The Trouble with Trees: the making of Yhomstad

Hey Everyone,

Sorry its been so long, I’ve been diving pretty deep into my work and have been neglecting my blog. That being said I’ve got quite a few updates for all of you. Let us begin with the village of Yhomstad, the Grandmaster’s home.

When creating the art for Yhomstad I consulted our teams narrative and level designers who described Yhomstad as a rocky coastal area similar to the coastline of the United Kingdom in our world. However, Yhomstad’s inhabitants are inspired by Viking and Mongolian cultures so I also looked into the coastlines of Norway. I used images such as these to get a sense of what Yhomstad should look like.



I was drawn to the rocky clusters of the U.K. coastline, and the abundance of trees in the Norwegian coastline. The mountains of the Norwegian coastline also fit with the level block-out given to me by our level designer.

I started off working on trees as they would be a defining feature of Yhomstad.

Having never modeled trees before this proved a unique challenge. How was I going to go about making these trees to fit the low poly aesthetic of The Grandmaster. I started off way off the mark with this monstrosity:


To which my lead artist, Aaron replied:


The resemblance is uncanny, and definitely not our style.

So I tried another approach, starting out with the trunk and layering leaves on top. I wanted to get the layered look of evergreen trees. I liked the layering effect, but I felt that something was definitely missing.


SNOW! Snow was missing. I experimented with vertex painting white patches on the leaves to give a frosted appearance, but the end result looked like discolored pale blue trees. As you can see here:


So then I started adding geometry to the ends of the leafy branches to simulate buildup of snow. I believe this gave the ideal look of having snow, yet still reading as evergreen trees.


And after some cleaning up I had this final tree:


Then to build the rest of Yhomstad.

I looked at traditional viking longhouses to design the villager living spaces. This level takes place in the center of town so I added market stalls and a well to create a place that the community of Yhomstad would like to gather around. I then made a couple tufts of grass and used the Unreal Engine foliage brush to distribute them across the level. Some of the vertex painting needs touching up and the grass tufts currently have no material applied to them and the lighting needs to be improved, but it’s coming along.

I give you Yhomstad in its current form:


(Yeah lighting really needs some work).

Thanks for reading.



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s