How are Materials actually handled in a UE Project?

Advanced Skill Sets for Environmental Art

This will be the third Environmental/Material tutorial I have taken here about environment UE tools, but I’m finding this course to be a bit confusing.

What am I not understanding about materials? I want to confirm that in the UE work flow, materials are added to meshes, after they have been imported into UE.

Unreal Engine has these big powerful materials. Yet in the early stages of this course, the author, tells you how he exports all of the meshes from UE over to Maya where he applies “art” to them. Maybe I am misinterpreting this.

Maybe the answer will be better revealed as the course progresses. I get how you do your modeling in a third party program, like Maya or Blender and import these into UE. What I’m not understanding is that if the materials exist within UE, why would you feel the need to export these to a third party modeling program to apply the art/ie textures?

Now this was a section of the tutorial where he is talking about converting block meshes over to the finished final versions of the mesh, but it sure looks like he is talking about and what looks like textures/materials are being added to these meshes while in, in his case Maya?

Some clarification would be appreciated.

Generally speaking, moving materials in or out of UE is a mess.

Making meshes and skeletal animations outside, yes. Textures yes. But materials, no.

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Materials are done inside Unreal, but your materials often rely on masks, maps and textures to work. You can’t always apply flat textures to models inside materials either, sometimes you need to paint the surface textures to avoid seams, so you need to speficially create the texture to a model.

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Thanks. So this is why this particular tutorial seems confusing, while in Maya, the author looks like he is adding textures to meshes. I understand Maya is where a rough block mesh would be sent to turn it into a finished product, and maybe somewhere it will be explained, but I’m not seeing the advantage of applying textures in Maya if they will end up in UE, and a material will be applied there. I mean, materials WILL be used, so I don’t yet see the reason why you’d be applying textures while in Maya. It seems like a waste of time and obviously I’m not understanding a part of the process such as “specifically create the texture to a model.” ← does this happen in Maya or Blender?

Obviously the materials in a DCC app won’t look the same, as it’s not the same renderer, but there are some things you can check by applying the textures there, such as whether if the texture wraps properly around the mesh.

I’m also not too sure if Maya <-> UE4 has some deeper integration with materials, in UE with Blender at best you might see a texture node pre-applied from the Blender material. But even then, if you want to define material slots, you’d also need to do that in the DCC app.

Textures can be painted on models in Maya, Blender, Quixel, Substance etc… this is usually done to models where texture details span across UV islands or the model has larger round surfaces where a flat texture would not wrap around the model nicely.

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Ok, I see the reason now, thanks. I’ll have to listen to that section of the tutorial to see if that was being said.

Since I am all focused on landscape tools/materials and have not done anything with modeling, it it a fact what when mesh modeling is done in a 3rd party program like Blender, destined for UE, that the textures for it are created there too?

Yes, I think I am revealing my ignorance. :hugs:

It is typical to use other programs like Quixel or Substance to create the textures even if the model is made in Blender. Blender model is imported there and then the textures are painted.

Sometimes maps are generated from the diffuse texture. There are plenty of lightweight alternatives for this task, some of them free.

There are some games that don’t even use textures and rather create the surface details with shader math. Those games would then do it all in engine.

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Question No2:
I recently finished one of the UE Tutorials: In-depth Look at Environmental Artist Based Tools.

Which had some outstanding info on Vertex Painting using a 3 texture Material.

Now I’ve moved onto Advanced Skill Sets for Environmental Artists:
…Just started a section on Landscape Materials and Layers which makes a statement: Setup Master Material similar to regular material with some exceptions.

I’m noticing this is the first time I’m using a LandscapeLayerBlend Node and maybe the tutorial will answer this question, but could anyone tell me what is it that determines if you want to paint a landscape why you would use a Landscape Material versus a 3 texture material and use vertex painting? Is it just a matter of scale? Or is it just another way to skin the cat? What other considerations are involved here?

Consider in your answer that I am a beginner in this endeavor.
Thanks! :blush: