Pasquale Scionti talked about the production of the Old Abandoned Mansion scene made in UE4 with the help of Megascans assets and Quixel Bridge.
My name is Pasquale Scionti, I am a Senior 3D Archviz and Environment Specialist born in Vancouver, Canada.
Now I am based in Hamilton, Ontario. Before that, I lived in Tampa, Florida for the last two years and spent most of my life in Milan, Italy.
With more than 14 years of professional experience in the Architectural Visualization Industry, I work with passion and high attention to details and realism creating the best visualization possible.
I started out as an enthusiastic photographer and always been interested in the latest technology. I self-taught myself into the world of 3D.
I’ve worked in a number of countries and with several international clients. Lately, I worked as CGI Manager for a furniture company in Tampa creating photorealistic renders and animation.
Old Abandoned Mansion: About the Project
I started my latest Abandoned Mansion scene as I got inspired by Quixel's abandoned apartment. My goal was to achieve a story with some paranormal background, – that is where I got the idea to insert a picture frame of a mystic ghost walking up the stairs; the axe just gives another piece of the story. This mansion was first created as a Resident Evil inspired scene. For references, I just used my imagination.
Modeling the Scene
The initial blockout was modeled in 3ds Max. I started with the staircase using Lathe tool and poly boxes with chamfer edges, same for ceiling lamp, windows, structure, and armchair. I used Marvelous Designer to help me out with the curtains and for covering the armchair.
In terms of composition, the point of interest was the stairs so I focused on getting more details in that spot creating an opening in the wall to let more light come inside. The armchair and the painting were just integrated into the final composition. To get the right level of chaos, I concentrated on the points of interest and the path the eye could follow to get to those points.
Almost everything was mapped with 3ds Max and Vray using Quixel Bridge materials. Inside Unreal, I imported the scene using Datasmith but without materials as they were replaced with the actual PBR materials from Quixel Bridge inside Unreal.
The vegetation from Megascans was a great touch to give the place a more realistic and abandoned mood. I mostly used assets from Megascans' Abandoned Apartment collection. The main tweaking was done in the Albedo color as some assets were very dark so I increased the brightness and roughness to make it less or more glossy.
I created the walls with an Old Paper material from Megascans tweaking the albedo color. To break the uniform material, I used decals such as cracks, leaks, patches, stains, and burnt marks. The floor and ceiling wood panels were created with Quixel Mixer. This tool is great and now with the new update, you can directly customize Megascans assets and materials or even your own personal 3D objects. Decals helped me out with cracks and leaks on the walls, bloodstains, debris, and more.
For the painting, I made a mesh plane with an image and brought it inside Substance Painter where it was baked. Then I just added 2 simple layers of dirt and tiles as a normal map to break it up and give a more canvas look. The same technique was used for the ghost picture.
Lightning was the main focus of this scene. Using ray-tracing with only the skylight and sun was not enough as the interior was very dark and GI would not make any difference so I created more openings other than 2 windows. I created a hole in the wall near the staircase and a door opening in the hallway. In every opening, I inserted a rectangle light to push lightning information inside the dark room. The peculiarities of using ray-tracing in Unreal involve some issues with moving foliage and glass and of course it is demanding. If you do not have a good RTX video card, sometimes unexpected crashes happen with bigger environments. But everything will get better once Unreal 5 is released in 2021.
One of the main challenges during production was lightning. I learned a lot about working with Quixel Mixer. Next time, I would like to create a bigger environment in order to improve my skills.