Indian jungle from the game, Tomb Raider III: Adventures of Lara Croft

Project description

Re-imagining the beginning of Jungle that began one of many Lara Croft's adventure back in 1998 in India.

Programs used

  • 3ds Max 2019
  • V-Ray Next
  • Substance Painter
  • SpeedTree Cinema 8
  • Blender
  • Adobe Photoshop

The process

I extracted the level on Fexinspect (a program that is used to view classic Tomb Raider levels)
The overview of the level.

Environment analysis

Back in 1998, this was amazing and really captured the atmosphere of a jungle area that was never discovered. I still love how the level holds up to this day.

The wall full of leaves - I wondered whether Core Design tried to depict dense vegetation there. Was it a hill? Some roots? Ivy? Trees? This goes the same for the wall behind Lara when you first start the level. Of course, we did not notice the wall of leaves when there are many other things to be amazed about this game. Honestly, I played this game more than I can count on my fingers, and never really thought about them until I began to build this level in 3D :)

Lack of vegetation - There is almost no vegetation in the original level, and it is a jungle. Limitations back then did not allow them to add any really, besides a few bushes and giant trees (they are really big in real life too!) They did a jungle Full Motion Video (FMV) cutscene here and there, you can see giant tree roots etc. as well. Trees found in the Asian region jungles such as India, Cambodia or Indonesia to name a few, you will find such giant trees with thick roots. I have used several images for reference.

The green cliff hill with the two tree trunks - This looks like a giant hill ending with rocks at the end.

Colour scheme - It looks very warm, I'd say it is almost sunset, or sunrise.

Weather - Originally in the game, it is a mix of raining and overcast. (it is hard to see on the PC version, but very prominent on the PS1 version).

Honestly, I still find the massive tree trunk root thing mesmerising! What is it!? In the end, I opted for a giant tree stump and a rock covered in vines.

To start off, I am using 3ds Max 2019 my default 3D program to use. I have set up my camera.

I have built the landscape upon the original mesh and refining it. For the terrain, I have used vertex paint and blended three different textures, just like the original; moss (the green texture), mud and rock. In the end, I used five different textures to blend; grass, mud, grass mix, moss and rock. I have used two vertex paint channels to determine where the mud and grass will show. The moss is the base (the green texture).

Both images show how the vertex paint look. The black colour on both images will draw the base material, which is moss. White colour on the left image will draw grass. Right is to draw mud. For the cliff, white is rocks and black is moss.

This is how the render looks like. For light source and GI, I used a HDRI from HDRI Haven (an awesome website for free HDRIs!)

The textures are free from Quixel Megascans and Poliigon. The textures were made by using VRayBlendMtl combining several maps, blending with mix maps and vertex paint.

I made some rocks by creating a sphere, adding Displace modifier applying Cellular map and messing around with settings. I also used ProOptimizer modifier to bring the polygon count down, as the rocks are small and won't be that noticeable.

Next up is making the vegetation! I went ahead and got some plant textures from various materials site and create them by polygons and some by planes with opacity maps. I also made two grass.

Using the Object Paint feature, I began placing some vegetation onto the scene.

I also adjusted the blend maps slightly, to add more mud around the plants.

I made a jungle looking type of tree on SpeedTree Cinema 8, which is a program used to create trees.

I placed the two trees in the scene where they are placed in the original. Don't mind the messy tree on the far right, I will make another tree to give it a variety.

I added some roots and leaves around the area and ivy coming down the cliffs as well. To make the roots, I use Spline draw on the object and combining each splines to make different sizes and to draw over each other to make it look twisted etc. Ivy were generated on a program called Ivy Generator by Thomas Luft. I also placed my 90's HD Lara Croft model I made last year.

The second tree created in SpeedTree.

I fixed a couple of things in the scene like the leaves being too big on the cliff left tree area. I also filled in the area where it slopes downhill. I also went ahead and matched the lighting from the original. In the original level, the atmosphere is quite warm. The time is probably around sunrise or sunset with a yellow/orangeish tint and an overcast sky. I have adjusted the sun light to match the 1998 level and added VRayEnvironmentFog to give some kind of crepuscular rays coming from the sunlight and environment light.

A little edit in Photoshop to bring out contrast and clarity. Brightened the rays to give it more volumetric looking.

We all love comparison screenshots, so here we are!

Browse most recent work

Modern Apartment

Modern Apartment

Modern apartment modelled in 3DS Max and rendered with V-Ray.

Temple of Xian

Temple of Xian

Remake of Temple of Xian found in China, from the game Tomb Raider II.

Modern Living Room

Modern Living Room

Warm living room concept for an apartment in the hills.


Indian Jungle

Remake of Jungle found in India, from the game Tomb Raider III.