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How to Get Started in Unreal Engine

Digital Agency
London, UK
Stephan Bourez, Unreal designer at Collective, offers some tips on how advertisers, designers and more can get to grips with Epic Games' incredible engine

Very soon Unreal Engine will become a very real prospect in advertising. The buzz around the games engine is moving from a quiet background drone to a fully fledge sonic assault. 

It has already revolutionised industries such as automotive and architecture, and advertising is going to make it an alliterative hattrick.  

And for any marketer, agency or creative who wants to get in on the ground floor, the time to move is now. 

One way is to join one of our workshops with the IPA and Epic Games designed to introduce people to how Unreal WILL revolutionise advertising, and how you can ensure you don't get left out. 

The other is to just dive in and have a go. 

I can say from personal experience that good 3D artists who already have Unreal training are few and far between, so if you want to find that amazing designer who can make your Unreal efforts a reality (or you are a designer who wants to skill up to become an Unreal specialist) here are some tips on how to do it.  

Luckily, because of the way Epic Games has created and built Unreal, getting started is actually pretty easy. 

The best way to get started with Unreal Engine is to start with a project, a simple goal.

Whether you're going to use Unreal Engine for architecture visualisation, product configuration and rendering, interactive experience, AR/VR etc, you should start with a very simple task.

You’ll quickly realise that in the 3D world, there is almost invariably more than one way to achieve a goal or solve a problem.

The good news is that the quality of the documentation of Unreal Engine is unparalleled. Epic Games is also constantly investing time and effort into producing exceptionally high-quality tutorials, webinars and events etc, for all levels of skill.

As you progress in creating your simple first project, you’ll go through this content, jumping from one topic to another, so make sure you are bookmarking so you can keep these invaluable resources up your sleeve. 

The community around Unreal Engine is also tremendously engaged and if you ask for help or merely take part in what feels like millions of ongoing discussions, you’ll find a treasure trove of information and solutions to will help you out of the thorniest of conundrums.

There is a huge amount of knowledge to assimilate, and the learning curve will likely be steep. But fear not, you won’t have to know everything about 3D or everything about Unreal Engine to achieve your goals. Nor will you necessarily need an entire team of specialists. There are many success stories about indie studios, composed of just one or two people.

An open and generous approach

In the past few years, as I was working on various projects, I’ve been constantly impressed by the amount of assets and tools that Epic Games regularly gifts to its community. Without fail, after most of their big projects, they will release their working files for free. This happened recently, when they’ve offered to all of us an entire city! A huge map, that they’ve created for The Matrix Awakens: An Unreal engine 5 experience .

That makes for a pretty nice present. Yet Epic Games gifted far more than project files. A few years ago, they acquired the talented company Quixel. A team specialising in photogrammetry, and the creation of a hyper-realist library of assets, mostly used in the film, advertising and architecture visualisation industries. You’ve guessed it, Epic Games made these thousands of AAA grade quality assets available for free to all Unreal Engine users. They’ve also optimised every single one of them to the Engine.

I can not recommend enough to open the Quixel Megascans browser directly inside the engine, and literally drag, drop and move entire mountains, literally, and create photoreal 3D environments in minutes.

A bunch of links to get you started

Let’s start at the beginning!

The Unreal Engine homepage is well made and will give you a solid overview of what you can achieve with the tech. In fact, it’s from this very place that you’ll find the following links:

Here you’ll find an overview of the existing resources at your disposal to learn Unreal Engine.

And here is a place you’ll be visiting often; the dev community.

If you are more interested in a B2B approach

And if you’re looking to create a partnership or start the conversation with a studio, or expert in Unreal Engine, then Unreal Enterprise is a platform that Epic Games has created, specifically for companies that are not in the videogame industry.

On this page, you’ll be invited to contact their specialist and they’ll “work with you to create a licensing solution that works for your ideas and business needs.”

If you’re planning on creating a new project or if you’re just curious and want to take this new tech for a spin, the best way to get started is to leap forward and dive in. The superactive and warm community and the incredible amount of top-quality learning content will receive you well.

You might be in for a long journey, but you’ll be flying in no time.