Making Of 'London Scene'
Since I didn't have that much 3D knowledge, I kept things very simple. Most of the objects started out as a box and then I proceeded to pull the edges/verts, cut, extrude (basic polymodeling tools). Only a few objects use Meshsmooth modifyer. What I decided to do is to use Tessellate modifyer instead and on top of that a small amount of Noise modifyer (as we all know, there are hardly any surfaces that are dead straight).
As this was the focus of my scene, I modelled it first. I got the reference material on the net (Google Images). Frame was built first. Then the door - copied 4 times and at the end I did the top part. This is one of few objects that use Meshsmooth.
I had to decide here, if I want to use bump mapping or model them. I went for the latter. I created a plane with enough length and width segments, selected all polygons and extruded them. Then I put some modifiers on top (noise #1, tessellate, noise #2 and uvw mapping).
Buildings... well walls were made out of planes. I extruded the polys where the windows are inwards and that was that. All I had to do is to add a few more edges so that noise modifyer could do its job and I was done.
Take 3 triangles, bend them and then randomly rotate&scale; them. The rest is just copying and positioning.
Cigarette buts, broken bottles, McDonalds bag, newspaper and so on add a lot to realism. All these little things are really easy to make. Do a basic shape, throw noise modifyer on top and you are done. Leave the rest to the textures. As for bottles, just create a spline profile and slap Lattice modifier on top.
I only modeled the visible parts. No need to spend lots of time on objects that will never be seen. Also, the farther away the object is in the scene, the less details you need.
Lamps & Signs
These old lights weren't as easy to make as one would think. The tall one was made with Lattice modifyer and the rest was polymodeling. Same applies to wall lamps. Sign is pretty basic apart from the little wavy details. I used renderable splines for those.
Most of the textures were made using the Blend material and Composite materials. Composite lets you mix together more materials into one where as Blend blends two materials using a mask.
Example: Road Texture
Road texture - Blend material - road texture from the CD plus some dirt
Road stripes - Standard material - found the stripes on the internet and added some dirt.
Final road texture - Composite material - road texture is the base material and road stripes as material 1. What this enables me is to move the stripes texture freely on the road using the UVW Mapping modifier. I can place it wherever I want, I can stretch it and rotate it.
Next few examples will show you how I put together textures in Photoshop.
Texture from the CD
Two textures combined using different blending modes in Photoshop.
Texture from the CD (tiled a few times).
Picture found on the internet
Two textures blended together
Texture from the CD.
Same texture multiplied a few times (3 layers, blend mode multiply + 1 black layer, blend mode Soft Light, opacity 68%).
The scene was rendered in Brazil using a few direct lights and a few omnis and spots as specular only. I adjusted saturation on the phone booth and did a few tweaks to Brightness/Contrast settings.