Kexikus

[WIP] High quality skyboxes

331 posts in this topic

Well, I think it looks nice so I would favor of the higher quality option. If it's just a matter of processing power, there must be some options here. I wouldn't even mind rendering it for you if there was a way to do that.

 

Yeah, I'm in favor of that option too. But unless you own Terragen 4, you can't render it for me. In the end it's just a matter of time I'm willing to spend on rendering, but I should be able to get those renders done while I'm not at home. I just need to do it^^

 

Also, I checked: There's no distributed rendering but you get some additional render licenses, i.e. you can log in with the same account on different machines. Only one of these will be usable for working on the scene, but all of them can render the scene. Not really helpful in my case though.

 

(Fun fact: While I searched for the above information, I learned that ILM used Terragen for both TFA and Rogue One.)

 

And to get back on topic: TSLs skybox models really suck... Many (if not all) of them are cubes with outward bent sides which would usually be fine, but in TSL these skyboxes are then placed higher than they should be, so the horizon is 5-10m above the player/camera. For a low quality skybox that's no problem: It just looks like there are hills or something, that result in a higher horizon. But for a good skybox that has a distant horizon, it will look like the entire terrain is bent with the player being at the lowest point. So I'll either move those skybox models down, or create my own actually cubic skybox models. In the latter case I would have to figure out how to get the sunglow on a custom model, so I hope that moving the skyboxes down will fix the issue.

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I could use that and it really would be quite cheap, but I don't see the need. Coruscant is the first scene that has taken me this long to render but it's not like my computer can't handle it. It just takes time that I need to squeeze in somewhere.

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Time for some news: I updated the first post of this thread with some information on the current state of this WIP and an image to show my current progress for both the TSL mod and version 2 for KotOR.

 

But I've also made some progress:

 

The clouds for the TSL Dantooine skybox didn't work out the way I wanted them to, so instead of getting stuck there, I decided to do something else and remade the Dantooine K1 clouds. Those together with the Korriban clouds are what I'm least happy about in the current release so I figured that's a good start for now. You can see the result below (ignore the crappy render quality and missing AA, that's to reduce render time for tests):

 

VrZgm6q.png

 

These clouds are much closer to the vanilla look and they simply look better compared to the old ones:

 

 

 

b37AUsJ.jpg

 

 

 

The comparison also shows the enhanced terrain variation for v2 and TSL, but for some reason the lake seems to be much closer now even though it's in exact same position as before. I assume that's due to the fact that the horizon is higher (IIRC I lowered the horizon in Photoshop for v1) but I still have to test that. But I might go with a change in the model's position this time as the perspective should be perfect if the skybox model is properly aligned to the player.

 

And while working on this, I got some ideas on how to do the TSL clouds for Dantooine and also for some other skyboxes. Not sure what I'll do next, but I'll keep you updated :D

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The royal city of Iziz:

 

DCxLUIml.png

 

The clouds are still very much WIP in this shot and have been changed quite a bit since I made this render, but the general look remains approximately the same.

This is of course not the perspective that will be used for the actual skybox (which will be rendered from inside the city) but I wanted to have a picture of the entire city. Iziz' look and layout is inspired by the Tales of the Jedi comics with somewhat less extreme proportions while keeping the look of the buildings used in TSL.

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The clouds for the TSL Dantooine skybox didn't work out the way I wanted them to, so instead of getting stuck there, I decided to do something else and remade the Dantooine K1 clouds. Those together with the Korriban clouds are what I'm least happy about in the current release so I figured that's a good start for now. You can see the result below (ignore the crappy render quality and missing AA, that's to reduce render time for tests):

 

VrZgm6q.png

 

These clouds are much closer to the vanilla look and they simply look better compared to the old ones:

 

 

 

b37AUsJ.jpg

 

 

 

The comparison also shows the enhanced terrain variation for v2 and TSL, but for some reason the lake seems to be much closer now even though it's in exact same position as before. I assume that's due to the fact that the horizon is higher (IIRC I lowered the horizon in Photoshop for v1) but I still have to test that. But I might go with a change in the model's position this time as the perspective should be perfect if the skybox model is properly aligned to the player.

