Project Breakdown – Madison Ave

115 Madison Ave. in the style of ‘The Division’


The Project: July 2013 – April 2014

Last E3 was full of surprises, one of them was Ubisoft’s new game ‘The Division’. I love the art style and want to try and create a scene that evokes a similar mood. I chose a real life setting as my jumping off point and will then make it match the setting of the game. I was thinking of going for a snowy night setting. From what we have seen so far, I believe the game is set in winter after christmas (the lights are still up). I want to recreate the corner facing the convenience store. There are still many questions that need answering and I’m far from finalizing the asset list.
If you would like to see more on my thoughts, the asset list and the process in general please visit:


Software used: Maya 2014, Mudbox, 2014

Principal modeling is being done in Maya 2014. Having skipped the last version I am loving the improvements to viewport 2.0 and the modeling toolset.
Since I’m going for the style of a next gen game there are certain details that will be modeled that otherwise would have been texture. So there are bolts on the back of the traffic light, for instance. Also, after some conversations on Polycount I decided to add vert-painting to most buildings.
That also means that I need a lot more subdivisions and even topology than I usually use.
The center piece will be the crashed truck and the convenience store. I tried to imagine how people would go about destroying the shutters, trying to get into the store. Probably the hinges would be the first to go and then they’d get bent and torn. I tried to add that into the model.
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Software used: Maya 2014, Mudbox 2014, UDK, Photoshop, Substance Designer 3

I have taken a break from modeling to acquaint myself with vertex painting textures and what that would mean for my modeling workflow.


The first test was kind of disheartening

I threw together rough asphalt and snow textures and tried them out on the intersection. It looked like I’d have to increase the amount of geometry exponentially to get anything close to a natural looking transition and placement.
But then I found Christopher Albeluhn’s amazing tutorial on vertex painting that can be found  here


The results are quite impressive. I still think I’ll need more polys on everything though.
After these test, I drew several conclusions on vert-painting.
>You probably want your topology to be even (unless you’re trying to use edge length for a specific effect)
>If you’re using a mask, you don’t want your topology to be too dense.
>If you’re using a mask, the mask size should be dictated by the density of your mesh.
>In vert mode, Brush Falloff does nothing



This is a still from ‘The Division’, every brick in that shot has silhouette. I thought that it must be tessellation doing that, but from doing simple little tests like a brick pattern on a fairly dense square in UDK I get the feeling that the technology isn’t quite there yet. Now I’d love to add this kind of detail to my meshes, but wouldn’t that almost mean that I’d have to use custom textures for almost everything? The other thing I was thinking is that maybe that one building is using ultra high res assets for cinematic purposes and that they switched to game-res on the out-of-focus close up of the main character.
Tessellation proved far more useful when it came to have snow building up on the streets.
For organic purposes the technology is great however it is difficult to match up geometry seems between assets. For a breakdown of the problem and the solution I ended up going with follow this link.
These are the results I got with tessellation:

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Also, I have been running into this issue when building my lights.
The lightmap LODs appear to be jumpy.
Below, I’m adding an image to illustrate. It took quite some time to solve.
The solution was to disable texture streaming in the .ini file.



Software used: Maya 2014, Mudbox 2014, UDK, Photoshop, Substance Designer 3, dDO

Took a small break from modeling to try my hand at texturing. I will be going back and forth between the disciplines to feel out any additional work that need be done. This is the first time I create a texture purely from extracted maps. Being new to sculpting, a lot of my time got taken up by a 12×32 tile brick wall.
It was a very meditative experience and I’m certain I could have gone about it a lot smarter. A lot of the textures for this project will be side to side tiling trim materials.

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Software used: UDK

From early on in the project I would check the assets in the target game engine to verify that everything fits and falls into place.
Being new to UDK I was having a hard time placing assets and organizing the scene until I found the Scene and Layers tab in the content browser window.
The material editor is proving invaluable.
The complexity of the road seems overwhelming.
There are at least two different states of asphalt (relatively intact, patched up and damaged) there are pre-construction markings on the asphalt and on top of that there’s slushy snow with tire marks and footprints…
Through the material editor I was able to assemble a very detailed system using smaller tiling maps.

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