Category Archives: Week 8 Shaders DG

Ticking Along

This week has been a vast improvement on the last. I’ve still been a little iffy, but I feel that I’m getting back into the swing of it. However, I’ve probably been a little easier on myself than I should have; despite the fact that I’m taking 3 days off to visit home this weekend, I decided to take Thursday off as well. This was because I finished my work scheduled for Thursday on Wednesday, but I should have just brought some work from next week forward. I feel guilty.

Time Schedule

The week started off well, and I just got lazy. Can’t afford to let that happen next week, even if I’m still doing ok for time! It’s just silly.

Diorama at it’s current stage.

Overall, I’m beginning to feel better about my diorama progress. I’ve spent some time trying to bring the atmosphere up to scratch, such as by playing about with the lighting, sky colour, and post processing. Obviously this’ll continue to evolve though.

Here is how I create the dappled light on the diorama; leaf planes with ‘SimpleGrassWind’ for movement.

Currently, my biggest concern with this piece is getting the scale correct. The dragon is going to be the big give-away to the size of the diorama, and I may have to come back in and change the scale of other assets such as the grass to reflect his size. I’ve decided that I will probably be trying to make the scale of the diorama a little smaller than in the concept, as the diorama begins to feel less like a diorama, the larger the scale. I’ll do this by making the dragon a larger component, and have him curl more closely around it. I’m sure adding smaller elements such as flowers will also help with this.

I’m really pleased with where the water is going. The purple colour of it, though unrealistic (well, this is stylised after all), brings some variation to the scene and nicely reflects the sky colour. I’ve been learning more about materials recently so I can make the water’s edge fade out when it intercepts with another mesh, and I can use a location-based opacity fade to make the water-fall areas fade as they fall further from the diorama. I’ve then added a particle effect over the top of the falling water, and a mesh with a panning texture for the foaminess of the water just before it falls off the diorama. I feel like I learned loads making this aspect of the diorama, and I feel much more confident with creating shaders and materials in UE4- there really is a way to create anything.

Water material setup.



You may have noticed that I’ve put in my birch trees from the style tests I did in the first week. This saves me a whole load of time, even if I do decide to come back in and modify them during polish time. They may just end up being a placeholder, but I’ll see. I’ve also added some more rock meshes, and moss to top them.
Moss was a funny thing that I’ve never really known how to create… I’ve tried before and always ended up abandoning it. However, someone on Polycount linked me to a Wikipedia with a series of tutorials. Lo and behold, one is for how the moss in Ryse was created ( It was genius! So I followed the tutorial and created some nice, fluffy(ish) moss. It works on the premise of using 4 mesh layers going from dark and opaque at the bottom, to lighter and more transparent at the top. It’s oh-so clever, and I think the higher polycount is totally worth it. I then used depth-fade to make the edges of the moss fade subtly into the rock and hide hard edges. 

Up close, you can see the 4 layers that create the softness of the moss.


The base platform was also finished this week with the final addition of the grass. I made a tiling texture for the grass, but then overlayed this onto the texture of the base itself and masked out areas in Photoshop for maximum control. The texture for the large base platform is 4k, so it holds up the resolution of the grass just fine for what I’m after and saves me having to bang my head against UE4s vertex painting tools and the likes. It was important for me to be quite regimented in how I arranged my Photoshop layers for that texture especially, so I can quickly alter, say, the tiling of the grass.
So I’m starting to like where this diorama is going, though there are still things I’d like to fix, improve, etc… such as the UVs on this grass which are causing silly floaty artefacts. Pure laziness on my part… a common theme.
Next week is the dragon! This will be a tough one, as I’ve never really made an asset of such scale, complexity, and importance. I’m not 100% sure how I’m going to go about it. I think a lot of people would say to use Zbrush, but I’m thinking a lot of it might be a 3dsMax job. I don’t know. Whatever happens, I’ve given myself a big chunk of time to do research and make mistakes, so it will work out. Time wise, things should be ok. I’d say I’m running at a similar level of completion as I was for the Fool’s Room, and the amount of repeating assets means that I will fill out the area much quicker than I did for the FR.
Once again, here’s to next week being even better. *sigh*

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