Mars Temple

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njackson4190's picture
Posts: 74

I started a new environment project a few weeks ago and all is running smooth but I am try to push this environment further. What I would like to do is blend between my static meshes and the terrain to make it look seamless. Does anyone have any idea as to how I can do this in UDK? If it comes down to it then I may just use decals. 

I saw this close to the bottom of the page:

https://sites.google.com/site/seamlessandunique/

This is pretty much what I am looking for. The only issue is that he is using his terrain as a static mesh. Mine is currently a landscape. I really like that you can paint multiple blended textures on the terrain. The only issue with converting it to a mesh is that I can use vertex painting to blend terrain textures, but I am limited in the number of textures that I can have. Any help on this would be great. I may try the terrain as a static mesh in the future to see what I can get from it. 

njackson4190's picture
Posts: 74

This project has been part of the monthly community challenge over on polycount.com. Unfortunately I am not going to be able to finish by the end of the month but I am going to keep moving forward and complete this piece. So my goal for this project is to keep everything hanpainted with little to no photosource. So far I have used masks and some zbrush materials to get the details. I also want to sculpt all of the environment and tiling textures in zbrush. I do not have much experience with sculpting rocks and terrain but over the course of a few weeks I have learned a lot. 

This is the concept that was for this month. I started to follow the concept closely but as I have progressed, I started to take it in a different direction. 

mars__2580_by_shardanas.jpg shot_03.jpg shot_02.jpg large_side_rock.jpg boulders.jpg rock_assets_02.jpg rocky_terrain.jpg rocky_terrain_dense.jpg road_tile.jpg
JBaldwin's picture
Posts: 2162

The progress on this is fantastic! I really like the texturing so far. My only real critique is on the cliff face. The lower half (Covered in sand) doesn't seem to be as unique as the top half in terms of its shape. I would try to make it feel a bit more diverse and possibly add in some erosion trenches.

Keep up the awesome work!

-Jeremy-

njackson4190's picture
Posts: 74

Does anyone know how I would remove this seam? I am playing around with decals and trying to get some blending between my meshes and the terrain. I have browsed around the net but cannot find anything. Maybe it is something really simple. 

seam.jpg
JBaldwin's picture
Posts: 2162

Hm, the angle of the mesh isn't good. It is a harsh 40-70 degree angle. That will always cause problems. Since you are using terrain for this, my first thought would be filler meshes. Make chunks of sand build up, eroded rock, and rock bed that you can line around the base.

For a fixed scene like this though, I wouldn't recommend using terrain. Unless you are creating a large landscape like Elder Scrolls 4 or Just Cause 2, I would try to stick with custom meshes. Is there a reason why you chose terrain for this? Is there a bonus to it you are relying on for the scene?

-Jeremy-

JBaldwin's picture
Posts: 2162

I noticed you came online right as I was editting the post above, make sure to read it again Smiling

-Jeremy-

njackson4190's picture
Posts: 74

My main reason for choosing to use terrain for this was because of the ability to paint different layers. I also wanted to give the terra-sculptor/world machine pipeline a try since I have seen so many amazing results from using that workflow. I do not mind making my terrain a static mesh, I was even thinking of breaking it into chunks(hilly parts, cliff parts, and road section) so that I could use vertex colors to paint in the tiling texture. This would also give me the ability to try and follow that tutorial at the beginning of the forum to try and get some blending between the rock assets and my terrain.

I have plenty of rock chunks and small rock assets to cover where the mesh and terrain meet, so I can do that as well.

This is basically what I am trying to achieve as far as the terrain blending goes:

megatexture_rage_before.jpg megatexture_rage_after.jpg
JBaldwin's picture
Posts: 2162

The thing is, the megatexture technology basically took Photoshop blending, coloring, and projection capabilities and put them straight in the rage engine. That isn't available in UDK, and only until recently, that concept wasn't in any other game engine. If conventional practices aren't satisfactory for your project, then innovation is required. Let me look at a few things and try to come up with some alternatives for you.

