The Amarantos Ritual

Hey everyone,

The past year I’ve been slowing working on a new environment scene in my spare time.

With this project I set off to familiarize myself with Nanite and Lumen. This is the first large scale scene I make in UE5, with all of my work so far being in UE4 and in proprietary engines.

The Amarantos Ritual

Is the name that I settled on together with my collaborator / artist in crime - Hayley Rumbold.

I set off making this as an exercise but from the get go I had a story in my mind. I wanted to showcase that through a video at the end. I kept chipping away at creating the environment for many months and then at one point I decided to reach out to Hayley.

Hayley makes some amazing art - - and I had seen her stunning work first hand over at Rebellion where we both work.

I asked her to see if she would be interested in helping me bring the narrative idea I had in mind for the scene to reality. Also to mix in any cool ideas from her, feedback and input she might have as well.

She agreed, and we’ve been refining the project together for a few months now. Hayley has been making some stunning cinematic work directly in UE5 and we hope to share some WIPs of that, and then the final result, with you here in this thread.

Here are some bit older GIFs that Hayley exported.
Then later on in this thread we will update with current ones, more representative of the final result.


Plus another one:


Hayley and I hope that you enjoy what you are seeing!


  • Environment Art, Props and VFX Art - Peter Dimitrov

  • Cinematic Artist - Hayley Rumbold

  • We also had another person join us as a collaborator. Oliver Harbour - - helped me bring the vision of the environment by making some paint over once I started switching from an abstract shape in the middle of the room to a crystal instead.
    He also painted some concept art for a headpiece for the Alien, which I am currently working on. I’ll list more of his work and contributions later in this thread too.

  • Sophie Deschamps - - did a paint over too.

  • The alien model is from Unreal Marketplace and is the only assets not made by me or Hayley. It’s created by I.L.E.P STUDIOS - Vintage SciFi character pack VOL3 Alien in Characters - UE Marketplace

In the next posts I will share some incredibly early screenshots. I want to take you chronologically through the making of this. As such I’ll start by sharing some early UE5 screenshots, some Houdini animation works (which inspired the start of the entire project) and some Blender / Zbrush sculpts.

I’ve started documenting the making of this over at my personal blog website. I’ll share the images from there as well as some texts and links to over there.

Together with Hayley we’ve been having absolute blast making this project and learning more about UE5. As such we hope you enjoy and find insight into everything we share with you.



Sign me up for the long haul with this thread! I can tell from the few mind-blowing screenshots and gifs you’ve shared so far that you and Hayley are cooking up something nice with your creation, “The Amarantos Ritual”! I’m excitedly looking forward to future thread updates. :star_struck:

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Hey there @PeteDimitrov !

First off, I’d like to welcome you back to posting with us here on the forums!

Secondly, I’m in utter awe at the creations that you’ve created with your collaborator. The scenery is stunning to look at not even to mention the gifs. There’s this truly eerie elegance with a slight sorrow that I find is so beautiful when done in certain manners.

I agree with Zezkaii when I say I’m in for the long hall with this gorgeous threat. Super excited to see more!!


Thank you, Zezkaii and The_M0ss_Man! I appreciate your words.

Currently I’m working on a sci-fi crown that Hayley will put on the “main” character alien.
I’ll share views on the process of that later, but for now, as promised, starting in chronological order of development:

Project Begining

I started everything in UE4. In a game prototype that I was creating in my spare time. I had a top-down player camera and it was going to be a hack-and-slash with lots of movement and cool spells.

I did get to prototype some of the movement but never really got to making many spell abilities. Mainly because once I was trying out the first few - bunch of quicksilver-like, metal, projectiles - I dug deep into learning Houdini.

It was fun to try Houdini and some fluid-like anims in there. I also had came across the idea of VATs few years prior and always wanted to get an occasion to try the concept.

That’s how I made these above (well skipping most of the nitty-gritty detail, you can read that over at my blog).

Having made those orbs and given them some emission, of course… you can guess where I am going: I really wanted to try the emission in UE5.

Funny enough this was in such early version of UE5 when I started it that the emission was hard to pick up and I had to put an unrealistically high amount to get the visual above.

Something that was fixed with the Lumen improvements in UE5.1.

From there on, from that image you see above, you could probably guess what my next thinking was too.

I thought trying out a game prototype for fun in my spare time is all cool, but I really wanted to try and use the floating orb (and its animations and VATs I had made) into a scene.

That would be an environment where the orb would be the central piece and there would be a ritual happening around it.

Thats when I moved fully to a new project in UE5 and focused on creating the environment.

I kind of skimmed over the details of all of this process and thinking above. I wanted to keep this post short. But if you want to dig deeper into details about VAT and what my ideas were when I started the scene, you can read so over at the first blog in the series of this project:

Over there I’ve linked more resources about Houdini, VATs and initial ideas on how to generate orbs and floating stuff like this in Houdini (before getting into any animations to then turn into VATs).

