Yesterday I got a question about creating a quick sketch for a new boulevard in the municipality of Stockholm, naturally, having never done anything like it before, I agreed.
For this assignment I was given a 16 hour deadline and decided to use Unity as a tool to build up the area, I started up with a simple SketchUp model and a plan drawing straight out of AutoCAD.
Base non-UVed boxes
With most things having to be done in post-production, I still wanted to get some nice lighting out of Unity, additionally, having the main textures already applied and corrected according to perspective when entering post would save a bunch of time.
Having used 3Ds Max for. Wow… This month marks my tenth year anniversary of opening the program for the first time, I went with that.
Look at that, my first finished model, isn’t it lovely… Hah, if I had a penny for every time I got bullied by my friends at Uni for it, I would never have had to start working at all. It’s even copyrighted, one of them still uses it as avatar on Steam… But I digress.
Ten year anniversary
Modeling the street, UVing the parts that needed to be textured, the creation of some nice chamfered edges around all small parts of the environment, as well as the placing of most props was done here.
Final 3Ds Max model
Next up was textures, the old classical workflow of tiling images from the area specified wouldn’t work for two reasons, it isn’t built and creating textures that way takes a long long time, therefor I decided to go with Substances, I love working those graphs!
Sadly though, while I would’ve loved to get deep deep into Substance Designer to create all textures, I knew there was no time, as such I used Allegorithmic’s Substance Share and merely adapted the graphs for my own specific needs.
Since the final product was to be a still image, I found that floating geometry can be used for things other than normal maps.
Fake it until you make it!
The area was close to a park and I wanted to have trees with a nice correct lighting throughout the leaf crown of every single tree, while this is certainly doable in Photoshop, finding and cleaning images still takes a very very long time.
Instead I risked a gamble, bought a license for SpeedTree and got started.
Roughly 6 hours into the process.
SpeedTree is wonderful, I will make sure to write something on it later on when I start using it for hand painted trees in our game, Eco Tales.
Here’s the final Unity3D scene, my screen shoot tool sadly can’t get any of the post processing in on the capture, so I had to forgo it, but with it activated and a few more hours, I’m sure Unity can measure up to Unreal Engine 4 when it comes to visualization projects.
Base scene from Unity
A tip on layers when working on something like this, make sure you name them, doesn’t have to be spelled correctly or well thought out, but trust me, it saves you a lot of head aches, especially if you have to reopen the file again.
Name your layers
This is the final image after 16 hours of work and a lot of back and forth, more work will be done, the trees need to have a species change and there should be more people lulling about.
If you had to guess, what part of the image do you think this image is trying to sell you, which design element is for sale? Tweet me @Gruckel I’d truly love to know if I’ve managed to sell the correct ting here!
Version 3 of project Opp
After initial feedback and some back and forth this is the final image we’ll be taking to the client.
Camera moved for final version
The ease with which SpeedTree allowed for quick iteration of the look of the trees as well as species changes has been truly invaluable.
The pattern was moved to where it will actually be placed in real life, most post effects were reusable with slight changes to masking areas.
With the extra hours I also managed to add some post-rendering to the trees and some improved shading on the people.
Another thing which didn’t stick out enough on the original was the seating wall which will run along the entire boardwalk, with people placed there in a seated position this has become way more obvious.
Most interesting of all in a way was the fact that the original seated tables for cafés were switched out based upon how they looked in the last image, creating this image has in a way already payed for it self!