Environment Breakdown

Hansol Jo


Hansol Jo

Environment Artist


Hi! My name is Hansol Jo. I am a 3D Environment Artist in South Korea. I majored in Pure Art and graduated from University. I was looking for something to do in the future, my passion was Environment Art. I like games so much that I thought Games Art was attractive, and something I’d like to pursue.

After that, I taught myself to do this and that, and I understood the work better. I went to a professional academy for about a year and learned the skills needed for my work and prepared my portfolio.

About the Project

First, I started to find scenes that included a destroyed environment that was often seen in the games, wood and stone assets, trim sheets and tilemaps. Uncharted 4 is an excellent work of environmental art, so it was a challenge for me to make it into fan art.

There were many things to learn in a good environment with leveling, and it was fun to recreate it with my skills. This is my first scene work with the engine. I tried to minimize mistakes by writing lots of notes and planning with feedback.



I used PureRef for managing my references. I got a lot of information from the original images and gameplay videos of this scene. The small props were referenced as actual props that looked similar to the original. When I got stuck while working, I searched through Artstation or went into various games to refer to them.



Start with the largest blockout modeling in the scene. Imported by the engine, the overall size, ratio, and composition of the scene were confirmed. It was important to set the proper height because it was a three-story dome including a wooden platform. Moving from the engine to the character, it is composed of long pillars and short pillars to fit the ratio.


Tileable Materials

The tileable materials were created first because the scale and details could change depending on the scale of the brick on the wall.



All modeling was done with 3DS Max and Zbrush. I planned modularity for optimization as needed and started modelling at 3dsmax. I tend to do low poly modeling and hard surface modeling before exporting to Zbrush.



I started with the biggest part and sculpted it in the order of working on the small details. In the stone sculpting, cracks were expressed to look irregular without losing rigidity. In the wood sculpting, I drew the wood grain so that it wasn’t too much, and to make it look a little more interesting, I added nails to add detail.

I tried not to overdo sculpting. For stone and wood, if the sculpting was too strong, it would look messy when texturing. I only wanted large shapes or large details to be taken as normal. Small details were expressed by texturing.



Retopology and UVs were done in 3DS Max. After preparing the low poly and high poly, I’d bake it with Marmoset, I then took it into Substance Painter and textured it.

I created a smart material of the desired material so that the color and texture were harmonized. Using this smart material, I was able to maintain consistent quality.

Then, I partially changed the color or painted by hand-paint to add detail. To explain texturing with a wooden prop, I put a small grain of wood under the large grain normal taken by sculpting.

The most important thing at this time is the direction of the wood grain. This part can vary depending on how the UVs are placed, so it sometimes requires manual work to align the orientation. I matched the tone with the appropriate color and textured the metal part with a rusty feel. The rust was painted around the rusty metal by hand painting to add more fun.


Modules & Assembly

Let me show you how the ‘MainRelief’ works as an example. I worked separately by modularizing each color. After completing the ‘Modeling-Texturing’ workflow, I assembled it in 3DS Max and placed it in the engine. Shared and optimized the repetitive parts. I paid a high cost for the parts that I wanted to have more quality.


You can make the form of the environment more interesting by assembling modular pieces.


Engine Materials

I set up materials such as Vertex paint, Dithering, and Decals as needed.



I used dynamic lighting. The Directional light was set so that sunlight could well expose out from the open ceiling so that the central and main reliefs could be focused. I added a few more point lights to places where I wanted it to be brighter.



I gave it a bit of White Tint to raise the red tone and then adjusted the contrast and gamma a little to make the screen more eye-catching.

I then added a hue to the Ambient Cubemap and GI option to make it look warm.


I believe my work does not yet reach the quality of ‘Uncharted 4’, but I wanted to put my skills into the work. In the process of creating a portfolio, I learned a lot about Modeling, Sculpting, Texturing, Leveling and more.

I hope this article has been helpful to everyone reading, I know that I’ve learned a lot from reading/viewing other Artist’s Breakdown.

Thanks for reading.

Please Check out my completed portfolio on the My Artstation page.