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Hello! I’m Ryan Dao, Environment Artist on the Neverwinter team. You might remember some of my previous work such as Old Dragon’s Lair, Lonelywood, and Sea of Moving Ice. For this module I was responsible for the environment work for the single player content of Shroud of Souls, where players will travel through old and familiar locations. With that in mind the environment team could take existing maps and modify them to suit the narrative of the story arc.
Sharing a drink with Knox.
During the pre-production phase Randy (designer) and I work together establishing the story, layouts, and motifs. For me I like to start with 2d concepts and screenshot paint overs. We knew players would go to Evernight and also encounter some Orcus Cultists. So I did a mix of in-game screenshot paint overs and compositing of concepts to get a quick look and feel of some of the areas players would visit.
After the pre-production phase I start working on building props. For the Orcus Cult I made a key altar prop and from there was able to make several other props using its pieces. When making a prop I usually start with a Zbrush sculpt.
After the sculpt is finished I create a low poly version around the sculpt and then import these into Substance Painter. I bake down the high resolution details of the sculpt to the low poly, as well as baking additional maps such as an ID map to speed up the texturing process.
High resolution details from the sculpt baked down to the low poly.
The ID map helps artists break down and define the different materials of an object.
With Substance Painter I can directly paint onto the model and see realtime updates to how the textures will look. This is a lot more intuitive than painting on flat UVs.
After the initial Orcus Altar is finished I can “kit-bash” its pieces and textures to make a handful of other useful props.
After I’ve finished making props I move onto world building. Which is the construction of our maps from terrain sculpting, set dressing, and lighting. Taking an existing map and changing its lighting and atmosphere can drastically change the look and feel of an environment. Throw in a few key motif props and it really makes it feel like a different place. Here are before and after shots of a Neverwinter street map and one of the first maps I built with Sean, Arm of Delzoun ; Turning them into Evernight and an Orcus Cult cave respectively.
It was a lot of fun to work on this module!
Getting ready to fight Morlanth.
Hope you enjoyed seeing how the environment art department works!
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