I hope you enjoy seeing and reading about it!
Until the next post!




After going through the initial “open air, floating few props” scene above, I had a scene blockout looking as follows:

My initial reference gathering consisted in big parts of sculpts and assets from some of the Epic UE5 early showcases and demos like “Lumen in the Land of Nanite” and “Valley of the Ancient”.

Artworks such as these below, by Musaab Shukri and Zak Foreman.

I also, as always, looked at real life locations and photography too.

With some progress I got to this:

I looked at some games for reference too. You could find out more detail about all that over at the second blog post I have in the series about the making of this project:

Until next time. I shall leave you with a few Blender shape blockouts that I later took into Zbrush to sculpt as detailed Nanite meshes.



With the main platform textured and looking like the images in the last post, I set off to look at the upper parts of the scene.

Working with sculpts that would end up as Nanite meant I had the freedom to quickly make rich silhouettes. I didn’t get bogged down into sculpting any intricate surface detail though, as I still was going to leave that for the texturing.

On the top, ceiling of the scene, I blocked out different shapes. I wanted light and light flooding through the open ceiling to be my main “asset” there. As such light itself (and Lumen) dictated what I would do with the sculpts up there and their silhouettes.

I tried this fractal-like, flower opening, with the thoughts of rotating my Directional Light to give me staggering shapes inside the lower scene, through light and shadow.

For the time being I left the aggressive light casting through to only fall on the upper left parts of the pictures seen above. With that angle I also got the nice spots of light coming from the cracks. All of it was just through my Directional Light and no additional spotlights or light functions to fake anything.

Later, much later in the dev, once I started revisiting the lighting and the atmosphere of the space, as per ideas from Hayley and Oliver, the opening in the ceiling combined with Lumen allowed me for making even more exciting and interesting experiments. Those were ones where the shadow shapes cast on the floor are even more obvious. We will look at those later on in further posts.

Some more sculpts from the upper pieces:

Getting all of those pieces done, I got into digging out a spline Blueprint system I had made some years ago and repurposing it into the blockout of some roots and vines.

I needed something to populate the walls and give them more richness and after my friend Sophie Deschamps did a paint over, I commited to the idea of roots.

(Bas screenshot by me, paintover art on top by Sophie Deschamps)

The roots blocked out in the scene (I went for a bit more gentle and smaller look):

I wont go into much detail about the Blueprint and spline, but if you want to read into detail about it and find some useful links on the topic, make sure to check the third entry in my blog series about this project:

I can’t not mention an off-topic here: I saw some of the UE 5.3 “Draw Spline Tool” preview and might have to revisit trying that tool for the purpose above. It seems so fun! I wish I had it when I was blocking out the splines above.

My splines were done the ordinary way - by dragging verticies slowly and steadily one by one, haha.

After I blocked out my splines in UE I baked them into static geo, took them into Blender for a tid bit of quick polish: mainly to fix any knots and straighten UV maps.
I then took them back into engine and this is where I was visually:

Close up of how the details were coming along in the corners of the room:

Then came lots of tweaks, struggles and experimentation with color. I also replaced the Houdini orb in the middle for a Nanite mesh that is a rock orb with crystals. But that will be for the next post!


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Thank you again for sharing your developmental process with us! It has been a great learning experience, and seeing the thought process and steps you took to achieve each phase of the design via these thread updates and your blog emphasizes the level of dedication you’ve poured into this creation. I’m excited to see your next post and appreciate your sharing! :grin:


Thank you, @Zezkaii , you are very kind! I’m glad to hear you are enjoying reading and seeing the process so far.

Replacing The Orb

The center piece so far was the Houdini orb in the middle. In the screenshots it appears static, but I had spend quite a bit of time creating animations for it and seeing it in motion, in the environment, I thought it fits and looks very cool.

I was still trying to find ways to bring more color to the scene. I also thought that even though when animated the orb is nice, it still lacks detail and form. It didn’t sit as exciting as a focal point as I was hoping it would.

I was chatting to my friend Oliver Harbour about color and shapes and the idea of replacing the orb in the middle for a rock with crystals. He heard some of my ideas and gave a go to this paint over:

I absolutely loved the colors and the ideas he went for in the concept. I liked the pointed crystals a lot but because I wanted to make it rotate around, I thought I might go for a blocky, parallelepiped shaped shards. If he had not painted this for me though I might have not figure that straight away. As such the paintover was immensely valuable.

After some shape blockouts I had this:

The main mesh I blocked out in Blender. Those primitive shapes I then took into Zbrush to subdivide and sculp by hand.
My intention was to get something rich in silhouette, some surface geo detail here and there too, and convey that through Nanite.

