After a lot of trial and error, I am finally satisfied with the results.
Here is a sample cave that I put together rather quickly with the Cave Creation Kit I mentioned in the previous post. Next I plan to flesh out the pack by adding a few more crystals, puddles, decals, and roots.
Following my journey till this point you'll see that I've been creating a cave and doing a lot of work on rocks. While things up till this point turned out looking pretty good, I felt I could do better.
So I kept working at it.
Introducing the Cave Construction Kit! This is just the beginning. Below you can see a good assortment rock models that can be combined to form a variety or great looking 3D rock formations. This kit can be used for caves but can also be used for any outdoor environment which requires boulders, cliffs, crags, and any other rocks.
I decided that hand sculpting the rocks was the way to go. Now to put together a cave!
I'm back from working contracts and am ready to work on some modeling.
For a while now I have been pondering an efficient workflow for making 3d models of rock formations that are convincing, interesting, versatile, and real time performance friendly.
Generally, I think, rocks are overlooked when it comes to 3d modeling. The assumption is that they are easy to do and kind of an afterthought. I've found that this is not the case. It's much easier, for me at least, to model many other hard surface props than the lowly rock formation.
So without further ado, here are the fruits of my labor. Not too exciting at first glance, but this proves a concept, and I'm excited to see where this workflow leads!
I've been busy with a contract for a bit now, and I finally have a chance to get back to the cave.
This time I focused on getting the lighting fine tuned. Next up is adding some more detail to the cave!
Progress has been relatively slow on the cave project to this point. My hangup has really been the rocks. I've tried quite a few different ways of creating them, and I think I'm right on track, but still not quite there. The good news is that with all this experimentation I'm learning new procedures that can be helpful in a lot of different modeling projects.
So below you can see the result of where I am with modeling detail rocks. These rocks are super low poly with high polygon sculpts baked over. Looking at it now, I may need to increase the polygon count of the low poly. Since making rock is relatively boring I've also modeled some mushrooms in between.
After a bunch of testing I've decided to go with a multitexture blending technique for the cave. I'm surprised really. I expected the high poly baking method to be far superior, but after sculpting a bunch of rock formations, there were just too many negatives. I'll still sculpt some smaller rock formations, but for the main cave shape, it won't be sculpted.
So. I'm moving along. Time to move towards more of the details. Below you can see the start of that. I'm modeling mushrooms, crystals, and some puddles.
Decisions, decisions, decisions.
I liked the way the cave was looking when using the tiled textures and vertex paint, but for sake of argument I decided to go ahead and model a rock in high poly and bake on to the low polygon version. At this point I'm still pretty torn on how to proceed. Both methods have pros and cons.
High poly bake pros:
Blended tiled textures pros:
You can see the results of my modeled rock formation below. I also made a crystal, crystal material, and puddle decal too.
Finally! I painted the materials on to the first section of cave.
The Material blends five groups of color, normal, and roughness maps using vertex RGB, Alpha, and 1 - Alpha. The blend transition is further assisted using a blend map and HeightLerp.
I'm pretty satisfied with the results. Now that this is complete putting multiple sections together should be a breeze.
Below you can see a result of the blending. All the materials and modeling, as usual, are completely original, running real time in unreal at steady 120fps.
Now for some fun models! My plan is to create crystals, mushrooms, roots, and maybe some small rocks. I'm not too excited about the rocks, since it is so boring, but it'll probably be needed.
Work on the cave project continues.
So, I thought I'd be a little further along with this, but coming up with an order of operations for the production of the environment proved a bit more challenging than expected.
So what am I trying to do? I'm trying to create an impressive and vast cave system which will have a few modular parts. Originally I planned to use the current method of baking high poly cave pieces and rocks, tile and mask the materials, and then just piecing it together. While this method is certainly impressive, It just isn't as organic as I'd like. It is also super time consuming, and at this point I'm pretty sick or making high poly rocks.
My solution? Go somewhat more old school and tile rocky materials across a mesh. The materials will include sculpt work, but the actual cave itself will rely on the geometry for the larger details. This why I can blend 5 materials across a seamless cave piece. I understand if this explanation might not be completely clear, so I'm planning on putting together a step by step.
Below I show a shot of the 5 texture blend material that I can paint on to the mesh with vertex paint. Also there is a shot of a completed cave piece. Only one material is painted on for now, but next on the agenda is painting the cave to see final results.
Modular Cave Project Begins!
Recently I've done a lot of outdoor modeling, so I decided to switch focus and start working underground and on dungeons.
The goal with this project is to showcase the quality of work that I can create. This is all new work for 2019. When complete there will be a good number of modular cave pieces that can be snapped together to create a sprawling cave system. The project will start in Unreal but eventually migrate to Unity.
Materials will be kept performance friendly but also very high quality. Focus will be on normal, height, and roughness maps.
Below is the first shot of the test cave with a couple of the materials applied running real time in Unreal. I find it is very import to get assets up and running in engine as quickly as possible. There is no substitute for seeing how things are actually going to look in game.
Thanks for looking! More coming soon!
I am Jacob Lubinski.