Part One: Research, Planning, and Blocking Out
Making any kind of environment, no matter the scale, requires research, planning, and lots (and lots) of reference images. Before I ever started modeling, I had to decide what type of environment I wanted to create. The requirements were that it had to be an enclosed space and use modular assets. For this environment, I decided that I would recreate an actual hotel plaza from the Hotel Rincón de Josefa, located in Pátzcuaro, Mexico.
Part of my planning included identifying what pieces of the environment would become modular and reusable in my scene. These were pieces that I knew I could combine to create larger models and variation, without the need for excessive modeling.
I also needed to plan where I wanted the player to focus on, and where I wanted them to be able to go. Even though this was going to be a very small environment that I would not be expanding on in the time frame, I knew that I wanted the environment to be a pleasing hallway that the player would pass through several times. I planned for the top ledge over the archway to be a passage for the player to cross between rooms, and the large balcony to be an area connected to another room that could hold an item or a power-up.
In order to get a feel for the environment, a block out was necessary. The block out helped to establish the layout and scale, allowing me to get a feel for where things needed to be, and how the player would move through the level.
Part Two: Basic Models
I began filling out the scene with the untextured models as I made them. By placing models and arranging the environment gradually, I was able to tell which areas were lacking, and how much more I needed to make them feel complete. Exploring with a third-person camera also helps to ensure that I am making my models to the appropriate scale.
Part Three: Basic Textures and Lighting
I added some quick, rough textures so that I could establish a color scheme. Basic lighting was also added to help get an idea of where the final lights would be. Some obvious flaws at this point are that the textures need to be properly aligned, and the colors all need to be desaturated.
Part Four: Rough Scene
All models and textures have been completed and placed, and it’s time to focus on the lighting. The idea is to make the hallway a comforting and warm passageway, where the player feels at home and welcome. I need to accentuate the scene and draw attention to the areas where the player should go.
Part Five: Final Lighting and Post-Processing Effects
These are the images of the completed environment. I referenced the lighting in restaurants and coffee shops that encouraged their customers to relax and enjoy their experience to help the lighting in my scene achieve that same effect. I also added slight post-processing effects, mostly visible on the bloom of the lights, but there is also a slight depth of field and color tinting. With post-processing, less is more for most of the effects, so I was careful not to go overboard. Lastly, I took very high-quality screenshots, that way they can be shown in a variety of sizes with no loss of resolution.