5 Feb 2021 17:02

Jump in the Driver's Seat


Designing a Car Showroom

It's been a while since we last updated this blog. We've been busy presenting the Cozy Living Room to some esteemed visitors, and working on a few new things such as this little project. We decided late last year that we wanted to see a car in the Data Arena. For such a ubiquitous object in the world of 3D graphics, how good could we make one look? Well after trying a few free car assets (thanks CG Trader, TurboSquid and others), we settled on this extremely well built Chevrolet Corvette (C7) Stingray.

There are no "moving" parts in this project, so all lighting could be built with static assets. This demands more resources to being the project as lighting is calculated and baked into the scene, but afterwards allows projects to run butter-smooth in realtime as no further lighting calculations are required.

Like all projects, it began as a rocky start as we re-visited some lighting fundamentals and made a few mistakes, but it really came together in the end. There are no additional lights in this scene besides a single Skylight actor which captures the natural white light output of the skybox and generates beautiful soft shadows throughout the scene.

The model

The model itself took some work to get looking this good, as it imported as geometry only: all materials were automatically created by Unreal Engine with default material settings that made the car look more or like a clay prototype. From there we manually created each mesh material: all glass, chrome, paint, leather and lights. We decided to take the project one step further and introduce some minor interactivity. Using the SpaceNavigator to fly around the scene and explore the car, a hold of the left SpaceNav button lets users change the colour of the exterior paint and interior detailing in real-time. Using 3 axis of the input device, users can adjust hue, saturation and brightness.

The right button turns the cars brake and headlights on and off, just for kicks.


Resolved scene lighting

A few shots from our final lighting calculation and bakes using a single Skylight actor.