Kexikus

[WIP] High quality skyboxes

392 posts in this topic

I wonder what it would look like with some sheet lightning off in the distance. What ever came of the discussion of animated skybox textures?

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Adding lightning is certainly an interesting idea but not quite what I was going for. My goal was to get this "calm before a storm" feeling, but not a storm quite yet.

But when it comes to animating skybox textures: The only feasible way would be to add the lightning as a second layer with a smaller, animated texture. Animating the 2k skybox texture itself would just result in giant files.

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7 hours ago, Kexikus said:

Adding lightning is certainly an interesting idea but not quite what I was going for. My goal was to get this "calm before a storm" feeling, but not a storm quite yet.

But when it comes to animating skybox textures: The only feasible way would be to add the lightning as a second layer with a smaller, animated texture. Animating the 2k skybox texture itself would just result in giant files.

Might I suggest adding teal or green colors into the core of the storm (or purple if it's a heat lightning storm) as is the case with Supercell clouds? 

1913d81adfa672dcf58cde0ed4d3f4e0--gag-th

556442987-58b7417e5f9b5880804fc0a1.jpg[spoiler/]

 

 

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You might, but I don't have the slightest idea how I'd be able to pull this off in TG.

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One or two weeks ago, I decided to quickly finish Onderon, thinking that there were only some tweaks to the TG scene and the fixed skybox models left to do.

Turns out that I had forgotten about the turret scene and the swoopracing.

For the turret minigame I had to add the palace model and alter the visible terrain as the vanilla one didn't fit my skybox design at all. So that's done now except for some lightmap tweaks to make the palace blend better with the vanilla geometry.

The swooprace is another thing entirely. I didn't even know there was swoopracing on Onderon and my Onderon landscape doesn't really work well with the swooptrack as that one seems to start outside of the city and then gradually enter it, so neither my normal Onderon skybox nor my skyramp skybox work well for that module. I tried creating a third one from a different point of view but that didn't look great either. I'm not quite out of ideas yet but we'll see how it goes.

Anyway, I wanted to share what I have. So here are two renders and two screenshots:

0YHppFZ.jpg

JvV5hLm.jpg

EMVdlsg.png

KGF7ooV.png

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Oooh, nice. The whole city would make a nice loading screen backdrop.

One thing I never worked out is why Obsidian didn't paint a hole on those defence canon barrel ends. Surely a black circle wouldn't have proved too taxing. They could have at least pointed them in the opposite direction so it wouldn't be directly facing the player. It bugs me every time I see it.

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Today I have two finished skyboxes for you. Though, to be honest, both were very close to completion already.

Let's start with Korriban. Not much has changed since I last showed that skybox. I just did my ususal model changes and then also some changes to the ingame lightmap so that the statues are more in the shadow and blend better with the skybox. On top of that, I removed the fog. But the most important change is probably the new ground color that looks absolutely ridiculous with normal lighting and atmosphere but matches the ingame terrain when lit properly:

uX5QYVdh.png

With that out of the way, here's a render and two screenshots. The first one shows the new terrain color blending with the area model and the second one shows the new lightmaps and the disabled fog.

fIOEM9Ch.jpg

vuxFeavh.png

djseUPMh.png

The second skybox that is now finished is Coruscant. The only thing that was missing here is the fixed model.

XX8A0dGh.jpg

TlXmIivh.png

I also finished the model edits for Telos so that skybox is also fully done now. But you've seen those screenshots before, so I won't show them again.

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Impressive work,  Kexikus!

May I ask whether you plan a KotOR II release or an update to your KOTOR skyboxes first?

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On 9/29/2018 at 8:36 AM, Salk said:

Impressive work,  Kexikus!

May I ask whether you plan a KotOR II release or an update to your KOTOR skyboxes first?

The current plan is to release them simultaneously or very close to each other. I haven't started rendering any of the finished textures and I don't intend to do that until all skyboxes from both games are done. Then I might decide to do one game first and release that one as soon as it's ready or I might wait a little longer and release both at the same time.

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Kexikus,

I am curious about the rendering process. How long do you expect your computer will take to render one skybox, considering you have significantly increased the resolution?

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6 hours ago, Salk said:

Kexikus,

I am curious about the rendering process. How long do you expect your computer will take to render one skybox, considering you have significantly increased the resolution?

