This post comes to you from the team’s lead artist, Jesselyn! She is going to give us an awesome walk through of some of her work on the environment for the game!
Hello! I’m one of the environment artists on the team and I’ll be talking about how we made some of the plants in Shepherd’s Sky! For today we’ll be covering one of the pine trees found in the canyon.
Starting with concept art as usual, we sketched out a few tree ideas while coming up with a color palette for the environment. After settling on pine and birch trees for a variation in colors, I began working on the 3D model in Maya. For this example I will be making the pine tree on the far right.
When modeling, I started with the trunk of the tree, adding a bent curve so we can have a more unique tree than your classic straight triangle on a stick. To get a smoother look on the trunk without increasing the polycount, you can use Maya’s soften edge tool. The polycount for the trunk ends up at around 200.
To add the “leaves”, I started with a disk and pulled it into an organic cone shape, then cut out notches on the edges to help it resemble pine branches. Using the first as a template, I stacked several onto the trunk to complete the base model at a little under 1,000 polygons.
Moving on to coloring! To paint the tree I used Substance Painter, where you can paint onto the flat texture or right on the model. I wanted to have visible brush strokes on the final model so little blending was involved. It’s important to make an effective UV for your models both for ease of painting and conserving space, though at first glance the actual texture file might look a bit chaotic compared to when it’s on the model. Below is an example of the texture file for one of the leaf clumps.
Putting it together
And last but not least, adding the pine trees in-game where they can bask in the artificial light made by our awesome programmers!
Thanks for reading through our developer blog posts! Be sure to check back in the coming weeks for even more content from the awesome people working on this game!