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An environment depicting one of the lost treasures of the ancient world. The creation of this environment took place over a 10 week period with a focus on narrative elements, high-poly sculpting, and textures.


Rendered in Unreal Engine 4.

Tools: Maya, Zbrush, Substance Painter, Bitmap2Material, CrazyBump, UE4

Responsible for all aspects except for the cave wall and particle effects.

March 2017



In its early phases, this environment quickly evolved from a southern cemetery, to a dig site, to a crumbling tomb forgotten by time. The scene was heavily inspired by ancient Roman sites and the ruins found in Rise of the Tomb Raider, which mimics the architecture of the late Roman and Byzantium empire. I enjoyed the challenge tombs in the game and the sense of discovery that's conveyed through both narrative elements and obvious signs of decay. Therefore, I strived to replicate these elements. A large amount of research went into the architectural styles of the Roman and Byzantine Empire including columns, moulding, and construction methods.

I found it important to place this tomb within a tholos, or circular building. In most cases, the ancient Greeks would house a shrine or temple in a tholos. The circular shape also allowed for a central focal point.


Overall, the creation of the environment was focused on 3 major assets: the tholos columns and frieze, the sarcophagus, and the mausoleum, which were rendered in higher detail than all the other assets in the scene. The scene was designed around a thumbnail sketch, with these assets being the major focal points.

These three assets were modeled in Maya, damaged in Zbrush to produce signs of weathering and aging, and baked down to a low poly mesh. Normal maps were created in Maya. The height map feature in Substance Painter was utilized to produce intricate details like the carvings and reliefs on the sarcophagus.


In addition to the main assets, a tholos base, columns, wall fragment, fern, and grass assets were created to finish off the environment. The non-foliage assets utilized materials already used by the assets above to create a sense of cohesion in the ruins. 

Decals were utilized to break up areas of repetitiveness and to add additional layers of grime and wetness in the environment. Each decal started off as a PNG, which was then given a normal map with CrazyBump. Then it was given varying amounts of roughness based on the material and desired effect. Opacity was also adjusted and in most cases, the decals were very subtle.


Four mood boards were created for this environment. One was centered on the overall look, while the other three focused on the three main assets.


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