• We have updated our Community Code of Conduct. Please read through the new rules for the forum that are an integral part of Paradox Interactive’s User Agreement.

Stellaris Dev Diary #256 - Making a Station

written by Tim Wiberg & Lloyd

Hi There,
My Name is Lloyd and I'll be your host for tonight. I am a concept artist working on Stellaris and for this dev diary I'm going to give you a look at how the art team brings an asset to life. Specifically I want to focus on the Salvagers station from the Overlord expansion.

Visdev​

The first step is visdev, which is short for visual development. It’s where we throw ideas at the wall and see what sticks. At this stage everyone is welcome to contribute, and ideas are often borrowed and expanded upon by other artists.

1.jpg

(Salvager station visdev by Avishek Banerjee)

Avishek Banerjee, a concept artist on the team made this piece showing a station that consisted of several circular openings that served as tear-down bays for ships. This is an idea that was borrowed by me and integrated into the final design of the station.

2.jpg

(Salvager station visdev by Lloyd Drake-Brockman)

Here you can see some of my early sketches for the Salvagers station. My thinking was to create something that looked like some kind of hive, an industrial place that was hap-hazard but didn't look too unfriendly.

4.png

(Early concept of the Salvagers station)

When I painted this sketch of the station we decided that this was the way forward, and from that point I was assigned to develop the sketch into a full concept. Although it looks quite different to the final, the shape language and some of the texture ideas are already present in this early version.


Concept​

5.jpg

(More early concepts of the Salvagers station)

I spent some time exploring alternate shapes for the station. Most were scrapped, but that's part of the job of a concept artist. The whole time I wanted to keep the lotus-pod aesthetic of the big dome in the original sketch. I also wanted the station to have some kind of long-axis; that way I could give the station a strong shape, and it wouldn't just be a big blob of parts. It's important to note that for each iteration the whole art team is giving their feedback and occasionally contributing their own sketches. Every stage of this process is a collaborative effort.

7.jpg

(Early 3D concept of the Salvagers station)

As the design got closer to the final, the changes were more subtle. I chose to model the station in Blender so I could more accurately present the complex curves and intricate details. To be clear, this is not the 3D model that goes into the game. It's terribly un-optimized, and it has enough geometry issues to make a 3D artist cry, but it's good enough to give an impression of what the final result will be.

8.jpg

(Early render of the Salvagers station)

Here's a beauty render of an early version of the station.

9.jpg

(Construction notes for the Salvagers station)

While it is fun to do beauty renders, the primary goal of the concept phase is to clearly convey ideas. So the final images that I pass along are quite simply presented, with a focus on clarity and structure.


10.jpg

(Final concept for the Salvagers station)

Here's the final concept, complete with a couple of break-out drawings that show some of the details in greater clarity. At this point I hand you over to Tim Wiberg who will take you through the 3D art process of creating the station.

Hello! My name is Tim Wiberg and I am a 3D artist for Stellaris, where I got the chance to work on the Salvager station for the Overlord expansion.
I am going to highlight the process of the in-game models and textures for the station.

Blockout​

I started off by blocking out the model based on the awesome concept made by Lloyd.
It was important to get a good sense of scale right from the start because we wanted to incorporate existing ships into the station. So I picked different ship types from different Phenotypes that could be in the "back-slots" of the station as a good reference. I quickly exported it to the game just to see if the scale made sense.

11.png

(The blockout model in Maya and ingame)

Highpoly​

When the blockout was set I started working on the highpoly model. One of the reasons why we do highpoly models is that we can include all the cool details from the concept but still have an optimized model for it when baking it onto the lowpoly model. In this case I didn’t have to add that much detail since I knew that the textures later on would do most of the job.

Lowpoly​

After the highpoly was done I made a simpler version of the station that details from the highpoly can be transferred to. Then it was time to UV map the model.
A lot of the ships in Stellaris are usually symmetrical, to save texture space. This station was not very symmetrical so I put some more time into coming up with solutions to get the highest possible quality with smaller textures.

Baking/Texturing​

I used the texturing software Adobe Painter to bake in the details from the highpoly model. Then it was time for me to work on the actual plating materials for the model.
We wanted to have a “scrappy” feel to the whole station, so I used Adobe Designer to create the main plating material. I used small, medium and large shapes for the plating to get a more interesting look.

