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The existing Overgrowth shadows worked well for static shadows and ambient occlusion, but didn't have the detail required for character shadows. To achieve high-quality character shadows, we needed a new hybrid system. Here's a picture of the new shadows in action!

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The existing Overgrowth shadows worked well for static shadows and ambient occlusion, but didn't have the detail required for character shadows. To achieve high-quality character shadows, we needed a new hybrid system. Here's a picture of the new shadows in action!

Character shadow

Some might complain that this is a waste of time at this point, but I need shadows in order to test out the physics appropriately. Without detailed shadows, it's difficult to tell whether or not objects are in contact with the ground. With shadows, it's much easier. Here's an example -- if you look closely, you might be able to tell if this physics object is touching the ground or not.

Character shadow

I say this is a hybrid system because it works using decals. I've already explained how the decal projection works, so now we just have to make the decal look like a shadow! To do that, we first take a picture of the character from the perspective of the light, and project it onto the ground.

Character shadow

Next, we remove the white so that only the shadow is visible. Despite its simplicity, it is already looking pretty shadow-like.

Character shadow

However, it's still too dark to match the baked shadows, so we have to make it more transparent. The shadow's transparency should equal the brightness of the ambient light.

Character shadow

There's still one small problem -- some areas are getting shadowed twice! To fix this, we can subtract the baked shadows from the decal shadows. Here's the finished composite:

Character shadow

This has the side effect of fixing a common problem with this kind of system -- shadows going through walls. Surfaces on the other side of the wall are always in shadow, so the second projected shadow is removed.

Character shadow

I thought that combining character shadows with our baked lighting would be very complicated, but it actually turned out to be fairly straightforward. We sure dodged a bullet with that one!

Character shadow

Or is he dodging that forced pun?


There are still some tricky shadow problems left to solve, including casting baked shadows onto characters, and handling multiple dynamic shadows overlapping. However, nobody seemed to notice that they were never solved in big titles like Halo 3 and Gears of War 2, so I think we can save them for later! For now, I can just use them to test out the physics and animation contacts.
These pictures were all taken on Hale's Riverhurst level because it provided a lot of complex spaces to test out different shadow situations. If you guys could make more levels, it would help us test out new features and optimize the engine!


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Comments
AlekZanDer
AlekZanDer

Cool.

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P4TRICK
P4TRICK

I must leave a comment for once..

this is a very awesome shadow system, i like how it works..

good job!

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Martanz
Martanz

Looks awsome! Keep it up!

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feillyne Staff
feillyne

Wow... :-) Shadows look perfect. ;-) Hopefully physics will get much better, too!

Reply Good karma+3 votes
Captain-Arse
Captain-Arse

I belive this is only going to get better everytime there is a Dev-post.
Nahh that is it. I am so pre-ordering this.

Great work.

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SinKing
SinKing

that's smart! what about shadows from multiple light sources, e.g. four lights from corners of a room? Will they multiply where the shadows overlap, or do we get 4 times the same shadow?

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SIGILL
SIGILL

I was wondering the same.. good question (:

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SneakySoft
SneakySoft

I think baked shadows are used on the weapons in ut3, so there engine has the technology to the so, I think the characters where also included. Can you maybe show an example of the multiple dynamic shadows not working? Because I don't really understand what you mean by that.

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Velox
Velox

great !
i have to buy it

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Jam3s007
Jam3s007

Awesome stuff as always.

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Croco15
Croco15

Cool.

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jesterspawn
jesterspawn

Looks great. Nice solution.

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Nebcake
Nebcake

Great demonstration you guys showed

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Dragonlord
Dragonlord

Why using a slow software mode shadow mapping if there exists accelerated hardware shadow mapping? Calculating decals is not too fast compared with a z-buffer test.

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chris_sloany
chris_sloany

looks great!

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DOLBYdigital
DOLBYdigital

Great update as always team!
This project is really starting to take off even though you guys have been busting your ***** for awhile now. I want to remind everyone that you can pre-order this game and get access to the alpha releases to play around with the engine and help them make a phenomenal game.

Wolfire.com

spread the word!!

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Myloman
Myloman

Brilliant looking shadows. Nice update :D

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