Lego City Undercover with Blender Part 1

lego city with blender - procedural rock

CLICK to go straight to the video

Blend file can be found here

This is the first part of how and why Blender was used to help with my workflow when creating some of the art in Lego City Undercover.

I’m an environment artist over at TT Fusion part of Travellers Tales and Warner Bros Interactive Entertainment by extension. We predominantly use Maya at the studio, however, being quite the Blender fan I’m very familiar with what it can do and seeing how Blender is free and licenses aren’t an issue, it makes sense to use it when it has the potential to speed up my workflow or offer some alternative solutions to any problems that arise.

Now I should probably state at this point that I’m not someone who particularly cares for trying to get into some mysterious concept of ‘which is better?’. In my opinion it’s entirely subjective, dependent on the person, the job, the context, the.. well, a lot of things. It’s probably why the exploration of the ‘which is better?’ idea can be so interesting (and for others so infuriating).

Perhaps you’ve already seen my Blender overview series or maybe even the modelling tutorials all from a Maya users perspective – although I can imagine that non-Maya users should get just as much out of it (if not an additional flavour for Maya thrown into the bargain).

The contents of what i’ll be going over are…

1) A quick demo of the inset tool


 2) The solidify modifier

Click the image to switch between the before and after images faster.

[slideshow id=3]

3) A procedural rock formation. Entirely created in Blender, from the high resolution version to the retopologised and painted low resolution version.


Below : An example from the farm area of the game.

procedural rock in the city farm

All the details can be found in the video below…

And that’s it at least for this part, in the next part we’ll cover the retopology and painting setup, very simple really and hopefully very straightforward.

Now of course, both applications (Maya and Blender) can do so much more than what I suggest here, especially with extra scripting and addons/plugins but in any case I hope you found it relevant/informative! 🙂



This post does not reflect the views or opinions of TTFusion, Travellers Tales (UK) Ltd or any other related TT Games group company

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  • TheGandalf


  • Really nice showcase of the workflow and the reasoning behind your choice of tools for the given tasks. Thanks for sharing it 😉

    • That’s very kind of you to say Dalai, many thanks! Your book with Mike Pan on the Blender game engine intrigues me greatly! It’ll likely become the definitive go to guide! Much needed. 😀

  • When editing the rocks’ base geometry, you noted that having to return to object mode to see the end result. At the cost of performance you can display the modifiers in edit mode – example follows:

    I noticed that the displace modifier can make edit mode chug at least on my machine – and it occurred to me that you might have intentionally left it disabled due to the drop in performance – but I thought I’d mention it.

    Thanks for putting this information out in the wild, it was a joy to watch. 🙂

    • You’re very welcome and thanks very much for sharing the tip. I had actually tried that option but it didn’t work for me at the time for some reason. Probably my fault I expect!

      You’re quite right about the performance issue though so I didn’t push the matter any further, but in the name of those with stronger machines I should have persevered! Thanks again for pointing that out! 🙂

  • Steve

    I look forward to following this when I get time. I was also wondering if you have ever worked on games for Nintendo 3DS and if so how you go about preparing scenes for that system.

    • Hi Steve, I hope in some way it’s useful 🙂

      Incidentally I worked on the 3DS version of Lego City as well. From what I can tell every studio tends to work slightly differently but the end goal (good game within time limits and tech constraints) usually result in somewhat similar processes.

      In what way do you mean preparing scenes by the way? If you mean what kind of layers, then we have a terrain layer for the player and vehicles (which includes vertex colors to tell the engine what color to light the player with as well as materials to tell the engine what audio and particle fx to use when you pass over it), and a geometry layer.

      A few methods of shadows usually get tried, either 1) dynamically casting, 2) cutting them in to the terrain then darkening them with vertex coloring 3) using alpha boards.

      Each have pros and cons.

      The 3D effect by the way, all happens automatically on the coding game engine side of things. Hope that helps 🙂

      • Steve

        Thanks for the quick reply I trying to gather as much info on making short animation’s for the 3DS as I can. I am just interested in how it is acheived and what the process is. Many thanks.

        • although possibly simplistic i would say that there’s 2 main flavors of animations for any games system…

          1) use the games environment and engine to create it, similar to unreals kismet and matinee system, every engine goes about this slightly differently.

          2) just trigger a pre-recorded movie, so the creation of this would be the same as creating any movie.

          Hope that’s useful. 🙂

  • Ray Black

    Thank you for being a fan of Blender. May you achieve your dreams.

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