Chris Johnson - Game Designer

Kurtz’ Temple – 3D Environment

“Kurtz’ Temple”

A modular, lifelike UE4 environment inspired by Apocalypse Now

Developed By: Chris Johnson

Engine/Framework: Unreal Engine 4

Platform: PC

Type: 3D Game Environment

An ancient Khmer temple in the Cambodian jungle, repurposed as a base of operations by the US Army. Inspired by Francis Ford Coppola’s 1979 film, Apocalypse Now. Originally created as an assignment on modular environment assets for a course at Champlain College, this project serves as a study in the art pipeline of UE4, and as a chance to hone environment art skills that will be valuable when designing levels and world-building. All models, textures, materials, and particle effects for this scene were made by me.

The final look of the scene

A view of the scene as broken down into different visual layers

A closer look at one of the crates from the scene


Initial concept art of the space. I hand drew my idea, then scanned it and used Adobe Photoshop to touch it up and give it color

The varied appearance of the sandstone that the temple is constructed of was achieved by using Unreal 4’s material functions. What you see in the final scene is actually a combination of three different types of materials:

ScreenShot00009Lit from point lights above

As you can see above, there is a green moss material (left), a clean sandstone material (middle), and a dirty grunge sandstone material (right). The sandstone material function I created blends these three materials together, and allows me to vertex paint each of them on a per-instance basis onto any surface that uses the sandstone material function. This creates a robust material that can have enough variation to be used on much of the scene’s surface area without causing art fatigue.


An overview of the blueprint for the sandstone material function

The blueprint itself uses a number of math nodes when blending the three materials to achieve realistic looking propagation and interpolation. It also takes into account the normal map, ambient occlusion map, and direction of surface normals when blending. This means that, for example, grunge will be more pronounced in crevices and recesses of a surface, while moss will gather on parts of the surface that stick out, face upwards, and generally receive more light.


A close-up of the math nodes controlling the blending between the clean and grunge materials

This Sandstone material function acts as a base for a number of other sandstone materials that derive from it. There is a smooth sandstone material, a brick sandstone material, a material of carved khmer scluptures, and a material of carved repeating patterns that is used for trim. Each of these materials inputs it’s normal map, ambient occlusion map, vertex color, and surface normal direction into the sandstone material function, and the function calculates the proper blending of sandstone, moss, and grunge.

Game Design Portfolio of Chris Johnson