Critique => 2D & 3D => Topic started by: heyguy on October 22, 2017, 05:22:57 pm

Title: Low Poly 3D Graveyard Environment (WIP)(C+C)
Post by: heyguy on October 22, 2017, 05:22:57 pm
Hello all! I really love the PS1/Nintendo DS graphics and I want to create an small environment replicating that 3D style. Low poly, lots of chunky pixels, dithering, alphas, etc. I originally wanted to create something isometric (like Final Fantasy Tactics) but I sort of lost myself. Now I imagine this being some sort of 3rd person adventure game like Phantasy Star on the Nintendo DS. I'd really like some feedback on my idea and how it's shaping up. Ultimately, I'd like to display this finished piece in a portfolio.

A post on Neogaf sort of inspired this project. Can't find the post but here's an amazing folder about the topic, High res Nintendo DS games!


So it's still a pretty early work in progress. I'm missing things like lanterns, scones, and other useful graveyard props. Models still need reworking. Still working on many textures. I read online that the Nintendo DS could push up to 4000 polys. I'm aiming for 4000 while creating this piece. Right now, I feel I have more of a PS2 levels of geometry on the cliffs and ground but I've got polys to spare. I think I might be painting the textures too detailed. Textures map range for 64*64 and down. Some maps for trees are bigger. Too noisy for a DS game? I also think the ground seems a little to sparse.  What does everyone think? Thanks for looking!

Title: Re: Low Poly 3D Graveyard Environment (WIP)(C+C)
Post by: Cherno on October 22, 2017, 08:48:22 pm
Everything looks flat, how about a directional light?
The small cliff in the grass looks considerably lower res thatn the rest.
The crypt texture looks out of place since everything has a more pixel art lok to it while this one looks tool-assisted with the smooth AA on the circles.
Title: Re: Low Poly 3D Graveyard Environment (WIP)(C+C)
Post by: eishiya on October 22, 2017, 09:25:17 pm
Seconding Cherno about the crypt and cliff. The crypt in particular looks bad to me because the texture doesn't seem to correspond to any surface features on it. It's just a grey box. Crypts have all kinds of surface details - cracks, material texture (e.g. marble), breaks in said texture where the different blocks meet, engraved text, vines, bird poop, etc.

A lot of these textures don't really look like anything. With low-res textures, just like with pixel art, you need to focus on the important features and get rid of any noise that gets in the way of clearly showing what you're trying to depict. So, with the tree bark, focus on showing twists and segments, with the path focus on showing dips, bits of grass, and individual rocks.
Don't just scale down a bunch of photo textures - that's how you get a whole lot of noise. When working small, you have to be very selective with what you devote pixels/texels to.
Title: Re: Low Poly 3D Graveyard Environment (WIP)(C+C)
Post by: heyguy on October 31, 2017, 10:53:34 pm
Thanks for the feedback everyone. My previous work was lacking focus and was too early. It's still a heavy wip but I think it looks better. I've started detailing the mausoleum. Still unsure how to proceed overall, pixel art or painted soft low res textures. Anyway, I 'd appreciate any feedback you all have for my new iteration. I'd like to bring this into Unreal 3 or 4 which is why I haven't done too much lighting work in Maya. Does anyone know if I can have 3 layered textures on one material in Maya? I'd like a dirt layer in the terrain. Thanks for checking out the post!

Title: Re: Low Poly 3D Graveyard Environment (WIP)(C+C)
Post by: heyguy on April 19, 2018, 10:31:10 pm
Hey folks! I think I posted pics for this project way too early before. I had no solid artwork and then got side tracked with life. I really want to finish this project though! I've been working on it for a month or so and think I have something decent to present. I'd really appreciate any and all critique.


I reworked most of the scene. Thanks for all the suggestions guys! Main things are:

-added 2 textures to the ground
-more finished assets/models
-painted textures instead of trying to use photos
-vertex painted and used alpha planes to create the shadows
-added fog and fog alphas for atmosphere (not sure about either)

I'm aiming for Metal Gear Solid or Silent Hill levels of "realism" to the pixel art. Right now, I'm struggling with finding a balance between sparse and busy. Originally, I wanted this to be a creepy, abandoned graveyard. Not sure if a bunch of small low poly grass and plants would look good though. The big hedge in the background is supposed to be a wild hedge that was never cut/tended to. The texture isn't done but overall the entire asset might need to be reworked/replaced. Some texture tiling issues exist too.

Also, I'm not sure how I feel about the all different shades of gray in my scene. The tombstones, mausoleum, cliffs, walls and rocks are all different shades of gray. Eventually I'm probably going to model a new mausoleum as this one seems kind of boring.

Anyway, thanks for looking. I'd really appreciate any feedback, like suggestions for props that would complete the project, edits I should make, whatever. Happy pixeling!
Title: Re: Low Poly 3D Graveyard Environment (WIP)(C+C)
Post by: Curly on April 20, 2018, 07:15:24 pm
Wow it looks a lot better now!
The boxes and barrels are too saturated compared to the rest of the scene and the cart's texture looks weird.
Title: Re: Low Poly 3D Graveyard Environment (WIP)(C+C)
Post by: Cherno on April 22, 2018, 12:26:02 am
I agree, a vast improvement.

The barrell and crate do look more saturated, but that could be on purpose if these objects are important for the gameplay, for examples as the only containers in the area that can be destroyed so the player gets items. Important gameplay elements may be exxagerated in their presentation.

The car texture looks smudgy and really would benenfit from some proper uv mapping and a dedicated texture.

