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Static mesh - import from blender to UE workflow steps

Hi folks,

Fairly new in here, trying to plan my learning workflow and what i need to do. I haven’t actually started in Unreal yet as i have a lot if tutorials that i am pouring though at the moment.

If i want to create modular pieces of building in Blender to snap together in my learning games, at what point do i do the textures and materials? (have seen to do both in blender and UE) lots of great tutes in blender for great (complete textured and materialed buildings) i can look up tutes on the actual “making them pretty” part.

i would really appreciate a basic (and i mean super basic) work flow plan for this action. I can use this to find specific information on this. I am quite capable of making pretty looking things… but no good if process is not optimal. I Would do more googling, but i’m not 100% i have all the terms right, (hence a quick list of steps by you amazing people will give me the key words i need to look up)

so for example:

  1. decide on pieces (i have drawings done on what i would like to look like) Or use a photo as a reference i guess,
  2. Create the shape to scale in blender to create a ?Static mesh?



?Create Textures and material here or after import to UE?

import fbx into UE

…?Lighting?

Tadah simple modular building pieces in place complete with textures and materials…

FINAL QUESTION: End stage i want to make buildings that are “plopable” in game. So the player has the ability through the UI to place buildings in the world. Can i use this art? Put it together into a some different building types, package somehow and make it plopable… or will i be looking at creating a whole new set of buildings… not a problem just curious.

background… is basically i want to create a very small (like 3-4 building) street scene for my character to walk up and down (just as a practice.) I like creating arty things so thought i would start there and look in depth at material and texture creation. also functional stuff like snapping and lighting and things.

I just want to make sure i have this small (or rather not so small area) developing while i’m learning about the “game engine” and designing all the gameplay stuff. Something visual to have achieved to make me feel better while i learn the hard stuff.

Many thanks

Sarah

It’s ok to paint textures in Blender but UE4 and Blender use different materials. You could create very advanced Materials in Blender but they differ and are no “fire and forget” for PBR materials of UE4. Blender was not created to do some quick and easy PBR painting like 3DCoat or Substance. For example if you would get some normal map in Blender you would create a high-poly mesh and a low-poly mesh and bake (render on some empty texture) the normal map as some kind of difference. Afterwards you would do something similar for ambient occlusion, specular map and so on. This could all be done with the “Bake” button (camera symbol) in Blender and rendered (and exported) one after each other on some seperate blank texture image in Blender. Afterwards you have to import all those images and pull the wires together in the material-editor of UE4. What you see in Blender is most likely not really what you get in UE4 afterwards (as I said texture is ok). For example you might tinker with the specular color of a Blender material and find out afterwards there is only white in UE4. And on the other side you would find out that the metal input of UE4 could do very nice materials but miss something like that in Blender (at least like it’s done in UE4). That means you would get your mesh and texture into Blender probably bake some maps but the final look of your material would only outcome in UE4. You would get some colors and maps from Blender but you would create and adjust your material in UE4 use your image program to finetune as well.

You could even create your mesh with Blender and continue using some real PBR tools for painting. For example 3DCoat or Substance.

In 3DCoat you paint a PBR material like you paint (only) a texture in Blender. That means you use one brush that paints color, metal, roghness, normal, … all together with one stroke on your mesh. And you export all those different maps (normal, ambient occlusion, metal, roghness, color, …) as bitmap-images together for UE4 (there’s some pulldown just for UE4 export). You could choose if you would merge some of those maps together. For example put the roughness map into the unused alphachannel of your metal map to save some bytes of texture space. Yet again you import all those images in UE4 and pull the wires together in the material editor of UE4. The roughness bitmap goes into the roughness input in the UE4 material editor, the normal bitmap goes into the normal and so on. But what you see in 3D Coat is very similar to that what you finally get in UE4. It’s not just the color but a metal part looks like metal and rough parts are rough (e.g. dirt).

It’s similar with Substance. For example if you would add some structure on your scifi metal plate you would paint some normal alpha stroke directly on your mesh like you would paint some color texture in Blender. You could even use more fancy stuff like “painting with particles” in Substance. Afterwards you use the Substance plugin and get some ready to use material for UE4. You could even use the Substance plugin to adjust after import without reimport… for example if you think metal roughness could be a bit more or if you think 256x256 is too less and you would get 2048x2048 instead.

I think both are great to get materials into UE4 (and better than using Blender alone). But you could get everything you like even using just Blender, Krita, Gimp, Photoshop, Inkscape or whatever. It’s probably not that much “what you see is (similar) to what you get” but playing with the material editor in UE4 is not that complicated and could make fun as well.

Regarding your final question. Yes you could spawn such meshes in your world. Either by player or via a generator.
Some example for player input (which was mainly built regarding AI but even gives you some clue regarding some “ghostmesh” and “rotate before you place”): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=go8NFZs2A-s
Some example for a procedural generator: https://www.unrealengine.com/marketplace/dungeon-architect

Thanks so much for your reply, much appreciated.

I guess given my level of expertise, getting them “exactly” right isn’t so much of a concern. but “knowing” there is a difference (so when its not right i know why) IS important so thanks for that tip.

I have had a super quick look at materials in UE… other than getting them to look awesome through experience… the theory seems fairly easy with the nodes and things. I managed to make my character into a beautiful magenta shiny metalic man… laughs

I’ve had 3Dcoat (and a couple of other alternatives) on my “Query to use” list. For the moment though i just have Gimp and Blender (also have inkscape somewhere as well.)

Thanks for the final question help. I will add the video’s to my list (had a quick squizz through) and it will help me find other resources as well. Really i must avoid buying every fancy thing in the store!! lol. So far i have been very good and not. But will keep an eye out for it when i’m up to that stage if i need it.