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3D Game Art Game Environment Report

By Steff Kelsall

For my 3D Game art project, I intend to remake the starting house from The Legend of Zelda: The Minish Cap. This game was on the Gameboy advanced, and came out November 12th 2004 in Europe (2016). The Minish Cap has a pixel art style, with high quality sprites and animations, so my first thought for the brief was to recreate it in Unreal 4 using high quality hand painted textures and stylised 3D models. My research for this idea was mainly looking in to how I would create these hand painted textures, how long it would take me over all to make them, and just how many textures I would have to make for the whole room.

I first researched hand painted textures, and the kind of style and quality I wanted to achieve. I looked into artists at Blizzard like Charlène le Scanff (Le Scanff, 2015), who does card-backs for Hearthstone, as well as building concepts that suit the kind of stylised look I wanted to aim for with this project. Her clean, lineless style with bright, vibrant colours and clear material definition is something I wanted to achieve for my textures. For example, the Moon House in the bottom left has the kind of shapes that I wanted to achieve, with blocky wooden struts under the windows and on the walls. There are a lot of curves in the Moon House design, instead of the blocky shapes being perfectly straight, they have a slight curve to give it that friendly feel. The colours on her pieces are very saturated with a nice contrast of cold and warm colours, for instance on the Sunset Tower in the bottom right has bright blue to contrast with the orange lighting on the brick work. Once again the design is curvy and leaning, with wooden beams on the side of the building to break it up into different shapes. The lighting on her images is always very warm as well, and the shadows cold. This makes it stand out as well as adding to that friendly feeling. Meanwhile the card back that she worked on for Blizzard still maintains that clean and high contrast style but with cooler and less friendly colours, meaning that there is a completely different effect on the viewer. I would have liked to achieve the warmer look for my textures.

I also looked into two more artists who had a similar style, Antonio Neves (Neves, 2015) being one of them. His hand painted textures for the site Bitgem is another example of what I was trying to aim for, as they had a similar style to Charlène, but he included the actual textures to view on art station before you can purchase them for use, so I had a good idea for what my textures would have to look like for my game environment. I was especially interested in the lava textures, as pictured on the left I thought that these would be useful reference for my forge, as I would need to have an animated glowing coals and fire in the forge, which I intend to research more thoroughly to put into practice in my scene. I also thought the wood textures would be useful reference for my floor and ceiling. I looked at some of his models as well, and while they follow a similar curvy design as Charlène le Scanff, but with more neutral and cooler colours than her paintings. The textures still have that painterly effect but also give the feeling of a casual horror game rather than a cutesy game. This is also due to the broken down dilapidated look to the wood textures, which add to the old, rough and spooky look.

The last artist I studied was Marie Lazar (Lazar, n.d.), who worked on the since cancelled game ‘War Wielder’. In her breakdowns of the assets she created, she shows the models created in wireframe as well as shots of the textures she hand painted for them. Her stylistic look was similar to what I wanted for my project, and it was interesting to see her models that were made to fit the style of the textures. By creating slight curves in the meshes, without making them incredibly extenuated, the model has a softer, less severe look to it. The tiles towards the edge of the roofs are also modelled in but not along the rest of the roof as it won’t be visible.The textures for Marie’s work is warmer than Antonio’s, but the shadows are much more neutral, so the effect is generally more positive, it makes the viewer think of a scenerio that has little to no conflict within it. After seeing how each of these artists modelled to fit the textures they were creating, which was another thing I needed to focus on, I decided that having a rather low poly room with chunky, cartoony looking objects would suit this style of texturing if I chose to use it. Colour and material definition is very important with hand painted textures, so if I were to use this method I would need to make sure the colours of each object were quite bright to avoid them looking washed out, and the lighting looking wrong for the type of setting I am aiming for.

Although, after totalling up how many textures I would need, as well as how many hours it would take me to create them, I decided in the end that if I had enough time I would do it, but for this project the time frame wasn’t at all realistic. I would need to create over 30 hand painted textures which would take me at least 6-8 hours to complete and achieve a realistic material definition, as well as modelling all the assets and making sure they fit the style well. On top of my other projects, I decided that it would be more viable to use a different method of texturing and so in light of this, I decided to use substance designer to create textures for a more PBR look. This would include trying to aim for a realistic as possible look (LLC, 2014), which I have more practice in, using realistic lighting and creating more realistic models. For reference, I was looking into Ana Rodreiguez (Rodriguez, 2016), a texture and shader artist at 2K games, who worked on the textures for Bioshock: The Collection. The textures are much more realistic than the hand painted textures I looked at previously, and have values in the different maps that make it stand out more, due to its more random decay which is normal for real life objects. For instance, the tiles texture, there are broken tiles incorporated into the texture, as well as in the model itself, and the tiles are on different levels to one another, so the light bounces off them differently to how to would if the cylinder was totally flat. Another way to achieve this would be to have a very strong normal map so it gives the illusion of modelled in details, which might have been Rodriguez’s method for these before putting them into an asset sheet.