12.png

(Substance Designer WIP screenshot on the main plating material)

This process was a bit iterative, but when I was happy with the materials I jumped back to do the texturing on the model. I used the same texture with a different diffuse and roughness for the darker “secondary” plating parts. Then I could add all the details suchs as lights, windows etc.

Destroyed version​

When the final modeling and texturing was done I could quickly create a destroyed version of the Salvager station. I used the same model, but I moved, bent and cut some parts to really get that feeling of it being destroyed. For the material I used the same plating textures, but I darkened the base color, changed roughness values and removed the emissive lights so it could have that destroyed look.

13.png

(Models and textures for the Salvager station)

Implementation​

I needed to come up with a good solution regarding the ships that were going to be attached in the back of the station. So I attached locators on the model and added the existing ship models in code, and therefore they spawn at the same time the Salvager station spawns in.

And that was basically the whole process of making this station. I was really stoked when I got to see Lloyd’s concept being made for this, and I had a blast the whole process of making this station.

14.png

(Final Salvager station models in game)
 
  • 87Like
  • 30Love
  • 15
Reactions:

James Fire

Lt. General
54 Badges
Jan 30, 2018
1.508
976
  • Crusader Kings II
  • Magicka 2
  • Stellaris: Synthetic Dawn
  • Crusader Kings II: Jade Dragon
  • Stellaris
  • Crusader Kings II: Reapers Due
  • Stellaris: Digital Anniversary Edition
  • Stellaris: Leviathans Story Pack
  • Crusader Kings II: Monks and Mystics
  • Stellaris - Path to Destruction bundle
  • Cities: Skylines - Mass Transit
  • Surviving Mars
  • Age of Wonders III
  • Cities: Skylines - Green Cities
  • Crusader Kings II: Conclave
  • Stellaris: Humanoids Species Pack
  • Stellaris: Apocalypse
  • Surviving Mars: Digital Deluxe Edition
  • Cities: Skylines - Parklife
  • Stellaris: Distant Stars
  • Shadowrun: Dragonfall
  • Cities: Skylines Industries
  • Stellaris: Megacorp
  • Crusader Kings II: Holy Fury
  • Cities: Skylines - Campus
  • Stellaris: Ancient Relics
  • Stellaris: Lithoids
  • Cities: Skylines - After Dark
  • Stellaris: Federations
  • Cities: Skylines - Snowfall
  • Stellaris: Necroids
  • Stellaris: Nemesis
  • Semper Fi
  • Cities: Skylines
  • Europa Universalis III: Collection
  • Crusader Kings II: Way of Life
  • Pillars of Eternity
  • Crusader Kings II: Horse Lords
  • Majesty 2 Collection
  • Crusader Kings II: The Old Gods
  • Europa Universalis III
  • Divine Wind
  • For the Motherland
  • Hearts of Iron III
  • Hearts of Iron III: Their Finest Hour
  • Hearts of Iron III Collection
  • Heir to the Throne
  • Crusader Kings II: The Republic
  • Crusader Kings II: Rajas of India
  • Crusader Kings II: Legacy of Rome
Needs more bloom
 
  • 4Haha
Reactions:

Panzerslothen

Second Lieutenant
17 Badges
Feb 22, 2018
123
538
  • Stellaris: Humanoids Species Pack
  • Stellaris: Nemesis
  • Stellaris: Necroids
  • Stellaris: Federations
  • Stellaris: Lithoids
  • Stellaris: Ancient Relics
  • Stellaris: Megacorp
  • Stellaris: Distant Stars
  • Stellaris: Apocalypse
  • Stellaris
  • Stellaris - Path to Destruction bundle
  • Stellaris: Leviathans Story Pack
  • Stellaris: Digital Anniversary Edition
  • Hearts of Iron IV: Cadet
  • Stellaris: Galaxy Edition
  • Stellaris: Galaxy Edition
  • Stellaris: Synthetic Dawn
I was really hoping this DD would have at least a note about the 3.4.4 patch. Which is some news we could really, really do with. I'm a little disappointed it doesn't, but oh well. I guess we all wait at least another week for a sitrep update.
 
