Making Of 'Time Under The Trees'
I am happy to share the Making Of story of my scene "Time Under The Trees", which was created in 3ds Max and rendered in V-Ray.
I decided to make this series of images when I saw some photos of a Toorak Residence in a book. I thought it would be nice to make different seasonal images of a similar residence inside a forest, under some trees. I changed some of the architectural forms, colors, and materials to a large or a small extent throughout the creation process.
Organization & Layout
My project consisted of images with different seasons and lighting, so I needed to make:
- Variations of some models (like trees and ground)
- Variations of some materials (wet and dry materials, dry leaves etc)
- Variations of lighting
So from the beginning, I tried to keep everything organized. I named everything properly and used layers to organize things and grouped the layers. I believe this is very important and saved me a lot of time.
First, I modeled the base layout of the concept and adjusted my camera point of view. This was an important step because it meant I could adjust the level of detail in my models according to how close they were to the camera.
I defined the following zones (Fig.01):
- Zones with high detailed models (Foreground)
- Zones with medium detailed models (Midground)
- Zones with less detailed models (Background)
Most of the models on this project were basic and simple, rectangular building parts. I modeled everything with editable poly and the basic tools such as chamfering, connect, extrude etc.Here you can see how I modeled the rocks on the ground (Fig.02 & Fig.03).
For the little pebbles on the ground, I used a composite technique:
- Foreground: Meshes distributed with ParticleFlow with higher density
- Midground: Meshes distributed with ParticleFlow with less density and displacement
- Background: Normal Mapping
First, I modeled a few different little stones (Fig.04 & Fig.05). I then converted these meshes into VrayProxy to save RAM. VrayProxy is an excellent feature of V-Ray.
Neil Blevins has written a very good tutorial about scattering objects (http://www.neilblevins.com) and after reading this tutorial, I decided to use a similar method.
Distribution with Particle Flow
I started by creating a Particle Source. You can control all parameters of your ParticleFlow when you go into Particle View. I made a sphere as a helper object to scatter around the ground. This was essential in order to be able to use the proxy characteristic of my vraymeshes. Proxy objects lose their proxy characteristic if they are scattered directly. I replaced this sphere meshes with proxied pebble models in the later steps (Fig.06 & Fig.07).
ShapeInstance operator allows you to choose the particle geometry object. In my case it was the sphere. The PositionObject operator allows you to choose the emitter object. From the birth operator, you can adjust the amount of particles. If you want to scatter different types of geometry, you can make a parent dummy object and link the child objects to this. In my case, this was not necessary.
ParticleBake script and baking the particles into a mesh
After distributing the spheres with the particle flow, I baked the particles into a mesh by using Bobo's BakePFlowToObjects script.Â By making this, all particles become a mesh so they can be replaced (Fig.08). You can find this very useful script at: http://www.scriptspot.com
Replacing the particles with VrayMeshes (proxy objects of little stones)
For this part, I used another great script: ObjectReplacer by Neil Blevins. I replaced all dummy spheres with the meshes. These steps were necessary to be able to retain the proxy characteristic of the scattered objects.
Position, Rotation, Scale properties were also adjustable (Fig.09 & Fig.10).
After I made the models, I needed to organize the workflow for the variations in the models due to seasonal changes:
- I needed some falling leaves on the ground for the autumn scene
- For the same reason, there should be less leaves on the trees as compared to the summer scene
- For the foggy scenes, I wanted to have the trees without leaves because they would then provide a stylish silhouette in the fog.
- I wanted to add some water puddles for the "after the rain" scene
So I started from the trees and made two variations of the same model, one with less leaves and one with no leaves.
I saved these models to use later as I progressed with the project.I used exactly the same method for the autumn scene ground. I just added a leaf mesh to the stone cluster and repeated all the steps (Fig.11).
Most of the other changes are in the texturing stage.
I unwrapped most of the models. This gave me the chance to paint textures as I wanted for every different lighting rig. I found this was the most direct and easiest way for me as it meant I had full control over the textures. Â I was able to paint all the marks of time and weather on aged materials and I could also easily handle the leakages and holes. I was even able to paint the leakage going inside the hole in the concrete and coming out again, or the handprint on the glass (Fig.12 - Fig.19).
I used different light rigs for all the different scenes:
- Summer: For the summer scene, I used a VraySun and VraySky with a VrayCamera with the exposure (Fig.20 & Fig.21).
- Fog: This scene was only lit with a white environment light. There was no GI in the scene, so it was not the Vray Environment Skylight, but the 3dsMax Environment Light.
- Rain: I used IBL (image based lighting) for the rain scene. There was only one Vray Domelight mapped with a HDRI image in this scene (Fig.22 & Fig.23).
- Dusk: Again, one Vray Domelight and two sphere Vraylights for the interior and exterior lamps (Fig.24).
Here's a general screenshot of the viewport to show the place of the lights in the scene (Fig.25).
I used almost the same render settings for all of the scenes except the fog scene, where there is no Global Illumination. Here are the settings for the scenes (Fig.26 - Fig.29).
For rendering the fog effect, I used the VrayEnvironment Fog. I rendered it as a separate layer with a black-matte material in override and composited it later in post-production. You can view the settings below (Fig.30).
I used Photoshop for the post-production. These were the very basic steps such as Curves and Color Correction - nothing particularly special.
For the rain drops on the glass, I painted a texture of black and white raindrops in Photoshop. Then I mapped this onto glass in max and made a render mask of this texture on glass. With this mask, I applied a couple of filters on glass and made the effect (Fig.31 & Fig.32).
And here are the final scenes: Dusk (Fig.33), Summer (Fig.34), Autumn (Fig.35) Fog (Fig.36) and Rain (Fig.37).
Thank you for all your feedback and comments about my work. I hope this Making Of answers the questions that have been asked about my workflow.