Neon Gods
Updated a year ago
Neon Gods - Unity Neon Challenge Submission


Hello, my name is Kenneth McMorran and I am currently a freelance 3D Artist based in Scotland. I work mostly in game development and specialise in environment art.

Inspiration and Narrative

For this project I did not work from any specific piece of concept art but instead put together a mood board.
I was heavily inspired by Louis Kahn's architectural re-imagining of the Hurva Synagogue. I loved the idea of a structure that was both open and closed at the same time. I decided to use this as a base for environment art direction.
I wanted to visualise a near future in which scattered groups of surviving humans find solace in re-imagining worship of days past. The never ending sunlight powers a neon glow that injects life into the fellowship, bringing comfort to those still alive.

Scene Conceptualisation

I created the initial environment blockout in sketchup, focusing on the main structures which could be duplicated and re-used.
Once I was happy that I had the basic elements necessary for producing the environment I exported to FBX, tweaked the geometry and created UVs in Modo.

Material Creation

For this project I sourced materials from Substance Source and GameTextures. At first I focused on finding a few basic architectural textures that would cover the floors and walls. I brought these materials into Substance Painter as substance files and then exported the textures using the Unity 5 PBR Metallic preset.

Prop Production

After finalising the environment blockout I moved on to creating a few props that would help to sell the narrative. These were modelled in Modo and the textures baked in Substance Painter.
For the cloth materials that you can see draped over much of the seating I experimented with using Marvellous Designer. I imported the seating into Marvellous Designer as a reference mesh (avatar) and then simulated cloth being draped over it. A low poly mesh was then created and the textures baked out in Substance Painter.


For postprocessing I used Unity's postprocessing v2. I turned on all the usual effects but focused mostly on colour grading as I believe this is essential in enhancing the atmosphere of the environment. The sun is very prominent in this particular scene so I was aiming to have a soft and warm appearance whilst being dark enough to support a glowing neon effect. It was quite challenging to find this balance.

Visual Effects

In order to enhance and support the postprocessing, I implemented some particle and mesh effects in order to add a little life and movement to the scene. The lighting bolt effects were achieved using a free Unity effect called Lightning Bolt Effect for Unity. The creeping lightning which can be seen on the wires was achieved using Mesh Effects. A steam particle effect was created with Unity's built-in particle system.
Volumetric fog and lightning was achieved using the Hx Volumetric Lighting solution.

Cinemachine and Timeline

Lastly, once I was happy with the overall look of the scene I created some camera animations using Cinemachine. The system is exceptionally feature rich and powerful but I decided to focus on utilising the Dolly Camera and Track feature. I felt like this system best supported my scene because of a lack of moving objects. I would really of loved to use the target tracking functionality and it's something I will definitely look into in the future.


I asked a good friend, and fantastic musician, to help out by contributing a Vangelis inspired synth piece that would reflect the tone of the environment and I think the result was perfect.

Project Assets (Free and Paid)

Here is a list of assets (free and paid) that I used in the creation of the Neon Gods environment.
  • Unity Postprocessing v2 (free)
  • Unity Cinemachine (free)
  • Unity FBX Exporter (free)
  • Unity Recorder (free)
  • Flickering Light Effect (free)
  • Lightning Bolt Effect for Unity (free)
  • Hx Volumetric Lighting (paid)
  • Mesh Effects (paid)

kenneth mcmorran