Model & paint an atmospheric sci-fi scene with Vue, Photoshop & Lightroom


Despite the title this artwork has nothing to do with the well known video game series. If the viewer wants it to be a part of the Halo universe then sure, let your imaginative juices flow. It certainly is a sci-fi themed piece with some architecture that surely has something in common with places we know from the Halo games. When you ask me if there was an original, planned out idea for this piece then I have to disappoint you. Overall it was a piece created for fun where everything started to fall into place and resulted in a pretty cool scene. It started with a different scene that I had set up in Vue. There I was tinkering around with an eclipse atmosphere. It ultimately didn’t work out for that particular scene but I kept it in mind for later. That ‘later’ came sooner than expected when I was playing around with some models in Vue. As usual it ‘clicked’ at a certain point and I decided to spend some extra time and see if I could create a fully realized piece.

Step 1: Modification

The models I was playing around with were bought via DAZ. I have used them a lot in the past and managed to get some really cool scenes off of them. The export from DAZ to Vue (as OBJ) works nicely, and I decided to play around a little more. Some of the models were even modified in Cinema 4D. You don’t want your stuff to look the same all the time, right? Variation is key.

Modifying models in Cinema 4D

Step 2: Playing Around

After modifying the buildings and extending my ever growing archive of models with them, I decided to play around with them in Vue. Creating copies, rotating them, flipping them, putting them together. Kitbashing, so to say. See what sticks and get the creative juices flowing. Sure enough it clicked at some point and I started to aim for something more specific looking. Maybe a gigantic spaceport/hub in the middle of an otherwise flat and empty city environment? Absolutely!

Bringing it into Vue

Step 3: Camera and Perspective

Relatively early on I knew I wanted to try out a very wide angle view. Something you would achieve with a 16mm camera lens. Definitely no ‘fisheye’ view but something that captures as much of a scene as possible. I also wanted to place the camera relatively low to push the effect of perspective and size of the spaceport/hub part.

A nice and low angle to capture the scene and scale

Step 4: A Halo Atmosphere

Vue is really strong when it comes to creating realistic and striking atmospheres. Since it’s a tool specialized on landscapes and environments, of course, atmospheres have to be powerful. Up to this point I hadn’t tried a solar eclipse atmosphere for a scene I’ve worked on. So this was new to me and I had to do quite a number of test renders until I got something I was happy with. Also, the placement of the halo required some testing, to find the perfect spot for it, composition wise. All this was very experimental and ate some time. It was included in the 3dtotal galleries… so yes, absolutely, the invested time was worth it!