Making of Unreal Engine Forest Scene - Tip of the Week

Michal Franczak 2017-07-27 09:09 tutorial  > Unreal Engine  > rendering

The Unreal scene with Evermotion greenery.

Archmodels for Unreal Engine vol. 4 is a collection of animated trees for architectural visualizations in Unreal Engine 4. The collection features:

  • 60 models: 54 trees + stones, bough, trunk, grass and fern models.
  • All foliage models are animated. Each model has at least 1k textures for leaves and 2k textures for trunk.

We also included a scene: a lake surrounded by forest. On the launch of this collection we presented a video with a fly-through this landscape:


You can also watch timelapse of placing models into scene:


Now I want you to familiarize with other scene settings.


This is how the scene looks after opening in Unreal Engine 4. As you can see in the bottom right corner, we have a message that Unreal is building Mesh Distance Fields. The scene uses dynamic lighting only. This way we can forget about baking lightmaps each time when we want to move a single element. But it also means that during first opening we need to wait until UE4 compiles all Mesh Distant Fields, which, in this case, can take more than 1,5 hour. Luckily it's a one-time process.


We included three scenes in the project. The first (trees) are just scattered trees, you'll need to drag and drop some light to see them, it's working scene only. The second is "Overview" with all trees placed in order on backdrop so you can take a closer look at each model. The third one "showcase" is our Lake and forest scene.





Each model has it's on material instance, easily editable in Material Editor.



The lake is a separate mesh - it's a simple plane but with quite sophisticated material. 



It doesn't look so daunting at first - just normal material, but...



...when we zoom out, we can see some serious nodes wrangling!



The base idea was to animate water surface using TimeWithSpeedVariable node that would alter UVs of normal map. We have separate speed parameter (it's a scalar parameter, easy to change). We finetune UVs scale with couple of Multiply nodes.



We add two normals, multiply them with a yellow color and then with white color which controls normals strength. If you make "Water Normal Strength" darker, the surface of the lake will be less affected by normals animation and it will look more calm.



This part of material controls water distortion (when you look through it, not distortion of waves). Increasing distortion parameter makes the water more muddy.



Distortion nodes go into "height" input of Bump Offset. "cheap contrast" controls contrast of stones on bottom map - so, it's not just water material, the bottom of the lake is included here too.



Mixing the bottom texture with water and other bottom texture.



We made a bodkin and we placed some rocks on it. One of them in static Mesh Editor.



The rocks have very simple materials - just basic textures plugged in with Texture coordinates nod for controlling UV tiling.



Atmospheric fog settings.



Sky Sphere settings



Directional Light Settings



Exponential Height Fog settings



Skylight settings



Skylight settings (continued)

Thanks for reading! You can see more images and download Archmodels for UE4 vol. 4 in Evermotion Shop.


Author: Michal Franczak Editor: Michał Franczak
Tags: forest unreal ue4 vegetation greenery lake
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