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Roman Villa Post #07 - Ivy

General / 11 March 2018

At this point I was happy enough with the look of the room itself that I was ready to move on to dressing it up a bit. i'd been doing some foliage stuff recently for another project so I figured I'd keep it up and do some foliage for this project as well. 

I'd been looking into some methods for creating ivy recently and I'd been experimenting with a workflow that involved modelling leaves in Maya before baking them down and texturing them entirely in Substance Designer, so I was eager to give it a go.


I was using these image along with a few others as my main reference, I knew I wanted those long hanging vines to be coming down through the hole in the ceiling so I kept that in mind as I was making the textures. 



I modelled the leaf at a relatively low poly count, subdivided it, then took it to zbrush to sculpt in some detail such as the veins and to create a few variations by reshaping the leaf with the move tool. I decimated the sculpt then brought the new leaves back into Maya. 

I took the leaves I'd made and started arranging them. I used curves to model some quick vines and just started covering them leaf by leaf until I was happy. I also included a version of each leaf separate from any vines so that once the bigger arrangements were baked down to a plane, I could more leaves on top to add volume. I was planning on using colour ID settings to create masks so I applied a few different colour materials to the bits I wanted to keep separate. 


I baked that high poly arrangement down to a plane inside Substance Designer, then used those maps that it gave me as a base for texturing the leaves further. Most of the work was getting the colour looking good and my PBR values right. Then I just transferred that information to my roughness and normals. 


Once I was happy with the textures I exported them all and applied them to planes in Maya. I took those planes and arranged them into the shapes I wanted, using the single leaf planes to add volume on top of the bigger arrangements. 


To get the ivy set up in engine, I created a pretty simple shader with two sided turned on and the subsurface channel active. I multiplied the base colour and masked out the branches to create a subsurface texture and used UE4's SimpleGrassWind just to give it a bit of life. Then I just arranged the meshes I'd put together until I was happy.