Unreal Engine Batman Arkham #21: Armored Suits and more

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Hi folks,

As I announced this is the first dedicated blogpost that accompanies one of my UE4 Arkham videos on YouTube, so let’s get into it as there are quite a few things I’ve worked on in the past few months.

This time it’ll be mostly focused on artwork stuff, as I haven’t really worked a lot on the gameplay code lately.

The Burton-Style Batgirl Suit

This is something that I’ve had in mind for quite some time now and I’m glad to say that I have finally gotten around to finishing this suit as some of you might have already noticed due to me using it as my new profile picture on various platforms (was about time I got something new there lol). My idea behind this suit design was pretty much just trying to make a Batgirl suit that deviates from the usual styles and that also builds on the design aesthetic of Burton’s Batman, since the overall style of the Keaton suits is one of my favourites due to its distilled iconic and very distinct looks. Aside from that it’s obviously also a modern design with lots of individual armor plating pieces, much like the blue and grey Keaton suit that I have made a few months ago. I think it’s safe to say that it turned out pretty well and was well worth the effort, although I still have some additional shading ideas in mind.

For those of you wondering why there isn’t any gameplay footage with that skin, that’s because I still haven’t finished the batgirl player class yet. The animation conversion and retargeting processes are simply tedious and time consuming since I do it on a per-animation basis, especially because I want to eliminate the poorly retargeted animations that were used in Arkham Knight since they caused a lot of weird shoulder poses in various movement or combat animations. So this will be something I’ll get back to once I’ve finished the player class for Batgirl.

Armored Suits from Asylum and City

This was a smaller thing that I’ve decided to do on a whim recently and it felt like a nice thing to add for the sake of completion. The armored suit from Arkham City is almost untouched as I merely refitted the cowl to the face mesh from Knight, as that’s what I use as my main face for Batman. I simply did some minor adjustments to the material shaders that I’ve already setup for the original City suit in the past, as the armoored suit has more metallic parts which I didn’t handle before.

I’ve done a bit more work on the armored suit from Arkham Asylum, since it didn’t really have proper metal-mask textures so I had to add some extra textures to really get that shiny metallic look.

As both of these models hold up fairly well regarding mesh quality and textures (although the City one only uses the textures from the Wii-U version as those from the Switch port are seemingly impossible to extract atm) I didn’t feel the need to do any major changes to those suits, especially since they look pretty good already with some proper shading. My heavy use of micro details obviously also helps with upgrading the look, especially thanks to the scratches I’ve added to the metallic parts.

The 2022 Suit

As you know the 2022 suit has been added to Arkham Knight recently, so I’ve done a quick port of it. The mesh quality and especially the texture resolution have been lacklustre though so I did little more than a straight port to my project without further changes, as it seems like it’d need a major overhaul to actually look good. I’m currently not very interested in working on this suit so I just left it as-is for now and I’ll get back to it at some point I guess. I’m still showcasing it as-is anyways since a lot of you people have been asking for this suit lol, despite its current underwhelming state.

Face Updates

I’ve been given some face textures made by CaptainJack (a modder that’s fairly well known in the community) which were originally intended to give Knight’s Bruce a younger appearance. I have subsequently made my own variations of that texture and used it to give some suits a slightly more faithful facial look. This includes the Nolan suits and especially the Keaton suits for now, as I’ve made a few more texture variations that resemble Michael Keaton a bit more which even includes a slightly more aged and wrinkly set of face textures for the suit from The Flash. I think this gives these suits a nice touch and adds to the already pretty high visual quality that I’ve achieved on them.

Porting my Skins to the Arkham Games

As I’ve received quite a few questions and comments about this now that it’s somewhat possible to import new meshes into the Arkham Games, I am keeping an eye on the progression of that but as of this moment it seems like the tools to do so require substantial improvements before it becomes viable for me. This is mostly due to various issues and limitations of the tool that does the import as well as the fact that my skins tend to exceed the theoretical current capabilities of it due to me using some additional armor or helper bones (or abusing existing ones in new ways) and relying a lot on in-engine shading magic rather than baking everything to textures. Another big uncertainty is obviously also stuff like my custom gliding morphs for the cape, so as you can see there are a lot of things to consider and it requires a decent amount of additional work and I don’t see a point in spending my rather limited time while being restrained by the major issues and shortcomings of the required tools.

What I’ll work on next

My next 3D modelling project will most likely be the blue and grey Keaton suit as shown in the Flash movie, as I want to try something that’s a bit more stylised and has some brighter and bolder colours for a change. Aside from that I haven’t really planned anything specific, especially since it highly depends on how much time and motivation I have (especially the former is a bit limited as of late).

Aside from stuff that’s specific to this project I’ve been working on a small Unreal Engine related blog-miniseries that focuses on the cliché “Unreal Engine-look” and how to eliminate it as well as some general visual tricks and improvements I’ve came across over the years (especially when it comes to post-processing), so stay tuned for that.

I hope that you’ve liked this somewhat more expansive blogpost as well as the showcase video on YouTube :)

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