Secret Path

Environment Breakdown

Zhou Chuhao


Zhou Chuhao

Level Artist


My name is Zhou Chuhao and currently live in Chengdu, China.

I have worked in the CG industry for 3 years, have worked in Animation, Film and Games, and am currently a UE4 artist.
I studied in college as a mobile communications major, because of my special love of the CG industry, after graduation I signed up for a CG training school to learn industry knowledge, during which I mastered modeling and mapping, but more importantly, also made me step into the threshold of this industry.

During my work, I have participated in large and small projects, I am full of love and hope for the industry, and look forward to the future.


About my personal work “Secret Path”, at the beginning of the creation, I did not have many detailed ideas.

I usually like to do quick pieces, using the powerful features of UE4 to achieve the idea in my mind, this work is no exception.
I’ve been particularly fond of jungle-type scenes lately, so there’s always some inspiration in my mind.

About this work, my purpose was to create scenes, not exercise asset-making abilities, so I made some models myself and collected some footage.
Due to the small amount of model and material production, “SecretPath” work production did not take too long to make. From idea to scene construction, the final output took about 5 hours. For me it is very fast speed, very exercise my level design skills, I love this exercise.

In my project, I wanted to project the story of a quiet scene, a path in the forest, several small houses next to the road, the residence of a woman, comfortable and free.
At the beginning of production, the idea is actually very vague, only a general feeling. My reference map is nothing more than some forest pictures, in order to exercise improvisation, I wanted to follow my own ideas, starting with terrain production.

First I made a simple terrain material:


When I was ready, I started building the terrain in UE.


I set up a HDR sky ball as the basic environment, only one piece of terrain, I did not create the whole world, but a local scene, within my screenshot range.
The terrain brushes I used within UE were the carving and smoothing brush because this scene is located in the mountains, I will put the road on both sides of the terrain, and use the brush to create a higher form and use it to block.
The production of terrain completely follows the feeling, I did not spend too much time on this part.

Most of the vegetation in the scene is driven by the material, I don’t remember where they came from, some are free, some are purchased, the quality of them are very good, the production of these materials are very powerful.


Of course, you can also find that I used the Quixel Bridge scanned materials: rocks, plants and props.


The house was designed and made by myself before and has cat ears that I find particularly cute.

The model of the house is simple, made in Maya, without the use of Zbrush. The map section uses SubstancePainter and some scanned materials within Bridge. The entire asset is very simple, the material does not have much functionality.


There are some vines on the house, there are also vines on some of the rocks, I used a blueprint plug-in I purchased, plug-in developers are particularly powerful, for our art staff we use this to make our vines, very useful


This blueprint plug-in features alot around the scene, the rope on the trees is also generated by this.


The construction of the scene comes from my own feeling, I use a path as a reference, and in order to lay the surrounding scene to make it rich and its just based on the idea in my mind. There is no deliberate design in terms of composition.


The scene of the weather is a cloudy day, coupled with a high degree of fog contrast, the atmosphere will seem quiet and peaceful.


I’m using dynamic lighting, no baking. Faint parallel light and HDR sky ball, very simple lighting system. My graphics card is GTX1070, so ray tracing is not used.

Late box settings are relatively simple.


The basis of the adjustment is based on the picture, I made a LUT in PS to change the tone to make it more in line with the quiet atmosphere.

This work has no profound skills and is intended for the realization of ideas.

I especially like such quick work, which trains the artist’s ability to conceive and create. Of course, good work also requires a long time of grinding and scrutiny.

In my spare time, I recommend you to try this practice method, so far, training thinking, will not take up too much rest time, will not lengthen the production cycle, it’s a good choice~
As an artist, I am constantly pursuing the beauty of the picture.


Hope you read this article and gain some knowledge, wishing you all the best!