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UE5: 3 Methods for Blocking Out Environments and Level Designs (Includes Best One Using Dynamic Meshes)

Category: UE5
October 05, 2022

Blockouts in UE4 used to be a simple process with BSP Brushes. But with UE5, BSP Brushes are being depreciated (although they are still available to use).

So what should you now use to create blockouts in UE5?

First, what is a blockout?

Blockout is a process of using primitive geometric shapes (cube, sphere, cylinder, planes etc.) to block-out your level or environments. The focus is to create the shell or the framework of your environment layout. Without having to worry about detailing, texturing, lighting. You focus on iteration, prototyping gameplay and getting the size/scale correct.

Second, what method do you use to blockout environments and level designs in UE5?

In UE5 you can blockout 3 different ways:

  • BSP Brushes
  • Modeling Mode
  • Modular Meshes

Video Tutorial: 3 Methods to Blockout

Method #1: BSP Brushes

BSP Brushes were used as a standard way to blockout in UE4.

These were basic primitive shapes that were primarily used for blockouts. BSP was fast and easy to use.

In UE5, BSP brushes are depreciated. However they are still available in UE5.

Go to Place Actors panel. If you don't see it, enable it with Window > Place Actors. Switch to Geometry and you now have the BSP brushes to use:

Left Click and Drag any of the primitive shapes into your level and just the settings in the Details panel:

You can also use the Brush Editing Mode:

Then begin to manipulate Edges, Faces and Vertices to modify the shape a lot quicker:

Method #2: Modeling Mode

UE5 introduced t he Modeling Mode. This is to replace the BSP Brushes.

Modeling Mode will be your primary way to blockout in UE5.

Modeling Mode allows you to create 3d models (Static Meshes) right inside the UE5 editor. There are many options available to create shapes, model them, deform them and UV them.

I cover many of these Modeling Tools and how to use them in Module 2 of "UE5: Fundamentals Vol. 1" course.

You can use the Modeling Mode just for blockouts by creating primitive shapes and modifying them.

Method #3: Modular Meshes

Last way to blockout in UE5 is to use existing set of modular assets.

When blocking out using the other two methods, you generally do not have a set of meshes to use. You just have an idea and you need to prototype.

Once the blockout is completed, you create a set of Static Meshes to fit within the blockout you created.

However, if you already have a set of Static Meshes then use them.

You skip blocking out with BSP Brushes or using the Modeling mode and go straight to blockout with existing meshes.

Few important things to consider though: make sure to use modular assets. Use large modular pieces first to blockout the environment. Don't focus on detailing, material creation or lighting.

Use the modular meshes as building blocks to create the layout.

Best Way to Blockout Environments w/Modeling Mode

The biggest problem using the Modeling Mode is the amount of Static Meshes you end up creating.

Every time you create a shape, it becomes a Static Mesh and gets saved inside your Content Browser. This means your Content Browser gets automatically populated with Static Meshes you end up not using. This folder becomes bloated and difficult to work with.

However, for blockouts there is a better, faster way to use the Modeling Mode. You would only have Static Meshes available in the map and not also be kept inside the Content Browser. This would make the Modeling Mode work very similar to BSP brushes.

Change the Output Type of created geometry from Static Mesh to Dynamic Mesh:

Now every mesh you create a shape, it will be available and contained only within the level itself. You are free to modify and update any mesh without having it be stored inside the Content Browser.

I use this option all the time for blockouts.

Just make sure you now save your map so you can save your blockout.


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My name is AlexG. I am self-taught level designer, game environment artist and the creator of World of Level Design.com. I've learned everything I know from personal experimentation and decades of being around various online communities of fellow environment artist and level designers. On World of Level Design you will find tutorials to make you become the best level designer and game environment artist.

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