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Unreal Engine 4 for Design Visualization: Developing Stunning Interactive Visualizations, Animations, and Renderings

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Unreal Engine 4 for Design Visualization: Developing Stunning Interactive Visualizations, Animations, and Renderings

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  • Focused, real-world guidance for creating stunning, dynamic non-game visualizations
  • Step-by-step walkthroughs help students master the UE4 tools and technologies most important for visualization
  • Includes detailed, well-documented walkthroughs of several interactive projects, with all project files available for download
  • For all visualization professionals interested in UE4, from moviemakers to doctors, architects to engineers and scientists


  • Copyright 2018
  • Dimensions: 7" x 9"
  • Pages: 384
  • Edition: 1st
  • Book
  • ISBN-10: 0-13-468070-7
  • ISBN-13: 978-0-13-468070-5

The Official, Full-Color Guide to Developing Interactive Visualizations, Animations, and Renderings with Unreal Engine 4

Unreal Engine 4 (UE4) was created to develop video games, but it has gone viral among architecture, science, engineering, and medical visualization communities. UE4’s stunning visual quality, cutting-edge toolset, unbeatable price (free!), and unprecedented ease of use redefines the state of the art and has turned the gaming, film, and visualization industries on their heads.

Unreal Engine 4 for Design Visualization delivers the knowledge visualization professionals need to leverage UE4’s immense power. World-class UE4 expert Tom Shannon introduces Unreal Engine 4’s components and technical concepts, mentoring you through the entire process of building outstanding visualization content–all with realistic, carefully documented, step-by-step sample projects.

Shannon answers the questions most often asked about UE4 visualization, addressing issues ranging from data import and processing to lighting, advanced materials, and rendering. He reveals important ways in which UE4 works differently from traditional rendering systems, even when it uses similar terminology. Throughout, he writes from the perspective of visualization professionals in architecture, engineering, or science–not gaming.

  • Understand UE4’s components and development environment
  • Master UE4’s pipeline from source data to delivered application
  • Recognize and adapt to the differences between UE4 and traditional visualization and rendering techniques
  • Achieve staggering realism with UE4’s Physically Based Rendering (PBR) Materials, Lighting, and Post-Processing pipelines
  • Create production-ready Materials with the interactive real-time Material Editor
  • Quickly set up projects, import massive datasets, and populate worlds with accurate visualization data
  • Develop bright, warm lighting for architectural visualizations
  • Create pre-rendered animations with Sequencer
  • Use Blueprints Visual Scripting to create complex interactions without writing a single line of code
  • Work with (and around) UE4’s limitations and leveraging its advantages to achieve your vision
All UE4 project files and 3ds Max source files, plus additional resources and links, are available at the book's companion website.

Sample Content

Online Sample Chapter

Getting Content into your Unreal Engine 4 Pipeline

Table of Contents

Preface     xvi
Acknowledgments     xxi
About the Author     xxii
Chapter 1  Getting Started with Unreal Engine 4     3

What Is Unreal Engine 4?     4
A Brief History of Unreal Engine     5
Introducing Unreal Engine 4     5
UE4 Highlights for Visualization    7
Developing Interactive Visualizations with Unreal Engine 4     7
Unreal Engine 4 Development Requirements     14
Teamwork in Unreal Engine 4     15
Costs of Developing for UE4     16
Cost Savings of UE4     17
Resources and Training     18
Summary     20
Chapter 2  Working with UE4     21
Unreal Engine 4 Components     22
Project Folder Structure     27
Understanding .uasset Files     30
Unreal Engine 4 Content Pipeline     30
Summary     33
Chapter 3  Content Pipeline     35
Content Pipeline Overview     36
3D Scene Setup     38
Preparing Geometry for UE4     39
FBX Mesh Pipeline     48
Texture and Material Workflow     51
Importing to the Content Library     54
Camera Workflow     56
Summary     57
Chapter 4  Lighting and Rendering     59
Understanding Unreal Engine’s Physically Based Rendering (PBR)     60
Lights in UE4     63
Understanding Light Mobility     64
Real-Time Reflections     68
Post-Processing     69
Summary     77
Chapter 5  Materials     79
Materials Overview     80
UE4 Material Editor     81
How Unreal Materials Work     84
Surface Types     88
Material Instances     89
A Simple Material     92
Summary     100
Chapter 6  Blueprints     101
Introducing Blueprints     102
Objects, Classes, and Actors     102
The Player     104
The Player Controller     104
Pawns     106
The World     106
Levels     107
Components     107
Variables and their Types     107
The Tick     108
Class Inheritance     109
Spawning and Destroying     110
Blueprint Communication     111
Compiling the Script     112
Summary     112

