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[CE3] Island of the Dead


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Hey everyone, first time posting here, thought id post my current project for critique. Im trying out doing environments for the first time and really liking it. Im using Cryengine 3 for this project. its based off an old painting in 1883 painting by Arnold Böcklin called Island of the Dead.

Still plenty more to do. The rocks are the most undone part of it. Still needs decals to create variation. The middle area of the piece is a maze. The whole idea is its a metaphor for the maze of life. The end is a coffin which is the player's coffin. Im going to put signs in the level to make it more clear. Most of my textures need finalizing. Im just grazing over everything to make sure im getting the right look and feel. Heres my current progress.










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Splendid. :-D I assume the lighting is going to be subject to further work, but one striking difference between the painting and your rendition is that the centre of the picture (ie: the heart of the island) is very dark, almost black. It'd be great if you could recreate this.

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not enough SPINES and penises !


excellent choice of motive but i think you should spend alot more time with making you materials transition and color match towards each other its very obvious where a model begins and ends ...

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wow thanks for the quick comments!

FrieChamp: Ah yea i see what you mean, ill mess around with that.

killertomato: thanks!

Warby: ha! wow that just weirdly made my day i think. didnt know giger had a "sense of humor" like that to convert old paintings into his sci fi fetish wonderland. As far as better material transitions, that is something im definitely having trouble with. do you have any specific tips on that? granted all my textures and materials are kind of part of the way there. im worried that i still wont be able to blend them together well enough even in the final version.

Thrik: actually i wasnt really planning on doing anything with the lighting. ive really only messed around with the time of day settings to match it with the painting. what do you suggest?

as far as the dark center part I do have a fog volume in there set to black, so ive brought it closer to the painting. normally that center part is way brigher. the only thing is if i were to set that fog volume darker it would make the actual environment extremely dark. if i were to make it exactly like the painting the environment would be pitch black and my work would be null and void. here it is with it moved up a little more and tweaked settings(also got rid of that stupid horizontal glare from global fog):

better? it might create more of a mood in the environment itself, just not sure if its too much.




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I think the way you've done the trees and such is fine, but the walls have an almost eerie brightness to them that makes them almost look like they're glowing in your internal shots. If you look at the walls in the painting they get much darker as they get towards the forest, which is what you'd expect to happen in real life. The way your walls contrast so brightly with the trees right now looks wrong to my eyes.

I've attached a really basic Photoshop mock-up of the kind of effect I mean, which I produced by literally just throwing a gradient onto the walls. I hope this shows what I'm thinking with regards to how the lighting of the walls should look. CryEngine 3 has HDR so having it look this dark from the outside shouldn't mean it's too dark to see once inside the forest if you configure it correctly. :)


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Did some trikery in Ps with it.


Tried making the colours more like the original, also actually layed it over your image to add more detail (use decals) to the scene.

Played with the levels/contrast/brightness, hue, tried to alter the shading of the cliffs, to give em more depth, changged the shadow to a bluer tone.

Tried to make the water look like the original, the greenish blue colors it emits is pure awesomeness. Also got rid of the waves as in the painting it is almost mirror like(the colours that are default in the crysis 2 editor are meant for NY and thus, mkaaing the water look kinda dirty, and those brown orange bits make it look good for this scene)!

Look at the use of colour and small details tha make the painting look so good, try to mimic them as much as possible.

I sometimes edit some shots of my raw scenes in ps as it is far faster than doing things in ToD editor, and gives some extra possibilities, to get a better feel for what i like the scene end up like, then try to make those things happen in the actual scene as well.

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i think the trees need to be more "open" - at the moment they look more like shells, which doesn't really help selling the scene. in the original they are really dark and might appear as closed objects as well, but i think especially when getting closer they should really display as individual branches and needles.

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  • 2 weeks later...

@Thrik: thanks for the paintover. definitely utilized what you said. I actually added negative lights to the areas where it gets darker towards the trees. its not that noticeable when you walk around in the environment so it works out.

Also completely changed the water to be more like the painting like you said. it definitely makes it look way better. its really awesome making a piece based on a more classical painting. helps with learning good artistry and composition.

@e-freak thanks, for the input. i now changed the trees to have a more interesting shape by adding extra little spires on the sides. I also took away the opaque shell i had in the middle and made multiple layers of the alphaed leaf texture. i think they look more open now like you were saying.


ive made a lot of changes to most of the textures and added decals to the rocks. i fixed the trees to be more like actual trees and also added flowers.

planning on adding urns in places to add my own artistic flavor to make it a more flushed out environment

it seems like the rocks could use something else but im not quite sure what. they just seem a little empty to me. any suggestions? the other thing im annoyed about with the rocks is the fact i cant have a color map for the unique details in my second normal map. i have 2 normal maps, one for high density details for up close and one for the large unique details that make up the rock. in the dark, the normal map isnt visible at all so the rock faces dont look as good. in the sunlight you can see the unique details which make it much more like rock. i guess this is a limitation i gotta deal with as part of using cryengine.

i also am not happy with the way the rock blends into the ruined structural parts that hold the coffins. in the concept theyre the way i have it, but it just doesnt look right in game. maybe have moss in between where the rocks meet the ruins?












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  • 2 weeks later...

update! ive now decided that im not going to do a video and am instead going to optimize the level for the certain screenshots i have here, so any critiques on composition would be great. ill probably have one more shot which shows more of the maze.

things i still need to work on"

-finishing up diffuse textures, especially urns

-adding candles

-making water less blurry by getting rid of the default cryengine gunk from it (does anyone know how to do this?)

-changing the bark texture to something more subtle

-possibly adding more shape to the trees, something about them doesnt seem right

-(optional) adding the white cloaked figure in the concept to the front shot








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Very nice choice of subject man ! i like how you did your lighting, fitting pretty much the theme and its contrasts ! Be careful about something however; there's a lot of straight lines that gives away instantly the "it's in 3D feeling". If you do look at the painting, nothing is straight, straight lines are faked when they are actually curves. Maybe you could try to do the same by adding more vertices or rotating two elements very subtly to make them do a curve; especially with the "windows" you copy pasted.

Also try to make the cypresses loose their very cylindrical shape the lighting on their volume gives, you could try to add more shadowed areas on them with vertex color for example. Very nice work dude ! Keep it up !!!! i want to see where this is coming :)

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