 

And while working on this, I got some ideas on how to do the TSL clouds for Dantooine and also for some other skyboxes. Not sure what I'll do next, but I'll keep you updated :D

The K1 Dantooine skyboxes exist in TSL's files. I have already converted them into the main TSL Skyboxes here-http://deadlystream.com/forum/files/file/1046-k1-dantooine-textures-restoration-for-tsl/ (And if anyone thinks I'm lying I will happily tell you where you can find the Skyboxes if you ask me) so if you did use the K1 Skyboxes as a base or if you've made the Skybox from scratch without using any K1 resources you could just drop the K1 HD Skybox into TSL without a porting issue (unless you've used assets from other K1 material in your HD Dantooine Skybox).

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Yeah, I could just reuse the K1 skyboxes but their lighting and general feel is completely different from TSL's Dantooine so that won't work at all.

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The royal city of Iziz:

 

DCxLUIml.png

 

The clouds are still very much WIP in this shot and have been changed quite a bit since I made this render, but the general look remains approximately the same.

This is of course not the perspective that will be used for the actual skybox (which will be rendered from inside the city) but I wanted to have a picture of the entire city. Iziz' look and layout is inspired by the Tales of the Jedi comics with somewhat less extreme proportions while keeping the look of the buildings used in TSL.

 

I feel like that image would make a sick loading screen!

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More progress: I took a break from my dark side Juhani mod and instead of going back to the Onderon clouds, I decided to start working on the Dxun skyboxes. Skyboxes you may ask? Yes, there are actually two skyboxes for Dxun and I intend to make use of that fact. One is used for the biggest part of Dxun and one is used for the Sith tomb part.

 

I mostly worked on the "normal" one and both terrain and sky took quite a while before they were in the current almost finished state. Here's an in-game shot from a slightly outdated version and as always rendered in low quality:

 

5ErGJZdh.png

 

I really like the way the clouds turned out in the end, although they might need some more contrast in-game. The mountains (you can see only one in this picture) were changed since I took this screenshot and I will also move this big mountain more to the right so that it stays where it is in the vanilla skybox.

 

To show these changes. Here's a render of the latest version:

 

OxdFYPb.png

 

It's a little hard to see due to the low resolution but I changed the mountain color from grey to brown for it to fit with the modeled mountains in-game. Then I also made the mountain smoother, once again to better resemble the in-game mountains. And I removed the trees from the very top. This is now pretty close to what I had in mind, so I'll probably leave it for now and once I get back to it, I'll work some more on the colors.

 

And finally, here's a preview of some experiments I did with the stormy skybox for the tomb. I want this skybox to feel like a real thunderstorm so apart from using a different cloud setup, I figured it'd be nice to also see rain showers in the distance, which is what I was playing with when the following render was created:

 

SWkqS0G.png

 

The current clouds in this shot are taken straight from a post by rcalliotte on the planetside forums and I'll definitely modify them or create my own from scratch as I'm not very happy with those yet. But the important thing here is the red part: The rain. It's obviously not going to stay red. That's just for better visibility. But apart from being rendered with way too low AA and generally low quality settings, it does seem very promising. I'll have to play around with the height to make sure that the rain actually starts at the clouds and not below but then it should work quite well. For those interested: The rain is really just an inverted and vertically stretched cloud with a very small scale and masked by the actual cloud shader so that it appears only where those are thickest.

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Those Dxun skyboxes are the 'best' for editing. I will say though using VUE it was the easiest to make with no editing to fit the actual 'box'.

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More progress: I worked some more on the Dxun tomb skybox but I don't really have anything to show for it as I didn't quite get what I wanted yet. So instead, I started with Korriban. I was really happy with the terrain and lighting in my original K1 Korriban skybox, so I wanted to keep that. But the clouds looked really bad on that one, so I remade them using the EasyClouds feature from Terragen 4. I plugged in values similar to those I used in the original skybox with some small changes and the EasyClouds produced something fantastic. So I just added a layer of Cirrus clouds on top of that for additional variety and I was done. Without rendering, that took about five minutes... :D

 

On the left: The old clouds. On the right: The new ones.

