Best way to achieve MOBA stylized look

Hi all,

This has been a super long ongoing process for me as I’m far from an art director. I’m trying to figure out the best way to achieve the standard MOBA look like you’d find in HotS, DotA2, or LoL. I know the styles differ between those, but in general, each has that very stylized, almost cartoony look. None of those are in UE4, so the translation from that style into PBR confuses me a bit.

The first step we’ve done is the character proportions. We’ve started with very flat line, easy on the detail. Then big shoulders, hands, feet, and hips. So the shape of our characters are now correct. The next step is how we texture. From what I can tell, there’s very little metalness in HotS textures. Do I do just a standard Normal, Diffuse, Metal, Rough setup and just connect each node to it’s proper place or is there a more complicated way to do it with doing each red/green/blue channel or something like that in the material editor?

On top of that, I don’t fully understand exactly how handpainted works. Do I have to have handpainted or does that more refer to a look that we can achieve?

Finally, in making our environment, I assume one of the first steps is finding a handpainted style for our ground texture (you can see below it’s currently pretty realistic). The other big thing is making sure we keep all our assets like the rocks, bushes, etc. in the same simplified flat shape pattern as characters.

Beyond just textures and shapes and materials, post process enters the field. What I’ve been doing is using the Cel Shader on the marketplace in the 80’s cartoon style, which seems to do a decent job. But I don’t know if that’s missing something key in the post process that makes things look more MOBA-like.

I’ve attached some screenshots below. I’m not sure exactly what my questions are, but just some general advice would be awesome!

On another note, I would love to just hire someone for this position and be done with it. So if you have experience as an art director or technical direction inside UE4, I’d love to hear from you. It’d likely just be 5 or so hours getting us started so we know what rules to follow and are able to match the existing stuff. Paid position of course.


With Post

Without Post

Without Post

with Post

handpainted means pretty much textures painted by hand. you could use a painterly post-process to get somewhat close, but at the cost of performance. Authoring your art assets properly from the start will save you that step and give you access to a larger potential playerbase.

as far as outlines are concerned - dota2 uses a light fresnel, lol uses fairly strong black ones for characters/npcs, but none use them on the environment. it all comes down to make the important things stand out and making the areas where the actual gameplay happens as low contrast as possible without looking dull.

a handpainted stylized look works just as well with a PBR pipeline, it just does not gain as much from it.

Maybe not to much help but:

This one is a good read about dota2 characters if you haven’t seen it.

This one is a good too about some light.