After making all those decisions regarding style, I then had to nail down exactly what I was going to model, where, and how many texels per meter I was going to use. Here is the table I used to figure these things out.

With these dimensions in mind, I created a block out to show where everything in my scene would be placed in the correct sizes, bar a few objects that will be placed later on.

I opted to tweak the scene slightly, by having one larger rack rather than 2 smaller ones. I also intend to make the forge slightly larger than the one in the game screenshot, as the game screenshot forge is inaccurate to actual forges, in fact, several pieces of equipment in the game’s screenshot are inaccurate to actual blacksmithing equipment, so I have researched and gathered information on equipment that is used so my scene looks closer to life.

Here are some reference images I have gathered.

In these reference images, I have aimed to gather references to things that I would have struggled to find otherwise. Some of the photos, the two hammers and the tongs specifically, are photos that I took myself by going to the metal working course and enquiring there. The anvils pictured are both the right shape of what I wanted for my anvil, however the anvil with the coke can on top of it isn’t the right size, but gives me a closer look at the shape of it, whereas the one on the left is both the right size and texture. The two photos of blacksmiths work spaces are for both the forges that they use, and to examine exactly how the soot and smoke would spread throughout the room, where stains would be and what kind of brickwork would be around the forges. I also noticed that they both seem to have stone floors rather than wooden ones like in the game screenshot. I also examined the rust patterns around the room. Both anvils in these photos are very rusty, which leads me to believe that I should add rust in places on my anvil, except for on the top. In my research I was looking into how you would shape armour and swords using blacksmithing tools, and I found out that while shaping thin bits of metal, you need to have a smooth surface on both anvil and hammer to make sure that the metal isn’t imprinted with any marks on those two surfaces while you’re hammering out the shapes. This is less important with thicker bits of metal like swords, but to achieve a nice finish, a smooth anvil and raising hammer (the smaller hammer that is pictured) should be used. (I have no direct quote for this as it was a conversation in person and condensed). Due to these smooth surfaces on the hammers and anvil, I thought that using vertex painting would be a good way

to add this effect to my textures, as well as using it to add soot, grime and rust to my room. I also think that using substance designer to create my textures will give me the ability to make a solid and easy to use base for these kind of effects. I also looked at some different types of tool racks for my wall rack and the back of my work bench. I thought that using cork would be a good idea, for its versatility, but through research I now think that using a heavy duty pallet like surface would be a better idea, as the slats create a more solid base to hang heavy tools on. I could also add small shelves to it, although I think I will use the closed off hanging racks instead, as mostly it will be holding different sized hammers and maybe some chisels in the tool rack. The wall rack will be displaying new swords and daggers, as pictured in the bottom right corner. Lastly, next to the anvil there will be a layered work table that will have tools in use on top of it. I intend to add some burn marks and stains from splashing oil mix using vertex painting onto the object as well, as I can mostly work with tiling textures and then add in the extra details using the vertex painting. In conclusion, I intend to remake the Minish Cap in Unreal engine 4 using PBR techniques on my lighting and textures. I intend to research how to create high quality animated textures and particle effects for my forge, and practice more with vertex painting to get soot and dirt in the right places in my scene. I looked into hand painted textures before coming to the conclusion that it would take too long to complete the room that way, and decided to change some things about how the room was laid out in the game just to make it look a little more realistic and manageable.

References Lazar, M. The portfolio of Marie Lazar. Retrieved October 19, 2016, from PixelButterfly - Marie Lazar Portfolio, Le Scanff, C. (2015). Charlène Le Scanff (AKA Catell-Ruz). Retrieved October 19, 2016, from ArtStation, LLC, M. (2014, January 10). PBR in practice. Retrieved October 19, 2016, from Marmoset Toolbag, toolbag/learn/pbr-practice Neves, A. (2015). Hand painted textures that I did for Bitgem, Antonio Neves. Retrieved October 19, 2016, from ArtStation, Rodriguez, A. M. (2016, October 3). Bioshock the collection, Ana M. Rodriguez. Retrieved October 19, 2016, from ArtStation, Various (2016). The legend of Zelda: The Minish cap. In Wikipedia. Retrieved from Legend_of_Zelda:_The_Minish_Cap

By Steff Kelsall

3D Game Art Technical Report