Planning an organic scene
Creating the caverns and the tunnels in the project was the first time i had ever created a full scale organic scene. This was a huge challenge from the get go and so i started with the same mindset as the rest. Get references and do the research. So, that’s what i did and i have got to say, it’s much easier finding cave references than finding science fiction references. Luckily, when I had began researching the look development of the project I had created a mood board of what I had wanted to achieve with the alien environments. I looked at valleys and cliff sides, underwater river passages, cave systems, stalactites and a lot of environment art for the likes of god of war and various games that feature heavy exterior environment art.
Scaling and Flattening
The bane of my existence. I lost count during the project how many times i had to go back and redo the floors and tunnel heights of the cave systems. This wouldn’t be a problem if had waiting to bake every time i did it until i had the go ahead but of course I baked everything and updated the textures before passing it off. However, this did provide the opportunity to find a lot of issues within the environment and then fix them so it wasn’t completely negative but it was mind numbing. In the future i think just passing off a low poly for test animation would be the smart thing to do. Luckily, scaling and flattening issues were the only issues, everything else was great with the environment. Due to the fact alphas are an extremely strong tool (I use JRO’s alphas) it was very easy to achieve a strong and natural looking cave system within Zbrush without having to do too much fine detailing however some was necessary when adding secondary assets in.
Now that the project is mostly perfected we just have to do some final touches. One of these that I myself can’t leave in the final piece is the back wall of the cavern system. In my opnion seeing it in the final piece gives me so much dread. It looks like a blobby mesh. This can be rectified pretty quickly however by splitting the mesh up and redoing the uv’s on that section and re baking with higher resolution so all is well and I can sleep easy.
Overall i’m very pleased with the outcome of the cavern environments. Of course it’s hard to let small things go and i’ll always want to go back and redo a million things but a deadlines a deadlines. At a certain point you have to move on to the next piece of work. Jack again did a fantastic job of lighting it and the VFX adds so much. But with the time spent on building it I have to say im pleased, and I really believe I managed to get across the massive scope of whatever this other dimension is compared to her ship.