I decided I wanted to go in the opposite direction to the original short. So I choose to set my scene in a rocky canyon in a time when society is far from its peak, and people struggle to survive on the little resources remaining.
First thing I like to do is build up a reference library of images. Some from other games, some of the places I’m looking to recreate or capture, other just for the vibe, something nice to look at to get me going with ideas.
One of the pieces that stood out was Wetland. I really liked the shape of the structure, but instead of just recreating that, I decided to just take the shape and modify it to suit my setting. So my version has the hut built from found scrap.
Work in Progress
I created a quick thumbnail sketch to get my idea down.
From there it was onto the first block out.
This went through a couple of iterations, me just feeling the scene out, getting a scale I’m happy with.
Slowly I added the key elements, the huts, river and ground. Around this time I’m playing with lighting too. My initial idea was to have the scene set around dusk or dawn.
I struggled part way through as I felt the scene was lacking any sort of narrative. It was missing a human element. Rather than go down the route of sourcing or modelling characters and then animating them to an exceptable standard, I hit upon the idea of just placing skeletons around the scene, tinting the material black and adding a dark smoke effect as thought the bodies had been burnt. This gave the scene more of a hook. It also reminded me of Uncle Owen and Aunt Beru.
Then it was onto setting up camera and post effects using Cinemachine and the Post Process Stack. It was the first time using Cinemachine in any really sense. I found it intuitive and quick to pick up. The scenes Post Processing is nothing special, didn’t want to go overboard. The main thing was Colour Grading. It really tied the room together. It’s cool the improvement you can get with just with a Kodak LUT.
In the scene I built the dwellings, ground, skybox and produced all the particle effects. All 3D work was done in Blender, with textures created in Substance Painter, Photoshop and After Effects.
The ground was created from a height map of a real world location.