Houdini Cliff Generator

My main inspiration for this project was the cliff faces of wales. I wanted to push the unreal material workflow onto a more procedural model. I also wanted to make a realistic natural environment because this is something I have never really tried before.

Lighting- The lighting for the scene Is supposed to be a sunset-type lighting scenario; I remember a professor telling the class that all of our scenes were boring because they were all at the same time of day. I wanted to use warmer tones to contrast and highlight the rock because I like the look of those hot spots on the stone at this time of day.

Camera and Post process- There is very little post process in this scene except for basic color correction; instead, I wanted to practice making the camera the primary tool to enhance the scene. The camera was set to emulate a Super 35MM, with an aperture of 2.8.

Rendering- I experimented with the new movie render queue plugin available in Unreal; this plugin allows you to render out sequences in Unreal with even more control than just the default render settings. I was able to up my anti-alis settings and made a script that automatically forced my LOD to 0 so I could get the highest quality image possible. I ran into issues rendering my particle as this is a game effect; I had to warm up to frame 32 before rendering my frame. I also took high-resolution screenshots for comparisons between real-time and rendered movie queues.

Water- The water was just a shader with simple displacement, as it was the easiest and most performant option.

The elements in the scene were modeled in Houdini, then exported and brought into unreal the scene composition and lighting.

The cliff - The cliff was made by first establishing a basic outline of the general shape, which is extruded up and blended with multiple noise layers to create the macro shape. Then certain sections are masked off, and point vops and displacement textures are used to create the micro details. Then, based on slope and height, 3 distinct sections are masked off, and vertex colors are applied from those masks.

Rocks - The rocks are created by shrinkwrapping a scatter of cubes; then, the displacement is applied.

The boat, tower, and campfire - These were created with tri-planar displacement and modeling techniques.

Screen Shot From Editor

Movie Render Queue

I used mega-scan surfaces as my base textures for this project. My goal with the materials was to make it as procedural as possible to accommodate frequent changes in my models. So I set 3 Main goals when making my cliff shader.

Vertex color based - My idea was to use the RGB channels in the vertex color to drive masks that would apply a world-aligned texture based on the vertex color mask. So in Houdini, I assigned each section its own color and allowed some areas to mix as to give it a more natural appearance. The grass was in the green channel, the Cliff's face was in the blue channel, and the beach was in the red channel. Then in Unreal, my master material read this procedural mask and shaded my cliff asset accordingly.

Mixing of textures based on normal - I used the normal information and the height map to blend in auxiliary textures for extra variation. For example, on the beach rocks, I blended in a mossy texture into cracks of the stones so the beach wasn't a wash of grey.

Realism is the goal - To adhere to this goal, I only used realistic textures and matched the displacement amount on my mesh to the rock the texture emulates.

With this method, as long as the vertex colors are assigned correctly, any mesh could be shaded similarly using the master material.

Procedural Vertex Color Pass in Houdini