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(3D Design) Any Unreal Engine Experts Here?

Huntn

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@theSeb This seemed like the best location for this thread based on what is available In the forum. I’d ask for suggestions or make one, such as updating the name of the Photography Forum to Photography and Graphic, 3D Design.

In college, I majored in Graphic Design a BFA (Bachelor of Fine Arts) before becoming a professional pilot and let that degree sit there for 40 years with some casual delving into graphic design and photography. Last December I got this bug to create interactive 3D, eventually Virtual Reality settings for the purpose of relaxation using the Unreal Engine (UE), which is a game engine.

Why use a game engine vs a 3D modeling program? Because I want to create an interactive virtual space that the player can walk through, experience and UE comes by default with the basis of an environment already created for the author. I expect @Renzatic to possibly correct me which I look forward to. :)

To become a Unreal Engine Journeyman:
  • Learn environment/atmosphere, lighting, weather, visual effects, and sound- UE provides this. You have to learn how to apply the lighting and visual effects built into the engine, and acquire the experience to do so. My impression, this is not tremendously difficult. UE has done the hard work (programming) for you, however, there are different types of lighting you have to learn how to light a scene, how to achieve an effect, when and how to apply such as static vs dynamic lighting and what impact it has on the performance of the project.
  • Learn to create landscapes- the surface of the world the character wIll explore.
  • Learn 3D modeling- outside of UE. This is huge.
  • Learn to create textures- All are created outside UE for both the landscapes (created within UE) and the 3D objects and textures modeled outside of UE and imported in. Not sure how huge this is, but maybe it is…huge.
  • Learn UE Materials- The manipulation of textures in a 3D space. Textures are all created outside of UE, and are then incorporated into UE materials. Think of it this way, a texture is the picture of a surface, a UE material is the UE programming converted into a GUI (graphical user interface) so you don’t have to learn computer programming, that allows the appearance of textures to be altered to add 3D qualities to those texture, qualities like roughness, and height inside of UE. At this point in my learning, this is huge.
  • Learn how to put it all together into something that works. :D
At this point in my learning, there are several chapters I am missing regarding the creation of textures, and how textures are utilized in Unreal Engine. I’m currently working on a Landscape Materials Tutorial where the author says something like “I made this texture and brought it into UE and by the way I packed some channels, look here.” For the purpose of this tutorial and every tutorial I’ve taken at Epic, the creation of textures have yet to be discussed in any meaningful way and is on my UE ToDo List. :)

Think of the majority of the texture work you'll be doing inside of UE as extra detailing. Like you have your little building, completely textured, and you want to overlay, say, some moss and dirt on top of the wood boards of your building. You already have the foundation in place. It's been built and textured in Blender already. You just want to add some random details to flesh out your object.

There are two ways you could do that.

One would be to paint all the overlay effects in Blender, bake all the new details down to a unique PBR texture stack, then export it out to UE. That would work, and it'd look fine, but then every instance of the building you place will have all those same details in the same place. If you want more unique buildings, you'll have to create more details, export them out, and give each one it's own PBR texture stack.

Or you could make a building with more generic details, and use master materials, vertex masks, and other material tricks to give you more flexibility with your details, allowing you to create as many unique iterations on same base as you want without using as much memory.

The important thing is that you have your generic base to work from. And with something with as many bits and bobs as your average building, all needing to be aligned properly in all their right places to look good, you'll need to UV map that.

Remember, the more specific detailing you need to do, the more likely it is you'll have to UV map it. For simple objects, like your underlying landscape mesh, a planar projection will be enough to get you buy. A formless blob of a rock? A spherical projection of a simple featureless stone texture will do. Both of these UE can do. It's when you start getting detailed, when you need to be able to say "this should go here on my model," that you need to UV.

Regarding textures, I received this reply from :

It is typical to use other programs like Quixel or Substance to create the textures even if the model is made in Blender. Blender model is imported there and then the textures are painted.
Sometimes maps are generated from the diffuse texture. There are plenty of lightweight alternatives for this task, some of them free.
There are some games that don’t even use textures and rather create the surface details with shader math. Those games would then do it all in engine.
 
Regarding textures, I received this reply...

Remember the ice box I posted in that thread? That was modeled in Blender, textured in Substance Painter, then baked down, and sent back to Blender. As you can see from this shot below, it looks nearly exactly the same in SP as it does in Blender, and if I were to port it to Unreal, it'd look about the same there.