I can't really say. It depends on the complexity of the scene. Terrain generally has less of an impact than clouds but that also depends strongly on the internal node network that creates the terrain and on the cloud type. Multiple 3D cloud layers have a HUGE impact, 3d objects like buildings on the other hand render extremely fast.

So yeah, it really depends. A simple scene like Tatooine renders very quickly, others that have lots of clouds take far longer. The only actual number I can currently give you is that the Coruscant render I posted some days ago took 7 hours. But that's only in Full HD (1920x1080) which is significantly less than 2048x2048. So I'm expecting more than 10 hours for the Coruscant skybox. And that's per texture. So it's somewhere in the 50+ hours region in that case. But that's an extreme case, although I'd say that Telos is going to take the longest (except for Dxun maybe but I can't say for certain as that one is not done yet).

But I'm also seriously considering the use of a render farm to speed things up. They aren't really that expensive for only a few renders so that might be worthwhile. We'll see^^

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Early-ish Taris tests:

EY31Ifuh.png

This picture actually shows three things that are all work in progress and were at the time I took this picture not really blending together.

First of all there's the skybox with the very distant buildings. The sky itself is pretty much done although I might make the clouds darker again to get closer to the vanilla look. (I brightened them up as that looked better IMO, but I'll give the darker clouds another shot once the rest is done).

Then there are the 2d backdrop buildings on the right side of the image. Those were rendered in 3ds Max.

And finally there's the cubemap used for the 3d buildings.

Now, obviously the skybox buildings and the rest don't match here. Also the 2d buildings were rendered using the horrible vanilla "Taris cubemap" which made them blend very well with the 3d buildings but also made them look terrible as a result. In the screenshot above I have already replaced the cubemap with a copy of the skybox but I have not yet rerendered the backdrops.

Since then I've rerendered the 2d backdrops which already helped a lot but they still need some tweaking. I've also done a lot more to fake the blue-pink-ish lighting for the buildings seen in the skybox itself. They're also farther away.

These changes all helped with blending the three layers of cityscape together. My goal now is to make this blending even better by adjusting the lighting of both the backdrop and skybox buildings and by adjusting the lightmaps for the backdop buildings to simulate the different lighting conditions they're in while only having one texture for all directions.

I'll keep you updated.

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Over the last weeks I continued to tweak the clouds for TSLs Dantooine and finally arrived at a version that I'm really happy with, so as always here's the render to celebrate the completion of a skybox:

AJTQcMch.jpg

And of course some screenshots. These also show the changed fog settings for the Khoonda plains. The enclave didn't need any changes.

68R8Vyym.pngtJzWhIvm.pngwRvAIeXm.png

I also continued work on the Taris skybox. This screenshot shows only the actual skybox, the 2d buildings are disabled here as are most of the clouds to save render time.

n9UiWiyl.png

I think I'm getting there. Currently I'm stuck on finding a good way to lightmap the 2d buildings. The problem is not to get them lightmapped, that's easy, but to create the lightmap automatically and not by hand. I was thinking of projecting a cylindrical image onto their geometry to create the lighting, but tests in that direction have not been very successfull. If anyone has any ideas on how to get this done, please let me know.

And as the last update for today, I rendered the 2d buildings for Tatooine.

r0RKXQCl.jpg

I'll have to see whether or not I'll disable the fog for Anchorhead and I might also tweak the Tatooine skybox some more. We'll see^^

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Chiming in here several months later to say WOW these look amazing! Your nerdy passion project is not going unnoticed! Amazing facelifts all around!

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I'm still here. And after moving, handing in a thesis and working a lot I finally had some time to work on skyboxes again. Yeay :)

I also just realised today that I can use a simple cylindricalk UVW map for lightmaps and don't have to use a multi-unwrap script followed by somehow projecting a cylindrical map and rendering that to a texture. With that roadblock out of the way I was able to get a lot of work done for Taris. The backdrop buildings are now lightmapped to blend with the skybox:

RAFV3fXh.png

For comparison. Here's the same without lightmaps:

pjwavwml.png

In that case one would of course change the color for the texture but you can also see the change in "lighting" in the lightmapped image from left to right. That would have been impossible with a single backdrop building texture and no lightmaps.

Now I just need to figure out what those weird white rectangles floating around the upper city are and get rid of them. I might also tweak the lightmap some more, especially for the Upper City South. And I need to check if everything still looks good once I render the skybox with all clouds enabled.