Some early sculpts in the middle of the work:

Then came some texturing experiment and struggle, where I realized that given the geometry is very detailed, I should keep unique normal bakes and normal details to a bare minimum and instead rely to high fidelity tiling normal maps, used directly in Unreal for the material shader for my crystal.

Seen from the side:

As usual, if you want to read much more detailed insights, and see more screenshots from the subjects above, check out my blog post about this crystal Nanite mesh.

I’ve implemented a before and after slider in my website so you can see the process of texturing the crystal a bit more in detail.
I also have alt text for each image so accessibility is bit better.

Until next time!

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Hey everyone,

The project has been going forward but I’ve not had the chance to drop any updates!

I disappeared because while Hayley was making nice and steady progress relighting and polishing further the cinematic, I decided to try and describe the making of the vortex basin seen below the crystal into a tutorial.

I was hoping to make it as a written, step-by-step guide, as I think there is value in those too, when compared to video tutorials.

I’m happy to report I managed to do that, even though it took me a month of writing, 5 blog pages and around 182 images.

In the tutorial series you will find how to create the geometry, textures and material graphs necessary for the VFX. The tools used are UE5, Blender and Substance Designer.

Links to the tutorial parts:

I’ve tried to write them in such a way that they are friendly to artists of any level. I am hoping that even beginners that are not as familiar with UE5 or Blender could follow.

As such anyone who might be more advanced could skip through some of the more lengthy parts by on their own recreating what they are seeing (like the first one that covers how to create the geometry for the VFX in Blender).

The series looks at making polar coordinates / circular distortion material parent graph in UE5, which is the main driving force of it. It also later, in a final optional part, looks at how to use Blueprints and Construction Scripts in order to tint the vortex per instance basis, when put out in a level, dynamically (as opposed to saving 20-30 material instances in the project directory).

I hope you find it easy to follow, enjoyable and informative.
Until next time!

Incredible work!


Ty @InfiniteSkyGames. Glad you like it!

Spiral VFX and Flowers

With the VFX vortex done, next step was to focus back on the flowers and the walls of the environment and figure out how to improve them. I also got the idea of trying out some flying upwards shards, as if broken parts from the orb.

I thought that shards moving up like that might give a bit more interest and movement to the scene. Later on, Hayley could use that to her benefit in the cinematic as well.

Here is initial blockout of the vfx spiral going up, using just flat 2D dots:

Then replacing it for a mesh…

… to after some glitch looking results above, get to this:


As I mentioned at the start, I thought that the walls with white flower pots that have bright light looked a bit distracting and not very detailed. As such I replaced them for this:

Seen in comparison:

Here are few test camer angles showing it all:

As usual, you can read more context and insight about these screenshot in my latest blog post over at:

There you can also see a fun bonus content blooper I included.



Hi there @PeteDimitrov,

Hope you’re well and having a terrific week so far! :slight_smile:

Just caught this thread for the first time so I wanted to quickly pop in and say you’ve definitely made a project that catches the viewers attention immediately. The fantasy elements, particles, and lighting are all done just beautifully. Thanks a ton for taking the time to share your art with us :smiley:


Really happy to hear your nice words, @PresumptivePanda! Thank you.

We wrapped up the cinematic! Check out the finished video over here.

Hayley and I hope that you’ve enjoyed watching our work!


Hi again @PeteDimitrov,

The feeling of this project is just breathtaking - every moment feels cinematic. That feeling, however, is only overshadowed by one thing…the lighting. The blue reflecting off the skin of the ritualists is done beautifully. Spectacular work to both you and Hayley :slight_smile:

Hope we get to see more of your art in the future!


The lighting that Hayley did inside the cinematic indeed is absolutely out of this world, I agree, @PresumptivePanda! Thank you.

I am back with some more! I hope you all enjoy that!

It took me a bit of time but I actually went over my scene and my crystal, my other props, after we wrapped up the cinematic.

I did some extra videos to showcase it + lots of high resolution screenshots.

You could find it all here. If you are on Artstation please take a look inside and if you enjoyed the entire process I shared over the many past months, give the Artstation albums a like. It would be of a nice help.


Crystal Prop:

Assets Breakdown:

I will attach a few screenshots here, but over on Artstation the same shots are 4k, much higher quality. So make sure to visit them there.

Well, this is us out, I think. Thank you for all the comments and attention.
If somehow I think of something new I forgot to share about the project this past year, I will let you all know.

(Actually that last album has dev timelapses at the end, and I might be back the next days to attach them here directly for you all to enjoy!)

All the best,

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Hi again @PeteDimitrov!

Ahh, I’m so thrilled to be getting an update to this. Everytime I come back to this thread I get the opportunity to look at those more subtle details. And, of course, fangirl about the lighting once more. :joy:

Beautifully done - as always!

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