Middle Eastern Tribe

Environment Breakdown

Cger

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Cger

Senior Environment Artist

Introduction

Hi everyone! I'm Cger and I'm a Senior Environment Artist from Shenzhen, China.

Project

Greetings! I am a primary school student from the UE class, and I feel fortunate to share my project on GamesArtist. This time, I will present the process of creating my new work, “Middle Eastern Tribe.”

I hope this tutorial inspires everyone to create more compelling artwork.

Inspiration

For reference, I used MidJourney for generation, focusing on keywords like <the city of Ayacucho, Bahrain concept art, in the style of cowboy imagery, post-apocalyptic worlds, firecore, delicate constructions, transportcore, passage, Dogon art –ar 16:9>.

Inspiration-

From this, I generated the four concepts mentioned above.

I then used the second one for a redesign, resulting in the final concept. Additionally, I refined details and increased pixel density through a 4K redraw.

Inspiration-02

I understand some friends may be hesitant about concepts generated by AI. However, in a certain sense, this indeed brings more inspiration and creativity to 3D environment artists.

It allows for a better determination of the general direction and core content in the early stages.

Moreover, it refines more essence in terms of details and aesthetics, providing me with a better foundation to recreate this concept.

Creative Background

Firstly, I set several questions for myself in the early stages of the creation process, considering the ultimate purpose of my work:

  1. Challenging Unexplored Themes: The need to tackle themes that I have never worked on before, such as a combination of Middle Eastern and futuristic styles.
  2. Self-Made Assets: The requirement to personally create 90% of the assets, avoiding the use of pre-existing resources from the UE5 library to ensure the uniqueness of the work.
  3. Interactivity in the Scene: The desire to incorporate a level of interactivity for players within the scene, moving beyond simple static renders.

With these three clear objectives, I became even more convinced of the original intent behind my creation.

Story Description

I usually tend to write a story in the early stages of the creative process to deepen my understanding of the scene:

In the year 2090, a futuristic scene unfolds in the Middle East. Amidst the harsh and relentless environment, where heat is unforgiving and sandstorms are rampant, tribal life thrives with vitality.

Surrounding these tribes are large warehouses, concealing a variety of futuristic weapons for sale: not the conventional firearms we are accustomed to, but advanced equipment bordering on extraterrestrial technology. These fortress-like structures protect valuable goods from any intrusion.

A bustling and extraordinary market is visible everywhere. People there promote futuristic-style weapons alongside traditional goods, striking a balance between modernity and ancient ways.

Further in the distance, a mysterious extraterrestrial base is hidden, its presence hinted at in the depths of the dunes. Swift-moving figures engaged in its operations evoke curiosity about its existence.

This is the Middle East in the year 2090; harsh yet rich in history and future, coexisting side by side.

Sometimes, as artists, we are not just environment creators; we must also be good storytellers and directors. This enriches our stories, making our works more full-bodied and credible.

References

When it comes to referencing details, I often draw inspiration from recent movies or outstanding works.

For instance, in “Guardians of the Galaxy,” the protagonists gradually assemble in a lively market at the beginning. Of course, my focus at this point lies in scene design.

Upon careful observation, we can discern that the scene’s worldview is rooted in an extraterrestrial civilization, where residents and cultures form a melting pot.

You can witness a variety of races or species, leading to a diverse range of languages.

Consequently, I ensure to incorporate these crucial elements into my works, such as extraterrestrial scripts, graffiti, weapons, equipment, warehouses, and more.

These elements play a crucial role in the later stages of the creative process.

Preliminary Preparation

The initial white model is crucial. Although AI can generate the concepts we desire, there are still certain issues with proportions, perspective, and aspects like field of view (FOV) in different views.

At this stage, we need the white model to further clarify the overall scene’s proportion relationships and perspective.

Secondly, it’s essential to determine the focal point in the image and the parts where details should be highlighted. Therefore, no matter what, this step is indispensable.

Preliminary-Preparation

Sky

For sky production this time, I mainly utilized the Ultra Dynamic Sky plugin, which boasts powerful functionality and comes with numerous pre-made weather systems.

These include options for cloudy, sunny, rainy, hazy, sandstorm, and various other weather conditions that you can imagine.

It is much more convenient in this aspect compared to the native weather system in UE5. Specifically, I have adjusted the parameters as shown in the image.