-Jeremy-

njackson4190's picture
Posts: 74

Yeah, I figured that there is more behind the scenes action going on. I may not be able to get this level of blending, but getting close to that would be sweet! If we can figure out a way to get the decal to go over two objects without the seam then that would work great, or I can make the terrain a static mesh and try it that way. I'm excited to see what other alternatives you come up with. It's always great to see other ideas. 

JBaldwin's picture
Posts: 2162

Can you send me the upk file and .udk file through a private message to me? It would be more beneficial to test this in real time with the problematic scene rather than me trying to first re-create the problem to troubleshoot it. 

I have a few ideas as to some work arounds.

-Jeremy- 

njackson4190's picture
Posts: 74

Sure no problem! It should be in you email. 

njackson4190's picture
Posts: 74

Just finished making a moss texture. This was a lot easier than I expected it to be. Sculpted in Zbrush and textured in photoshop. 

moss_on_rock.jpg moss_tiling_texture.jpg
JBaldwin's picture
Posts: 2162

Awesome job! 

-Jeremy-

JBaldwin's picture
Posts: 2162

Alright, so let me start off by saying, the method below is by far not the best (But it is the quickest) for a temporary fix while research is done on the subject. It is the same method as creating an ocean, or a detection grid in Visual FX. We are going to just abuse it for the mean time.

I have looked into several solutions for this, even a few that would involve a great deal of programming. The trick is, you want to be able to blend meshes (With unique uv's) at harsh intersection angles. This is actually made even harder by the use of terrain since it is painted information that is unique to the terrain tool and it's layer system. And of course, you could take a few days and set everything up, then hand paint it, then adjust your terrain, and (blah, blah, blah). To me this is a waste of time, not to mention 1/3 of the menu has been missing in the past few builds making part of the toolset inaccessible. And I am not a fan of how limited UDK's terrain is. Therefore it is my natural want and desire to find a faster way of doing things. (Might not happen, but I will try).

Here are some of the obvious alternatives:
- Build all the materials in World Coordinates. Blending will then be seamless where textures meet.
- Curve your geometry
- Don't use terrain (Use a custom mesh)

Here are some of the ideas I am trying (If the above is not an option for your project):
- Abuse lightmass and try to get it to capture texture data (Hacky MegaTexture - Virtual Texture) (If I can get it to work, you could paint on a "Level" texture via photoshop) - This still would not solve the mesh angle issue** That is why even when you had a decal, the seam was still visible. It is your geometry angle that is making the transition obvious* However, if you have to have those dramatic angles, there are ways of getting around it*
- LOD level replica with vertex painted blending modes - could be a serious time waster if pipeline tools were not made (Not a favorite of mine atm)
- Capture Materials, and using 3DS Max, create custom meshes that can blend materials based on UV information

 What I was really trying to do, was somehow project the Terrain Painting onto a static mesh automatically. That way, you simply designate the mask where you want the mesh to blend, and the terrain info is captured, then applied to the masked areas. This means you would be able to paint the terrain as detailed as you want, and it would always blend with any mesh. All of my attempts so far (tonight) have failed unfortunately. I am sure there is a way, and I have a few more things I am going to try, but this could be a case of (New Tech) is required to be developed in order to have it be convenient and profitable in a long term sense. 

PS. - After adding the quick fix, I simply used your models to try and hide the mesh ends even more.
-Jeremy-

marst_finalquickfix.jpg marst_before.jpg marst_after.jpg marst_shaderquickfix.jpg
njackson4190's picture
Posts: 74

DUDE!!! YOU ARE THE MAN!!! That's amazing! I had an idea to blend the edges where the terrain and static meshes meet, I just did not know how to implement it correctly. I had the depth biased alpha part but after that I was lost lol. I really like what you did with the lighting and spec. Did you do anything to the sreencapture in phostoshop or are they material/UDK tweaks? 

I am extremely happy with this look. It works well. I am curious as to how it would look with some decals placed around the edges. If you want to keep working on it feel free. Smiling I'm really excited to see if you can get this to go a step further. Thank you!!

njackson4190's picture
Posts: 74

So I tried to mask out the rock only apply the blend where sand is present. I thought that all I would have to do is invert my mask and add that to the depth bias alpha but when I do I get a float to float 3 error in the material network. What does float and float 3 mean? Doesn't it have to do something with numerical data like one is a decimal and the other is a whole number or value between 0 and 1?  