When you're working with textures, which you probably will if you're going for a photorealistic look, 99% of everything you do is going to be image based. It's only when you're working with procedurals that you need to stay focused on Unreal specifically.

IceBoxSP.jpg
 
Remember the ice box I posted in that thread? That was modeled in Blender, textured in Substance Painter, then baked down, and sent back to Blender. As you can see from this shot below, it looks nearly exactly the same in SP as it does in Blender, and if I were to port it to Unreal, it'd look about the same there.

When you're working with textures, which you probably will if you're going for a photorealistic look, 99% of everything you do is going to be image based. It's only when you're working with procedurals that you need to stay focused on Unreal specifically.

View attachment 92
Yeah all of my early work has been associated with UE environmental assets and big complex materials. Now there are some UE architectural tutorials for consumption which I will check out. It just seems to me that at some point the UE teachers if their goal is to prepare students for functioning in UE should be directing students to the big picture and other avenues that need to be pursued to get up to speed In this environment.

Now regarding your icebox, I think I understand the concept that static lights in UE are baked into the textures of objects after they arrive in UE. I’m not clear how lighting is handled in the creation of the original object texture In the third party program or if you are just working with basic color there.
 
This seemed like the best location for this thread based on what is available In the forum. I’d ask for suggestions or make one, such as updating the name of the Photography Forum to Photography and Graphic, 3D Design.

My general response to these matters is 🤷🏼‍♀️🤷‍♂️🤷🏼‍♀️🤷‍♂️I have no strong feelings, one way, or the other

Seems like it could go into diy and hobbies too… maybe a sub forum under diy and hobbies. It’s fine wherever. Chat away. We will figure things out as we go along. The name change sounds suggestion good too
 
It just seems to me that at some point the UE teachers if their goal is to prepare students for functioning in UE should be directing students to the big picture and other avenues that need to be pursued to get up to speed In this environment.

Most of those UE tutorials you've shown me are primarily concerned with just teaching UE. All the nitty gritty stuff you'll be doing outside of UE, like UV texturing, are glossed over, working on the assumption that you already know how to do it. That little building tutorial you posted on TalkedAbout was a good example of that.

Now regarding your icebox, I think I understand the concept that static lights in UE are baked into the textures of objects after they arrive in UE. I’m not clear how lighting is handled in the creation of the original object texture In the third party program or if you are just working with basic color there.

From the way I understand it, UE generates baked lighting and shadowmaps by using a 2nd UV layer on your objects to create an atlas from. I've dabbled in that, and it's not difficult to do, but once again, you need to have a good foundational grasp on UV mapping to do it.

Really, I'm still of the opinion that you need to set aside learning the finer details of large scale landscaping, and just do something relatively small and manageable. Like a radio, or a bottle, or a building. Start with the small stuff, and work your way up. It might seem like you're being delayed from doing what you really want to do, but in actuality, it'll probably get you to that point faster, since once you understand what's happening on the small scale, you'll have a better understanding of what's being done on the larger scale.
 
Total aside, the Unity engine has a new demo scene out. I thought it was pretty nice.

 
Most of those UE tutorials you've shown me are primarily concerned with just teaching UE. All the nitty gritty stuff you'll be doing outside of UE, like UV texturing, are glossed over, working on the assumption that you already know how to do it. That little building tutorial you posted on TalkedAbout was a good example of that.



From the way I understand it, UE generates baked lighting and shadowmaps by using a 2nd UV layer on your objects to create an atlas from. I've dabbled in that, and it's not difficult to do, but once again, you need to have a good foundational grasp on UV mapping to do it.

Really, I'm still of the opinion that you need to set aside learning the finer details of large scale landscaping, and just do something relatively small and manageable. Like a radio, or a bottle, or a building. Start with the small stuff, and work your way up. It might seem like you're being delayed from doing what you really want to do, but in actuality, it'll probably get you to that point faster, since once you understand what's happening on the small scale, you'll have a better understanding of what's being done on the larger scale.
I know you want me to model and I want to model. :)

When I did the Forest Scene, I barely scrapped by getting that done, and had no idea of the limits and other landscape options that are available. I want to capitalize on this, despite the frustrations I express from time to time. :)

Yes I briefly worked on modeling but decided I wanted more exposure to UE landscaping, while acknowleging that I don’t know yet how to create a texture. Fortunately to fill the gap there are a bunch of pre-made textures I can use to play around with scene creation, using a wide variety of plants, rocks, scrubs and trees that are available through Megascans. Now this is just one step In the journey. What it achieves is it keeps me feeling good about the time I‘m devoting to this hobby. Some of those tutorials are good and some put me to sleep (I take notes and drink coffee. ;)). But in UE when I can play around building a scene I do feel good.

