Ben again, this time about colour and how we focused the bleeding mess of hues we had into a cohesive and reasonably pretty composition. Let's get started. The one big problem we had with the green, marshland inspired colour scheme was that the sheer amount of contrasting colours we added to our scene was not only unfocused and a little ugly, but was also at odds with the overall mood we were trying to convey. That, and the overall lighting was far too dark to be seen properly on most computer monitors. Sorry, that was two problems.
So how did we solve that in engine? Well, by completely redoing the colours. For this, a Colour Script was made!
As you can see, the whole colour scheme was completely re-written. I won't go into the details of why, and the symbolism behind it, since Katie and Finn have just described it, but needless to say we needed a quick way to completely change the the colours, lighting and mood. Luckily, I had just stumbled upon an article describing how to do that very thing...
Colour Grading: Taking screenshots from CryEngine, adjusting them in photoshop, and then importing them back into the engine and having the whole levels aesthetics match the newly adjusted image. It sounded like witchcraft.
How it actually works is by changing the default graph as scene in the screenshot using adjustment layers that affect the whole image. This means that every change in photoshop can be read by the engine and translated. A drastic example would be changing all the colours so that red is now blue. CryEngine would see that in the graphs and change all the reds in the scene to blues. Now, while you would probably never need to do that, it is useful for more subtle changes, like the ones needed on our project.
Not only this, but the whole colour scheme changes depending on what area you are in. This is what gives us that wonderful contrast between the unsaturated exterior, and the bright and colourful interior. It allows us to stick to the colour script completely. This was done in flowgraph, using a range of triggers.
Before using this technique, we had been adjusting all of the materials separately in-engine. Not only was this was time consuming, it was also counter-intuitive. It's incredibly difficult to get a nice and cohesive result if you're constantly focused on individual elements. What colour grading in Photoshop does is allow us to change everything at once. This gave us the confidence we needed to go crazy and make the dramatic changes our level so desperately needed.