Apart from the lightmaps I also did something else today. I'll show it in a screenshot and for some reason I'm feeling like making a guessing game out of it. Please don't ask me why. I'll post some hints in spoiler tags below and if you don't feel like guessing, you can just open the answer-spoiler^^

NbYwAPJh.png

Spoiler

Hint 1: The person on the right might give you a clue about where this screenshot was taken.

Spoiler

Hint 2: The screenshot was taken in the southern appartments.

Answer:

Spoiler

I finally added backdrop buildings to the southern appartment. That's something I've wanted to do for the first skybox release already but I didn't have the knowledge about these things back then. Fair Strides tried to help me but he hit some kind of roadblock that I circumvented apparently.

That's it for now, so all that's left for this post is me wishing you all a MERRY CHRISTMAS!

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Eh, I played Taris so many times that I recognized the building (and the janitor) in a nanosecond.

Those great backdrop buildings weren't there and I simply love them.

Thanks for the update Kexikus and have fantastic holidays!

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7 hours ago, Kexikus said:

The backdrop buildings are now lightmapped to blend with the skybox

Seems a bit too pinkish to me compared to the buildings in the foreground. Might need to be desaturated a bit, and/or shifted more towards the blue side of things. It is probably accurate for the time of day, so you can blame Bioware for the lighting in the rest of the level.

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On 12/24/2018 at 6:16 AM, DarthParametric said:

Seems a bit too pinkish to me compared to the buildings in the foreground. Might need to be desaturated a bit, and/or shifted more towards the blue side of things. It is probably accurate for the time of day, so you can blame Bioware for the lighting in the rest of the level.

You are absolutely right about that. The colours were still a bit off and Bioware's lighting on Taris is terrible^^

So I continued iterating over the lightmap for my 2d buildings and also the lightmaps for the 3d buildings to get everything to blend together. Once I was happy with that, I enabled all the clouds in TG and rendered the skybox again. That changed the lighting of the skybox so there was a mismatch once again. That meant tweaking the skybox lighting to get it closer to where it was before, followed by tweaking the lightmaps again. And finally, I rerendered the 2d buildings with more contrast and a better cubemap. Here's the result of all that:

WS3ggqWh.png

Much better if you ask me. What's left now is to rerender the cubemap (used both when rendering the backdrop buildings and ingame for reflections) at a higher resolution and then maybe do some additional tweaking. More importantly, I still need to do the same thing (changing all the lightmaps) for the Upper City South. But I'm getting there :)

I also noticed that I had forgotten about one skybox when going through all the models and fixing them: Davik's Estate.

That was changed and Davik has a nice view from his hangar now. I decided not to add additional backdrop buildings here since I figured that his estate was probably expensive and should thus stand a little more separated from the rest of the buildings.

th3LdFeh.jpg

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Judging by the escape scene pre-rendered vid, there's one rectangular looking building in the foreground:

Taris_EH_Escape_01.png.6f1358b9ed2df3b182aec865112d5a63.png

Taris_EH_Escape_02.png.4d99ba23c5a5fbf99ec247c6d827e431.png

But otherwise that looks about right.

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On 12/26/2018 at 11:00 PM, Kexikus said:

Added:

Spoiler

5nGSwr6h.png

 

Awesome... how did you do that? :question:

Edited by ebmar

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On 12/26/2018 at 6:54 PM, ebmar said:

Awesome... how did you do that? :question:

There's nothing fancy about it. I just copied the mesh from another module (Upper City South), positioned it in my Davik's Estate scene in 3ds Max and linked it to the skybox odysseybase. And since I'm lazy, I took a building mesh that already has a proper lightmap so I didn't have to add that one either.

In other news: I now consider the skybox part of Taris final. I will probably go back and tweak the lightmaps some more in the future but that will be only tiny changes. And to celebrate this milestone there is the obligatory render:

cjz4vK2h.jpg

I also went back to the very first skybox I made when restarting this project almost two years ago: The Telos Polar Plateau. There was always something bothering me about its snow in particular, but that's now fixed.

The trick was to get rid of the fancy snow shader (which had among other effects an actual displacement for piled up snow) and replace it with a very simple color shader instead. Then I lightened up the rock color to better match the ingame terrain and the skybox was done. Afterwards I just had to fix up the model and while doing that, I also added a skybox to the academy hangar similar to DarthParametrics standalone mod.

YfWCyTyh.png

5Jbq3Cjh.png

And even though it's not exactly spectacular, here's a standalone render of that skybox:

bnQdLxKh.jpg

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