JBaldwin's picture
Posts: 2162

I just sharpened it a bit. I re-arranged the lighting, fog, and post process to make it look that way. 

Here is a breakdown to show how to achieve masked depth biased alpha based on a texture map, and how to use it to create variation in possible texture control as well as independent bleed options.

**Once again, I am not trying to pass this off as good practice. This should not be used in production of a game. There are less costly and more efficient ways to do it. This is just fast and I don't have the time to dedicate to fully describe and illustrate multiple methods for achieving this (At least at the moment) - Outside of the quickfixes talked about above - Rounding off your mesh (Which is not always an option).**

-Jeremy-

shadermarst_mask01.jpg shadermarst_mask02.jpg shadermarst_mask03a.jpg shadermarst_boost.jpg
njackson4190's picture
Posts: 74

I did not realize that it would be so complicated to set that up. I would have never figured that out lol. Thanks for the help Jeremy. I'll get it implemented soon and post some shots up. In the meantime, here is a grass texture I made today. Not sure how I feel about it yet. I may add more grass to it  and mix it with my sand texture. Currently the grass is sitting on top of my moss which makes it look like mud when it is tiled because it is so dark. Actually, I may add in some flowers. Might look kind of cool Smiling

grass_tiling_texture.jpg grass_on_terrain.jpg
njackson4190's picture
Posts: 74

Well this is interesting, applied the depth bias alpha to one of my other meshes and look what happens when the fog collides with it. I may have to exclude this from interacting with the fog, which would be great because I would like to try and find a way to make a volume inside the dome where fog is not affected. 

depth_issue.jpg
JBaldwin's picture
Posts: 2162

Hm, that shouldn't be happening. Are you sure you set the proper material flags for that material?
Make sure everything is set like the image I showed above. (The flags)
If it turns out not to be the material, then you can troubleshoot the translucency sorting. But I honestly think something in the material either isn't set or was accidentally set. 

-Jeremy-

njackson4190's picture
Posts: 74

So I checked the settings and they are flagged as you suggested. Not sure why it is doing it. For now I pulled the fog back farther so it is not interacting with the geo. Have you come up with any more solutions on the shader or were they all a bust? 

JBaldwin's picture
Posts: 2162

You could try to set the mesh's (Translucent Priority) to -1 and then see if it fixes the issue. I will post a more detailed description asap. *Just a heads up* - I have come down with pneumonia and will most likely be absent for a few days. I don't want you thinking I forgot about this! 

-Jeremy-

njackson4190's picture
Posts: 74

Thanks for the tip, I'll give that a shot and let you know if that works. Pneumonia!! That sucks, hope you feel better. It's no rush, I have started working on vegetation so that will probably take a couple weeks to get it all done.

njackson4190's picture
Posts: 74

I have been having a hard time making ivy these past few days. I think I finally got a workflow and end result that I am happy with. The leaves were all modeled in Zbrush and the texturing was done in PS. Everything has been hand-painted minus the alpha that I got from photo source to get a mask for sculpting in the veins of the leaves. I also used this sweet little plugin from guruware that makes Ivy right inside of 3ds Max. I could not find  a good workflow for the leaves but to make a nice vine to bake to a plane works great. The leaves were placed manually and baked to a plane and then I also made some small leaf alpha cards to paint onto the mesh so it would not look so flat. I still have to do some work on the vines themselves. It is not quite what I am looking for. This is what I ended up with: 

ivy_wip.jpg
njackson4190's picture
Posts: 74

I thought that I would let you all know where I am currently at. I have not had much time to work on this due to some freelance work I got recently and I had some problems with the scaling between UDK and Max. I got it all situated and next week I will be working on this full-time again. I got a nice workflow made for the Ivy so all I have to is make the low poly meshes. I'll get to posting some more updates soon. Smiling

Oh and I almost forgot, the translucency priority fixed the problem with the fog. Thanks. Smiling

JBaldwin's picture
Posts: 2162

Awesome! Glad that fix worked. 
Can't wait to see updates!

