • Create a rock, bark, and moss texture
  • Add the new plants and textures to your scene in UDK
  • Setup blend shaders for the textures using RGB vert color to map them to your ground, trees and rock
  • Create a “Slope” shader for your materials and apply them to their respective meshes, we will be creating things such as a mossy rock and a mossy tree.

Wk4

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.

  • Create an arch, doorway, pillar, fountain, statue, head, anything you like natural or manmade, be sure that it can help add interest to your scene and look to your style guide for inspiration
  • Create more small level and final details that fit your scene, some examples include vines, roots, pebbles, rubble, flowers and small plants, etc.
  • Create a mulch, mud and ground texture and add them to your scene to make the blends more complex and rich.
  • Add everything to your scene and keep working on building a focal point and composing the shot.
  • Think about the dominant colors in your scene and try to use them to help with your storytelling.

Wk5

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.

  • Polish your scene
  • Finalize the scene with lighting and find creative ways to render that will best showcase your work
  • Make adjustments based on final critique and continue to tweak shaders, materials, textures and composition.

Wk6

Final and critique.

Careers

  • Environment Artist
  • Visual Development Artist
  • Layout Artist
  • Concept Artist
  • Game Artist