Wednesday, 16 April 2014

Posters and the TRAMMM

It's always reassuring to check the date of my last Blogger update and see how much I've done since then (or in some cases, not so reassuring). Basically the past week I've got the shopfronts done and  finished, and I'm working solely on my tram now until its done and animated (I'll worry about how the player will get in it/trigger a cut-scene later). I added some more decals to my level too, and my trip to Chinatown proved useful again as I was able to extract some textures from images I had taken there and combine them with some more worn and torn ones from photos I obtained online. Below is a shot of how I was combining them into decals. As I've said before, the focus of my FMP is to deliver a large environment as efficiently as possible, so instead of create decals for each bit of paper and stack them together in engine (which would create a lot more unique results) I opted to create four or so composition in Photoshop and export them as decals, which I could still stack, but just less uniquely. This keeps the draw-calls a lot lower as decals are relatively expensive.

I don't know why CryEngine loves to use extremely dated software, but as long as it works I'm not complaining. I had to use what is literally a program for Windows95 to create my skybox, and once I finally figured out how to get the plug-in working for Photoshop (tip: if it's not working in 64-Bit Photoshop, it's probably because it's a 32-Bit program) it was actually quite pleasing to use. You basically save out 6 sides of a cube as tga's from Skypaint, then place in your photos to use, open it in Skypaint and voila, a box comprised of your images in a 3D Previewer. You then pan to where there are seams, mostly on corners, hit Enter and it opens that scene in Photoshop for you to paint out. Then you simply use the plug-in to update it Skypaint and continue. Setting up a grid and marquee tool of a fixed 1024x512 ratio helped hugely here. I used a panoramic photo I obtained online to create my skybox. I purposely chose one that had a slight greenish-orange tinge to it, similar to my FMP logo as it captures that 90s filter you get on a lot of holiday photos that I am trying to emulate in my level.
Once I was finished painting out the seams I saved the images out according to how CryEngine supports it; I wondered why the suffixes had to be '_12, _34, _5' but learned on a tutorial that it's because you stitch the sides together, and the numbers correspond to the sides of the cube (the sixth being the not needed bottom face).

I extracted some photos of some clouds and used a feathery brush to create some more, tiled them and created this image for my cloud shadows texture, seen below in the two screenshots. I'm not sure how I feel about this at the moment, when there is a cloud shadow panning over a portion of the level it flattens out a lot of the contrast and speculars, making it look very boring, but at the same time that's what clouds do and as such it adds some nice realism to the level.

Just some more progress shots showing more graffiti and placeholder trims for the little tree area.

For my shopfronts I just used photos of window displays I took in Chinatown. The spot healing and clone stamp brushes worked wonders here and helped me remove a lot of unwanted woodwork and reflections.

In this shot I've overlaid my normals map just to make a point of me being a bit stupid with my texture space. While I have planned out all my texture sheets that I need to do, I decided to add a metal door to my level and I had some spare space on this shopfront texture sheet so I added it to it. When doing my normals for it and baking them down I realized that nothing else on the texture sheet needed normals, and my metal door ones were quite intricate so I couldn't save it out as a 512x512. So, just a point of me wasting a lot of space by accident...

Finally, some shots of the tram being textured. Normals are done, and I'm doing the diffuse now. I'm pleased I managed to do all the normals in a day but at the same time wish I could spend more time on them, as they mainly come down to the standard panels and bolts everywhere. I did sculpt the cushions in the interior in Zbrush though, so there's a little redemption there...

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