 

ZLRvS2jl.jpg

 

With that done, I continued with TSLs Korriban and I have to say, that's one of the ugliest skyboxes in all of KotOR. The terrain is actually quite good, but the colors are sooo unnatural and for some reason the sun is invisible although it shouldn't be, judging from the shadows. So now I faced the difficult task of remaining somewhat faithful to the original (so that my new skyboxes don't clash with the prerendered videos for example), while also making it look good.

 

The terrain would obviously stay the same from K1 and so I did the first thing that came to my mind and I dropped the sun closer to the horizon, coming from the K1 version above. The thinking here was that the (inivisble) sun in the vanilla skybox is actually quite low and this purple-ish sky is also something seen close to sunset. And the result was really awesome, but far too red. This was due to the fact that I had colored the entire sky very red-ish for the K1 skybox but as I didn't want that here, I returned to the standard atmosphere with only a little bit more red. The result can be seen in the middle of the picture at the end of this post. I think it looks really good, but when I put this skybox ingame, it just didn't fit very well:

 

aBGypnPl.png

 

The area fog color would change of course, but even then, the area model doesn't feel as if it's that close to sunset. So I went ahead and moved the sun slightly upwards. I think that one is now pretty good already, although I will tweak it some more. Currently the area around the sun is too bright with the model self-illumination and I'll probably have to move the Cirrus clouds around so that they don't obscure the sun. But it does seem like a good fit:

 

RAq19Rvl.png

 

And finally, here's a comparison of the vanilla skybox (left), my first or actually second attempt (middle) and the latest tweak (right):

 

HlieBci.jpg

 

Please let me know what you think and thanks for your interest :)

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I like how you can make out more detail in the third one, but I agree with Parametric, colour's definitely better in the middle one

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I like how you can make out more detail in the third one, but I agree with Parametric, colour's definitely better in the middle one

I think the middle one is closer to where it needs to be, personally.

I think the middle one looks great.

I agree with this.

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I fully agree with you all when it comes to just the rendered image, but it just didn't look right when seen ingame. Maybe I should change the area fog to make it blend better and see if that improves it. Or I'll try a middleground between those two.

In any case, thanks for the input!

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One option may be to re-bake the level's shadow maps if you think the lighting is wrong.

Yeah, but I'd rather match my skybox to The level lighting instead of The other way around to Keep continuity with cutscenes etc.

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I actually like the blue one. It reminds me of a cruder version of daytime Korriban I did a few years ago (as seen in KOTOR Episode III: The Circle of Fate™).

 

 

dUvdEhK.jpg

1MLonbO.jpg

 

Although for continuity reasons as you say, I'd also vote for one of the others.

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I just watched the TSL landing/takeoff videos again, and wow the quality really is terrible. We must be to the point now where it's time to re-render all those as some sort of large group project. But in terms of the skybox, it's very orange.

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I'd be up for pitching in with that sort of thing. The animation, anyway. But the game's Ebon Hawk model is of lower quality than the cinematic ones, so I'd say that would be needed before anything.

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I just watched the TSL landing/takeoff videos again, and wow the quality really is terrible. We must be to the point now where it's time to re-render all those as some sort of large group project. But in terms of the skybox, it's very orange.

 

I've actually had contemplated remaking all the cutscenes as a large future project for quite some time now. But I really don't know if I'll ever get to it or if I even want to tackle something like that. But I'd definitely join any group project that tries to do this.

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The scope of that kind of project is very ambitious. I would also contribute if this was a group effort. There's certainty a few large obstacles to overcome, such as the Ebon Hawk model - or other models that we do not have access to like the escape pod and the ejection port on the Endar Spire, or the Taris city that can be seen during the escape.

 

The actual animation would not be terribly difficult per say, just time consuming. I made more than a few CGI sequences in KOTOR: Episode I: A Familiar Path™.

 

The trickiest cutscene ever to remake would be the KOTOR 1 Revan's death cutscene. It would require either substituting unique animations with generic game ones or hand animating new ones. There are unused animations found in the game files for the Dantooine dream (though unusable without a lot of 3ds work), but not for Revan's death.

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