UE4 - Foliage and terrain research

During a month I was researching the different workflows for making realistic landscapes in Unreal Engine 4. I learnt from many different articles, forums and tutorials. I was very interested in a good pipeline that allowed good results in a relatively short period of time.

-Since it was the first time I faced landscapes and foliage, and I have to build all the assets from scratch, it took me around 5 weeks of my spare time to finish it.
-Most of the textures were baked from a high poly model.
-I learnt World Machine and a bit of Substance Designer.

Polycount thread: http://polycount.com/discussion/163629/ue4-landscape-environment-w-i-p-unreal-engine-4

  • Role Everything
  • For Personal project
  • Date January 2016
  • Type Research
  • Software 3DS Max, Photoshop, Unreal Engine 4

From the very beginning I wanted to use quite low poly meshes that allowed me to work efficiently inside the level editor.

Researching different ways to create realistic water was one of my main objectives. The water material and the terrain material have a distance based mask, what allows me to scale the textures in the far distances in order to avoid blurry and repeated patterns.

The terrain textures are 1024x1024. All the terrain use just one complex shader with multiple materials and material functions that I build specifically for this project. At the beginning the shader also had tessellation, but then I change it into parallax occlusion in order to save some memory.

This tree was a placeholder that alloewd me to research the foliage shader of UE4. Since the project was set in a beach of Galicia, I had to get rid of it in order to make the vegetation accurate.

All the vegetation was high poly modeled in order to get good bakes, specially the normal maps.
This are some screengrabs of 3DS Max, the software I chosed for modeling the foliage.

IN order to add colour variation I created some more plants that used another set of textures. All of the foliage textures are 512x512 pixels big.

The grass was the first foliage asset I ever did. There are 3 different grass patches that use the same texture. All the textures were baked from high poly meshes.

The terrain was first taken from a DEM file from the National Institute of Topology of Spain. It belongs to a nice beach in the North of Galicia that I visited. The height map was then modified in order to get the results I was looking for. All the layers masks for the terrain material are extracted from World Machine.