Ice Design | Mímisbrunnr

Unreal Engine 4, Photoshop, Illustrator, Substance Painter
Experimentation, Design, Process and Development.
Project in collaboration with Christine Stenseng and Kristine Kvam.

Texture Developement |

While working on the Mimisbrunnr Project and we were trying to create the atmospheric and mysterious qualities we wanted the digital space to have, we became increasingly aware of the impact textures would have (and later frustrated with the completely dominating ice environment). We did not want the small space to feel repetitive or uninteresting and the texture development soon grew into a project of its own.

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Images from the ice texture towards the completion of the project.

 

Process

The processes for both the design of the ice in the tunnel and the designs for ice formations we envisioned would be placed around the tunnel, became very experimental.  This detail of ice formations was inspired from images of natural ice forms, which we found to occur in a wide array of shapes, some delightfully tactile and textural.

 

We started the process with trying out various surfaces and roughness, placing materials behind others to try to create illusions of depth. We also wanted the ice to have a textural feeling, and the surfaces of the space to be varied.

Early successes in developing textures, double layers of textured geometry.

We experimented with using two walls, and for a while its was the only way we could achieve the effects we wanted. Leaving the front wall semi transparent, and adding variety on the surface on second layer of geometry, through bump and normal maps. The transparency also helped creating the illusion of being underneath deep ice.

 

Images underneath are from versions during our exploration phase, with some very wild see-through effects. Materials here are reflecting each other in every direction, and there was visibility through the entire structure. Though unusable for our project, we thought these results were beautiful on their own, and we learned a great deal about material construction, and technical quirks of working with transparency.

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Some of these texture effects we tried to recreate in the final version, building our materials in the same way. The big breakthrough was to combine tessellation to create textural snow and metallic reflection to get the illusion of ice, (reducing the need for dominating transparency) and we also used these material constructions on our ice formations.

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Ice Formations

In our development and design of ice formations, we utilized the foliage effect functionality built into Unreal Engine 4. The initial tests and geometry were based on more typical foliage design, and then we went though a process of trial and error to achieve a look we wanted.

Early versions of foliage/ice-formations.

Pattern used for transparency masks on simple geometry.

 

Progression of ice-formations towards the end of the project.

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