Work In Progress / 25 January 2020

Search for a Star: Lighting

You can see how I progressed through the project on my Trello.

Today is the day before submission date and despite my best intentions I have not been able to complete this project to where I want it to be. Despite that I am really pleased with what I have put into it so far especially when reflecting on my hours logged and how much I have learnt over the project.

Last week there was no blog update due to some personal circumstances however I will document below what I achieved! 


My first point of call was to get my Vista in place. Aware time was running out and now being back at college and focusing on a group project and presentations to Sony, I was needless to say a bit scatter brained and exhausted. I wanted to make sure my projected had the jist of my original intention. Already cutting back on my statue, I really didn't want to cut back on my chair and table as well, but I felt more importantly the space looked weird and empty without some sort of vista.

Before Vista

I went back to my grass and tweaked the settings of the foliage paint brush in Unreal to get more of a variation in the size and density. I painted this all over, however it still looked barren. I knew I needed a ground material. Revisiting an old ground material I made during my first year of college where I had followed the Trench Mud Tutorial on Get Learnt, I changed a lot of these base values so that it wasn't water logged, looked a little more like algae covered ground, reduced the roughness, removed the rocks and general tweaked the overall appearance so it looked a little more suitable for my scene. I also adjusted the Heigh map so it was a bit cleaner and not as noisy.
It's very crude but as I don't intend for the player to go outside I thought I might get away with it. 

As you can see I also did some crude hedges. I found some base photos of shrub branches and a big square hedge bush on, took this into Maya and moulded them into crude shapes to use as blocky hedges in my environment. I'm far from happy with these and I will definitely be doing proper hedges in the future. So they are just place holders, but again it's more to get the jist of my environment together. I am hoping with final lighting I can maybe hide them a bit. 


Now things were more or less in place I really needed to fix that lighting. Above you can see where I started to strip everything I had done previously back and start to focus on that main point light for the shadows. However I was struggling that the interior of my conservatory would always remain black even though my exterior was very bright.

Tediously I worked at tweaking the distance of my lights, the atmosphere fog and how the lights reacted to that and the intensity of them as well. It was quite a long afternoon of fiddling with tiny minute settings but I was still struggling with my interior being too dark. I even removed all my walls to make sure it wasn't a strange shadow going on but the conservatory still remained dark.

It was deduced that maybe one of my lights was being too strong and therefore wasn't working with the others. So I went about working on the interior lights once I had the exterior looking how I wanted. It was suggested that maybe I use a large emmisive sphere to help. I do have this in place but I don't think it plays a huge part in my lighting. Eventually after tweaking the intensity, fall off and placement of my interior lights I finally got something that started to work. 

When looking back at my original art bible it is actually not too far off what I want to achieve. But in order for it to be a more compelling environment I need to work on bringing back some of those shadows. But I am glad I got this close at least in the final week!

Reflecting on my work the day before submission I am sad that I did not get to achieve all that I wanted and that I had to cut so many corners. However despite that from some angles even my crude bushes don't look as horrendous as I thought they would - although still pretty bad!

I believe I got across my general intention and the quiet, melancholy mood I wanted to capture. Most importantly I have learnt a hell of a lot. 

New for me was the trim sheet method which I relied on so heavily throughout this project. Without it I would not have got this far at all. I am happy to say that when I continue working on this project I can go back and refine and perfect that trim sheet more and it will immediately update the whole thing. 

I didn't get to achieve what I wanted with my glass shader and my water, but I am confident now that I can think of a method that will make this work. I am also sad that I didn't get round to all the sculpting I wanted to do as well. But again I am excited to see how this will look when I do get around to doing this in my spare time leading up to the end of my final year of college.

There are plenty of things wrong with this environment but I am so pleased with my progress. I do 100% intend to add and improve on this scene, there are more personal details I want to add and new methods I want to try such as applying detail normals.  I'm so excited to see what my final result will be.

When getting concerned about not finishing or not standing up to the quality of other entries I reflected back to my trello board where I was logging my hours. In total I have invested 59 hours over 9 weeks of production, which totals to about 1.5 weeks.... when I think about it that way I'm really impressed with what I have achieved.


Initial Lighting Pass

Final Render