[Behind the Scenes] The Tree House

First and for most, I want to thank Blackie Chung for giving me consent to use his concept art! You can find his work on his Artstation here. He has a lot of amazing digital paintings.

For this project, I really wanted to dive head-on into hand-painted textures which I had never done before. The experience, I have to say, was pretty amazing. The amount of satisfaction you get from your hand-painted results is so great. I think that hand-painting is definitely something I want to expand on.

Here is the concept art:

  The Tree House  by Blackie Chung   https://www.artstation.com/artwork/l4A2V

The Tree House by Blackie Chung  https://www.artstation.com/artwork/l4A2V

So here, I begin with the whitebox, which is just a blocked out version of the tree house.

 Whitebox

Whitebox

This was done in Unity, with all primitives and simple diffuse materials. I just wanted to get the feel and general scale of the tree house. Here I experimented with different methods and color palettes. For example, the roofing I experimented with tiling the shingles individually, which later on end up painting out the tiles instead. I played around with pillar length, testing between using one long pillar or segmented pillars to add the extra detail of being crooked.

Next, I remodeled the tree house in Maya. I tried my best to keep modularity in mind, making sure I created the minimal amount of assets, then UVing them right away so that I could simply duplicate them later. The modularity work surprisingly well.

 Maya Model

Maya Model

Here comes the sad part of this story. On my last week of this assignment, I went in to re-position everything, adding slants to pillars and tiles to match the concept. However, the Maya file got corrupted and I lost all that work. I didn't have the time to go back in to do it again considering I had to finish painting my textures and do lighting and composition.

In panic and amidst a major time crunch to make my deadline, I thought it was only logical that I only needed to paint in the areas that were visible in my composition. So I apologize for the hideous texture maps.

 My textures

My textures

As I said before, the quality you get from hand-painted textures is so satisfying. Despite being miserable that I couldn't actually sit down and really explore the concept of hand-painting, I was able to achieve a pretty good result that I did not expect to get going into this project.

Finally, I put everything together and played with my lighting.

 First lighting pass, with my original whitebox's lighting setup.

First lighting pass, with my original whitebox's lighting setup.

Although I like the strength of the light in this composition and how it really brings out the tree house, it just wasn't looking right to me when I compared it to the reference. The shadows coming from the vines to the right of the door was a little too noisy for me so I took them out. I changed the light color to something a little warmer to match the reference.

 Final Composition

Final Composition

So here is my final composition. Despite all the difficulties I had, I really enjoyed the learning process. Hand-painting is definitely a new interest of mine. I would love to expand my knowledge and skills in it. 

This project has been turned in for a grade and I've been given critiques from my colleagues and professor. I'd still consider this a work in progress however. I have plans to remaster it once I have the time.

A list of things I want to do:

  • Hand paint the trees
  • Add texture variants
  • Readd crooked details
  • Increase poly count on the foreground assets
  • Model one of the super cool airships

Thanks for reading and once again, thank you Blackie for letting me use your concept. Please check out his stuff!

Also, follow me on my social media or look at my other works in my gallery if you haven't already.