The Room

Environment Breakdown

Maxim Dorokhov

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Maxim Dorokhov

Senior Environment Artist

Introduction

Hello everyone, I'm Maxim Dorokhov, a Senior Environment Artist at Blue Twelve Studio, and I've been working in the video game industry for over 8 years.

Project & Goals

With this project, I wanted to pay tribute to the original game, which was one of the games that inspired me to get into 3D.

My goal was to recreate Henry Townshend’s apartment from Silent Hill 4 using Unreal Engine 5 and to test Lumen real-time lighting for the interior environments.

One of the important things I kept in mind while working on this environment was the importance of a balanced look that the original game had.

The apartment needed to look livable, yet creepy at the same time. I wanted it to look like a place you could imagine finding yourself in, but that you wouldn’t feel comfortable being in.

Software

  • Unreal Engine 5
  • 3ds Max
  • Substance 3D Designer
  • Substance 3D Painter
  • RizomUV
  • Marmoset Toolbag
  • Photoshop

References & Inspiration

I wanted to keep my scene as close to the original game as possible, so taking screenshots from the game was the obvious step in gathering references for the layout, all the objects and materials, as well as the lighting and overall mood.

I also took some screenshots from Silent Hill Downpour, where you can find Henry’s apartment with a different lighting, just to have a reference of the apartment with the alternative lighting scenario.

01_references

After that, I gathered some photos of real apartments with a similar look to have more information on how some details might look like in the real world.

I recommend using apartment rental websites to find such references, as they have tons of apartment photos that can be filtered by the location, price, year built, and other helpful parameters, and they usually have multiple angles of the same apartment.

Another good source of such references is real estate agents’ YouTube videos. I’ve also gathered some references from the movies and TV series.

They usually have not only the interesting details for materials and props, but also the lighting and overall mood ideas.

Blockout

I started by blocking out the main shapes such as the room geometry and the largest props in 3ds Max and tested it with the draft lighting in Unreal Engine.

02_blockout

Once I got the proportions and sizes of the main objects right, I made blockouts for all the large and medium props and added them to the scene in Unreal Engine.

A really important part of this step is finding the correct sizes for all the objects, so I searched for additional references for the sizes of those objects that I wasn’t completely sure of.

Props

For most of the props, I modeled high-poly objects using SubD in 3ds max. To give some of them an older look, I exported them to Zbrush and sculpted edge damage with Trim brushes.

For more organic shapes such as a sofa, armchair, or paper bag, I made blockouts in 3ds max and used them as base objects in Zbrush.

Then I sculpted all the details mostly using the ClayBuildup, Move, TrimSmoothBorder, and TrimDynamic brushes.

For this project, I wanted to keep the texel density above 10.24 per meter and the textures at 2K and lower, so I tried to use as much UV overlap as visually acceptable, as well as splitting large objects into multiple texture sets.

12_fridge

I textured all the unique props in Substance 3D Painter using default generators and masks, and some of the textures as a base for the materials.

13_texturing-1

I think the longest part of the texturing was creating the graphic design for the books and packaging.
I used Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop to draw all the graphics, and photos from free stock photo websites if I needed to add some.

I also used stock photos for the pictures on the walls.

Tile Textures and Decals

For all the large surfaces such as walls and floors, I made tileable materials and decals in Substance Designer.

I used decals to add unique interesting details and vertex color blending to break up uniform surfaces and emphasize the feel of an old apartment. Some of the base color textures I generated with the help of Ben Wilson’s Color Variation nodes.

I wanted to give the materials a rather old and nasty look, so I added details that can help to achieve such an effect.

For the paint, I added small bumps and strokes from the brush, as if the wall had been sloppily painted with glossy paint on top of an endless number of previous coats of paint and small plaster patches.

The decals I made for the paint material are large painted plaster patches, brush strokes around the power sockets, moldy stains, and mesh decals for the wall corners.

I added randomness to the direction of the pile of the carpet and flattened some areas to give a more used look. I also added stains to the base color of the material and another layer of stains with the decals.

For the kitchen backsplash tile and countertop, I added wipe marks in the roughness, and decals with grungy spots in the areas closer to the sink and stove.

23_backsplash_material

Background

I wanted to finish the exterior part as quickly as I could, since it’s barely visible from the windows, so I made simple low-poly models for the ground and the buildings, textured them with simple photo textures using only base color, and placed a few Megascans trees.

24_exterior

Lighting

For the lighting, I used Unreal Engine 5’s real-time Lumen system with ray-traced shadows and translucency for the glass. On the first lighting pass, I added the main light sources – skylight and lights from all the lamps in the interior.

And on the second pass, I lit some places that were too dark or too flat. I also used volumetric Exponential Height Fog to support the mood and to lighten dark areas.

25_lighting

Conclusion

I started this project in 2018 but never finished it back then. After the release of Unreal Engine 5, I decided to finish some of my abandoned projects, and The Room was the first on the list.

The new Lumen lighting system in Unreal Engine 5 made the process of creating this environment much more efficient for me, allowing for faster iterations.

I took the base layout and some props from my old project and spent about 2 months fleshing out the rest of the environment. The original game looks great even 20 years after its release, and I hope I was able to capture some of its atmosphere.