Detailed cityscape creation
Jean-Francois Liesenborghs takes us through the stages of creating a detailed cityscape scene.
Creating the buildings
For creating a cityscape, I first created a set of specific buildings with between 5 and 10 different structures. I then began combining some of those structures to create other buildings.
It is always good practice to create a set of basic structures to start, and then combine them in interesting ways to create a more complex scene. This way, you have more control over the final city silhouette and it's easier to change one or two aspects if you need to, rather than having to deal with it on a whole.
Basement of the city
To create the basement of the city, I first developed a basic plane with a sufficient number of subdivisions and then converted it to editable poly. I then selected a range of polys and extruded them to create channels and ridges in the mesh. As a tip; you can create different hierarchies and levels on your plane by extruding upper and lower other-poly regions.
I then duplicated the plane multiple times and resized some of those duplicated areas, and merged them all into one solid basement comprising of different sized polys.
Mass creation of low-detailed buildings
To fill the city, there are 3 main techniques that you can use.
First, you can access the scatter modifier and apply the scatter to some simple buildings. Secondly, you can use the particle system with buildings modeled as particles. A third option is to use the free modifier Greeble.
For this city I chose to use the Greeble modifier option. I selected polys from the basement plane, inset them to leave space around the Greeble buildings, and then detached and cloned the polygons. I then applied the Greeble modifier to these detached polygons.
By completing this process over and over with different-sized parameters and different region selections, I obtained my mass building effect.
Placement of buildings
I then began placing the buildings I created in Step 1 into my scene. I tried to spread them around in a coherent kind of way, by using some city references.
Creating the background buildings
The image above formed part of the background of my image that was later transferred to Photoshop. I duplicated some parts of the city in order to fill the entire page, and make the city look really wide-spread.
Creating the spaceship
For the spaceship, I wanted to have something that resembled birds gently soaring across the sky. The basic modeling of these spaceships was very simple and I just added some light detail on specific parts.
When all the modeled elements were complete, I combined them all together to create the basic composition. In terms of placement, I used the one-third composition rule and re-centered the image. This basically entailed positioning the object at an equal distance from each other and the edges of the page, to create an aesthetically pleasing effect.
For the lighting I used 3 lights positioned in 3 specific places: a front, a back and a left spot. The front light was the main one. To create more realistic lighting, I put a Noise map on my main spot which gave my image a diverse range of lighting levels on my city. This in turn gave the impression that there were clouds over the main light source/sun.
For the textures themselves, I decided to choose one multi-material that used the same kind of patterns and textures. I thought this would tie the various modeling styles in the city together through their similar textures, thus creating a cohesive scene.
I only used 3 render passes for this scene: Ambient Occlusion, ZDepth and Normal. These passes helped me create my final image in Photoshop.
I then made a final render and saved it in TGA format in order to see the Alpha channel.
In Photoshop, I opened the TGA render and added 2 new layers; one with the Ambient Occlusion pass and another with the ZDepth pass. I inverted the ZDepth pass and used screen fusion. For the AO layer I used the multiply fusion.
Finally, I worked with the background city to create more depth and added the 2D sky and planet images to complete the composition.
The final image
Merging all layers and finishing post-production to create the final image.