Landscape

Regarding the terrain, I once again utilized the Magic Map Material & Maker plugin. For specific usage instructions, you can refer to my previous demonstration and tutorial in the “Lost Village” project.

In this work, I switched the terrain material to a desert texture. However, within the details of the terrain material, I applied a gravel road material from the user texture 1.

As for the more pronounced undulations on the road surface, I employed the displacement tool in UE5. As you can see, in our creative process, we consider any method that can enhance the visuals.

We are willing to explore various approaches to achieve satisfactory results.

Asset Breakdown

Asset creation is relatively straightforward. Initially, I followed the usual approach by using modeling tools in UE5 to construct a gray model.

This step is crucial as it allows us to quickly validate the composition, overall structure, world proportions, and asset breakdown in our scene. Most of my time is dedicated to the iterative refinement of the gray model.

Afterward, I export these gray models to Blender for re-modeling and UV unwrapping. This facilitates efficient reuse and quick placement within the UE5 engine.

ScreenShot00014

Material

The material section is my favorite part throughout the entire scene creation process.

I purchased the asset pack “Pharaoh’s Legacy: Egyptian Temple Megapack,” although I didn’t use the model assets, the master material within it is exceptionally versatile, capable of achieving various wall texture effects.

If you, like me, aim to enhance efficiency, I recommend using the master material <MM_MeshingunMaster_01a> from this resource pack to create your material instances.

I have provided the parameters I used for everyone, hoping it helps you. One crucial point to note is that the “First RGB Mask” channel is very important.

The RGB channels here represent different texture masks, and for this step, I used Adobe Substance 3D Painter exclusively to create them.

Wall Creation

For specifics on how to create this mask texture in Substance Painter, you can refer to the video I provided below.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YIFbtmnKVgc&list=PLyzqK6HEcIxzZ1jp8yreuMbSR5psz-2vs&index=7

This method perfectly complements the material I mentioned earlier. It can be seen that using this approach, I can easily create three mask layers in Substance Painter:

R for large-scale surface erosion, G for small-scale erosion and B for corner wear.
These three wear types are sufficient to achieve realistic wall details.

Techniques for Creating Damage

The modeling tools built into UE5 are indeed powerful, offering many excellent features.

In most of my works, I use tools similar to boolean operations for creating damaged parts.

For example:

Creating these damages is quite simple. After completing the previous step and obtaining a complete wall structure, if you need to add more details like damages, you can follow the method I describe below.

test1

Environmental Storytelling

In this project, I incorporated a lot of environmental storytelling elements, aiming for the audience to perceive more stories within the scene.

The following aspects highlight some details I added for environmental storytelling:

Shop signs and text

The acquisition of these texts is straightforward. I still relied on AI to provide me with more suitable inspiration, and then used Substance Painter to paint them onto the texture of the boards.

This approach makes the signs appear more in line with the current worldview, adding cultural symbols to this world.

Graffiti on the walls

Similarly, graffiti on the walls can convey different civilizations. If we already have an established worldview, any civilization and culture appearing in this scene need to align with this worldview in design.

Therefore, for the graffiti on the walls, I still used AI to generate some concepts. I utilized keywords such as Middle East, extraterrestrial graffiti, continuous quadrants, flat text design, tribal primitive civilization, and more to experiment with graffiti designs that match my envisioned concept.

My favorite tool for creating graffiti is the built-in decal material from Megascans: M_MS_Decal_Material_VT.

This material is highly convenient as it allows flexible selection of the desired portions on the atlas. You can use this method, like I did, to create graffiti quickly and efficiently.

The-graffiti-on-the-walls04

Conclusion

Returning to the creative process, the most crucial aspects are establishing the background and worldview. Once these are captured at the outset, the progression of the design becomes much simpler.

Next, for surface design and skybox creation, I predominantly used plugins. This facilitates the quick realization of the desired effects.

Lastly, unlike in the past, I did not use any PostProcessVolume in this scene. The default exposure settings in Ultra_Dynamic_Sky provided an appropriate value, eliminating the need for secondary adjustments.

As for the video’s color grading, I only made simple hue and saturation adjustments in the compositing software Adobe Premiere Pro.

A big thank you to GamesArtist for the support, and thank you all for patiently reading. I hope this article has provided valuable insights for everyone.