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Get inspired by ArtEngine creators like you

June 18, 2021 in Community | 11 min. read
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Welcome to the first-ever ArtEngine community roundup, where we explore how artists in gaming, vfx, architecture, and manufacturing use ArtEngine to create beautiful, photorealistic materials.

Materials are the building blocks of any 3D creation, whether you’re developing a game, creating a film, or mocking up a new product design. They make your hero character stand out, breathe life into your props, and cultivate environments that feel real and immersive to your audience.

Yet, creating materials that look amazing isn’t always as straightforward as it should be... Have you ever opened up a new software tool and questioned if it requires a math degree? (We feel you).

Use Math in Real Life Meme

Unity ArtEngine, a material authoring tool, was designed to eliminate this frustration by making it as easy as possible to embed AI in your projects, wherever it can save you time on manual tasks. 

Although Assisted Creation tools, such as ArtEngine, have helped simplify aspects of material creation, there are still many different workflows (any photogrammetry or photometric stereo experts out there?) but no one-size-fits-all solution to create a material. So with that in mind, we thought we’d showcase how several artists capitalize on ArtEngine for their projects. We’ve also linked to lots of further reading if you’d like to deep-dive.

A tileable organic material created by Ubisoft artist, Alexandre Rodrigue, using ArtEngine
A tileable organic material created by Ubisoft artist, Alexandre Rodrigue, using ArtEngine

Artist creds for this quarter’s ArtEngine community roundup:

  • Alexandre Rodrigue, Lead Texture Artist, Ubisoft Montreal 
  • Federico Capriuoli, R&D Manager, Acas3D (a University of Pisa spin-off)
  • Gui Rambelli, Photogrammetry Art Specialist, Treyarch (Activision Blizzard) 
  • Juuso Voutilainen, Freelance Concept Artist / CG Generalist
  • Pascal Achermann, Co-founder and Managing Director, VRFX
  • Piotr Bieryt, 3D Artist, Forte Digital 
  • Nathaniel Bell, Principal Technical Artist, Insomniac Games 
  • Sylvain Jubeau, Environment Artist, Beenox (Activision Blizzard) 
  • Header image credits from left to right: Luis Paolino, Pascal Achermann / Claudio Antonelli, Gui Rambelli / Pat Goodwin

If you want to have your work featured, please let us know by engaging on our Discord channel or ArtEngine Forum, or by dropping us a line at artengine-info@unity3d.com.

A scene created by Luis Paolino with assets captured from the real world using photogrammetry, cleaned up in ArtEngine. Read more about his work in Removing the "Technical" from Art Creation

 

TL;DR please...what does ArtEngine do?

If you’re new to ArtEngine, you’re probably wondering what the tool does. Here’s a summary of its core functionality:

  1. Easily generate a full PBR material from any scan or image
  2. Tweak and manipulate materials in minutes, from removing unwanted artifacts, to generating variations, making them tile, and more
  3. Remaster old, low-fidelity content 
  4. Seamlessly export your materials to Unity or another DCC tool
Variations of tree bark material created

Variations of a tree bark material created by Victor Kam, as featured in ArtEngine: Setting up Materials in Unity

1. Easily generate a full PBR material from any scan or image

Whether you’re working with professional scans captured using photogrammetry or photometric stereo, or trying to convert a flat image into a PBR material – such as a photo from your phone or an image found online – ArtEngine can help. Here’s how a few artists are using ArtEngine to generate high-quality PBR materials in minutes:

From photogrammetry scan to material

3D scanning expert Federico Capriuoli specializes in scanning buildings and artifacts for historical preservation and educational efforts. In a recent project, he needed to extract PBR materials from a 3D scan of a medieval church, and used ArtEngine to accomplish this. Read about his end-to-end workflow here.

A photogrammetry scan of a church in Italy captured by Federico Capriuoli
A photogrammetry scan of a church in Italy captured by Federico Capriuoli
An illustration of the surfaces of interest, from which Federico extracted several PBR materials
An illustration of the surfaces of interest, from which Federico extracted several PBR materials
Final tileable material created with ArtEngine
Final tileable material created with ArtEngine

From photometric stereo scan to material

For a recent project digitizing fabrics for furniture manufacturer Flokk, Piotr Bieryt, a 3D artist at Forte Digital, employed a photometric stereo workflow, which involved using ArtEngine’s Multi-Angle to Texture node to compile his scans into materials. 

Photometric stereo is a technique that allows for the capture of a subject’s surface properties using several photographs taken with different light conditions. The technique is similar to photogrammetry, but can be much faster, given that you only need to take a few photos. It’s great for relatively flat surfaces like fabrics. For more complex surfaces and objects, you’ll want to use photogrammetry. 

