Newbie: Many, many questions

Hey guys,

I’m an architectural visualisation artist, so my job on a day to day basis is to produce photo-realistic imagery/animations. Just recently we’ve been producing a lot of 360 panoramas that have been really impressive (especially when they’re stereo), but the next logical step is to create entire photo-realistic scenes within unreal engine.

Now, I’m used to using Sketchup/3DS Max/Vray and generally we use real world scale when UV mapping objects, rather than unwrapping them. Am I right in believing that this workflow isn’t best suited for UE (or any game engine)?

In an ideal world I’d like a one click solution to export my already photo-real scenes out of max and into UE (lol, wouldn’t we all) - but as this isn’t possible, is there a particular workflow that I should adopt? Presumably a lot of you guys also use 3DS Max. Is it possible to export an entire scene to UE in one click, or should individual items be exported? Is there a way to expedite exporting individual objects?

One of the largest hurdles I’m finding is material creation within UE, it’s so much less intuitive than in render engines where you simply drag in a diffuse, specular & bump map et voila, and don’t get me started on creating a realistic glass (or any refractive material)! I fully understand I need to learn a whole new way of working/software package and am committed to that, but I’m finding this part rather difficult. Almost all of the tutorials I have seen on the subject are very much along the lines of “do this, then this, then this, and now you have your material” and seem to gloss over what each part of the process actually does (what in gods name is a LERP for example?).

Basically I am looking for any kind of help, tips, pointers, do’s & dont’s.

I’m currently trying to set up a living room/kitchen scene and will be asking some more specific questions as time goes on.

Thank you in anticipation.

Hey there, Macker!

I’m working on a archviz demo now. And I think I got it covered when we are talking about materials. =) I’m using a combo of 3dsmax + substance painter + UE to achieve my goals.
Here’s my latest demo:

(its a screenshot from a video, currently wip)

Let’s go step by step answers.

Pretty sure that it’s basic for every vizualize pipeline.
Sketch - Rough model - Rough lightning - Pre-compositing - Modelling - Texturing - Lighting - Composing - Profit!

At least we were using it in every cg project I was connected with.

Well. Depending on the programm you are using. Substance, as an example, has it’s own ‘export to UE\Unity’ button, not mentioning the free ‘substance to UE’ plugin on the market which helps alot.
Other thing - yep. it’s individual in most cases.

Not sure If i got you right, but I can say that its basic way is to export meshes, export materials, make UE materials and connect everything together.

Your way though its pretty basic for any simple material like, I dunno, plastic toy. Not sure if you need some hardcore blends,generators, lerps in that case.

Let’s do it together!
Get us some screenshot of what you would like to have as a material, and we will try to analyze that and help you out.

(that will for for me too, in case I get something similar in my own scene :wink: )

Yeah, I was thinking something a bit more technical than that, such as “Unwrap all UV’s with x plugin on channel 2, export to .fbx with xyz settings, import to unreal, etc”

How about a normal glass material that you’d see in a window?

I personally using the one I got in archviz standart materials with a slightly updated gradient masking. It’s pretty perfect and works well with basic tasks.
Second idea is to get the material from ‘automotive materials’ pack.

In my project I will also work on some ‘snowy paints’ of frozen lines which would go atop of the basic material.

So you don’t know how to make a glass material/shader from scratch?

Did not say that :wink:

Here’s the example of very basic glass.
Next step is to make some refraction nodes. I suggest to use Fresnel and a linear interpolation with it.

I find this script invaluable for exporting Vray Scenes to Unreal Engine

The steps I usually take:

Go through the scene and optimize or recreate anything that has a ridiculous polycount. Modern game hardware is pretty good in that you can get away with having scenes that have a pretty high polycount and still maintain a good framerate, but if your chair has individual bolts that have a turbosmooth with 4x iterations, it’s time to get rid of those :). At this point it’s really up to you how much time you want to spend on this section. You can remodel low poly furniture and bake out normal maps, or just go with an optimized medium quality version that will look fine unless you get real up close and stare at it. It’s really just a trade off with diminishing returns, and you decide how far you want to take it.

My general UV workflow for objects that I’m not using a normal map on is just to use a box UVW modifier, with a predetermined size. Then just use flatten unwrap for channel 2 to get lightmap UVs. For example if I have a 1m x 1m tile texture, I’m just going to slap a 1m box UVW on my object and export it, no manual unwrap. If the object needs distinct texture details that you have baked out of a high poly or painted on using Photoshop or substance, then yes you’ll need to unwrap. If I understand correctly, using 3DS Max unwrap with real world scale doesn’t work any different than a normal unwrap, it’s just going to apply a modifier that is 1 System Unit in dimensions, and then you specify how many of those units your maps are in the material editor. Since in Unreal you will want to use textures that are always a power of 2, I honestly just give most of my generic objects a 1m box UVW modifier.

Materials are a little more difficult but once you get the hand of PBR its not too bad. I suggest using a master material, and creating instances of it for each texture you need, which will allow you to see your changes in the editor in real time. Software like bitmap 2 material can allow you to really quickly convert your texture maps to be PBR ready, generating Normal, Roughness, Metalness and Diffuse from a single map.

In my opinion, the material editor is really no more complex than the material editor in 3DS Max. The maps you are using are just slightly different in their functionality, but half the time you can get away with just a base color map, a normal map (generated from a bump map using one of many tools), and then just plugging in some constants for roughness and metallic. Sure you can get really advanced, but it really depends what you are trying to do.

Lerp stands for linear interpolate and is a blend node that blends A with B with a black and white mask of Alpha, so it’s really useful in creating masks where perhaps you only want half of your chair to be metallic and the other half to be wood.

I’m happy to answer any specific questions you have, and I hope this helps!

Once you get the hang of it, it’s pretty quick to convert a nice Vray apartment over to Unreal within a matter of days, less time than it would take to render a 2 minute walk through animation at 1080p on your home computer :stuck_out_tongue:

Guys, this has been very useful. Thank you both for the information.

I’m going to crack on with my first project and will let you know how it goes.


I’ve attached some images of my scene (3ds max/vray) that I’m trying to recreate in unreal, and also what I’ve got in unreal.

I don’t understand why the lighting is so dark? All the walls, ceilings etc are white. The light setup is the same as the default level (with the two chairs and table).

The only light you got is the sky one, which basically just can’t light the ceiling.
You should try to make a lightmass volume.

More here:

Or just forget about basic lightning for now and continue to place light emitters across the scene.

I can’t remember if the default level with the chairs has a skylight… If not, you are only going to get a little bit of bounce illumination from the sun, but not nearly enough to light your scene.

A few approaches I take when lighting for Unreal.

  1. I like to disable the default auto exposure (if you haven’t already), it’s in your project settings under the rendering tab, because if you don’t it’s hard to see how truly bright your scene is because everything keeps auto adjusting.

  2. Don’t worry about artifacts at this stage, simply working on getting your lighting intensity to the stage you want. Start with a skylight and directional sunlight, and don’t be afraid to crank the intensities a bit higher than 1, but I wouldn’t go much higher than 3 or 5.

  3. Ensure your lightmass settings in your world settings have bounces set to a higher number than the original (I just max mine out at 100, since additional lightmass bounces after the first don’t cost as much in terms of bake time.

  4. Once your lighting is baked, add a post process volume and play with things like exposure bias and global illumination strength (but don’t crank that slider much higher than 4 or so or it will be much harder to get rid of artifacts.

  5. If the lighting at this point is still too dark for your tastes, you may have to play with bounce cards, which I’ve never personally had to do.

Let us know how that goes :slight_smile: