A project overview of 'Caribbean Tongue'

Tamas Medve reveals the workflow, settings and techniques that went into the creation of his sun-bathed seascape, Caribbean Tongue

I made this image to enter Evermotion's 'Summer in the City' Challenge and it got first place. My goal was to recreate an atmosphere that reminded me of my summer holidays: hearing the seagulls, the sound of crashing waves and feeling the warm breeze on my skin.

This short tutorial is going to show you the main steps I used in creating Caribbean Tongue.


I would like to talk about this phase a little bit more and will try not to bore you guys. I want to share with you some thoughts that I have had in my head for a while. Maybe some of you won't agree with me...

Lots of people ask me what my ‘trick' is, and most people think that the magic is in the settings or in Photoshop. That's not true! The magic is in your head, and I think everybody has it - it's just that some don't yet know it or
understand it yet.

The secret is not in the shaders or in the HDRI setup, not even in the settings - for all of these things you can find tons of tutorials on the internet and you can learn them easily. Honestly, I have no idea how to set-up an HDRI sky. Really! What is important is more like a right and honest concept that portrays your project in the best way. A building by itself is nothing - it's surrounded by other buildings, people, nature and climate, so if you take care of these things too, people are going to believe what they see in your image. It can produce feelings and emotions as well, because it feels natural!

I'm quite new to the industry. I don't have 10 years experience, not even 5, so maybe I'm wrong, but I have a theory. Today's arch-viz is more about making 3D scenes and not making images. People get lost in unnecessary details, so I think the key to making good images is searching, experimenting and sketching! A good composition is worth more than the rendering of good-looking grass.

So to start this image, I spent two weeks with observing the competition and collecting references. I then quickly made a sketch in Photoshop to see how the composition and lighting worked together.

The initial Photoshop sketch to figure out composition and lighting

The initial Photoshop sketch to figure out composition and lighting

For the lighting and camera setup, I used a VRaySun with a dome light, using an HDRI JPG in the texture slot.

The lighting and camera setup

The lighting and camera setup

I then created a lighting and sea test using the Phoenix FD plug-in.

The lighting and Phoenix FD sea test

The lighting and Phoenix FD sea test

The Phoenix FD setup

The Phoenix FD setup

These were the modeling stages for the scene

Modeling stages

Modeling stages

I used the ghostTown plugin and some small pre-made Evermotion houses to create the city in the background.

Creating the city in the background

Creating the city in the background

To scatter the vegetation I used Multiscatter and Advanced Painter. I used the ipalms, itrees, ibushes collections for the scene.

Scattering a range of vegetation models

Scattering a range of vegetation models

I used the Rock Generator script for 3ds Max.

Some of the small model assets

Some of the small model assets

This is a perspective view

This is a perspective view

These parameters are for the materials of the water and buoy

These parameters are for the materials of the water and buoy

Showing the material of the mountain

Showing the material of the mountain

Showing the material of the cliff

Showing the material of the cliff

These are the render settings for the scene

These are the render settings for the scene

This is the first raw render

This is the first raw render

You can see the post-production breakdown here

The final image after post-production

The final image after post-production

Related links:

Check out Tamas Medve's portfolio here
Learn more about the Phoenix FD plugin here
Need textures for your outdoor scenes? Try our texture packs