Read more about Bieryt’s scanning process here.

An animation of the photometric stereo scanning process inside Bieryt’s custom-built rig
An animation of the photometric stereo scanning process inside Bieryt’s custom-built rig
final rendering of the material on the model
Example of a final rendering of the material on the model, as pictured on the Flokk website

From single image to material

Like Federico and Piotr, freelance artist Juuso Voutilainen creates his own materials, but mostly from flat images from his DSLR or phone. 

As part of the Assisted Creation Beta Program, Juuso recently began testing a new Unity mobile application called Unity Scan that lets him convert photos captured on his mobile device into PBR materials. After importing his captured surfaces into ArtEngine to apply some finishing touches, Juuso staged his scene in 3ds Max.  

A collapsed barn near Juuso’s house, used for texture acquisition with Unity Scan
A collapsed barn near Juuso’s house, used for texture acquisition with Unity Scan
A collection of materials captured from the barn and nearby environment using Unity Scan
A collection of materials captured from the barn and nearby environment using Unity Scan
Final render of “Derelict Village”
Final render of “Derelict Village”

Check out Juuso’s full feature article to learn more about his workflows and how ArtEngine has become the “backbone” of his workflow, as he refines his approach for creating signature apocalyptic concept art.

2. Tweak and manipulate materials in minutes

Remove unwanted artifacts

When it comes to scan cleanup, Ubisoft Lead Texture Artist Alexandre Rodrigue is a creator who leans into ArtEngine’s magic.

Through more traditional methods, it can take anywhere from a few hours to a few days to clean up photogrammetry scans. In a recent interview, Alexandre discussed how he leverages ArtEngine to quickly create game-ready terrain textures.

In the image below, you can see how Alexandre used Content-Aware Fill to efficiently remove leafy debris.

Before and after applying Content-Aware Fill
Before and after applying Content-Aware Fill

Generate variations

Using Mutation, Alexandre is also able to speedily generate alternate versions of his material to add subtle variation to his scenes.

Four variations created using ArtEngine’s Mutation node
Four variations created using ArtEngine’s Mutation node

Make anything tile

Making a seamless material can be a cumbersome process – but fortunately, ArtEngine has some powerful nodes that make this process quick and easy. 

For Sylvain Jubeau, 3D Artist at Beenox (an Activision Blizzard studio), ArtEngine’s Seam Removal is just one favorite feature that saves him from hours of manual work. As Sylvain explains in a tutorial, “My workflows are a lot faster than before. So much so, that I don’t block off time in my schedule anymore for these sorts of manual tasks.”

OriginalPhotobySylvainArtEngine2
Original photo captured by Sylvain
Final seamless material created with ArtEngine
Final seamless material created with ArtEngine

To tile more structured or complex patterns, such as diverse fabrics, you might need to use Seam Removal in combination with some other nodes. You can learn more about tiling fabrics in this YouTube tutorial.

3. Remaster old, low-fidelity content

Up-Res gives creators the ability to recycle old content by instantly improving the resolution of lower-quality assets.

At the GDC Showcase Keynote, Nathaniel Bell, Principal Technical Artist at Insomniac Games, discussed how his team uses Up-Res to batch remaster old games.

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4. Seamlessly export your materials to Unity or another DCC tool

As an engine-agonistic tool, ArtEngine lets you create materials that can be easily exported to Unity, or any other Digital Content Creation (DCC) tool of choice.

On a trip to Glacier National Park, artists Gui Rambelli and Pat Goodwin used photogrammetry to capture elements of the landscape in 3D. After cleaning up their scans in ArtEngine and other tools, they assembled a scene in Unity. You can read more about Gui and Pat’s workflows here.

Final render in Unity
Final render in Unity
Key reference image for scene assembly
Key reference image for scene assembly

Pascal Achermann and his team at VRFX also use ArtEngine and Unity to create immersive scenes. Learn how the indie studio is experimenting with real-time filmmaking workflows in this Unity blog post.

VRFX used ArtEngine to create the environmental elements seen projected onto the LED wall behind the actor
Behind the scenes of a virtual production setup. VRFX used ArtEngine to create the environmental elements seen projected onto the LED wall behind the actor.

We hope you enjoyed learning a bit more about ArtEngine and find yourself inspired by the way that artists in the community harness the tool to accelerate their workflows. As a reminder, you have until July 5 to purchase ArtEngine for just $19/month (and lock that price in for 12 months). We hope you decide to give it a try – can’t wait to see what you create!

 

June 18, 2021 in Community | 11 min. read
Topics covered