Create a sci-fi night scene in Blender - part 3


In this tutorial, I will include the importance of the theory “Form Follows Function” and talk about the working process from 2D concept to 3D final design. Blender has been used as a tool to try out various compositions and integrate different props into a final scene in Photoshop.

This is the final image of this project that illustrates how different props integrate together.

Set up final scene

After modeling and texturing all the props, I set up a camera to choose a preferred angle. My Mac kept lagging when working on this scene as the file was too big with many polygon meshes. At this stage, the foreground was missing and my hardware could not handle it. To solve this problem, I decided to finish the foreground in Photoshop that would be mentioned in step 4, using photobashing technique. Besides, I enabled “Ambient Occlusion”, “Bloom” and “Screen Space Reflections” in Render Properties for having a better rendering result.

Integrate all the props together and turn on render settings

Modify settings & render passes

I usually change the scene size to 130% to 150% for a higher quality image. Before working on the final scene in Photoshop, it is necessary to render a few passes such as Eevee render, object ID, AO, mist, and depth of field. As the process of creating depth of field is not the same as others, just enabling passes in View Layer Properties, I would talk about the details in next step.

Change scene size and turn on passes settings

Depth of field basics

I firstly set up two workspace windows side by side, opening Compositor and UV Editor. After that, I changed Render Result to Viewer Node in UV Editor. Next, I moved to Compositor section and input 2 new nodes, Normalize and Viewer, to connect with Depth in Render Layers Node. Blender would afterwards automatically calculate the depth between foreground to mid-ground and background.

Add extra nodes in compositor and render depth of field in UV Editor

Add background

After rendering all the passes in Blender, it was ready to jump to Photoshop. As it was in space, I added some stars in and manually controlled the amounts of stars in layer masks by using a soft brush. Next, I set the blend mode to Color Dodge to make them look shinier.

Add stars into the scene

Clipping mask

This clipping mask technique is the same as the step in chapter 2 step 7. I painted a solid shape and masked the details on top, searching for Earth texture first and painting over to clean up the photo noises. Then, I picked an air brush to draw a glow around it and set the blend mode to Lighten or Color Dodge depending on final result.

Add an Earth in by using the clipping mask technique

Environment immersive

The image was a bit flat at the moment, so I separated the layers and created depth in between by adding some mist around with soft textured brushes. To pop up the focal point, I lightened up the main structure in Color Dodge blend mode and adjusted the opacity to 37%.

Create depth in between layers by adding mist

Work on foreground

My initial idea of the foreground was to create a platform or some unused space equipments. I blocked out the silhouette first and tried to frame the space station with some sharp edges pointing towards the focal point. After that, I photobashed the details and fixed the overall shapes further.

Add foreground with big shapes and work on details afterwards

Refine details

The overall composition was almost there but one thing I realized was that the gap between the foreground and the space station was quite big. Therefore, I added a simple irregular shape to lead eyes to the focal point. In addition, I inserted more lights here and there to make the drawings look more balanced with more details.

Add more details to make the drawing look more interesting

Explosion effects

The image was mainly in one tone in blue color, so I wanted to add something different that really popped up the focal point. In the color wheel, yellow is in opposite to blue and I believed that the yellow color worked well in this situation. To fulfill this idea, I added the explosion effects with some tiny debris. This not only made the drawing look more colorful, but also showed something happening there as well.

Provide a better storytelling with special effects

Color grading

The last step was to adjust the overall color grading. Personally, I prefer using the black and white method to double check the values and tones. To brighten it up, I added highlights with a bit of pink while using the gradient tool in Soft Light blend mode to darken the remaining parts.

Fix the overall brightness and contrast in grayscale

Shortcut of grayscale setting

This shortcut is handy to check the drawing values and tones in grayscale. Here are the steps to set it up.

Step 01: Go to Proof Setup under View and click on Custom

Step 02: Select “Working Gray - Dot Gain 20%” in Device to Simulate

Step 03: Create keyboard shortcut. Go to Keyboard Shortcuts under Edit, and then change the shortcut name you prefer in Proof Colors.

Three steps to set up the grayscale setting

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