Creating a Realistic Ocean in UE4

Let’s open the floodgates for Game Art Effects! In this series, you’ll be introduced to the fundamentals of using dynamic materials and particles to bring your environments to life, in this case with water and ocean effects. The first half of this series features a full walkthrough of building elements of an ocean shader both in a stylized and realistic fashion. The second half consists of building the elements of particle material systems and showing how to use dynamic features of particles in Unreal Engine to create an artistic performance with your effects.

By the end of this course, you will have gained an understanding of effects based materials and particles and will know how to build a flexible dynamic system for your own scenes. This fundamental understanding will help open the doors for more opportunities to create and use stunning game art effects in your portfolio.

Experience from Senior Environment Artist

Tyler Smith who will be instructing this course has been working as a senior environment artist in the games industry for over 7 years.  Having worked on Sony Sucker Punch’s Ghost of Tsushima, Tyler has a great understanding of the importance of dynamic flexible workflows for environment materials and particle systems. You’ll learn through this series how to create a dynamic effects workflow that opens up opportunities for applying your personal artistic style to your environment effects work.

Creating Living Dynamic Materials

The first half of this series will show how to use the basic elements of making materials move, fluctuate, change shape, change color and texture, and many other ways to create a living dynamic material that can then be applied to make your game environments come alive.

Having particles Express themselves

The second half of this series will show how to take particles and apply dynamic factors, to have them showcase an artistic performance in your game environment.  You’ll learn to see particle sprites as an opportunity to use elements like lifespan and random seed factors to capture the look of water, while still showing the opportunity to express your personal style on your VFX particle work.

Software Used

  • Unreal engine 4 (4.25 or higher)
  • Maya
  • Zbrush
  • Photoshop

Files Included

  • Final UE4 projects that showcase each chapter of the series
  • All master material and material instances set up in the scenes created for the tutorial series
  • All particle systems created during the tutorial series
  • All meshes, ZBrush files, and texture files created for the materials and particle systems used in the tutorial series

Free Chapter

Chapter List

  • 01 – Creating a fundamental wave system based on the Gerstner wave formula
  • 02 – Applying realistic features to water materials
  • 03 – Particle system set up for seafoam
  • 04 – Particle system set up for water splashes

Skill Level

This series is perfect for artists that have a basic understanding of environment art with textures and materials, and are ready to apply more exciting moving dynamic features to their scenes. With learning these features an artist can take their environments and elevate them to a new level of appeal, using one of the big strengths of the game art medium to bring movement and animation to their work.

Requirements

  • You need a basic understanding of Maya, Zbrush, Photoshop, and UE4.
  • You must know how to navigate the basic menus and understand the basic terminology (nodes, parameters, etc).

More Training

Sci-Fi Game Environment in Blender & UE4
Learn how professional environmental artists work when creating environments for games, and create your own, real-time sci-fi game environment.

Fundamentals of Environment Design for Games
The best way to set your portfolio apart from the competition is to have strong fundamentals – timeless concepts. What you’re learning in this course will stay with you for the rest of your career.

Trim Sheets for Game Artists
Learn the “What, Why, and How” of trim sheets to get you started quickly developing high-quality environment assets as a studio Environment Artist.

Reviews

Average rating: 3.75 out of 5 stars
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  • Great job! One small issue...

    I’ll give you five stars on this but I’m having a problem with these weird artifacts that may be related to the translucency/refraction. I’ll attach a link to an image, if you can help me get rid of this that would be awesome. It only seems to show up when viewing the water edge-wise, which is unfortunate because that’s the view one would expect to see from the shoreline. Otherwise, it’s very easy to understand the instructions and the final result is great. Would recommend… cheers.

    https://ibb.co/ZNkfvHX

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    • We’ve talked to Tyler and he says his first take on this is it could be a refraction problem? if it is occurring where the edge of the water plane is ending the refraction might be pulling from whatever is under the water plane. If you turns off refraction and this problem goes away then setting up this node layout can help.

      It essentially takes the distance from the camera as a mask so anything after a certain distance from the camera will turn off. To test this further, plug the nodes going into the alpha into the base color to see the black and white distance fade.

      Let us know if this works. If refraction is turned off (no nodes are plugged into it indicates it’s turned off) and this problem is still occurring let me know and we can go through the view nodes with you and see what rendering layer it is showing up in.

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      • Hi, thanks for the reply and for reaching out to Tyler for comment. My first suspicion was that it was refraction but those parameters don’t change the issue. I also checked the material I copied and Tyler’s material in 4.24, 4.25, and 4.26 and the issue was the same. I’ll make sure to leave a reply if I end up finding the cause. Thanks again!

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  • Questionable editing, but a beautiful end result

    The end result is beautiful and I applaud Tyler Smith on his knowledge! But with the way the editing was done, following the tutorial can at times be a little frustrating.

    The instructor essentially screen-captured himself working silently and then screen-captured himself playing the previous video with audio dubbed overtop, explaining his process. This means he usually doesn’t have enough time to explain *why* he is doing what he did, and at times will include mistakes he made, requiring you to go back and redo the work you had already completed (albeit incorrectly, but you don’t necessarily know that at the time).

    Ideally, I would have hoped this tutorial would have been more polished. At times it feels more like I’m watching over someone’s shoulder while they do their work rather than actually being taught how to do the work.

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  • awesome tutorial

    Everything is fine and awesome in tutorial but foam normal is not working when i import another plane but it is working in tutor plane…..and i am unable to solve this problem
    Help will be very appreciable.

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  • So far So good

    Solid stuff so far, but in Video/Lesson 1, slowing down the video to the part where he inserts the plane–he is shown grabbing a plane from the content browser that has 5000 triangles–which, if you were building this scene completely from scratch like I was, I created a plane from the Basic Actors panel, which creates one with only 2 triangles. This discrepancy isn’t caught in the video–so by the time you get to the part where you actually turn on the Tessellation and view the plane/wave effect in wireframe mode, you see absolutely no difference–just a flat un-displaced plane.

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    • Hi Evan,

      Thank you for taking the time to share your feedback! We’re sorry to hear about the trouble regarding the plane – we’ve now added it to the product so it can be downloaded. We realize this doesn’t take away from the frustration having to figure this out on your own, but hope it will help future students.

      Thanks again for bringing our attention to the issue!

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      • Thanks FN, actually the plane is in this tutorial, in the ‘ocean_material_01\Chapter01\OceanTut_01\Content\TutContent’ It just took some figuring out when the video didn’t expressly mention the difference and Why you may needed to import this asset vs. creating a new plane from within UE4. So this was a good thing to end up learning even though it may have been unintentional.

        Appreciate the follow up, good stuff as always.

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        • Thank you for elaborating Evan – we’ve updated the product with a little PDF guide that explains this section of the tutorial in regards to the plane and hope it will help newcomers to the course. We once again really appreciate the feedback so we can continue to improve!

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    • Thank you!! I was beating my head against the wall wondering why the normals of my mesh were looking so much different than his. Saved me a bunch of time!

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      • Yea it was about an hour of my poking around to figure that out. I know many content creators / tutorial makers like to provide you a startup file, as this one does, that has some of these things easyily prepared ahead of time, but I like starting totally from scratch. Honestly, figuring this out on my own is why I do it this way… so I got that going for me

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        • Hello i find same problem of plane problem as material gives good foam normal in the plane created by tutor but when i made another plane the foam normal disappears why i dont know please somebody help me …….

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          • Hi Samir,

            We’ve updated the product with a little PDF guide that explains this section of the tutorial in regards to the plane and hope it will help! You can download the PDF from your library now.

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