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How to Build A Magnificent Space Carrier in UE4

2020-06-12
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Fox Renderfarm Interview

CG BOOST

If you are a science fiction fan, you must be very interested in space carriers and its adventures. In CG Boost “Space Carrier” Challenge, artists surprise us with their own interpretation of space carriers.

As the champion of the challenge, Mateusz Szymoński, a Digital Artist and Game Developer from Poland, created an epic widescreen shot about the United Earth Federation, which looks straight out of a futuristic sci-fi movie.

ateusz Szymoński

Mateusz Szymoński

Digital Artist & Game Developer

From: Warsaw, Poland

How to Build a Magnificent Space Carrier in UE4

United Earth Federation © Mateusz Szymoński

How to Build a Magnificent Space Carrier in UE4

Clay render

Since it’s the first attempt for Mateusz to create in Unreal Engine, he took some time to learn the basics of its editor and he realized that the rendering features, especially height and atmospheric fog are absolutely amazing which help him to receive the great results quickly.

Here’s the interview between Mateusz Szymoński and Fox Renderfarm, in which we can find out how he created this wonderful piece.

Fox Renderfarm: Hey Mateusz! Could you briefly introduce yourself?

Mateusz: Hi! My name is Mateusz Szymoński. I am from Poland. Currently studying computer science at Warsaw University of Technology. I think that “a fusion of a digital artist, game developer, gamer, game jammer, and game engine programmer” is the best description of me.

Fox Renderfarm: How do you feel about winning the 1st Place in the CGBoost Space Carrier Challenge?

Mateusz: Wonderful! It is always nice when a work in which you put a lot of effort gets awarded.

However, places or prizes are not the most important things for me.

I like to participate in such challenges since they are great sources of motivation.

A well-defined deadline really gives me a strong productivity boost when I am working on the project.

Fox Renderfarm: What’s the inspiration behind the nicely-done render?

Mateusz: I usually get most of my inspirations from movies and video games. This particular project is based on the style and setting of Supreme Commander, a real-time strategy game with large-scale sci-fi battles.

Game world is set in the far future where the human race, united as the United Earth Federation (UEF), fights an infinite war with three other factions.

Except standard units like tanks, bots, or battleships there is a special type of unit called experimental. These are usually very expensive, heavy game-enders that can tip the scales in favor of their owner.

I thought that making a massive UEF-style space carrier would be a great shout-out to the game I like so much.

Moreover, I always wanted to make an open landscape scene.

Turned out that a dominating spaceship fits ideally in such an environment.

How to Build a Magnificent Space Carrier in UE4

Fox Renderfarm: As the main part of the picture, the spaceship is strong and well-designed. How did you make it from modeling to texturing?

Mateusz: It took me one full day to create it, from soup to nuts.

First of all, I searched the internet for some references and took some screenshots in the game. I like to skip the designing phase in such sprint-projects. Blocking things out of simple shapes works much better for me.

I started from a simple cube and after a couple of iterations I had base shape.

I heavily experimented with kitbashing to add all the details.

After a few hours I textured my model in Substance Painter which I find to be absolutely amazing software. It is hard to describe how powerful it is, especially its procedurally generated masks. They add an extreme amount of detail with minimal effort.

How to Build a Magnificent Space Carrier in UE4

How to Build a Magnificent Space Carrier in UE4

How to Build a Magnificent Space Carrier in UE4

How to Build a Magnificent Space Carrier in UE4

How to Build a Magnificent Space Carrier in UE4

Fox Renderfarm: The composition makes the artwork look balanced and beautiful. Any considerations behind the composition? And how did you make the men and grass vegetation on the foreground, and the mountains and sky on the background?

Mateusz: I had a general idea for the landscape scenery long before the theme was even announced. Honestly I did not spend much time on compositing. This is a fairly easy scene, in fact it consists only of a ship, man, and landscape with some grass and stones on the foreground.

Most of the final effect was achieved thanks to the camera settings. Its position, rotation, and focal length play the most important role.

How to Build a Magnificent Space Carrier in UE4

How to Build a Magnificent Space Carrier in UE4

How to Build a Magnificent Space Carrier in UE4

How to Build a Magnificent Space Carrier in UE4

Fox Renderfarm: The color and lighting are widely praised by the judges for they strengthen the atmosphere and make the picture so touching. How did you make it happen?

Mateusz: Fog is a crucial element of almost every render since it adds a lot of realism to the image. In an arid environment like this it is twice as important.

I relied on my intuition, 3 hours of adjusting fog settings sliders did the job.

