Wants tips for environment modeling


I want to model a city environment for a video game, but I’m having difficulty with it. It’s just a lot of modeling to do. Especially with the buildings because they’re all pretty unique. I’ve seen people use components to build unique buildings, but it’s confusing to me… Can anyone give me some tips on environment modeling? Particularly with speeding up the work flow and realism.

So far, here’s what I’ve thought of…
“Focus on modeling components.
Avoid raw geometry and groups.”
Components reduce the file size and the amount of 3D modeling necessary.

“Make the level an island” So it feels like an open world where you can go down every street.

Polygon reduction to reduce file size, so I can make the map bigger.

Using the 3D warehouse to reduce the workload.


It seems you want to emphasize low poly modeling. In your last picture, you have two opportunities to reduce your polygon count: The vegetation and the bollards.

Model them flat - in two dimensions - then make them “face me” components.

This should be simple for the bollards. Use a small picture for the vegetation (use .png so that places that aren’t vegetation are transparent.)

One drawback: you lose realism the closer you come to a top view.


Eneroth has a townhouse extension:



Each roundabout component had 3,906 edges & 1,568 faces :sweat: & I was able to reduce the poly count to 1,116 edges & 406 faces :grin:. I’d prefer to use 3D plants for a more realistic video game environment.


You will struggle to make this ‘whole’ in SketchUp.

You should be creating low poly meshes in SketchUp and then exporting them into a game engine.

As for realism you can use something like Substance Painter to increase the quality of the materials, something you can’t achieve with shaders alone.

You want to add things like vegetation in the game engine later using whatever tricks are native to that engine.

Rather than build an entire city, you want to make it as modular as possible, like a lego set. I have just completed a similar project recently, building multiple modular environments (city, highway, port, industrial, rural) in SketchUp and then exporting into Unreal Engine.

Here is an example in the Unreal Marketplace similar to what I have built in SketchUp: https://www.unrealengine.com/marketplace/industrial-city


You could use the Skatter extension to “skatter” buildings in a grid. Nice thing about Skatter is you can use the “render only” function to generate geometry in your model only when you’re ready to export, etc. See this cool tutorial for how to do something similar:


Whilst Skatter is great for rendering, it wont play nice if the intention is to import into a Game Engine. Most Engines have thier own built in vegetation systems that will run a lot faster.


Understood but @Forestr is asking about modeling in SU and skatter could be an fast way to lay out hundreds of random buildings/blocks. It’s also parametric so you can make changes to the block/building components at any time. You’re right in that you’d need to generate all the geometry live in the model prior to export.

Another tip is to be carful with 3D warehouse…while time saving to drag and drop components, most have so much junk that would require gutting and re-building to keep things light and nimble. I’d recommend using Cleanup and Material Tools extentions to purge and wipe clean anything brought in from 3D Warehouse.



Oh understood, I thought it was just for grass you see I didn’t knoutw you could do other object placement, good tip!


Great tips guys. Thank you!