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Dam of Oasis - Tech Art Personal Project

As a World of Warcraft player since 12 yo, I got strong fascination to landmarks in the vast world of Azeroth. 11 years after my first touch, I made this project in UE4 to challenge myself on a desert scene I have never tried before. Inspired by Stonewrought Dam in Loch Modan, I made this project in a way similar to recreate the three words that Dam brought me in WOW Classics:

Awe, Giganticity, Wonder

Tech Art Breakdown of <Dam of Oasis>

(My figma board walkthrough from concept to done)

A 2-week project - Learning by doing

  • The time scope of this piece only lasted two weeks

  • Because it is a piece of Technical Environment trial, I did not spend too much time designing individual assets

  • Most time is delegated to designing the pipeline, refining ways to build a vertical slice of an Environment

  • Pipeline is later carried over, revised, and served as the main stylized pipeline for my current title Sorelle.

Terrain - Another Gaea victory

  • I used Gaea (you can also use WorldMachine) for the base environment where the pond lies.

  • I imported a quickly drafted map, and found a good spot to place my camera. I started off making the angle from there

Cel Shading - Simple and easy

  • There isn't a character in the environment, but to make the pipeline I did imported my favorite character from Persona 5, Futaba, to the game to test out the cel shader

  • Cel shading has depth pass so I applied cel shading only to characters.

  • Getting characters in game early can help scale the scene better

(Similar cel shader as the one I am using for Sorelle)

(Futaba is put in)

Water Shader - A UE4 approach

  • After researching for a while, I used a water shader to create the "wavy" effect to add life to the game.

  • It sets up the tone for the pond, and becomes the "ground" of the dam

  • Shoreline blends the edge of water plane with the beach

  • Normal sections controls the wave of water. I used a fire heat map for this one

  • Fun fact: UE5 does not have a tessellation node, so wave function is only in this project.

  • Anther fun fact: UE5.3 brought the node back.

(I honestly don't like UE4's comment node...but I will go with it for now)

(Water Material Instance with its full functions)

Textures - Simple ways to modularly design scene

  • Nothing much to say about texture since it is the same way I did pretty much all my unreal projects.

  • Vertex Color Paint is used on the wall to add "broken" effect and "Stains" easily

  • Cliffs have their own texture, because I designed them in ZBrush and put a "top to bottom gradiant" in texture.

Plants - Wavy desert grass

  • Although there shouldn't be much plants in a desert, putting some water-plants would be adding details to the ponds so its better than nothing

  • Grass has a basic gradient for base color, with world position variations

  • There is a slight wind effect to give a "lively" feeling

(Grass Shader overview)

Dust particles - quality of life features

  • niagara particles spawned some dust in the sky

  • If you pay attention to the angle in video, around the grass there will be more concentrated flying particles in response to the "wavy" design

Breakthroughs - what were the biggest moments

  • When I first made the greybox, the perspective just looked, wrong. But finally when I toggled the camera to include a wider angle, things started to look right

  • A wall will be very boring from the looking-up angle. So I searched concepts that have "enormous statues" and see their thoughts. I tried making the wall into a "upside down cone" instead of straight up and down planes, the dam looks much more awe-bringing.

  • In order to make the helmet on Dam look big, I tried 3 different kinds of helmet models. this one in particular won my love because it simply looks like a paladin helmet. The silhouette is all that matters and it really brought us the effect.


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