Environment Breakdown

Guylian Woillard


Guylian Woillard

Level Artist


Hi, my name is Guylian Woillard and I’m a young Level Designer currently living in Belgium. I’m 24 years old and graduated in Game Art, which I studied at the Haute Albert Jacquard here in Belgium. Since graduating in July last year, I have been working as a Level Designer for Vidock Studio, doing VR games.
I have always been passionate about video games since I was a child but when I found out that there was a school not too far where I lived, I instantly jumped in and here I am.

About the project

I usually like to do quick scenes in UE4, small environments that take a couple of days at most. But this time, I wanted to practice my modeling and texturing because I was doing a lot of Level design lately and I didn’t want to be rusty but also practice my lighting and compositing skills.

So I searched the internet for some ref and I found this amazing piece of art from Tianhua Xu.



So I started in UE4 by doing a really rough block out of the scene using shapes to get an idea of the depth and size of the room. I also set up a camera in the “right angle” of view. Blocking the first shapes is really important because it will help you visualize the scene. You don’t need to block out the entire scene with every prop etc.



Here, nothing fancy. I was taught in school how to model in low poly for optimization. But here I added more geometry and bevels because it’s not an in-game scene.
As for the blackout, I first started modeling the big props like the tables, the cabinet and the shelf. Then after that, I did all the other props. However, I didn’t model every single prop, a few are from Megascan and the books are from Sketchfab. I always try to keep the modeling simple and put the accent on the texturing.



I’ve always like this part of the process because it’s the moment when you can be free to do whatever you want on a model. And this is where your models become alive because you can decide their story by adding grunge, scratches, dirt, dust, etc. I used Substance Painter with the help of Substance Source, where you can find tons of amazing materials that will help you during this process.

But I also used Quixel Mixer for the floor and the Megascan library for the walls.
Being able to instantly export texture from Bridge to UE4 is a fantastic feature and allows you to iterate a lot and very fast. Here is a link on how it works.



After all that, I came back in unreal engine and started setting up the scene with what I think are the most important assets to get the proportions right.
Then I did some very early lighting and put some particles to get a general mood. I tried to stay as faithful as possible to the original concept because I really liked the mood and lighting.
I used vertex painting for the walls. With the Quixel Live link plug-in directly in UE4, I was able to make blend materials combining materials from Bridge.


For the ambient dust, I used the particles from the starter pack and for the dust that you see in the god rays, I used the firefly particles from “Particles and Wind Control
System”. You can find this in the Marketplace.

I also used a lot of decals on the walls to make them older and give them authenticity. You can find them in Megascan as well.
The composition and the lighting of your scene are the things that are going to change a lot during the process of making your scene. Maybe you’ll be happy with the first iteration, or not, but don’t be afraid of change and don’t get stuck on an idea.

Maybe you will like the first idea you did but people won’t so you might need to make changes, and it’s totally fine because that’s how you learn, by iterating and accepting
criticisms and feedback.
And feedback is important. During this process, I asked a few friends for advice about anything really. One of my friends said that the walls were looking “weird” and objects didn’t integrate well to them, another one said that I should add some paper
where the light hit the floor, etc. And with all that, I could improve and develop something better.


Lighting and Post Processing

Okay, so I wanted for once not to work with dynamic lighting, so it was challenging because I was completely rusty about baking lights in unreal. So I read some articles
about lighting just to refresh my memory. I find this article very useful and complex if you are interested in how lighting works in general.

I started with a directional light and a sky light. Then I added the ExponentialHeightFog is great for creating the god ray and that wasn’t easy to get good results. But eventually, after hours tweaking and baking, I found a good balance between fog and lighting, which turned out great. Here is a great tutorial I followed.


But it was missing something, it was too dark. So I changed the texture on the walls and I added a rectangle light at the window to accentuate the sunlight. I also changed the angle of the directional light and added some point lights to unclog dark spots.


Finally, I added the Post Process. The final look was achieved using the settings I link below. And with these few changes, it was much better, more alive. And I was done.

Well, you are never 100% done when creating an environment, you might always want to make changes but you have to stop at some point and move on.
If you are not comfortable with creating LUT, there is an awesome library of LUT called “Colorama” on the UE4 Marketplace.


Light and Post Process settings


Here are the final results:


Thank you for reading my first article. This project was really awesome to work on and I hope you’ve learned something.
Thank you to the people who helped me improve and finish this scene.
And remember when working on a project, ask others for feedback. You’ll probably miss things others won’t because they will have a different perspective.

You can find me here: