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Snowy Turn Table Final

Another day and another piece done :) I had a great time putting together this snowy turn table and trying out all sorts of different methods in ZBrush for creating snowy surfaces. For some extra fun I even threw in some “Matinee” animations using Unreal’s animation system.

The snow covered assets in the scene use what is basically a layered material to map the snow, ice, and base materials over their surface. This is done through using the “Lerp” node in the material editor. If you’ve ever tried to create a layered material in Mental Ray you will appreciate what the lerp node does. Using an 8 bit (gray scale) map the Lerp node transitions values. Think of it like a mask. You can use a bunch of these Lerp nodes in a single material to create a layered shader. There are other ways of getting more than one material on an asset in the UDK though.

When exporting your assets as “FBX” files in Maya you can assign up to six (as of Unreal Engine 3.0) different materials per mesh. This is done through simply creating up to six different Lambert materials and applying them on a per face basis. This is a very convenient way to assign materials to your meshes, but it does have it’s downsides. Firstly, you are adding extra draw calls for each new material you assign your asset. This differs from using the Lerp node because with Lerp method all your different surface types are constructed within a single Unreal material and consequentially, a single draw call. Secondly, the borders of your materials must lye along the edges of their assigned faces. This can end up giving you abrupt transitions that won’t look as smooth as painting a mask for a Lerp node. Going forward I would like to expand on what I’ve done in Matinee and produce an animated character with some dynamically driven accessories.

Oh yeah, I almost forgot to mention that I’m moving to Montreal Canada. I’ll be heading out November 5th and my first stop will be their Independent Game Developers Association. I’m super excited to meet fellow developers and check out all the wonderful studios in Montreal.