Sketchup to Unreal (via Blender)


Hello – and welcome, or welcome back to the channel. I’m going to be using some Sheffield buildings I found on 3D Warehouse, and importing them into my Unreal map. With them using imagery from Google Earth, I can’t actually use them in the game – but for a sense of where things should go, and how they should look – they’re a lot more useful than the grey blockout buildings you see on the screen. The building we’ve just ran past is Montgomery Theatre on Surrey Street.

I’ve got 3D Warehouse open, and I’m going to use Sheffield Library for this example. So, I download the Sketchup file. I’m going to use the 2023 version, because I’ve downloaded the latest Sketchup – and activated a 30 day free trial of Sketchup Pro – the reason for this is that the Free version of Sketchup doesn’t allow you to export files like we’ll need to do.

I should also apologise for the ReStream overlay, I wasn’t expecting this to come up while I was recording offline screen activity – and don’t feel like re-recording the footage.

Once I’ve opened it, I’ll go to File → Export, and save it as Collada DAE Remember to select Options and ensure that ‘Export texture maps’ is enabled.

I’ll jump over to Blender, where I have a map of Sheffield from the blender-osm plugin, and find the Library. In this map, I’ve coloured all the Sketchup imports yellow, so that I can identify them later – and I’ll search for Library. Once I’ve found it on the Outliner, I’ll press Numpad full stop, or period – to jump to the building on the map

I’ll go into edit mode, select the roof – and Shift S → Cursor to selected, and back to Object mode.

Now when I’ve imported the .dae file, I’ll press Shift → S again and this time ‘Selection to Cursor’

This will snap the imported Sketchup file to the approximate region of the actual building on the map

I’ll eyeball it so it lines up with the map, and select Origin → To Geometry

You’ll be able to tell when it has worked, because all the elements will have those orange dots on them.

Once that’s complete, click File → Export – and this time you want to export to an FBX file.

Now I’m going to head over to Unreal, and import the building.

Open the Content Drawer

I’ve got a subfolder for each building, because they are made of a lot of different parts of mesh.

And I’ll drag the FBX file into the newly created folder, and select Import All.

I’ve got a search filter enabled to only show Static Mesh, and I’ll Select All, and drag them anywhere onto the scene.

To put them into place, I’ll reset the Location and Rotation with the backwards-facing arrow button – and then ‘F’ to jump to the building on the map.

This building actually has quite a bit going on; the yellow mesh is the previous Library I had there -but untextured, so I’ll be replacing that. The dark grey building is The Graves Gallery, which occupies the same building as the library.

I’ll open the content drawer, and I want to adjust the collision for all these mesh elements -so I’ll open a row at a time, to keep track of which I’ve done.

From the panel on the right, I’ll search for Collision to filter out the settings, and change the Collision Complexity to ‘Use Complex Collision as Simple’

Now I need to do that for all of the tabs open.

File → Save All

Now I can delete the yellow mesh-only library, and you can see the textured version in place.

I’ll click Play from Here, and see how it looks in-game.

It’s above ground level, and that’s to be expected – I need to model in the walkway, and the library actually has stairs up to it to access the entrance.

And then if we come up to the roof, you can see how the two buildings are merged.

Let’s have a little run across the rooftops, to make sure the collision is working

And while we are here, we can enjoy the view.

From up here, we can see one of the University buildings straight ahead, and if I run over here – we can see a building I’d prepared earlier – the Millenium Gallery.

I’ve done it again with the City Hall. This time I’m going to let it play out in realtime, so you can see what I’m doing.

If we have a quick run around it, we can see that it’s raised off the ground – but in actual fact it does have steps raised up towards it, so it won’t be flat on the ground – again, I’ll have to put the walkway in for it.

This is why it’s so important to set up the collision on the mesh elements – you’ll see on some parts, the player seems to be walking on the air.

Sheffield FPS: Reprise

It has been way too long since I’ve worked on this, and a trip into the city centre had inspired me to pick up where I’d left off with the project: which insofar has been work on a few buildings, no actual gameplay implementation…yet.

Naturally, I will have to carefully consider the plot-line – masked protesters amidst a war within the city doesn’t feel dystopian anymore, it’s practically a reality.

This is a short video demonstrating the process used to import the base character from the Armory first-person template project into the 3D representation of the map.
Really, it’s a compilation of the past week or so’s screen recordings that I hadn’t done anything with.