Chapter 7  Setting Up the Project     115

Project Scope     116
Creating a New Project from the Launcher     116
Summary     119
Chapter 8  Populating the World     121
Making and Saving a New, Blank Level     122
Placing and Modifying Assets     123
Let there Be Light     125
Moving Around the Scene     128
Building the Architecture     129
Adding Details to Your Structure     130
Summary     134
Chapter 9  Making it Interactive with Blueprints     135
Setting Up the Project     136
Press Play     136
Creating the Pawn     138
Input Mapping     142
Creating the Player Controller Class     144
Adding Input with Blueprints     144
Rotating the View (Looking)     146
Player Movement     147
GameMode     152
Placing the Player Start Actor     155
Summary     156
Chapter 10  Packaging and Distribution     157
Packaged Versus Editor Builds     158
Project Packaging     158
Packaging Options     159
How to Package     160
Launching Your Application     161
Packaging Errors     161
Distributing the Project     162
Using Installers     163
Summary     163

Chapter 11  Project Setup     167

Project Scope and Requirements     168
Setting Up the Project     169
Applying Project Settings     173
Summary     175
Chapter 12  Data Pipeline     177
Organizing the Scene     178
Materials     179
Architecture and Fixtures     179
Exporting the Scene     182
Importing the Scene     184
Prop Meshes     188
Summary     192
Chapter 13  Populating the Scene     193
Scene Building for Visualization     194
Setting Up the Level     194
Placing Architecture Static Meshes     196
Placing Prop Meshes     198
Scene Organization     199
Summary     203
Chapter 14  Architectural Lighting     205
Getting the Most from UE4’s Lighting     206
Static Lighting with Lightmass     207
Adjusting the Sun and Sky Lights     207
Building Lighting     212
Lightmass Settings for Architecture Visualizations     215
Lightmap UV Density Adjustments     218
Placing Interior Lighting     221
Placing Light Portals     222
Using Reflection Probes     223
Post-Process Volume     224
Summary     231
Chapter 15  Architectural Materials     233
What Is a Master Material?     234
Creating the Master Material     236
Creating Material Instances     244
Advanced Materials     249
Summary     256
Chapter 16  Creating Cinematics with Sequencer     257
Getting Started with Sequencer     258
Animating the Camera     261
Editing the Shots     263
Saving     264
Collaborating     264
Rendering to Video     264
Summary     267
Chapter 17  Preparing the Level for Interactivity     269
Setting Up Your Level     270
Adding the Player Start Actor     270
Adding Collision     271
Enabling the Mouse Cursor     277
Creating Post-Process Outlines     278
Summary     279
Chapter 18  Intermediate Blueprints: UMG Interaction     281
Toggling Datasets     282
Making the Variation Level     282
Level Streaming     286
Defining a Player Start Actor     290
Setting Up the Level Blueprint     290
Programming the Switching     294
Testing Time     297
Unreal Motion Graphics (UMG)     299
Back to the Level Blueprint     306
Summary     310
Chapter 19  Advanced Blueprints: Material Switcher     311
Setting the Goal     312
Building the Actor Blueprint     313
Creating Variables     314
Adding Components     319
Creating the Change Material Function     321
Understanding the Construction Script     322
Understanding the Event Graph     327
Populating the Level     331
Playing the Application     334
Summary     336
Chapter 20  Final Thoughts     337
UE4 Continually Changing     338
Future of Visualization     338
Next Steps     339
Virtual Reality     339
Film Making     340
Content Creation     340
Thank You     340

Glossary     341
Index     347


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