Exterior Environment

Making Of / 22 November 2020

Hello all!

I am currently working on an exterior game environment for my Graduate Degree. We are making an exterior vignette, and I have chosen to create a teleportation location that is themed in Viking times. I am constructing a series of magical Rune Stones that allow the player character to tap into Yggdrasil’s power to travel through time and space.   

I have just completed the high poly development of the main assets in ZBrush. Next, I will move to low poly mesh construction, UV, and texturing the assets. Then I need to decide which layout I am going to go with for the presentation, as well as research foliage located in that part of the world and develop the models for that to decorate the scene.

This is my 1st concept for the layout. I am not sure I will be going with this one due to the time constraint I have, but it was great for figuring out what shapes I wanted in my stones.


This is my initial blocking pass of the first scene layout in Maya. This allowed me to get a sense of the scale of the stones, and these are the base meshes I brought into ZBrush for development. 

This is the second version of my scene and likely the layout I will use for my final scene. This one was inspired by my original source of inspiration for the project, which is the stones in the Outlander series. 

This is the main runestone. The design is inspired from a real Rune Stone. I modified it to remove Christian elements that were present in the design. Runestones designs like these are generally Gravestones, so I inserted my own text using a English to rune converter I found online. I doubt I wrote it in a legible way, but at least I know it is not grave stone textually! 

For the base circle I original went with a similar style to the rune on the main stone, but after seeing it together with the main stone I felt the design was too busy and pulled attention way from the main stone. I went with a simpler more meaningful design over this one. This is the original design I opted not to use. 

The ground appears too busy here, and really draws the eye in more than the main stone. 

For the new circle I opted to go with a rune  called Vegvisir, which means “That Which Shows the Way”. I felt it was a fitting design since this is designed to be a teleportation location. It is also circular by nature and compositionally guides the eye to the main stone. I added an indentation to the center which is where the player would place the Amulet for Hero's which allows them to control the portal. 

Each of the larger runestones has separate runes each with a meaning connected to the area's purpose. On the ones that are propped up by smaller rocks, I put a rune that means balance, to indicate magic is what is holding them up. 

I developed a stone path that will be used modularly throughout the scene. The design was taken from the base block-in, which I got a lot of mileage out of. The stones are designed to be flipped upside down, mirrored, and rotated, so I tried to give them an even amount of wear on both sides. 

The final assets I developed in this series was a square boulder and a rounded boulder for set dressing and contrast. I wanted to make a distinction between the worked stones that had been carved by man and the natural stones, likely from a the quarry they were taken from, or perhaps even debris from the shaping process of the stones. 


The next step in my process is the game mesh and UV unwrapping. For the base meshes I manually retopologized the main stone, but on the others I cleaned up a decimation from ZBrush.









After the UV layout, my next step is creating a smart material to use across the stones since they will all be quarried and exist in the same location for the same period. This is my initial pass at developing the texture for the Hero asset. The next stage is applying it across the stones and customizing the textures for each stone.