In this 3rd part of 5 you will see the detailing process for the "Abandoned House" environment. This process can be applied to any game environment you create with Hammer Source.
If you want to see all 5 parts and start from the beginning click here for all "Abandoned House Workflow" tutorials.
Once I textured the abandoned house, I move on to do a detail pass.
During BSP block-in phase, I already added some major detail work to the house such as windows, overhang, roof, corner siding and wooden beam support:
Now I need to spend time specifically on the detail pass, to refine BSP geometry and add props.
I look through the environment to note where the player will be and what they will see; this will determine where I spend time detailing. For example, the player will never get to the roof or have access to the interior so I won't spend much time detailing these areas.
I only want to detail sections where the player will be and spend time in.
Textures already provide some detail. This helps me decide which areas need additional geometry modification and which will be texture detail only.
I break down the environment into sections where I will add detail, these are:
- Overhang Roof
I rework the concrete stairs and change them to wooden stairs:
Militia has similar theme environment as "Abandoned House". I wanted to learn from the best, so I decompiled and opened up militia map in Hammer to learn how Valve added their detail and did their brush work.
Militia's stairs was something I really liked:
After looking at the brush work, I re-created it in my environment. The stairs took a while to construct, but once they were done I duplicated them across to all other areas of the house:
I also turned these stairs into func_detail:
Porch looked pretty good but one thing that bothered me is how the wooden texture abruptly stopped without any trims or borders:
I reworked the porch from a simple flat BSP brush to include a small trim around each section of the porch. I retextured the trim with a similar wooden texture. This looked a lot better than a simple flat BSP brush I had before:
I also added additional BSP detail to the edge of the porch:
Very useful technique to make trim textures align at 90 degree angles is to use Vertex Tool and rework the vertices of the brush to be at 45 degree angles at corners:
I went around and added these detail to the entire porch in all sections of the house:
Overhang roof had texture seams that were impossible to eliminate. This happened between two BSP brushes when texture direction changed. I needed to come up with a way to hide that seam. Texture alignment wasn't going to work, so I added a border brush which helped to eliminate the texture seam:
I also added a small border to the edge of the roof:
Roof is one of the areas that a player will not see up close. The only detail I added to the roof was a prop static chimney:
You want to turn all BSP brush detail into a func_detail entity so they are not calculated as BSP brushes. This is very important in optimizing your map and helping the compiling process.
Read more on func_detail here from Valve.
Up to this point we used pretty much nothing else but BSP brushes. 3d models (props) are very often used to detail your map with. In fact, all official maps contain props.
Props are 3d models inserted into your map. These models are created in 3d modeling software then textured, exported and imported into Hammer Source for you to use.
I insert a prop_static and prop_physics to detail the environment with.
These include wooden logs, axe, garbage and various other environmental props that fit this environment:
I use props as a way to detail and to tell a story of this environment. I do not place props randomly. I use each model with a reason that it was placed there by a person living in this environment.
The newspaper collection would be near the door and the stack of them shows that it has been a while since anyone been inside this house:
The cooking stove outside on the porch communicates that outsiders may have camped near this house and perhaps using it as a place to stay in:
So when you place props, try to communicate a story with them of why they are there and how would they be used in such environment.
How to Find Which Props to Use
2 methods I use to find which props to place into the environment.
Method #1: Image Reference then Search in Editor
Look which props are being used in the image reference of your environment:
Then in Model Browser filter by name to see if those props are available:
Method #2: Browse All Available Props then Use Ones That Fit the Environment
Sometimes you want more props than what you see in image reference.
Using Model Browser, scroll through all available props. Write down which ones may fit the theme of your environment. Then once you have a list, insert the ones you want.
I don't insert props right away using this method. I focus on making a list of what I may want to use. This provides me with ideas. Then once I have a list of props, I insert the ones that fit the environment.
There will be a lot of props included by default with every Hammer Source version of the game. But sometimes depending on the style of your environment, you may need to create your own custom props.
Creating custom props require a steep learning curve of 3d software, UVing, texturing and export/import process. So first see if the prop is available, if not then you may have to create your own.
I place variety of props all throughout the house environment:
Decals or overlays are textures (materials) that are projected onto existing textured surfaces. These can include signs, dirt, stains, leaks, garbage, blood splatter, bullet holes etc.
Decals/Overlays help with:
- Adding additional detail to the existing/textured area
- Hide texture seams
I place decals all over the environment. These include dirt, stains, leaks and garbage:
Compile and Test
As with all the previous parts of the process, it is very important to compile and see what your work looks like in-game.
On to Part 4
In part 4 of the "Abandoned House" series, I will focus on displacement also known as terrain and foliage near the house.
5-Part "Abandoned House" Workflow Tutorial Series:
"Abandoned House" Workflow (Part 3/5) - Detailing in Hammer Source Tutorial