With my environment done its time to take a step back and reflect on what I have achieved with this project. What went well and what didn’t during development and what I would change if I were to redo the project. As this is also the last piece of work I will be producing for my university studies I feel as though I should take this opportunity to discuss how I have grown as a 3D artist over my studies and what steps I plan to take to continue this development outside of education.
:: Still Frames ::
Here you can see the still renders of my environment. I feel as though I have successfully created an environment which shows the various talents I have developed over my studies. I used ZBrush as well as Maya with this environment. As well as adding in other industry software’s such as Substance Designer and Speedtree.
I think my texturing has improved a lot over the development of this environment, becoming much more confidant using Substance Painter. In particularly I have become comfortable with using Designer and Painter in tandem with each other. Being able to create custom materials to expand my own personal library will really help me to streamline my workflow going forward.
I can see issues with my still renders however, I think the scene does seem a little under populated and if I were to remake this environment I would add more assets to the scene. Perhaps something like adding police tape around the area could add interesting possibilities. With blue and red flashing lights to add interest to the scene as well as adding to the visual storytelling. Perhaps the exhibition was more successful then they thought in finding this ‘Blackwood Monster’
I also think the forest should be more densely populated, particularly as if you look closely enough you can see where the landscape ends. I feel like this would have helped with some of the renders (particularly the gate render) look more convincing. Part of my thinks the environment could be seen as unfinished, which is not something I am particularly happy with.
:: Adding Movement ::
The moving renders do show the scene in its best lighting, which makes sense as even during the block out stage of the production I did intend for the final frames to be moving images. I would still say that the scene does seem a little underpopulated but other than that I am happy with the final imagery created from the scene.
Asset specifically I am particularly happy with the container, and the custom material I created for corrugated steel. Meanwhile I am not happy with the tarpaulin asset, as I feel the final result looks like a hard roof more than a cloth tarp, plus something I noticed when gathering my final renders is the dirt on the inside of this tarpaulin doesn’t really make any sense when you consider how dirt accumulates on a covering material such as a tarpaulin.
:: Production Retrospective ::
I always like to take a moment after the completion of an environment to reflect on the development process I have been through. Thinking of what went well with it, what my goals were to begin with and whether or not my environment adequately meets those goals. You are always improving as a 3D artist, and I often find that even by the time I have finished the environment I am already thinking of how I could have done parts of the process better and how I can improve with my next scene.
:: Project Goals ::
Going back to the project goals I lines out in my proposal document I said that I wanted my environment to show ‘knowledge of PBR materials & shaders; Knowledge of Unreal Engine; Knowledge of Photoshop and Knowledge of baking textures.’ I do feel that my environment does successfully show knowledge of all of these things.
I have created PBR materials from scratch during this project, demonstrating my deepening knowledge of Substance Painter. I have also successfully shown. How I can turn those PBR texture maps into material shaders within Unreal Engine, this however is a subject I do feel very new to, and as such I will aim to explore more advanced shader methods such as vertex painting or Z-up techniques in future projects.
I had no issues with the baking of my meshes and textures. So do think that my environment does successfully meet all the gaols I laid out previously for this subject. I also think that I have explored professional practises in all stages of development well during this project. From using miro for my reference board to exploring new software’s such as Substance Designer I do feel much more prepared for working in a professional studio now than before I started this project.
:: What Went Well ::
Overall, I am happy with the environment. I think it does demonstrate the development I have gone through as a 3D artist over my university studies, having never opened a 3D software before I began to now being comfortable with multiple modelling methods. The final renders I think work well, especially the moving shots and I think my environment manages to convey a visual story, which is something I really struggled to comprehend in my earlier years.
I enjoyed learning Substance Designer and very much want to further explore this software post-graduation, and I feel much more comfortable creating PBR materials in Substance Painter after having created a selection from scratch with this project.
:: What I Would Change ::
As with any project there are always things I would change if I were to recreate the environment from scratch. Some of the assets I don’t think create particularly engaging visuals, most notably being the tarpaulin, which looks more like a hard roof than a cloth covering. I also didn’t experiment with decals which I would have wanted to do, this would have really helped sell the visual of some of the more man-made assets in the environment, such as the industrial lights or the generator.
As I mentioned with shaders, I do feel like this is a big pitfall in my current abilities as this isn’t something I have really explored during my studies. Shader methods such as vertex painting or Z-up creation would have come in very useful for this project and are something a junior environment artist is expected to know. Z-up for example, could have let me have a snow fall material over my assets within the Unreal Engine scene. Something I think would really have given a professional polish to the final renders.
:: Future Plans ::
Following the discussion of shaders, I feel it would be good to outline what I plan to do to continue my growth as a 3D artist post-graduation. There are still noticeable aspects of my modelling pipeline which are lacking severely such as shader exploration in Unreal Engine, so this is something I will need to explore thoroughly in personal projects. Especially as this is something that is expected by studios when they ask for ‘Knowledge of Unreal Engine’.
In terms of how I would like to present myself I also feel as though it is important to document what your goals are for a project and various stages of the development. I would like to explore the idea of creating my own blog/website like my university wordpress blog where I outline the development process for any personal environments I work on in the future. Thus, allowing me to explain the design process further than just the summary paragraph or so I would include in my artstation portfolio. This would really help make my work stand out from the crowd when seeking employment.
I am very proud of how far I have developed as a 3D artist during my university studies however and can say that coming from never having opened a 3D software package before to where I am now is proof that I can continue this development post-graduation. The games industry often seems like an unscalable mountain, with the sheer number of software you have to be fluent in just to be considered a junior a very daunting prospect.
Yet looking back on my first environment I created during my team project in my first year of studies to now, with this latest project. With more hard work and further targeted exploration of industry techniques, coupled with a sleek presentation of whatever personal projects I am yet to make I do feel more prepared than ever for trying to gain a foothold in the games design industry.