How to Build a Magnificent Space Carrier in UE4

How to Build a Magnificent Space Carrier in UE4

Fox Renderfarm: How long did it take to finish the artwork?

Mateusz: I like to focus on the work entirely. This project took me only 3 days to create, where half of the time I was trying to figure out how different features in Unreal editor work.

Fox Renderfarm: What software and plugins did you use to finish the artwork?

Mateusz: PureRef for keeping my references in one place, Blender for modeling and unwrapping, Unreal Engine for rendering, Substance Painter for texturing and creating several tiled textures, Gaea for landscape heightmap generation, Quixel Megascans for getting some materials and vegetation models.

Additionally, I used my own Rapid PBR Material Creator addon for Blender along with several others to speed up the whole process.

Fox Renderfarm: Why did you choose Unreal Engine to do the render? What’s the biggest difference between UE and traditional 3D software for you?

Mateusz: Blender lacks several key features. I mean advanced atmospheric fog, tessellated landscape system, and handy foliage system (current particle system with weight painting is not as convenient for vegetation creating as the one Unreal has).

I was trying to achieve good looking atmosphere fog in Blender for a while, but since there was not so much time left till the deadline I decided to switch to Unreal Engine and I must say that even without ray-traced renderer renders look surprisingly good.

Also, it is worth noting that fog Unreal Engine tools give the best results I have ever seen in any software.

Fox Renderfarm: When and how did you encounter CG?

Mateusz: At the age of 15 I decided to create my first video game, it was complete magic for me back then. I started with creating some simple 3d models and this is moreover how my adventure with CG started. I was immediately fascinated by it so much that I abandoned my idea of making games and for a couple of next years I was trying to develop my skills as a digital artist. I realized that it is this freedom of creation, this amazing feeling of making something from scratch, what I really like in CG.

How to Build a Magnificent Space Carrier in UE4

Temple of Ylnir © Mateusz Szymoński

Fox Renderfarm: Could you briefly tell us the story of your educational and work experience along your CG journey?

Mateusz: It is strongly connected to my discovery of CG, While making the first game I became interested not only in graphics but also in programming and generally computer science stuff, especially the technical part of 3D art - things like how shaders and GPU work, how vertices of models are stored, how renderers process them, etc. Artistic skills in combination with programming skills give a much broader perspective and open new exciting ways of development.

For example, I was always struggling with creating new materials in Blender as is quite a tedious and repetitive task. Thanks to coding knowledge it took me a single day to code Rapid PBR Material Creator addon for Blender that I mentioned earlier. It does everything for me. It imports all selected textures and connects them properly with one click. I realized that there are an infinite number of such small optimizations to code and it is really great to be able to do this. It is an amazing feeling to use the tools you have created yourself and see how much they help.

I decided to study computer science and I can say that I completely do not regret this decision.

How to Build a Magnificent Space Carrier in UE4

PE-1 Reconnaissance Drone © Mateusz Szymoński

Fox Renderfarm: How did you keep yourself inspired and motivated? What do you do to improve your professional skills?

Mateusz: Challenges, culture, and making new projects. I think this set is a key. Challenges give motivation, culture gives inspiration, making new projects gives skill boost.

However, it is important to keep the balance, working too much can burn out so have breaks to take a breath sometimes.

How to Build a Magnificent Space Carrier in UE4

How to Build a Magnificent Space Carrier in UE4

How to Build a Magnificent Space Carrier in UE4

How to Build a Magnificent Space Carrier in UE4

Desoutter Drill Gun © Mateusz Szymoński

Fox Renderfarm: Anyone or any artwork inspires you the most in the industry?

Mateusz: I love the design of entire universes like Blade Runner or Star Wars. Not the characters but rather how the locations and small props are stylized and how they work together to tell stories.

Here is the list of my favorite artists:

Col Price - https://www.artstation.com/coldesign
Jan Urschel - https://www.artstation.com/janurschel
Paul Chadeisson - https://www.artstation.com/pao
YeongJin Jeon - https://www.artstation.com/user-8966
Gleb Alexandrov - https://www.artstation.com/gleb_alexandrov
Encho Enchev - https://www.artstation.com/ee2015_amg
Esbjörn Nord - https://www.artstation.com/esbjornnord
Andrew Averkin - https://www.artstation.com/averkin
Matthias Develtere - https://www.artstation.com/devmatt
Andrzej Dybowski - https://www.artstation.com/dybowski
Jakub Rozalski - https://www.artstation.com/jakubrozalski

Fox Renderfarm: Any other things you wanna share with CG enthusiasts?

Mateusz: Stay creative and keep on amazing the world with your creations.

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