After watching the excellent Tutorial http://eat3d.com/pillar by Eat 3D It inspired me to start modeling an Environment asset suitable for use in the unreal engine I chose to base it on a concept created by Games Workshop and to create a fantasy asset rather than your usual dark future setting used in Gears of War or Unreal. Also I was recommended to update my portfolio by Artists at Black Rock studios so here goes........(This will be a record and notes through the process)
Needing a building design I searched the web for a feature (Hero) building and found this concept by Games workshop from warhammer online.
First I blocked out the main shapes with low poly objects making sure I working to the correct scale I also used the scale of an Unreal character 96 units which is the relative in XSI. It is also a good idea to separate objects that can be instanced and repeated such as windows and each floor as these could be used to construct separate buildings or assets.
Next I subdivided each element into a more dense mesh of even quads to quite a fine level ready for sculpting and adding extra edge loops to preserve hard edges. They were then frozen and exported as OBJ's.
*Note. I think I could have subdivided the mesh far more here and also divided the mesh into more parts for sculpting enabling more detail being added for areas like the steps which were redone at the end...
I created a mudbox file for each relevant floor and imported the separate OBJ's then subdivided them and added detail first the main objects forms such as the boulder stones. I used an actual castle wall picture as a stencil first quickly pulling out the shapes then sculpted it. I did sculpt a little surface detail but will concentrate on this later by doing it in the the texture and normal map using crazybump.
* With the steps it would have been better to have separated them individually to have given them better definition and subdivided the more in the 3D package which I learned later in another Eat 3D tutorial worth checking out
and optimised them ready to import them into XSI so more manageable this is great for keeping you silhouette and reducing triangles. These need to be saved as OBJs ready to import into XSI.
5.Creating your low res meshes
For you lower res mesh the one which will be exported to the game you could use meshlab but this can mess up your nice edge loops so I used XSI its great to use modify polygon mesh polygon reduction in conjunction with a weight map to selectively reduce areas of the mesh keeping the details you need. I then tidied up all the meshes up afterwords making sure to keep their shape.
6.Unwrapping the lo res mesh
I unwrapped all the lo res objects giving them as equal as possible UV space also keeping all the objects separate who needed there own sheet due to resolution or material.
7.Transferring the Hires model details to the low res model
Using property ultimapper you can capture the information from the hires model and bake it into a texture which can then be applied to a low res mesh. Such as normal, AO, depth and Albedo (A colour map you must apply a coloured material to the high res objects when generated for this to work) this can then be previewed using the preview shader tree.
Using the maps generated from ultimapper I combined them with photos in photoshop using tthe stamp mesh as a guide creating a working psd for the diffuse material, Specular and Normal map and for the windows I created an image to create an emmisive material.
I like to block out the whole object all its materials before detailing.
9. Testing in UDK
It was also a good idea to test the object and materials in the game engine so I merged all the objects to one mesh this will then apply each material from each of the separate objects to a cluster on the final single mesh. I then exported the final mesh using actor X and imported the mesh textures and created the relevant materials needed in UDK.
In the engine I could see how it would look and spot errors with the materials resolution and mesh.
10. Adding more details to textures and fixing
Finally I fixed areas of the model needing work and added grime and grunge maps to make the building more worn and also adding the details to the sign, lamp, Windows and barrels.