  • 7
  • 3Like
  • 3
Reactions:

Eladrin

Stellaris Game Director
Paradox Staff
Apr 4, 2019
412
13.255
www.paradoxplaza.com
I was really hoping this DD would have at least a note about the 3.4.4 patch. Which is some news we could really, really do with. I'm a little disappointed it doesn't, but oh well. I guess we all wait at least another week for a sitrep update.
We talked a bit about that last week.
 
  • 9
  • 5Like
  • 2
Reactions:

Owen123

The Third Revelation
8 Badges
Jun 2, 2014
95
640
  • Crusader Kings II
  • Europa Universalis IV
  • Mount & Blade: Warband
  • Stellaris
  • Imperator: Rome Deluxe Edition
  • Imperator: Rome
  • Imperator: Rome - Magna Graecia
  • Crusader Kings III
I like the idea of a galaxy travelling moon eating demigod more but would happily accept your DE idea but ONLY if it got a worthy portrait. Like it maybe cannot produce minerals and has to eat moons to get them? :D
Or perhaps it has to eat machine empire worlds in order to sustain itself
 
  • 1Love
Reactions:

CometBliss

Second Lieutenant
17 Badges
Dec 12, 2021
121
109
  • Stellaris: Humanoids Species Pack
  • Stellaris: Nemesis
  • Stellaris: Necroids
  • Stellaris: Federations
  • Stellaris: Lithoids
  • Stellaris: Ancient Relics
  • Stellaris: Megacorp
  • Stellaris: Distant Stars
  • Stellaris: Apocalypse
  • Stellaris
  • Stellaris: Synthetic Dawn
  • Stellaris - Path to Destruction bundle
  • Stellaris: Leviathans Story Pack
  • Stellaris: Digital Anniversary Edition
  • Stellaris: Galaxy Edition
  • Stellaris: Galaxy Edition
  • Stellaris: Galaxy Edition
I was really hoping this DD would have at least a note about the 3.4.4 patch. Which is some news we could really, really do with. I'm a little disappointed it doesn't, but oh well. I guess we all wait at least another week for a sitrep update.
This shows the work flow of a 3D modeler and what you can learn is how they work and what to except next patch. Small details like this is how game studios make a quality game and these guys spent hours writing this for us instead of developing so we have something to look forward to. Mostcompanies keep everything under wraps until last second to tell you anything and don’t even show their work flow at all.

Side note this dev diary is a dream to me, high poly modeling is good but you don’t want to use them in the game they’re hard to animated and can cause lag issues so they make the low poly very so they can animate it and use it in the game. Baking the texture makes low poly models look high poly once you place it over the low poly model. I know this but it’s just so interesting 3D modeling is my favorite type of art. I want to know how the concept artist and all his variations looked like.
 
  • 2Like
  • 1
Reactions:

rubert

Major
71 Badges
Dec 31, 2010
687
957
  • Stellaris: Nemesis
"Junker" shipset would be cool. And instead of a new set of portraits, it could include cyborg parts and other accessories for the current portraits.
 
  • 5
Reactions:

rodgerdavies

Corporal
38 Badges
Jan 3, 2020
48
160
  • Europa Universalis IV: Dharma
  • Cities: Skylines - Mass Transit
  • Europa Universalis IV
  • Cities: Skylines - Green Cities
  • Europa Universalis IV: Cradle of Civilization
  • Stellaris: Humanoids Species Pack
  • Stellaris: Apocalypse
  • Europa Universalis IV: Rule Britannia
  • Stellaris: Distant Stars
  • Europa Universalis IV: Mandate of Heaven
  • Stellaris: Megacorp
  • Europa Universalis IV: Golden Century
  • Stellaris: Ancient Relics
  • Stellaris: Lithoids
  • Stellaris: Federations
  • Crusader Kings III
  • Stellaris: Necroids
  • Victoria 3 Sign Up
  • Stellaris: Leviathans Story Pack
  • Cities: Skylines
  • Europa Universalis IV: El Dorado
  • Europa Universalis IV: Common Sense
  • Europa Universalis IV: Cossacks
  • Europa Universalis IV: Mare Nostrum
  • Stellaris
  • Hearts of Iron IV: Cadet
  • Hearts of Iron IV: Colonel
  • Europa Universalis IV: Rights of Man
  • Stellaris: Digital Anniversary Edition
  • Cities: Skylines Industries
  • Cities: Skylines - After Dark
  • Stellaris: Synthetic Dawn
  • Europa Universalis IV: Pre-order
  • Europa Universalis IV: Third Rome
  • Stellaris - Path to Destruction bundle
  • Europa Universalis IV: Res Publica
  • Europa Universalis IV: Wealth of Nations
  • Europa Universalis IV: Art of War
The enclaves and artwork in general are a big driver behind my interest in the latest (and any) DLC, appreciate each of these 'behind the scenes' looks we get.