-Jeremy- 

njackson4190's picture
Posts: 74

Finished some Ivy for the stairs and a set of Ivy clumps. I have two meshes specifically for the steps and 4 meshes that will be placed on the ground, rocks, and maybe some of the buildings. I still have to add a texture to the vine, but right now I am working on getting the meshes made. Tomorrow I am going get some more Ivy made for the dome. 

ivy_wip.jpg ivy_wip_2.jpg
njackson4190's picture
Posts: 74

Going to call all the Ivy done for now. I think my next asset will be some bushes. A few different variations should do. 

stairs_ivy.jpg clumps_ivy.jpg dome_ivy.jpg
JBaldwin's picture
Posts: 2162

Nice job Smiling
I really like the last image. Good variants.

-Jeremy-

njackson4190's picture
Posts: 74

I used a plugin called Ivy Generator from Guruware. It was mostly used for the vines, which were baked to a plane and  then I used a plugin called ultimate painter, which allowed me to paint HP leaves onto the plane. That was then baked to another texture and combined with the vines in PS. I could have stopped there but I decided to paint some low poly Ivy alpha cards onto the mesh to get some detail and so that it would not look so flat. 

njackson4190's picture
Posts: 74

Made some more progress on this environment over the past few days. Got some bushes modeled, grass setup in UE, started a sculpt of an bonsai tree and made the tiling texture that is going to go on it. 

bushes.jpg bush_a.jpg bush_b.jpg grass.jpg tree_bark.jpg bonsai_tree_rough.jpg
JBaldwin's picture
Posts: 2162

Making some great progress! I can't wait to see how the tree comes out Smiling
Trees can be very challenging to get right. I am having to do one in the near future as well. 

-Jeremy- 

njackson4190's picture
Posts: 74

I would like to see how it turns out when you finish. I have never done a tree before so it will definitely be interesting.

 

njackson4190's picture
Posts: 74

I have had some time to get back to work on this scene. I finished the Bonsai Tree and did some more populating of the scene. I also re-did my website and added a blog. If you guys have a chance to take a quick look and lemme know what you think, I would be most grateful.

My next step is going to make the modular pieces for the tower and larger building. Then I may move to texturing and then re-visit foliage.

bonsai_tree.jpg bonsai_tree_3.jpg bonsai_tree_1.jpg shot_01_b.jpg
JBaldwin's picture
Posts: 2162

Cool update!
Can you post a link to your blog / website?

-Jeremy- 

njackson4190's picture
Posts: 74

LOL, yeah that would probably help. www.nickolasjjackson.com

Lether's picture
Posts: 2

I'll be glad to see more !! Smiling

njackson4190's picture
Posts: 74

Hey guys! Haven't had the chance to work on this in a while. I got an art test a few weeks back from Sledgehammer Games and since the completion of it I have been preparing for the long move cross-country to start my new job this month!! Once we get settled in, I plan to get back to work on this. Thanks everyone for your feedback and help through this long journey!!!

JBaldwin's picture
Posts: 2162

Congratulations! 
Can't wait to see some of the work you do Laughing out loud

-Jeremy- 

Naima's picture
Posts: 24

njackson4190 wrote:

My main reason for choosing to use terrain for this was because of the ability to paint different layers. I also wanted to give the terra-sculptor/world machine pipeline a try since I have seen so many amazing results from using that workflow. I do not mind making my terrain a static mesh, I was even thinking of breaking it into chunks(hilly parts, cliff parts, and road section) so that I could use vertex colors to paint in the tiling texture. This would also give me the ability to try and follow that tutorial at the beginning of the forum to try and get some blending between the rock assets and my terrain.

I have plenty of rock chunks and small rock assets to cover where the mesh and terrain meet, so I can do that as well.

This is basically what I am trying to achieve as far as the terrain blending goes:

that is very cool , how is done and where. Its from?