Dev Diary: Week 5

Welcome to the week four round up of the Hangar 45 student project! Here you will see some of the progress I have made with this task on a weekly basis and see me talk about some of the challenges and (more importantly) solutions that I deal with.


Mech Modeling Finish

This week I’ve wrapped up the main modeling stage for all mechs that will be in the project! Over the following week I will be looking at adding any additional surface details as well as the UV unwrapping portion of the project.

Vitaly’s Mech

A mech design heavily influenced by Vitaly Bulgarov’s design for his Black Phoenix project. I have always wanted to see if I can recreate a model of similar quality and visual rendering to his offline renders. This model this far is the mode geometry intensive piece at 160k polygons.

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Recovery Mech

Designed to work for search and rescue operations these small drones are designed to track and recover people and resources from disaster areas – inspired by the horrible mind controlled rat experiments IRL.

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Moving Forward Mechs

Here I’ve made some paintovers of the final models to explore surface details that will be added with normal maps – similar studies will be done later to establish color and material textures.

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Engine RnD

Having wrapped up a significant portion of my character work I decided to spend a few days looking at interesting solutions to bring my environment to life.


As such I found my self exploring ways to bring my stationary skybox to life with a few subtle details.
One of these was the implementation of a cutting edge in-development tool called TrueSky which can create volumetric atmospheric effects like clouds and accurate lighting models in real-time.
Another was a method of animating the sky-box its self with slow subtle motions to create the effect of cloud movement (more research to be done for this method)… this method was inspired by the game The Last of Us which used as similar solution to bring static sky-boxes to life with little effort.


Looking at simple ways to extend the horizon of my stage past the room I decided to explore some water materials in Unreal – The use of water in brutalist concrete architecture along with wooden constructs is one the style’s staple visuals that seeks to bring together elements of earth, water and air into one minimalistic space.

To create my water shader I used the standard Unreal Engine water texture solution that uses 4WayChaosNormals to animate a normal map, but that is where the similarities end.
Pushing the visuals further I used two normal textures – one for large distant waves to break tiling and a small one for close ripples. As the texture were separate it was possible to have separate Panner nodes that could simulate flow (as 4WayChaosNormals was centered around turbulence). Them being separate meant that the large waves could flow in one direction at a lower speed that simulates current driven flow, while the small ripples would move in the opposite direction that looked to recreate wind generated ripples.
The textures themselves though were where hard thinking went to. This is because the default Engine Textures leave a lot to be desired in terms of quality and EVERY online source supplied normal maps that were processed photographs of water (extremely inaccurate for many reasons). To fixed this hurdle I decided to use a terrain simulation software – Terragen that uses wind direction, depth, flow and currents to accurately simulate large bodies of water like lakes and oceans. Using a custom set up I rendered a wave displacement map of 1kmsq area and a 10msq area. This map was then converted to a normal map and used in the material.

The current material currently moves and reflect accurately which means that moving forward I will look into methods for improving the color, subsurface scattering and investigate adding depth.

Example of early water texture and atmosphere in motion

Final Water Normals and Motion



With the main bulk of modeling now done I will be focusing on fast and efficient UV mapping methods as well as the creation of custom materials and decals.
The water and atmosphere test look really good, but as they are not the main focus of this project my be cut or scaled down should performance drop significantly.



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