Monthly Roundup - November '19

General / 03 December 2019

This month? Trouble shooting!

Work in Progress - Capone's Candies


  • Interior wood floor

The biggest eyesore in my seen was the floorboards. It's crazy how once you fix something you realize how off it was before!  I had to re-do my Substance Designer set-up (not completely from scratch) since the node I was using to generate the pattern wouldn't allow for a tight enough space between boards.  On a second run through I had some shadowing between boards that was vaguely noticeable.. and as a perfectionist, I got rid of that!

Here it is in action:

Fixed Visual Bugs:

In previous shots I had two major issues.  The first issue was how light was interacting with my cash register. (Older version of floorboards here)

  The register almost looked like it was emitting, which was not at all the case.  I started by checking  reflection probes and lights around the register.  I dimmed the nearest reflection probe's intensity, but it only helped a minimal amount.

Eventually I found the issue, it was the normal map.  I was able to easily toggle the Normal map on and off, due to the setup I had done for the Material Instance.

After that... I scoured online forums for a fix. 

The issue was that I had certain UV shells flipped (wrong Winding Direction) to save on UV space.  What this meant from a normals/tangent perspective, is that some faces would be lit incorrectly.   Forums online had a multitude of different fixes for this issue.

If you have the space, you can flip the UVS in the U or V directions.  In Maya, this means the shells will no longer match up with anything you're trying to mirror.  This was possible for some of my shells, but certainly not for the bigger ones.  As you can see below, flipping the side of the register would require a whole knew UV pack, and entirely redone, lower-quality texture.

Also keep in mind, the areas that don't have UVs in this image are actually used by deselected objects - so there really isn't any space for fiddling around!

The suggestion I ended up going with is to move the offending flipped UV shells to a different coordinate during the baking process.

Now it is uncertain that this was the 100% fix, because when I went to implement the new normals, I found that somehow the compression setting in unreal had gone from "Normal" to "Default", essentially meaning that Unreal wasn't processing the normal texture as a Normal map.  With the new map, and the Compression setting changed back to "Normal", everything got sorted out!  

This took some fiddling, but it was well worth it.  I'm happy my register is no longer a light-up becon.

My second visual bug was with the Candy cylinders.

The Candy cylinders essentially had a sort order issue with the glass.  Additionally, there was a strange transparent quality to the candy inside of the cylinders.  If you look at the base of the candy, you can sometimes see the edge of cork through the candy.

So, first: the glass blinking in front of or behind the candy.  In the above image you can see the red and green candies in the first row are behind the glass, while the purple and yellow are clearly in front of the glass.  This was not a permanent feature - the glass seamed to irregularly blink in-front of or behind the candy as you moved.   I knew that this boiled down to a "priority render order"; the engine couldn't decide which was more important.

Initially the Candy cylinders were a single mesh with several materials applied.  Based on what I was finding online, most people changed the sort order to be "1", but doing this was only an option if the items were separate assets.  I had built my candies under the assumption they'd be a collection of glass+candy assets.

I couldn't seem to find a sort order option within an object, so path of least resistance:  Separate the glass from the candy.

Once I did that, I was able to change the sort order to "1" on the glass and also look into the material on the candy.  Since the material no longer included transparent surfaces, I changed it Opaque.   It had been set to translucent to also be able to cover the jar, which was no longer necessary.

Additions, Tweaks:

With other areas finalized, I moved on to the candy.  I had created one type quickly to meet a deadline, but realistically I didn't find it up to snuff. 

The above is the result of my changes.

With my previous candy, in feedback people found it hard to read the individual pieces of candy.  Additionally, I could tell in the scene their smaller size was difficult to interpret from further away.  I chose to scale up the candy as well as intermix colors to combat these issues.

With the colors intermixed, I decided to add other types of candy to the roster.  I'm pretty happy with how they turned out!

Additionally, I had the time to refine the candy corn material.  Overall this object is very small in the scene, so the visual impact is quite small.  Overall though, I get to mentally sigh in relief now that it is fixed.  

I made a minor tweak here, being that the wall's granite trim near the floor is now black.  Before it was near white, and essentially too subtle to be effective.  

I've gotten some feedback on some lighting and rendering changes, but overall I think I may be ready to move on to a new section in this project.

Plans for December:

  • Continue research on different lighting/rendering options in Unreal Engine
  • Gather additional feedback on the scene & portfolio
  • Block out front of the shop & out door space
  • Potentially optimize & add Emma to the scene