Unreal 4 Lighting Academy....or something like that ;)


[FONT=Lucida Sans Unicode]Unreal 4 Lighting Academy
UPDATE: The Youtube Playlist with all the videos so far can be found here:** https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLqfZolvobgUDAm-c41cDR8NDA79UKuN4b

Hey guys,

I was recently thinking of combining my love for making things look great with some kind of platform
to help anyone from the Unreal community who would be interested in this to improve their scenes
and skills when it comes to lighting, composition and material definitions.

[FONT=Lucida Sans Unicode]Who am I?

I have been in this industry for quite some time now. I had my first contact with making games in 2010 when I moved
from Switzerland to Berlin to attend the Games Academys 3D Art & Animation course there.

When I started this, I didnt really know what I wanted besides making games look great,
so I worked on my skillsets to become an Environment Artist as this was kind of a natural fit.
While studying though, I more and more realized that I wanted to go more towards lighting and materials.

However, its quite hard to get a job as a lighting artist with no prior experience,
so I started an internship at Berlin based YAGER (Developers of Spec Ops: The Line) in 2012 as an environment artist.

At YAGER, I had the opportunity to strengthen my skillsets and develop myself towards a lighting artist.
YAGER is and has always been an Unreal developer, so I had the chance to work with Unreal 4 before it was even publicly released.
I worked on Dreadnaught while it was still in the prototyping phase and later transitioned to Dead Island 2, which we were working on at that time.
During the development of Dead Island 2, I had the chance to grow tremendously and eventually became a technical lighting artist.
I was mainly responsible for the whole games lighting, prop master shaders, the landscape material system, sky rendering,
rock shaders as well as RnD for our lighting systems together with some graphics programmers.

Sadly, during the summer of 2015, Dead Island got cancelled and I joined a RnD and prototyping team at YAGER.
This was super interesting and fun, but ultimately unfulfulling, which made me apply at DICE to join their lighting team in Stockholm.

I got the job and I am now working as a lighting artist for DICE. Since I have joined, I did the lighting for all released Star Wars Battlefront Expansion Packs
despite the first one: Outer Rim. So I worked on Bespin, Death Star, the newly released Rogue One Add On as well as together with Criterion on the PSVR Mission.
Thankfully, I got some great support to help me at getting used to Frostbite with the amazing Oscar Carlen, one of the most experienced lighting artists I have ever worked with!
For PSVR, I was also supported by Karl Stjernberg who is just an awesome and great guy as well^^

Despite all this, I have held Unreal 4 courses at the Games Academy in Berlin and since I moved to Stockholm,
I have also been teaching Unreal 4 and lighting at the Future Games here.

[FONT=Lucida Sans Unicode]So what is this about?

Teaching was great fun and a super rewarding experience! I almost like nothing more than aquiring knowledge
and sharing it to help others improve their results. It has always been a blast for everyone involved and I want to do this more.

So I came up with the idea of starting this little Unreal 4 Lighting Academy Community Project

As it exists in my head right now, its going to be somewhat like this:

I am asking all of you people from the Unreal 4 community to send me screenshots or even better,
Unreal 4 projects via google drive or whatever. I will make videos where I go over the shots or through your scenes
and I am going to show tricks and tips and will work on improving the scenes.
Its kinda like what some concept artists do when they take images from other people and then paint over them to show how the artist could improve.

The results will always be shared in this thread so everyone can learn from them.
But the most important part is that I need YOU as much as you might need me. I am quite busy in my life anyways, so I will not work on personal scenes
or build scenes specificly for this purpose. I need the people who are interested in this to provide something :wink:

This is really meant to improve the things YOU guys are working on and to reach better results while having fun and learn something :slight_smile:

So the big question is this:

Do you guys think this is something you would like to see and more importantly, do you want to share scenes so we could actually do this? :slight_smile:

This will be a community thing, so I cant do anything without you guys!

Also, one very important thing…if you have any ideas or feedback for me regarding the format, please just shoot! I didnt mention Twitch yet because I might do these things at weird times and maybe even in multiple sessions. So I cant really guarantee that I would stream for lets say 2 hours straight or so. I know it would be beneficial for people to give feedback or ask questions on the fly, but so far, I havent found a proper solution for this and would like to stick to Youtube first :wink:

[FONT=Lucida Sans Unicode]What can you expect from this?

I want to show you guys a couple of results from my students so you get a better impression of what you can expect from this :slight_smile: The examples shown here are all from the Unreal sessions at Future Games Stockholm.

Visby Scene by Henric Montelius https://www.artstation.com/artist/henricmontelius
Henric actually wrote an amazing article for 80.lv breaking down his process for the scene which you can find here: https://80.lv/articles/henric-montelius-overwatch-style-visuals-with-ue4/

Here are some shots from the scene before we started looking at it together during the class:

Henrics main goal was to really go for the Overwatch feel and style, but while his assets where already super close to the look he wanted, everything else felt quite a bit off. We talked quite in depth about what makes Overwatch look like Overwatch, and I strongly suggested that he switches over to use Lightmass instead of dynamic lighting to get better readybility, values and overall interest into his scene.

He then started to apply those things and we can already see in the next screens that there is quite some nice improvement:

We worked further on the scene and eventually, Henric achieved something really good looking and very close to the style of Overwatch:

Throne Room by Joan Hägg https://www.artstation.com/artist/joanhagg
Joan also was part of my class at Future Games, the scene he worked on there can be seen on his Artstation and its called “Trabant”.

However, Joan contacted me shortly after our session was over and asked for feedback and a bit of help for a new scene he was building: The Throne Room.

