Crafting a stylized Dwarf Mine UE4 – Gary Roberts
Hello there! My name is Gary Roberts.
I am currently working as a 3D Environment Artist at Tiny Talisman Games. I live in Mexico City and have been working in the games industry for 3 years now.
I had my first approach into the 3D world studying at an institute called INAAD here in Mexico City and then I moved to my first studio, Marango EC.
I don’t see myself doing anything else in life, other than making art for video games with a delicious cup of coffee in the morning. I have really loved stylized art ever since I started making some props and little dioramas in my free time.
And I’m pretty sure you will ask yourself “Is there a video game industry in Mexico?” And I will reply “Something like that haha”. We have some indie studios and a lot of events, that try to grow the industry. I am really happy to have worked for Kokonut Studios as a 3D Artist in the IP of “Chavo 8”, which is pretty popular here in Mexico.
It has been a road with great challenges, sweat, blood, and pixels haha but always with the goal of learning more and more, meanwhile I work at Tiny Talisman Games making beautiful art for both AAA and indies game companies and have learned a huge amount from there!
About the Project
The way I find good concepts is to spend hours on Pinterest, Artstation or Polycount. I have a folder, I am not lying, of 600 concepts that I frequently use to try new ideas.
But in this project, I found a very nice concept from Hearthstone I really liked it because I was watching Lord of the Rings last week and it inspired me to start this project. (Mines of Moria).
I start off by making a block out in 3DS Max, this helps me to work out the position of things. I did not want to copy the concept exactly, I wanted to have a Spyro style with a little bit of Heroes of storm style too. So I started making my Pureref to find good references.
The next step was to create the wall and floor materials before starting the rest. I used a box with the flip normals to fix the ceiling and floor plan.
I highly recommend watching 3dEx tutorials, they show super good stuff to make stylized environments. I also asked people in Tiny Talisman and they helped too. In this case, I jumped to Substance Designer to make my materials.
Something important to know is that if you are going to add a heightmap to your materials, your walls need to have more tris. I made some UE4 shader controls to control the heightmap or in other words tessellation.
After making the block out here comes the fun part, which is sculpting, the magic of the stylized art is to avoid 90-degree angles and always make chunkier objects
I recommend the Orb and Aj brushes that are free and are excellent for sculpting Stylized props. Another trick is to use the lazy mouse option to have variations in the cuts in the wood.
Something we must learn when making stylized textures is color theory, gradients are generally always used to do this. I highly recommend the materials that Zack Maxwell created to use as a base. In my case, I like to use a gradient with complementary colors and then an EdgeSubtleHighlights for the edges.
A nice layer of overlay can work to highlight more or add more color variation.
Asset Placement and Setting the Scene
When we talk about accommodating things inside the engine we must always think about what is going to be seen and what is not, in this case, close everything around with boxes so that no light can enter around.
Then I added lights in the lamps and a red light at the end of the tunnel to simulate that it was the mine exit. I highly recommend using the camera’s post-processing to correct colors or saturation.
Playing with the fog and skylight values is important when creating these scenes.
I hope you liked it and have learned a little about the process I use to make these scenes. I leave you my Artstation if you want to check more stylized stuff:
Greetings from Mexico!!