Monday, 9 April 2012

Environment WIP

 It's taken me a while to get this post up but it's finally here! This is my second environment and is proving to be a tough one as it is totally different to the previous Italian scene. This environment involves a lot of open space, tonnes of trees and unlike the last one I have to make a 360 background with a sky.

I pretty much knew straight away I wanted to work with PaintFX and MR Proxies. I knew it was a fast way to get loads of detailed trees and not have to spend days rendering it. I started off just looking at the trees available in PaintFX and editing them to make them more advanced than the standard PaintFX tree.

 I started looking at various types of Oak trees. I went with the oak on the far right which ended up rendering faster than most of them.

I then started playing around with the settings in PaintFX. The first two shows what I can get with different leaf reflectivity. The second two shows off the shading you can get on just the upper part of the tree which could be handy for faking shadows. The final two shows the difference between the root fade and the tip fade of the leaves.

I noticed the textures on the tree were pretty lame but I found you could play around with the bump and displacement of the bark which was cool :)

Here I was just optomizing the segments of the tree. Making sure I had enough to get the right amount of foilage without over doing it and wasting rendertime on segments I don't need.

 Here I experiment with leaf clusters, tranclucency, leaf tip colouring and hue randomizastion.

  Finally I am playing with the width of the tree trunk by using a graph which gave me a lot of control. 

These are the final 4 trees I made. I wanted quite a bit of variety in my forest which I think I will get from these 4. If you want to see how I made these into proxies then please check out my older post on the topic PaintFX & MR Proxies

 I felt I had done enough with the trees so moved onto the ground which is still a WIP. I initially tested out the Substance texturing within Maya. I found, for what I was trying to achieve, it wasn't that great. Because my ground was so huge I would have had to repeat the texture so much it would have been very noticable in the renderer but the main reason why I couldn't use this is because you will need a specific plu-gin for it to work with Mental Ray and because I will be using a RenderFarm I just though I would come across problems when trying to get the script working.

 When it came to positioning the trees I asked a friends of mine, Lee Dunham, to write me a script for randomizing the placement of the trees. It was a bit fiddly at first but I got used to it and it helped a lot. Once that was done I was just fine tuning the pisitionnig and size of the trees. In the image above you can see all the 4 trees positioned seperately and then altogether in one scene. Thanks to the proxies, this has enabled me to work in a scene with potentially hundred of millions of polygons.

To create a realistic environment I had to create a convincing background. I am not currently dealing with the sky so for now it's just the mountains. I wanted to create a full 360 panoramic that is mapped onto a sky dome and has an alpha that leaves out the sky. I found this excellent image online and went into Photoshop to edit it. I first deleted the sky by using an adjustment layer and paint around the edges.

To create more depth in the image I applied a de-saturated layer and used another adjustment layer to paint in the areas I wanted more desaturated (the distanct mountains)

Because I am applying this to a sky dome I have to make this a cylidrical map. I used the Polar Coordinates filter in PS and matched up the ends so they loop nicely.

After removing the red background this is what I get. To map this I simply used a planer UV in the Y direction and relaxed the UV's slightly.

Here is the final shot comped together. Hope you all like this so far and please comment if you have anything to say or ask :)


  1. looks pretty good. a bit dark in my opinion. possibly a starry background with the moon, and use that as an excuse to brighten up the scene with some cold blue light. would contrast the warmer tent lights.

  2. Cheers Toke :) Yeah I agree, I didnt spend much time on the sky which I will sort out pretty soon. Thanks for the feedback.

  3. Some good work put into that, I can tell it's gonna be great.