I bet you guys could make an amazing Salvagers shipset :p
 

DarkSafire

Corporal
34 Badges
Jul 1, 2018
38
180
  • Crusader Kings II
  • Stellaris: Synthetic Dawn
  • Stellaris: Ancient Relics
  • Stellaris: Distant Stars
  • Shadowrun Returns
  • Shadowrun: Dragonfall
  • Shadowrun: Hong Kong
  • Stellaris: Megacorp
  • Imperator: Rome
  • Stellaris: Apocalypse
  • Age of Wonders: Planetfall
  • Age of Wonders: Planetfall Sign Up
  • Stellaris: Lithoids
  • Stellaris: Federations
  • Imperator: Rome - Magna Graecia
  • Stellaris: Necroids
  • Stellaris: Nemesis
  • Victoria 3 Sign Up
  • Surviving Mars: Digital Deluxe Edition
  • Stellaris: Humanoids Species Pack
  • Age of Wonders III
  • Tyranny - Bastards Wound
  • Tyranny - Tales from the Tiers
  • Surviving Mars
  • Stellaris - Path to Destruction bundle
  • Stellaris: Leviathans Story Pack
  • Stellaris: Digital Anniversary Edition
  • Tyranny: Gold Edition
  • Tyranny: Archon Edition
  • Tyranny: Archon Edition
  • Stellaris
  • Crusader Kings II: Horse Lords
  • Warlock: Master of the Arcane
  • Crusader Kings II: Sons of Abraham
Wait, why we have random art diary 3 weeks after release instead of new patch (or at least news about its progress)?

No offence to artists, they made a good job.
 
  • 2
  • 1
Reactions:

Lambert Simnel

Voter Colonel
64 Badges
Nov 24, 2001
1.564
543
  • Stellaris: Leviathans Story Pack
  • Europa Universalis IV: Common Sense
  • Crusader Kings II: Horse Lords
  • Knights of Pen and Paper 2
  • Europa Universalis IV: Cossacks
  • Crusader Kings II: Conclave
  • Europa Universalis IV: Mare Nostrum
  • Stellaris
  • Stellaris: Galaxy Edition
  • Stellaris: Galaxy Edition
  • Crusader Kings II: Reapers Due
  • Europa Universalis IV: Rights of Man
  • Stellaris: Digital Anniversary Edition
  • Crusader Kings II: Way of Life
  • Crusader Kings II: Monks and Mystics
  • Stellaris - Path to Destruction bundle
  • Europa Universalis IV: Mandate of Heaven
  • Europa Universalis IV: Third Rome
  • BATTLETECH
  • Stellaris: Synthetic Dawn
  • Europa Universalis IV: Cradle of Civilization
  • Crusader Kings II: Jade Dragon
  • Stellaris: Humanoids Species Pack
  • Stellaris: Apocalypse
  • Europa Universalis IV: Rule Britannia
  • Stellaris: Nemesis
  • Europa Universalis IV: Conquest of Paradise
  • Crusader Kings II: Charlemagne
  • Crusader Kings II: Legacy of Rome
  • Crusader Kings II: The Old Gods
  • Crusader Kings II: Rajas of India
  • Crusader Kings II: The Republic
  • Crusader Kings II: Sons of Abraham
  • Crusader Kings II: Sunset Invasion
  • Crusader Kings II: Sword of Islam
  • Deus Vult
  • Europa Universalis III
  • Europa Universalis IV
  • Europa Universalis IV: Art of War
  • Crusader Kings II
  • Europa Universalis IV: Wealth of Nations
  • Europa Universalis IV: Call to arms event
  • Heir to the Throne
  • Europa Universalis III Complete
  • Europa Universalis III Complete
  • Europa Universalis IV: Res Publica
  • Rome Gold
  • 500k Club
  • Crusader Kings II: Holy Knight (pre-order)
  • Europa Universalis III: Collection
  • 4Haha
Reactions: