Making Quick Low Poly Rocks – Distant Kingdoms

Wednesday, February 21st, 2018

Hi everyone. I’m Shannon, Lead Artist here at Orthrus Studios, and I’m going to go over how I made the rocks for our vertical slice! We have a very short space of time to make Distant Kingdoms as pretty as possible, and we have a huge map to populate. I wanted to make sure I could make as many rocks as possible as quickly as possible, while keeping them stylised and looking nice.

The Process:

Start with some messy whiteboxing! Have some fun blocking out your general shapes and make them as exaggerated as you want. You don’t have to make anything concrete right now, just throw cubes around until something feels right.

Once it’s starting to feel like something you want to work with, you combine the meshes, make it live and start quad drawing over it.

It can be quite messy and all over the place to begin with, don’t lock yourself into recreating the exact whitebox shape! It’s a good idea to not get tied into the boxy shapes and just use them as a guideline for what you want to make. The relax tool is useful to tighten it up in certain places to make it look more natural.

Here’s the Whole Process In Action

Exit quad draw and move away from the whiteboxing mesh. Take a proper look at what you’ve got and start tweaking the areas you’re not happy with by hand. Move faces around to get more natural-looking shapes and use target weld to steer clear of so many quads!

When you’re using flat colour gradients, you can lighten the top facing faces and darken the hidden ones to emphasise the shapes. You add midway points by using the bevel on selected faces to get a weathered look.

I always harden the edges to lean into the low poly look as it fits in with the stylised, exaggerated look of Distant Kingdoms Vertical Slice, however with more time and a hand-painted texture, I would be selective with which edges I harden and which edges I soften to create a wind-worn look. It’s important to play to the strengths of your project and work within its limitations.

Always test your rocks either in your modelling tool or in engine to see how they will look on terrain. I create a small floating plain with some placeholders to do this. I actually create all of my terrain pieces in one scene to make sure that it has that holistic feel that natural landscapes do and also to make sure that the fantasy colouring works well together.