Sometimes life likes to throw you unexpected curveballs, and this week was that week. I still managed to get some things done and still met the minimum requirement of hours for the week, but I barely achieved half of what I wanted. Uni work is important, yes, however, other things come first and this week was definitely a test of that. Anywho, let’s see what I managed to achieve this week. Gotta focus on that positive mindset!
THINGS I’VE DONE THIS WEEK
I started modelling assets for the studio 2 games collaboration. I only managed to get a few hours down before life went to chaos for the week.
In class I continued to model assets for my environment, working on the coffee table for example.
I watched a video on lighting in UE4 for research and I made half of the magicalvoxel assets for the studio 1 games cross-disc collab. I also spent a bit of time continuing with the assets for the studio 2 games collab.
Friday and Saturday
As well as dealing with a personal situation this week, I also had to work Thursday, Friday and Saturday. So Friday and Saturday I spent only a couple of hours all up just finishing up the assets for the studio 2 collab, as they needed them by Wednesday ideally.
The first day in the entire week that life resumed to a fairly normal state. Catch up day. I finished modelling the assets for the studio 2 games students and started the texturing of them.
I also finished the assets for the studio 1 games students, meaning that I am officially finished that Cross collab.
I also followed a tutorial to finally make the glass material for my Specialisation apartment environment. The tutorial ended up being super easy to follow and super easy to achieve. I also watched more videos on lighting in UE4 for the research aspect of the specialisation project.
WHAT I HAVE LEARNED THIS WEEK
Aside from life loving to throw curveballs when you least wish, I learned a fair bit from the research I did this week.
One of the main features within my environment is the giant latticed glass windows / doors, which meant that creating realistic looking glass was necessary. In prior environments within UE4 I have avoided needing to create a glass material simply by not including anything that would be made of glass within my environments. I found a documented tutorial which would allow me to do so! I’ve already completed the tutorial and everything worked! I’m going to write out the steps of how to achieve a realistic glass material below, so that I can refer back to it easily in the future.
Firstly you have you create the glass base or master material. For the base colour of the glass, you create a ‘Constant3Vector’ node. This node allows you to pick any colour you wish for the glass. You can then right click on this node and convert it to a parameter, allowing you to easily change the colour of the glass when creating material instances later. Next you need to add a ‘Constant’ node with the value of 0 to the roughness slot. You also need to convert this constant node into a parameter, so if you wish to change the roughness later, you can with ease. Next you have to set the ‘global properties’ of the glass material by changing things within the ‘Details’ tab on the left. You need to set the ‘Blend Mode’ to translucent, uncheck ‘Two-sided’, and set the ‘Lighting Mode’ to Surface Translucency Volume (Doing so allows light to pass through the glass object. Next you need to add 3 LERP (Linear Interpolate) nodes to the Metallic, Opacity and Refraction slots. Add a ‘Constant Parameter’ to each of the A and B slots of the 3 Lerps. Name the A slots as front and B as side, with the property name they are connected to. Set the default values of the Constant nodes to the following –> Reflection Front & Side — 0.05 & 1.0 , Opacity Front & Side — 0.005 & 0.2 , Refraction Front & Side — 1.2 & 0.8. Finally, add a Vector Fresnel Function to the ‘Alpha’ slots of the Lerps. Add a Constant Parameter to this Fresnel’s Power and name it Power.
When he looks at lighting he looks at it via two pillars, technology and artistic knowledge. You need to understand artistically what you are trying to achieve. So you need to know things like composition, colours, contrast value, etc. If you’re wanting to light, you need to study art, and photographs and such, and of course all the technical things as well. It’s important to be able to anaylise your reference and be able to grab all the key details and parts that make the reference look like it does. To do this, you can look at the kinds of colours used in the reference images, i.e. are the colours super saturated or de-saturated. You can also look at the grey-scale or values of the original image, to gain knowledge on how dark or light things are, and also to look at contrast between different parts of the images. Also looking at the overall tones of the image, is the lighting warm or is it cool, is there contrast between the two.
For lighting within UE4 —
- If you can use static lighting in a scene, use it! The quality of the lighting will always look a better quality compared to dynamic lighting. But of course this is always situational dependent on money, and how the scene is set up / working.
- In post-processing never use an ambient cubemap! (The feature was used before the skylight existed, and it does the same thing. I’m not sure if the feature still exists in the latest versions of UE4, but it’s still good to know).
- I can be good to look at your environment in UE4 via the base colour show function, to see how the colours of the textures look overall (a good way to see if some things are too saturated or too bright). To do this go to the Lit menu, then Buffer Visualisations, and then Base colour. Within this menu also you can view all the over maps which exist in your environment.
- If you’re aiming for a more realistic style, then you should not over-saturate the colours/textures.
- You can use HDR sky images as an image to create your own custom skybox.
Creating a custom skybox
- Firstly get your HDR image into PS, and mirror the image to look like the one below.
- Next, Create a new folder for the sky and import the mirrored HDR image. Double click the image once imported and change some settings.
- Firstly change the first drop down to ‘No Mip Maps’. Then change the compression of the image to Vector Displacement Map (this makes it a raw image with no compression).
- Next in the view options in the content browser, click ‘Show Engine Content’. Delete the original BP skysphere.
- Then go to the engine content, activate the filter ‘Static Mesh’, type sphere, and click the ‘Editor Sphere’ and drag it into the scene. Make sure the editor sphere has no distance fields enabled.
- Make a new material folder called sky, make a new material called sky master, in details on the left, set ‘shading model’ to unlit, get the sky texture in,
(** Continuing how to make a custom skybox).
- Also within the details box, tick ‘two-sided’, and click save (this means that when you go inside the sphere, you can still see the skybox texture.
- scale the sphere up and tada!
I might do this for my environment, however it is definitely a desirable due to time constraints. It does definitely seem simple enough and I will definitely try it in the near future if not.
In this particular video, I learned that one thing you should really do before fiddling with the intensity of the skylight or any other light sources in UE4 is adjust the exposure in the post-processing settings. Just making the overall lighting brighter by first changing the intensity of the skylight is a fake fix to the problem, and doesn’t actually help the situation. So instead, add a post-processing volume to your scene, then under post-processing volume, and then adjusting under auto-exposure. Basically before adding in lights to a scene, tweak with settings in post-processing first to try and get the base look of what you are after.
Also! Point lights actually cast 6 shadows in dynamic lighting! So if using dynamic lighting always use spotlights for shadow casting lights, and turn of shadows for point lights, as it makes things expensive.
If you want to have a light in a scene solely to help showcase or present a specific object better, you can do so! For example, say you really want to have a really nice artistic rim light on a vase that’s sitting on a stand, you can add a spotlight in the scene and then on the right side tab search ‘channel’ and select channel 1 (for the spotlight). You can then go an do the same thing for the object, and then the light will only effect the object and not the environment around it.