And this is it working!

In between these two videos, I’d also done a calibration live-stream, in preparation for future development streams, in which I had one mystery viewer observing the whole show, and I have no idea who it was!

I haven’t embedded it here because it isn’t so integral to the story that it needs embedding, and if I were to episodify them all, this it would be a pilot episode, or a dress rehersal: feel free to have a watch, though.

Skywatcher Music [screencast/video]

Some of you may remember that some time ago, I made a vow to produce a music video for one of Sheffield composer, Skywatcher Music‘s tracks.
Here’s a couple of little progress videos I’ve made centered around the orange Broadstadium3D models from 3D Warehouse.

Today, I finally completed the first, and actually had enough screencast footage for a second video, so why not?

Skywatcher Music – Chrysippus Allegedly Died Of Laughter

The second video is all screencast, and starts with me completely breaking Adsetts Building (though I didn’t realise that’s what I was doing at the time) – in the preview image above, you can see that it’s too big and floating off the ground.

Skywatcher – Platysma


I want to share with you a bit about my process of how I work through the means of screenshots and explaining them:

Map overlays

Here I’m using an OpenStreetMap overlay of the area UV mapped to my Terrain object: to the top right, I have a UV image editor window and four faces selected on the mesh in front of the cathedral (orange).
The Terrain while in this state is not curved and has no elevation, it’s completely flat.

To quickly navigate to any point in the map, I can select a single face from the 3D viewport, hover over to the map, press a to select all faces in the UV editor and NumPad . to jump to that point on the map, it also works vice versa, and the top right corner I can search for buildings by name.

From a lower view, having the building and street names on the ground is useful. Having a building levitate 15ft in the air, not so much.

There are some buildings you might not have seen yet, they’ve been imported and adapted from the Broadstadium3D libraries on 3D Warehouse: these will need retopologising and UV mapping with my own textures.

Video editing

Here I’m finalising a composite of progress videos, backed to a Skywatcher Music track. Although the cut is slightly rough, I do hope to release this by the end of the night.

The bottom layer with the waveform is the audio for the video, the blue is video file, purple represents image sequences and the pink strips are speed modifiers, to speed up or slow down segments.
This area can get very complicated.

Building: Sheffield Cathedral

I’ll update this later today with some more text and video, but here’s a start of Sheffield Cathedral.

The model itself is from Sketchup, and a collection of models have been uploaded by a user called ‘’.

The Sketchup file format does need a bit of playing about with to get working in Blender: as the textures on the original model are from Google Maps, we’re not allowed to use them because of licencing – so I’ve just kept the base mesh and will UV map it myself.

Terrain retopology

Tonight I’ve been working on the ground for an area of the level: I want to start shaping the level so that it has some flow.

The ground, currently is an object called Terrain, and is the geographically accurate height map data of the level that I imported with blender-osm.
On its own, it looks like this:

It’s all bumpy

I need to leave this object alone – if I start messing with it, it willl break things. I’m going to use it as a guide, the new object I create on top of it will ‘stick’ to this mesh, and build upon its height map data, so I still keep its shape – this is retopology, it will be the ground that the players play on – as well as align in-game, and level entities – powerups, streetlights, advertising signs, steps and bus stops…

For the new object, I’ve used a checkerboard pattern so that I can see the contours of the terrain through the shape of the squares – and I can see at a glance which areas need fixing.

I couldn’t work with this
Better…but those squares need to be smaller
Adjust the Shrinkwrap settings on the checkered mesh to the Terrain
(the white ground object on the other side of the road)
It now fits a lot smoother, we can see better in black and white.
Overhead view of The Queens Head and Bus Interchange

To retopologise sculpted mesh

While editing, I have my Terrain set to invisible, because I know my Ground object will automatically align to it – and I don’t have to worry about accidentally clicking it.
  • Select the mesh that you want to retopologise
  • Enter Edit mode (Tab)
  • Select a single vertex
  • Press D to Duplicate it
  • P to Separate the vertex Selection
  • Exit Edit mode (Tab)
  • Select the single vertex, your new object
  • Rename the object
  • Edit mode (Tab)
  • Select Shrinkwrap from the Modifiers panel
  • Use the Extrude tool to start forming edges, make a face with 4 verticies selected with the Face tool, this’ll now be locked to your mesh or sculpts shape.

