UE4 in a Concept Art Workflow

Hey guys,
First post here!

I thought I’d share how I’m trying to integrate UE4 in a viz dev workflow.

3D has been used in concept art for a while now, but most of the time the final product is a picture.
The idea here is to use UE4 to present 3D concepts to art directors in realtime using UE4 allowing them not only to look around but also to change the mood and lights, swap material presets, swap model variations/gear/props and all that good stuff.

This workflow has to be fast. So I’ve decided to have a go at it and see a long it’d take me to create a concept piece. In this first test, I’d say I’ve spent roughly a day for the model, a day for the texture, and a day to set it up in Unreal. These 3 days include a lot of trials and error - export tweaks, trying various tech etc. Now that I’ve key steps in place, I believe that I could reduce that number by quite a bit.

Here are a couple of UE4 screenshots:



The workflow so far, in details:

Asset creation
Nothing unusual regarding the tools, here I’ve used ZBrush.
Once the sculpt was done, I had to retopo/optimise the model and create UV maps, there was no way around it. We’ve all been there, creating a clean topology with tight UV’s takes a lot of patience, love and time. But in viz dev, most of the time, the asset doesn’t need to do anything else than to stand there being badass. It just needs to be reasonably light. So I’ve skipped the hand-made retopo bit and used ZRemesher. With a few tweaks, I got a decent result out of it. 100k polys totally unoptimised, but good enough for what was needed. The UVs didn’t take that long. I just skipped the obsessive straightening, orientating and sewing bit. It was quite a light task with 3D-Coat. I got a decent, even, resolution with a reasonable amount of seams.

To texture the model, I tried to get as much data for free as possible. Procedural algorithms was the way to go. Substance Painter and Substance Designer excel at this.
And because their shaders are fully compatible with UE4, getting the asset to look identical in UE4 once imported was a breeze. So that was that, and that was good.

In UE4
To enjoy viewing the model in all its glory, I needed a camera rig. I found that @AlFlakky 's Cam Orbit Rotation was a perfect starting point. So far I’ve only added a couple of functions to it: a DOF autofocus on mouse cursor, and a drag & pan to move the cam on the ZY plane.

At the moment the model is just a mesh, but I’m planning to create a blueprint that will allow the viewer to swap models, materials, tweak texture parameters etc.
Same thing for the light rig. Atm It’s just a bunch of point lights hanging there. I’ll try to make a blueprint controller to swap presets and to control and fine tune them.
Camera/light automation also seems to be a good idea: Auto 360, Auto Demo Mode with hot spots target transforms (to make Posters a la Paragon :wink: etc.

In an ideal world, all these controls will be accessible via a cool UI… and the whole thing will be ready for VR!!! :cool:

So I’m just scratching the surface !

Here’s another concept sculpt I’ve rendered in UE4.
Something a little less creepy this time, a love dance. It’s spring here after all, love is in the air!


I’ve added the motion blur in photoshop since I’ve not animated these guys.

Hi Stéphane! This is looking amazing. I’ve been using programs like Modo and Maya as primitive renders to block out lighting and color for a 2D concept, but have been trying to get into more complex options like UE4. The real time rendering and application of complex materials & volumetrics seems very useful for a concept art pipeline, but I’m not sure how viable it is without getting knee deep in material nodes and 3d technical knowledge. Do you feel like UE4 can be used through drag+dropping assets and materials into a scene, or would one require a more in depth understanding of UE4 to get usable environment renders? I’ve been struggling to find UE4 tutorials that streamline the information for concept artists, as most people using UE4 are level designers and modelers who have different priorities than concept artists.

It would be so great if you could export these scenes to some sort of webGL viewer.