Chapter 2: Adjusting and Packaging your LODs.

Section 1: Customizing the colors

  • Emissive colors – a future update will cater for these but for now they appear as diffuse colors
  • Complex optical materials that use features such as Fresnel effects or blueprints that calculate colors from the camera
  • True Ambient Occlusion is not supported yet but a simple system is in place ready for an updated system in the future.

The Billboards are created using the raw unlit material data to keep them as close as possible to their counterparts. It’s a bit hard to know what type of scene they will be in, things like distance, time of day and exponential height fogs affect the look as well. 

Usually you will want to place the mesh on the scene and test the colors from there rather than rely on the StaticMesh Editors view as the lighting will be different.

The default colors are usually fairly close, but can be edited to suit your scene to create some very smooth transitions – and with some careful adjustments, it can be hard to even know that they are being rendered as billboards.

To make adjustments to your new Billboard materials:

1. Change the material instances for the billboard LOD from the Static Mesh Editor

Once the new LODs have been created, they have their own material instances pointing to the Billboard and/or Planar textures. These instances have a set of adjustments to help the LODs blend into your distant environment. As they are instances, you can load your scene up with the meshes and adjust the settings in real-time.

The values you can adjust are located in the “LOD_Adjustments” section, as follows:

AOAdjust (-1.0->1.0, 0.0=def) This adjustment allows you to specify how much AO will show with light hitting the LOD.

ColTweak (RGB color, MidGrey=def) You can use this adjustment to fine tune the color and the brightness. This works in the same way as the intermediate material adjustment.

Desaturation (0.0->1.0, 0.0=def) You can desaturate the colors (make them more gray scale) with this option.

(RGB color) You can have the LODs fade out over distance, this is the color that they will fade to.

FadeAmount (0.0->1.0 – 0.0=def) The amount of Fade to apply to the LODs.

FadeExtent (0.0->99999999.0,500000.0=def) The value should be set to the size of your map, or at least the extent to which you want the LODs to be fully faded. The value is in World Space

FadeStart (0.0->1.0, 1=def) A value between 0 and 1. 0 will start the fade directly at the camera, 1 will not fade at all. The value is in World Space.

HueShift_min & HueShift_max (-1.0->1.0, 0.0=def, use small fractions eg 0.002) Mostly useful for foliage, this can allow you to alter the main color with random color variations per instance.

Luminence (-1.0->1.0, 0.0=def) Lightens or Darkens your LOD.

Metallic Adjust (-1.0->1.0, 0.0=def) Gives the ability to adjust how metallic the LOD will be, or if a Metallic Map is used, how much effect it will have.

Normal Strength (0.0->10.0, 1=def) Can be used to emphasize (or flip) the normals. 

Opacity Adjust (-1.0->1.0, 0.0=def) Used with subsurface per-pixel opacity, this can be used to increase or decrease the overall effect.

Roughness Adjust (-1.0->1.0, 0.0=def) Gives the ability to adjust how rough the LOD will be, or if a Roughness Map is used, how much effect it will have.

Specular Adjust (-1.0->1.0, 0.0=def) This adjustment allows you to specify how much Specular will show with light hitting the LOD.

SubsurfaceColAmount (0.0->1.0, 0.075=def) This adjustment allows you to specify how much Specular opacity there is, the more opacity, the more of the SubsurfaceColor will show through the LOD.

SubsurfaceColor (RGBcolor) This is the SubsurfaceColor that will show through the LOD.

Note: When editing these values, try viewing the scene with the “Overview Visualize Buffer” on to help match things such as color, roughness and specular.

2. Editing the Base Materials themselves

Sometimes a meshes materials can have much more than just the diffuse texture straight to the output. Some materials adjust the Base Color with color variations to give more realistic results.

Often this won’t matter, but sometimes when you’re looking for an extra level of detail for the LODs you may want to edit the LODs master material.

You can do this by ticking the “Copy Master Materials” option before creating the LOD. This will make a copy of the Master in the meshes Material Folder from which you can edit.

Opening that in the Editor will allow you then to copy/paste Shader Blueprint code from the original material into rdLODtools materials. Or just create your own additions to the material.

A future update will provide masks for adding any custom shader blueprints to the LODs.