I’m working on a little wizard-themed game for Programming class and since we’re limited to kitbashing in terms of art, I thought I’d put some effort into making the game look simple as a style and not as a limitation. I mostly looked back toward old adventure games of the Gameboy era and took inspiration from their pixelized graphics and signature olive green palette. Although I did want to incorporate other colors for better readability and visual interest, I tried to stick with a very unified, retro-looking color scheme.
Instead of modeling all my assets in a low-poly/pixel style and coloring them accordingly, I achieved the look I was going for by making use of some simple materials hooked up to a Post-Process Volume as blendables. The first step was to pixelate the scene, and the second was to achieve a sort of cell-shaded effect by splitting the value data into 5 distinct categories or “bands” on a value mapping image as opposed to the more natural value gradient of realistic lighting. Inside my custom value mapping texture, I was also able to apply the olive green tint, which helps any color present in the scene harmonize well with the rest. My value map does not include pure white, so any white material is mapped to a light green. Because of this, the more saturated a color is, the more “pure” the hue– but all colored materials are essentially a blend between olive green and the input color.
I am planning to deviate from the olive green in later levels (switching to a primarily blue palette for the ice-themed level, for example,) but I’m really pleased with the look I was able to get for the intro level. This unique usage of post-process volumes allows me as an artist to achieve an almost 2D sprite look, but leverage the full 3D capabilities that Unreal offers.