Environmental Art: Concept to Execution Part 6

Finally, it’s time to add some finishing touches to the scene.  It’s been about 8 months since I began this scene (yes, I started the original white box way back in January 2013, finished around September).  So you can imagine how good it feels to wrap this project up after such a long time.

Today we are going to add a few elements to provide even more depth to our composition.  The first is fog, and no we are not using fog in a Silent Hill kind of way where we are trying to get back framerate, we are using fog here to simulate atmosphere that would naturally occur outdoors (have a look at the mountains, the further they are the more they are in haze.)

Already you can see with the addition of a slight fog to the scene we have a better separation of foreground and background elements.  There is also a slight tint to it to compliment the scene to make sure the fog doesn’t look completely out of place.  I tend to try various colors until I hit one that works (in this case it’s a very desaturated blue).

Next up are classic god rays, nothing says epic more than god rays, am I right?  Be careful not to over use these effects, they should enhance your scene rather than taking all the attention away.  Here I’ve decided to use fake god rays via static meshes, instead of the real time lightshafting in UDK.  This gave me better control of where they could be seen from and weren’t camera dependent.   In the above image these are colored in Green.  Lastly, I’ve placed a few emitters on the floor to give a slight ground fog, which are colored in Red.

It’s been a long ride, but that about wraps it up for this environment.  The last thing to do is fix a few minor issues like bad UV seams, minor texture adjustments, the list goes on.  But the overall product is there, and I am happy with where we’ve ended up.  At this point in development, the only thing I would change is color tinting and balancing out values.

I hope those of you who have been keeping watch have enjoyed the series.  It’s been a struggle working on this environment for such a long time.  I’ll admit there were days I thought about throwing in the towel, days that you see very little progress, but I’ve learned that you have to grind through the small battles to get to the big picture and it’s extremely rewarding when you look back at your progress to see how far you have come.

Happy environment building!

Victor Kam teaches Level Design and Mission Design at VFS Game Design