this 3d environment scene i did is based on the artworks laundromat (2008) and laundromat at night (2008) created by American artist and photographer lori nix.
i was drawn to nix's series the city as an artistic concept because the artist makes incredibly detailed miniature dioramas depicting abandoned and derelict urban landscapes. i loved the eerie and lonely scenes, and i thought it would be a great study for me to tackle because of the level of environmental storytelling the artist layered into the scene. it feels like taking a solo post-apocalyptic road trip of america.
when i start a project, i first begin by collecting a lot of reference pictures of objects, materials, and the concepts of my scene.
for organisation, i use a modified version of the kanban project management style on trello to sort out the assets i need to make and keep track of them as i work on them and what stages each piece is in.
i block out the basic layout of the scene in maya, and then import it into unreal. this helps me get a good sense of the layout and proportions of the scene so that things don't look wonky further down the line.
i then model the high and low polygon models of each asset and uv them in maya.
for detailed normal maps, i use marmoset toolbag to bake my high poly details, then i texture them in substance painter. i also use substance designer to create tileable textures for the bigger assets, like the walls and floor.
i then import the assets into unreal and replace the blockout versions of the objects in the scene and set up the materials and shaders. with all or most of the assets imported, i start setting up the lighting and post-process effects and the cinematic cameras that i will use to set up a video showcase of the scene.
the part of the process i find most enjoyable is texturing. i'm a very tactile person by nature, so being able to emulate textures that look how they should in real life using substance painter is very satisfying for me.