… I’ll do a video.

Building: Corporation

After a bit of a festive hiatus, I’m back in the swing of things – I plan to get back to full regularity after the new year.
The only UV mapped portion of this is the logo, and the grey shutters – the rest is colour picked from a reference photo.

The foyer is slightly different, and the protruding signs aren’t there, but it’s a start and will need further refinement.

A Sheffield nightlife rite-of-passage, Corp.
Source: Wikimedia

Comparing the two, the logo on the side of the building is way too small, and I’m too tired to fiddle on with re-UV mapping it right now.

Edit: Apparantly I’m not too tired.

Insomnia edit

Building: Pearl Works

Not going to include any brands in this; I wanted to play with a few different styles. But first, a little breakdown of the model itself.

Colour picked the metal and brick, standard Armory Glass material for the window
The interior light an Emission texture (which distributes light) on a single face. At the moment, its parameter is low.

Mobile edit

Laptop died, and charging port is very finickity. That may be all for tonight…

The very next day…

Increased the intensity on the lighting, but I still don’t like the positioning of it, it’s too close to the window
Duplicated the roof face, brought it down a little and assigned an Emission texture to it to emanate light inside the entire building
Did the same thing with the floor, so that the floor of the building matches the exact shape of the building, and used an Array modifer to repeat it four times for the different floors.
Light is escaping out of the building through holes in the mesh.
For the porchway, it does give a satisfying effect

Being totally honest, I am really not keen on this model.
It’s ugly and feels like a bodge-job: the mesh is messy, and the topology around the doorway is all over the place.

I am pleased that I found a technique that works for ceiling lighting and floors though, so that’s something.

High sample, high resolution render.

Both the top and the bottom floors have lights on their ceiling.
For comparison, no lights have been added to the middle floors, but the light seeps through from the ceiling of the ground floor onto the first floor. Again, I’m OK with this for now.

Tried a more cartoonish texture for the grey and the brick colour.

The first floor looks as if it is made entirely of light, possibly because the Toon shader doesn’t absorb, bounce and disperse light in the same way a realism-based texture would.
Why would it? Its a cartoon texture!

Well, the sky’s a nice colour at least…
I still don’t like this model, and I’m thankful that tomorrow is a new day so I can start working on another building, and thinking about how to implement a controlled demolition into the storyline.

Building: Telephone House (Part 1)

Completed in 1972, and formerly occupied by BT until 2013, this building was used to manage Sheffield’s phone systems.

The building was sold in 2014, and is now luxury student appartments.
The more I work on this building, the more interesting it becomes – it has since had a change of colour scheme since BT departed, but I wanted to keep it in the original colours because I find them the most interesting

Telephone House, on Charter Row.

Working on the building has been equally interesting and confusing, and a little infuriating. The building you see to the left that looks like it adjoins to the tower actually goes underneath it – and it is now used as a car park.

Since the building was sold, its colour scheme was changed to some thing a little more modern and white, so it has lost a lot of its brutalist charm (and it’d look like just another unfinished building on my work-in-progress map!)

I’ve made the design decision to keep it in its original colours as much as possible.

Here’s a reference image:

Source: Geograph

Above we see the same building from the other side.
I’ve not wanted to go too much into the horizontal building in this post, there’s a bit more work to do on the vertical element of the building, shown in the renders as dark grey before I can start on the second building of Telephone House tomorrow.
Also, the foyer will need redoing, because currently it’s all windows and no doors.

For those who genuinely can’t wait, or are unfamiliar with the area… this is what I’m up against:

Source: Crosthwaite Commercial

Insomnia update:

I’ve (kind of) finished the upper building, there’s some tweaks to be made still, but I did record a silent screencast to show exact process I used.

Buildings: Sheffield High Street (continued)

If tonights buildings were branded, they would be Pizza Hut and Fone+

I’ve wanted to build these from just a single,good reference image side by side with the model: trying to find the most efficient method. I’ve not done any work with the logo – in an aid to speed up the modelling process.

I’ve applied basic textures to the walls, they are nothing more than diffuse colour textures – the black portions are glass textures.
To the left,we have lastnights buildings.

I like the oversized windows – they’re almost caricatures and will allow a lot of light into the interior scenes, and provide a great view from inside the building.