Environment Asset Creation

This is my process for creating a VFX focused asset for mid to background shots in 3hrs or less.

For my latest project, I wanted to created a fallout inspired outpost slum city. Since it was a low fly-over, I knew I would have to create high levels of details in my props and textures. This is what we'll be creating.

The first step was gathering concept art, I found great reference on Pinterest to inspire me. After, I created the low poly base building starting with a cube, extruding faces/edges, then splitting edges, bevels and nCloth sims for fabric.


After the initial modeling came the detail modeling and includes set dressing with structural elements, wood planks, roofing to help fill in the asset.


When I was satisfied with the result of the model, I then prepared it for sculpting in zbrush. One thing to keep in mind is having even quads and good topology in your model. For this, I only used the Mallet Fast brush to break up the edges and create damage. After sculpting, I used decimation master to create a manageable lower poly geometry, but that it also retains details.


After exporting from zbrush comes the shading process. I'm using V-Ray, but the concepts apply to most other rendering systems. For this asset, I'm taking a procedural approach to save time. I created a blend shader base material with a plaster texture. I used Triplaner projection to avoid dealing with UVs at this step.


With the blend shader, I created a dirt shader as a coat and set the diffuse to a dark color. With the blend option, I added the vray Dirt node. This is a occlusion based utility that helps add dirt and drip effects, and from the sculpt fills in the damage and breakup.


Since the focus of this project is not lighting yet, I just found an HDRI that has a scenario I may use for the final environment. I also added VRay rect lights for interior lights to help the mood. At this stage it also helps to check for any issues in the geometry or 


And here is the final set up before rendering. I set dressed the asset, added seamless textures and all the proper normal and spec maps. There is still more to go on this, but it turned out well for a 3 hour challenge.