When I get tired of that and in this process, I’m going to hit something, like I need to model some rocks, create a water feature, or build a camp fire or a barn. Now I don’t anticipate this time is too far off. :)
 
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When I get tired of that and in this process, I’m going to hit something, like I need to model some rocks, create a water feature, or build a camp fire or a barn. Now I don’t anticipate this time is too far off.

Do the barn! When you're ready to do it, I'll help walk you through step by step.
 
Not just any old barn, but a stylish horse stable. You see that is the best method of traveling to my hidden location. :D

And it'll need to be overgrown with ivy. Ivy makes everything more classy.
 
My Blender to Krita work is getting a bit better. I'm not done with this yet, but I'm liking where it's going.

This scene took me maybe about 20 minutes to model in Blender.

BlenderGrave.jpg

And 3 hours and counting on painting.


KritaGrave.jpg
 
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@Renzatic, sorry for the late love, somehow I missed this when you posted it.

Some time I think I’ll lose my mind because Unreal Engine is rapidly changing, and I learn that the tutorial I’m working on, the landscape material I found and love is about to become obsolete… :oops:

Nanite landscapes were just introduced in 5.1, I’m following an old UE 4 tutorial talking about how to set up tesselation (height applied to landscape materials, make rocks look more round, blades of grass stick uo) ) and today I stumbled across a comment that UE 5 has done away with tesselation, replaced by Nanite.

Part of this is my own fault living in my UE cave. However the landscape material I’m using is not Nanite compatible, at least not yet, unless the author updates it or something like I pay $400 to join his teaching academy (Unlikely). Well I’ll probably forge ahead with my current project asis, until I can find a Nanite landscape compatible layered material.
 
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Remember that you don't HAVE to use the latest and greatest version of Unreal. You can do what game studios do, and stick a fork in a particular version for your project.

Though I'm wondering how exactly a material can be nanite compatible. I'll need to look that up.
 
Remember that you don't HAVE to use the latest and greatest version of Unreal. You can do what game studios do, and stick a fork in a particular version for your project.

Though I'm wondering how exactly a material can be nanite compatible. I'll need to look that up.
Tessellation is a very attractive feature, I did not realize when I upgraded to UEv5 that it was being replaced by Nanite as part of introducing Nanite landscapes which I think went active with UE5.1. UE5 also got rid of the requirement to manually created LODs which is great. I sent a message to the guy (Unreal Sensei) whose auto landscape material I am using, asking if he might upgrade his material to be Nanite compatible. Have not, nor will likely not hear back from him, nor do I know what is required to make a material Nanite friendly. Yes, I’ll stick with 5.1 until I finish this first forever project, ;)
 
I don't imagine that making a material Nanite compatible would be all that involved. If you want to use it, which I imagine you do, because Nanite removes a lot of stress from making 3D models, it'd probably be worth the effort to learn how to convert your stuff.
 
I don't imagine that making a material Nanite compatible would be all that involved. If you want to use it, which I imagine you do, because Nanite removes a lot of stress from making 3D models, it'd probably be worth the effort to learn how to convert your stuff.
It seems like the foliage I’m using it’s just a matter of checking a Nanite box which I think is enough. Not having to worry about LODs is huge.

For the surface/landscape textures, if you download them from Megascans, there is a Nanite category which is 8k resolution. Now it is very possible, that on my landscape because I’m currently using 2k or 4k landscape textures, they/Nanite enabled causes the landscape to dissapear. I’ll try to download the same or other textures in 8k resolution and see if this makes a difference. 8k resolutions take up a lot of space on the hard drive though. :unsure:
 
It’s been quite a while since I posted in this thread. Here’s an update.
I had been playing with Unreal Engine up until the time last fall when I had the issue with my kidney and the temporal arteritis. Just before that, I was getting frustrated with Unreal Engine because I could not get virtual textures to consistently work in a project. Some of this might be because I‘m getting old and my short term memory is not what it used to be. I might get the urge to give it another shot. Not trying to do anything fancy, however properly handling the coding structure of materials can be complex and getting the results you want. I do want running water as in a stream and waterfall, and that seems to be one of the weaker parts of the engine. 🤔
 
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