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Master environment art workflows for videogames

Saturday, March 16th, 2019 | Posted by Jim Thacker

Originally posted on 1 March 2018. Scroll down for news of Volumes 2 and 3 of the tutorial.

The Gnomon Workshop has released Building a Stylized Environment, Volume 1, the first in a new three-part series of tutorials recorded by Naughty Dog games environment artist Martin Teichmann.

The training is intended to provide a comprehensive guide to current production workflows for creating environments for videogames, with part one covering set layout and the creation of a block mesh.

Master current production workflows for videogame environment design
The tutorial series is intended to provide a complete guide to building a stylised game environment, covering key technical and artistic skills, and discussing how gameplay mechanics affect environment design.

The first part, which comprises over five hours of video, covers ideation, the process of gathering reference material, and the early stages of environment development.

In the tutorial, Teichmann uses 3ds Max to create a block mesh which can then be divided into modules to split the work of creating the final environment into smaller tasks.

Using an arch as an example, he covers the process of creating low-poly geometry and texturing in 3ds Max, then high-poly sculpting in ZBrush and texture generation in Substance Designer.

The training focuses primarily on workflow and an understanding of the overall production process, so viewers will need some existing familiarity with the software involved.


Updated 8 March 2018: The Gnomon Workshop has released Volume 2 of the tutorial, which covers the creation of rock and vegetation assets.

Over the course of the training, Martin Teichmann sets out how to model high-poly rocks in ZBrush, create low-poly base meshes in 3ds Max, and generate rock textures in Substance Designer.

The stylised trees in the scene are created using 3ds Max and Photoshop.

With the assets complete, Teichmann imports them into Unreal Engine, using the LOD system for rocks, and setting up vertex animation for the foliage.


Updated 15 March 2018: The Gnomon Workshop has released Volume 3 of the tutorial, which covers assembling the scene in Unreal Engine.

Teichmann begins by placing the main elements in the level, then generating the first lighting pass by importing an HDR image to apply to the Sky Sphere.

He then begins to add progressively smaller elements, applying rock and stone materials to the 3D mesh using vertex painting.

The final section of the training explores how to update scene lighting, polish the materials, and perform the gameplay adjustments and level optimisation required for a smooth in-game experience.

About the artist
Martin Teichmann is an environment artist at Naughty Dog, where he has worked on Uncharted 4, Uncharted: The Lost Legacy, and the upcoming The Last of Us Part II.

He previously worked at Crytek, on Crysis 2 and 3, and at Rocksteady Studios on Batman: Arkham Knight.

Pricing and availability
Building a Stylized Environment, Volumes 1-3 are available via an online subscription to The Gnomon Workshop, giving you access to over 300 tutorials. Subscriptions cost $49/month or $499/year.

Read more about Building a Stylized Environment, Volume 1 on The Gnomon Workshop’s website

Read more about Building a Stylized Environment, Volume 2 on The Gnomon Workshop’s website

Read more about Building a Stylized Environment, Volume 3 on The Gnomon Workshop’s website

Full disclosure: CG Channel is owned by Gnomon.

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