I’ve created grass before so I knew the basics, but I was having issues making it look good last year. I decided to challenge myself and to create some awesome grass.
The first thing I did, was create some high poly grass. I say high poly, it was relatively low poly (but detailed) strands I could extract a normal map from:
I then created the shape which this normal map could repeat and create some random size difference and realistic spacing. I created 3 meshes, like the one example below:
After getting the positioning right, I moved into photoshop to create the albedo and the alpha channel. I also created an ambient occlusion just for details sake, and they all worked like magic in Maya, after I tested the albedo as a .png.
In order to create a little variation and to indicate there has been something blocking light to certain patches (Or some omnipotent force killing it) I created a variation which was darker and more sepia. It could use the same AO and Normal, so saved creating more maps.
I then created 2 materials with each in Unreal Engine to test how they looked! I set it up as I knew to for foliage (at that point)
The AO didn’t really affect it at all, but the issue was it was coming out black and white in my game due to reasons I knew nothing about.
I popped these images onto Imgur and asked the Unreal Forums board for help, and they showed me my understanding of foliage set up was wrong. I hadn’t linked up my albedo to the subsurface colour, and the opacity was fully at 1, which wouldn’t allow light to shine through. I fixed that and my grass now looks rather good! I also found a really fast youtube tutorial about adding ambient movements to the grass, so I added that and now it gently sways in the wind.