Mountain Tree

Environment Breakdown

Geng Yinxiao


Geng Yinxiao

3D Artist


Hello everyone. I'm Geng Yinxiao, you can also call me Soap. I am from Shanghai, China, I specialize in the production of game scene environment models.
I have worked at Suzhou Diezhi Network Technology Co, Ltd. I'm currently in my 11th year of work.



The work I bring to you today is to restore this painting, by artist Christian Dimitrov.

Reference and inspiration

At work, I specialize in the production of models for scene ecology.

I stumbled across the artwork of Christians on ArtStation after just a few seconds of viewing his original painting, I was deeply mesmerized, so I wanted to restore this same feeling in the creation of an environment.



  • Maya: Low-poly model, UVs and modular grouping.
  • Zbrush: High model sculpting of models.
  • Marmoset Toolbag: Texture baking of the model.
  • Substance 3D Painter: Material performance of the model.
  • Speed ​​Tree: Model generation for branches and leaves.
  • Houdini: Procedurally generated spherical normals for leaf models.
  • Unreal Engine: Final composition of the engine and lighting performance.


In the early stage of the work, I collected a large number of ecological photo references to facilitate my final control of the entire model.


Highpoly Workflow

I like the software ZBrush, I can’t put it down.
It’s also because of the charm of this software that I embarked on a professional path. Working in the early stages, I spend a lot of time on high-model production.

In order to show the high volume and shape of the original painting, I had to go through various iterations and spend lots of time sculpting

The following is one of my high poly production steps:

I like to start with big structures and slowly push the pieces to completion. I chose to do the initial model in Maya because I can accurately Make rigorous shapes.
In the whole high-model stage, 80% of my production of tree carving is using the ClayBuildup brushes to shape the main shapes.

For the mountains, for 80% of the stone carving,s I choose to use TrimAdaptive brushes.


Low Poly & Baking

This time I used ZBrush to automatically reduce the topology for me, which can greatly reduce my workload and time.
I chose to do the baking in Marmoset Toolbag because I can bake the AO information & and other basic textures I want.


For the trees, I chose a more realistic material texture so that I can perfectly express the material effect I want in Substance 3D Painter.
At this stage, I tried a lot of combinations of different bark materials, so as to achieve the rich material performance I wanted and something that won’t make the picture appear monotonous.

When making the tree materials, the material expression of the color map is particularly important, and it needs to change around the shape at all times. Change & conform to the normal growth logic of the tree.



At this stage, I chose to use the mask function that comes with Substance 3D Painter for texture coloring, without adding paint throughout the process function, this is because it will cause trouble for me to procedurally make other similar textures.

In the process of making it, I still found a lot of real picture pieces as a reference.
When making mountains and rock materials, the expression of height map information and the comparison of roughness maps are particularly important.




For the final model output of the vegetation/tree, I chose to use SpeedTree. As we all know, it is really convenient.
But here I do a little trick, the main part of the tree, I will still complete in Maya but the branches and leaves I will do in SpeedTree.

For the tree models, before entering them into the engine, I will choose to perform a normal correction (bake a spherical normal).
I usually choose to do this in Maya or Blender, but this time I chose Houdini because of its strong controllability.


Unreal Engine

The previous tree-splitting work will be sorted out in Maya and then imported into Unreal Engine for ground editing integration and light processing.
In the engine, I chose a combination of patch clouds and volumetric clouds to achieve the atmosphere I need.


Thank you for reading, I hope you enjoyed reading my process of this Environment – if you have any questions please message me on ArtStation!