Here you can see what the scene looked like when Joan contacted me the first time. I think it looks quite nice when you see it first, but there are several problems like lack of focus, too much noise, lack of contrast and other more minor things:

We worked quite a bit on this scene and in the end we had this, which I think looks a lot more interesting and ballanced:

And last but not least…since my Portfolio is basically still the same as when I graduated, I am not gonna share it with you! :smiley: However, I have attached the Trailers to the Star Wars Expansions I have worked on so you can see some up to date stuff from me :slight_smile:

I am really proud of what we have achieved since those marketing videos are actually recorded from us playing the game :smiley:

And again, big shout out here to Oscar Carlen who lit the Battlefront main game basically alone and set a new standard for realtime lighting with this project! Thanks for everything Bro! :slight_smile:

So yeah…quite a big post! :smiley: But this wrappes everything up for now. Lemme know what you guys think so we can get the fun started and make some great stuff!!

Thanks a lot and cheers!



I would definitely be interested - I have a scene that could use some help :slight_smile:

What is the best way to share it?

Hey man, thats great to hear! I think if its not too big, Just ZIP your Project and Upload it to Google Drive and PN me a protected Link. I would also need a description from you where you explain what you want to achieve with your Scene so I can get a better Feeling for what might be needed :wink:

That is actually awesome. I love the idea that you overhaul existing projects and scenes and at the same time teach us how it’s supposed to be done.

Thanks a lot man! Yeah, its supposed to be fun and educational at the same time so lets see where this leads :wink: I am probably gonna do some basic Videos about certain aspects of Unreal and lighting theory in general as well.

One thing to be absolutely clear about though: This is all just my experience! So by no means are the things I am going to say set in stone and many approaches vary depending on what people are building and what they want from it. So this is more or less:
This is what I would recommend in that situation based on my experiences. So if I am going to say that X or Y sucks and I would never use it at all…then thats probably not true :smiley:


Lighting is one of my weaker points which I would love to get better at. This is such an awesome idea. Thank you for wanting to share your knowledge and experience, I am going to keep an eye out on here and maybe submit something. But I mainly just wanted to voice my support on this. Me and many others would really love learning about how to improve our work which in turn will benefit the people who end up looking/playing our creations. Can’t wait to see where this goes !!!

I dont have any new scenes yet, but when I do I would love to get some tips. Thanks a lot for doing this.

very cool idea. i am always willing to learn :wink:

Wow really nice idea and very kind :slight_smile:

Sobald wir eine größere Szene haben, werden wir uns auf jeden Fall bei dir melden!


Id love to see someone make a tutorial with space lighting. Space lighting is hard to do right now because the shadows are too dark to see any detail and if I put multiple directional lights in different directions everything is too bright.

If you have a Scene I can make something. Did a looot of space lighting for Battlefront :wink:

Its not really a scene, an empty level with space background and when the game is started, all the players spawn and enemies spawn into the level so its more of real time lighting instead of a baked level lighting with static meshes. Thats what Im trying to achieve is actors placed into the level instead of an actual Level like in the pictures above. Like for example in the battlefront DLC space flying level with the star destroyers it has half of the star destroyer lit and the other half a shadow. The shadow part still shows up really good that you can see the detail unlike the asteroids in the beginning show almost complete black on the shadow.

Well…the Star Destroyers are actually baked, so they receive bounce lighting. However, the full shadow side doesnt really benefit from that since its core shadows, so GI is kinda useless there anyways in space. I did multiple other scenes where the SDs are not baked and look almost equally as good, so thats not a problem^^ The reason the asteroids look so dark is actually that the Diffuse Values are less ballanced on those compared to the SDs. What you want to achieve is not really that difficult and I actually have a half finished spaceship somewhere XD So I could try to make something for some nice space lighting.

However, I do have a small announcement since I actually will receive the first scene to work on later today or tomorrow. So I could tackle space stuff afterwards.

Hey guys,

quick announcement from my side. I got contacted today by one of the first year students at the Future Games. She would really like to get some help and feedback/input on her stuff, so we are working towards making this happen right now.
As soon as I have all the materials from her including a little description on what she is trying to achieve and the scene, I will start working on the first session…so keep your eyes peeled :wink:


Alright, I have recorded a first session and just need to wrap it all up and put it on Youtube! :smiley: It turned out to be waaaay longer than anticipated and I am not yet where I wanted to be with the scene, but I will continue to work on the scene and there will be a couple of follow up videos :smiley:
If everything goes well expect the first video to go live by tomorrow :slight_smile:


Awesome stuff!
bookmarks to follow

This is awesome, thanks a lot mate, will follow for sure!

Really excited for this. I can never get my lighting right so hopefully I can learn through this. Do you have access to an HTC Vive or Oculus Rift? I am curious if there are things that should be done differently in VR.

Hey, I dont really have access to VR Gear when I also have access to Unreal :frowning: Also, I sadly cant really go into detail on how we did stuff for the Star Wars VR Mission and to make it even worse, I havent worked with Unreal and VR yet :smiley:
However, what I can say based on my experience and also a lot of informations regarding VR that where released by Epic is, forward rendering is definitely the better way to go for now performance wise for a lot of games. This comes with its own limitations in regards to lighting and a lot of features though. The trick then becomes really just to try all you can do to make it still look good somehow. Even if that means to break PBR more often than you might normally would^^


here we go! The first part of the first part is online! :smiley: It took super long to upload everything etc. so I will give my best to make part one complete as soon as I can.
I have to admit that the full video got pretty long in the end and that wasnt planned :smiley: I will try to make it a bit more streamlined in the future if thats okay with you guys!

Cool…enough talking! Here you go: