Firstly the normal map I generated from the high poly zbrush sculpt of the cliff (which was also used to generate the low poly though meshlab) I applied this to the low poly's 2nd uvw channel. This was overlayed over the top of the vertex painted tiled rock sculpts (1st uvw channel).
The result of this was used in the shader to filter in the grass by using the normal maps Z-UP channel and mixed with the meshes Z-UP to mask the grass into the diffuse. The end result of these can b e seen below:
The large normal map from the sculpt also held an alpha channel with a cavity map that was used to overlay the end result's diffuse. This was done to high light the edges of the larger shapes, it really helped bring out the weight of the cliffs.
The water shader is based on an idea I had on how to go about getting some nice tessellated waves, this was basically 3-4 heightmaps that were different scales / pan speeds controlled by how dark the output is.
I used the output of the height maps to mask the white foam for the wave caps which added a bit of realism. When the waves crossed over each other the output got whiter and so the white foam caps came in more.
This was working pretty well but I ran into a lot of problems that my brain couldn't handle. The result of the tessellation can be seen here :
Pretty bad quality video I'm sorry.
This was the base I used for the water in this scene, but instead of going down the tessellation road I used the wave set up on a normal shader.
After ditching tessellation and keeping the wave setup I worked on the depth blending to pop out the sand bars under the water. As well as depth blending for the shore foam, which has a bumpoffset to put a bit more life into it.
The waves are passed through a lerp with the alpha being a splotchy low res map that scrolls in the opposite direction to the waves to give it that sort of rolling foam feel, it worked to a degree, mainly in breaking up the solidness of
The wave caps:
The reflection is fairly transparent and desaturated then run through the normal map for its distortion. I changed the waves from simple grey scale heightmaps into nice volumed normals through crazybump, this brought the wave caps and
depth of the wave into line, made a bit more sense.
The Uv's for the water are bent in and around the geo from the cliffs and the beach / dock etc, again to put a bit more life into it.
Here's the hack, it's just a bunch of low poly planes on top of the water plane - vert blended to pop in and out:
I hope this breakdown makes sense. I tend to ramble a lot!
The Cliff uvw:
faerin: Cheers! I hope to do some up close shot around most of the areas, I think maybe adding a few props, like barrels, cannons, rope and a ton of decals should help alot. and vegetation!
tottot: Thanks! I ended up taking crazybumps displacement map into zbrush, polishing it a tiny bit, then baking that, and overlaying it with even more crazy bump love from the same tiled ref texture from cgtextures! A lot of back and forth trying to get the bigger shapes to read well.
toolpaddz: You are right I didn't use world aligned. For unwrapping the uvw I used the normal relax in max. I got very lucky as to how well they came out, there is a lot of pinching here and there but it's hidden in all the noise
Here is a shot of how varied the angles are:
More Updates to follow!