Environments to practice VFX set dressing?

So I’ve been working with someone at an AAA studio to get my portfolio inline and ready to apply to a job with. A lot of the things required/recommended I actually have down decently, but there is one big thing he suggested I add to my portfolio. He suggested that I find an existing environmental piece for a game engine, and then dress it up using vfx I created and showing a before/after of the scene. This would help fill out the requirement that says “has a good eye for composition blah blah” but also that it’s important to show your effects in an actual scene, rather then the void that most of us do.

The thought process behind that seems to be that many effects look great, until they are right up against a wall, or have a super bright background, being viewed through glass, etc. So having the effects in an environment also shows the problem solving skills that are required to make an effect that works in a scene, not just in a grey void.

Anyways, my question over all is does anyone know of a good way to get existing environments that I could dress up? I’m sure the best way is to get it from an environmental modeler and do a bit of a coop port piece, but being that I know 1 single environmental artist, and he works 40+ hrs a week, I cant exactly get one from him. I was hoping to find some environments in places like the Unity store, but so far haven’t had great luck, and I’d be a little worried to use something like that for a port piece. (Although I believe it would be ok as long as it was specifically stated where the envo came from, and that this was a VFX piece and nothing more)

Anyone have any thoughts or tips on this topic?

The entirety of Paragon is free on the Unreal store. There were a couple more environments that were also free, and some very reasonably priced asset packs. I think you can also download the starter content for UE4, which has included environments of several styles.

Edit: just be sure to credit the source of the environments or assets somewhere in your demo reel.


ooOh I completely forgot about the Paragon assets. That could be a good one and even if not specifically for this, I would love to dig into some of their effects and tear them down.

I’m more of a Unity guy, but I’m slowly learning Unreal as well, so if they do have some included prebuilt environments then that would be a great way to start. I’ll dig into it a bit and see what I can find in the Starter Content!

Adding onto Travis’s suggestions, I believe the assets for the game Infinity Blade are also available for free on the Unreal Store.
There’s also Soul City if you need something more modern, or Soul Cave.

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The Soul: Cave looks perfect from the screenshots! Again, kinda rough that it’s for Unreal instead of Unity where I’m more comfortable, but I suppose it’s just one more learning opportunity! Definitely going to give it a deeper look a little later today, thank you for the suggestion!

you can export the assets as fbx meshes, and you can export textures as well. It’d take a little time, but you could then re-import them into Unity where you know your way around vfx in the engine

Unreal learn tab has loads of free env assets - train station, fx cave, elemental demo etc. not just the Paragon stuff.

Thanks again for all the suggestions guys! I was able to do some decent work over the weekend and thought I’d share with you guys how it turned out!


Again, thanks for the environment suggestions, it was very helpful!

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