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 ≈ 110,000 Tris

This project was inspired by my morning winter walks up to the Horniman Gardens in South London, specifically 'The Dye Garden' they have there.

All elements of this scene were made by me, including all of the textures, modular assets, particle systems and foliage. 

Objects such as the pillars, pergolas and the pool in the middle are stylised, but directly referenced from the elements in the park itself.

I wanted to create a traditional zen garden that had all of the imperfect, cold and aged sides to it that a park in London would have. Well attended, but with weathering, rust and greyness throughout. 

The 'Emotional Cowboy' theme was a poetic decision, I would walk to the park in the cold mornings in order to give myself some emotional space, looking over London, away from the computer screen. I would reflect; sometimes deeply and plan my day ahead. 

The cultural mix of the 'Western Cowboy' and the Japanese zen garden, produced with visual inspiration from a London park made for a playful and unique atmosphere for a videogame environment.

I modelled the scene's assets in Blender (animations included).
The textures were made in Substance Designer and Substance Painter, with many elements painted in Photoshop.
The scene was compiled, arranged and rendered in Unreal Engine 5, with the particle systems made with Niagara.


Click to enlarge the images below

Emotional Cowboy Zen Garden Modular Hedges Individual Layout
Emotional Cowboy Zen Garden_Modular_hedges_variation.gif


Avg Hedge Piece: 181 Tris

Modular Hedge Variations

The hedges were a simple idea, I wanted to create some satisfying, well kept surroundings, but with some playful variation that could be easily transferrable. They act like building blocks and work like pieces in a platformer game. This means that the environment's infrastructure can have a range of interesting designs, whilst keeping with the satisfying garden vibe. 
The texture was created in Substance Designer using a couple of illustrations I had made of stylised leaves in Photoshop.

Emotional Cowboy Zen Garden Entrance Sign and Bonsai Tree Stone Pool

Emotional Cowboy Sign: 354 Tris

Bonsai Pool: 6,249 Tris


Stone Lantern: 1,676 Tris

Horniman Pillar: 260 Tris

Paper Lantern: 396 Tris


Bridge: 1,662 Tris

Island: 719 Tris


Pergola: 60 Tris

Bench: 450 Tris

Tile Top Wall Corner: 2,092 Tris

Tile Top Wall
Straight: 1,220 Tris


Corner River Piece: 288 Tris
Straight River Piece: 378 Tris

Corner Sand Path: 70 Tris
Straight Sand Path: 22 Tris


Sugimoto Spike: 304 Tris

Cowboy Head: 862 Tris

Hepworth Boat: 320 Tris


Worn Plinths Total: 30 Tris

Fountains Total: 656 Tris


Shelter: 692 Tris


Stylised Substance Designer Materials

The 'Mossy Bricks' has a variation where there is no moss. 
The 'Knotty Wood' has variations with multiple knot-counts and sizes. And also has a cross section variation.  

These materials were reused throughout the different assets, so as to keep consistency. I would make slight edits to them or mask them off in Substance Painter so that the use of the same materials was subtly affective.

Emotional Cowboy Zen Garden Texture Maps

Stone Lantern, Sign and Pillar Texture Sets

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