I’m Chris, lead artist at Fourth Axis! We are currently working on the indie game “Bug Scout”. Being lead artist means I wear a lot of hats! I do texture work, models, build materials, and create tools that speed up the level design process.
We, Fourth Axis, hope to share some of that magic with you in these small posts, giving general or specific breakdowns of our own process, so that we can all learn together.
This week, We’d like to focus on materials.
“Bug Scout” runs in Unreal Engine 4, and our materials take full advantage of its ‘physically based rendering’(PBR) and ‘material instance’ systems. This not only gives us convincingly “real” materials (PBR) but also allows for those materials to be dynamically adjusted in real time. (Material Instancing)
Our materials are built to have a sense of real world surface with elements like reflectivity and subsurface scattering, while maintaining a chunky cartoony aesthetic. Exaggerations are made to the color parameters to push the landscape into a vibrant saturated color spectrum! These parameterised elements allow for a single material to be used in a variety of contexts. Below, the leaves and bushes all share the same material with adjustments being made to the parameters to fit each specific asset.
Because every material is not set in stone, elements can be changed based on where they may appear in the game world. Below, you can see, on the left, our current environments colors and on the right those colors adjusted for a winter scene.
These minute changes take very little work from an artist or designer, the materials have very efficient texture maps, and because they are being used and reused, there is no fear of running over our texture budget.
Thanks for reading, and I hope you’ll join us next time for another Bug Scout Close Up! Any Questions or comments? Post below!