Vertical Slice Project - Blog
Updated: Mar 13
week 1: concepts
WEEK 2: style guide, concepts
WEEK 3: door, neon light, string lights, mc progress
WEEK 4: main character model
For this week, I wanted to focus on getting out some more concepts, as there was a dissonance starting to show heavily amongst our assets, and I figured giving more examples of what our assets should look like might help. One issue I’d been observing was that other artists on the team were using our different colour palettes in the wrong areas: such as bright colours bing used for metallic assets. As we agreed that the style we were aiming for would follow a sense if realism, it made sense that functional assets like doors, metal poles, etc wouldn’t differ far from the real-life counterparts, apart from stripped back details, and slightly exaggerated metallic hues that lean closer to blues and purples rather than pure greys. I outlined these details in the style guide, but a majority of the assets produced by others just weren’t following the agreed upon style.
with concepts such as the ones for door variations, windows, traffic lights, etc, I wanted to demonstrate the diet-scifi nature of the details. Elements like extra poles and panels, sharp, modern shapes, but otherwise minimal details. I demonstrated that the bright colours, (including our green guiding colour) should be reserved for accent details when it comes to the functional assets. Otherwise, decorative assets such as neon signs, billboards, etc showcase the bright colours specifically. But even then, metallic components of said decorative assets will still follow the same metallic texturing process as outlined in the style guide.
For assets that would contain text, I outlined in the weeks prior, and with the below concepts, that we’d just use a ripoff Japanese alphabet. I noticed that other peoples’ neon sign assets also differed greatly from the style we agreed upon. They were too simple, or unnecessarily cartoonish In proportions. So again, I created more concepts that hammered home the style further.
In tandem to making these concepts, I worked on the modular building assets Conal had requested. I suggested that it would be easier to create variation with buildings in such a packed city environment through using modular assets that could be mixed and matched to create a plethora of different buildings from the same pool of pieces. The building bodies themselves were the priority for this week, as well as creating ground materials; these alongside the building body assets would enable the games design folk to create a level blockout, or an art asset corner in UE5.
I researched the industry pipelines and general guidance on how to approach creating modular pieces, including references, (of game asset packs and real life) for city buildings. The modelling itself was easy: just a cube mesh that was messed about with until it looked right. I also added skirting to the tops and bottoms so to give opportunity to use the guiding colour for some buildings when needed.
The issue arose with texturing itself - especially when creating the first ground material. This was due to the resolution; whenever I zoomed into the texture, the resolution was far too low when considering how close the camera would be to such details. I researched into how to fix this, and ruled out the possibility of my UVs being the issue, as I was taking advantage of the full UV map, and there was hardly any UV islands to begin with due to how simplistic the meshes were. I looked into texel density when it was mentioned during my research, but i had no clue on how to even check that potential issue out in Blender. Eventually I just tried scaling up all the UV islands, but this only worked for the ground mesh and not the building ones. Either way, I used my base smart material and adjusted the roughnesses for each asset before adding details such as brick patterns and dirt details both with height adjustments. Colours were kept purple-toned greys, bar from the skirtings, and gradients were also added.
The table mesh began with a cube mesh; I used the loop cut to create more vertices for me to use to create the hexagonal shape. I selected the bottom edge loop to create the slopped-inwards shape from the sides too. I used the face inset and extrude tools to create the details along the edges and near the centre. I selected the inner face from the top and bottom and deleted them to create the hole, before bridging the edge loops to fill the missing side faces in. Cylinders were used for the poles of the table, as well as some other details. I followed a similar process to the tabletop itself to create the middle and bottom sections, and the same for the base of the table itself. For this base, I added edge loops and altered appropriately to create the curved sides - as well as marking the middle edge loop as hard so I could have edge highlights show up there when texturing.
The texturing of the table was just a matter of applying the base metal smart material I'd created for this project, and altering where needed to match the concept art I'd created. I created two new metal smart materials from this - just in differing colour variations to streamline the texturing process further, what with the large pool of assets needed for this project. I used alpha line waves to create the added details that I'd also included in the concepts - making sure they were emissive to further cement the overall style that had been outlined.
For this week, I aimed to cross more of the assets I'd assigned myself off my list. I wanted to do this efficiently, as I and the lecturers had observed the slow asset/art progress from other team members. I wanted to pick up for where they were lacking by creating as many assets as I could for this week. I specifically wanted to focus on the modular assets, as this would enable progress to kick off with placing as many buildings in-engine as we wanted, whilst only using a pool of modular assets. The more of these produced, the greater variation of buildings we could piece together. I did further research on city assets packs, and the kind of modular assets that were present:
Using these references, I began work on the following assets:
Cafe menu sign
Metal bar (mod_1)
Drainage pipe (mod_2)
Building decorative tile (mod_3)
I didn't run into any obstacles with them, as the majority of these assets were comprised of base shape meshes with simple edits. For elements like the traffic light's screen and the menu screen, I kept them as lone plane meshes - the menu screen in particular had a boolean modifier applied to create the curved-in edges. The modular assets were dead simple, as it was just a matter of scaling cubes or cylinders to my liking - applying bevel modifiers where desired. UV mapping was key for assets like the traffic light and telephone pole in particular, as they contained more UV islands - meaning I needed to utilise the UV map space to my best ability in order to get textures of a high resolution. Only mishaps that occured were with normals being flipped without me checking before exporting, but naturally I went back to ammend them.
Texturing for these assets was fun! The modular assets were fairly simple - I used the variation of metal smart materials I'd made by this point for this project. For the metal pipe in particular, a detail I included was imitation screws; I took a dot alpha pattern from the built-in assets and used height maps to give them the appearance of screws, which I believe turned out great. The roughness levels depended on the asset; a drainage pipe might be shinier due to the purpose it serves, for example, whilst a metal bar lying on the ground abandoned mid-construction would be dirtier and thus, less shiny. The assets I had the most fun with this week, however, were the traffic lights and the base menu. For the traffic lights, after toying about with the smart materials I used for it, I used a mix of built-in alphas and imported PNGs to create the shapes of the digital lights I'd designed in the concepts. It was fun to introduce the pops of glowing colour, as well adding the details of the screen itself through generators. The menu followed a similar process, albeit with a heavier focus on the screen itself. To create a base screen texture, (one that could be altered in colour to create variation in-game) I used a base smart material I'd made, and altered the emission, roughness and metallic settings until I created a glossy-screen sorta effect. I added a UV edge generator with a blur filter in a light colour to create the gradient bordering the edges. I also added another edge highlights layer, just thinner and with minimal bluring. Following this I aimed to create the menu design I'd conceptualised, to at least give us one men u layout to work with. I achieved this with various shape alphas, as well as a vector I'd created of the text in the fictitious language. For assets like the sewer cover and telephone pole, I included emissive details add finesse. The sewer cover in particular also had a built-in pattern applied with altered height settings to mimic the patterns found on irl sewer covers.