The stone posts and bench are untextured so they clash with the otherwise detailed textures on the terrain features surrounding it.
Title: Re: Low Poly 3D Graveyard Environment (WIP)(C+C)
Post by: heyguy on April 23, 2018, 01:41:26 am
Thanks a bunch for the feedback guys! Now that it's mentioned, the crate and barrel do  seem pretty saturated in an unintended way. I'll rework the colors and try to add a bit more detail.

So I still haven't started on the textures for the wagon or stone posts. I'll start on that next! I feel the short stone wall along the path doesn't fit with the scene. I'm thinking a metal or wood fence might look better. Thoughts? I'm probably going to change the wagon to something more interesting too. My idea was to make a gypsy carriage instead. More colorful and could still fit in the graveyard setting. Anyway, will post an update soon!
Title: Re: Low Poly 3D Graveyard Environment (WIP)(C+C)
Post by: pistachio on April 26, 2018, 12:35:19 am
Good work so far, it looks pretty complex.

I'm thinking there are ways these textures could be optimized. Unfortunately that's something that's better off the closer you implement it at the planning stages. Hope is not lost here, there are other things you should do if you can help it.


Have you nailed down the lighting? That might be the biggest issue here. Is it foggy and overcast, etc. If it is, then you could up the texture definition more because all that light is diffuse, top down, and mostly doesn't change. It does push your texture skills, even more if you are deciding what to reuse/tile and where, which you can do more of.
Added vertex lighting if it can handle that for the shadows. It looks like Phantasy Star in the link (https://imgur.com/a/ORzki#0) used quite a bit, and the lighting and textures are more consistent than what you have so far. Similar restrictions, but actually they are just optimizing for what your eye prioritizes.
And with this sort of vertex lighting it can still double as a night scene, without redoing every texture for lighting differences. But if you wanna redo every texture for that anyway, reach for the sky dude. It's a portfolio, more is more :P

Lighting ideas:


Paintover of image 6 from reply #4. Yeah, very muddy stuff, but also done with the limitations of vertex painting in mind...

Digging into (no pun) what devs did working under such insane restrictions (from today's view) can be fascinating stuff. I think it will pay off. I'd like to get into more low poly myself, so probably the above crit helps both of us. Hope that wasn't too much of a ramble and that it helps.
Title: Re: Low Poly 3D Graveyard Environment (WIP)(C+C)
Post by: heyguy on April 27, 2018, 06:59:40 pm
Thanks so much for the great feedback pistachio! That folder (and especially Phantasy Star Zero) is definitely an inspiration for me! PSZ definitely looks more cohesive than mine. I feel they have a greater variety in colors which is something I need to add to my scene somehow. I think I've read a lot of DS scenes have a poly limit of 3500. Right now I'm 7785 so I need to optimize a lot to maybe make things look more like a DS game.

So I think I want to have two different scenes, a day and night scene. One will be day, either foggy/overcast or clear. The other will be night time. Same textures, maybe a different skybox, maybe less fog, drastic change in lighting, etc. I'm debating between foggy or clear because even though I like the foggy atmosphere, I don't really like how the fog looks in Maya. I think it might be more nicer to see a painted skybox with a background.

I'm not sure about upping the resolution. If I do, it could lose the PSX/DS chunkyness to the pixels. I actually painted the terrain textures at a higher res and scaled them larger in Maya. Here's a pic with the grass/dirt at the correct UV scale and how I currently have it. I feel it loses the "implied" look a lot of pixel art stuff has.


I thought you brought up another texture-related issue, how the resolution of the grass sprites and the lantern looked odd compared to everything else. Maybe you edited it. Anyway, I feel like grass, lantern, bushes and other small props look strange. Maybe they need AA or they need to be a higher resolution. Maybe something else? I do think changing the resolution of the terrain makes the grass, bushes, leaves, and other small nature props mesh better. What does everyone think about the small grass sprites littered through the scene?

Still working and hope to update this in a few days.
Title: Re: Low Poly 3D Graveyard Environment (WIP)(C+C)
Post by: pistachio on April 28, 2018, 09:40:19 am
Grave sites can be pretty somber so I'm guessing you're gonna use a lot of value instead of color (saturation).

Some places you can sacrifice polys and make up for it with texture contrast but only if that's a concern.

Talking a little more about the texturing problems I mentioned in my last post here.
Overriding principle in any medium basically is this: the less contrast, the less detail you can get away with. (Or if it's further away from the focal point, what viewers or players see.) To a large extent, polys and texture space are what you have the most direct control over.
It's a battle between variety and fidelity, so if you want fidelity you have to reuse textures as much as possible. Flipping, stretching, shifting, mirroring UVs, if the same two textures appear on different assets, why the hell not save draw calls and squeeze them in one map, etc.

Can't find any examples that are specifically low poly, probably because it's niche stuff. If I do I'll link them.

In the meantime try looking at actual workarounds from the era (or modern stuff that apes it), how tech artists pushed restrictions to their limit. N64, for example, had notoriously little texture memory. I'm not sure about the legality of this, but if you can find a good textured model that some guy extracted from a game (PZ0!), bust open your 3D suite and look at how the UVs relate, or even how they spread across different models if they do, that would help you big time.

Post more and good luck!
Title: Re: Low Poly 3D Graveyard Environment (WIP)(C+C)
Post by: Marscaleb on June 12, 2018, 09:43:12 pm
I love this scene so much I want to marry it!
Joking aside, I love the aesthetic you are building here.  Even without lighting, it looks fantastic.
I think though that you should bring back that original fence design.  The wrought iron fence that has been broken makes the place seem so abandoned; it brings a lot of atmosphere to the scene.  Although, I do think the low brick wall looks better for a proper 3D scene, like for am action-platformer or something.  So maybe use the broken fencing somewhere else?