It recently snowed in my local area and I decided to go about recreating realistic snow in 3D. Snow doesn’t sound like the hardest thing to recreate. Its solid white, and covers an area from above. However snow is not perfect. Especially when its been stepped on and turned to slush! I found an amazing tutorial on Blender Guru (youtube). This tutorial explained a way of using displacement maps to manipulate a surface. I was particularly interested in the tyre treads and footprints. This is a very clever method to producing realistic snow, on top of this the material added smaller details. I wanted to try this for myself.
I followed the tutorial and used the provided resources from Blender Guru. Here I have sown my results.
looking closer at my results I picked out areas that could be improved.
I took some reference photos to further study, using reference photos is as important as looking at your subject whilst painting. The general snow structure is pretty much done, however the material could be improved. In different scenarios where snow may have fallen on cobbles, the cobbles would be visible underneath the snow. Using the displacement map is the best way to define thickness of snow. Using this information I modified the material to show another material underneath. An alternative to this, is to create a plane underneath with a different material, then using the displacement map to change its opacity.
My reference photos provided up close shots of snow, the finer details. I added an extra noise node, so the edges of the snowy area aren’t as sharp. The smaller details became a focus to selling the effect. I noticed in the PC game The Division that this effect was heavily used in their gaming engine Snow drop, thus creating rather immersive environments. Clearly this game was concentrated on graphics and new game engine features. So far this is my favourite engine alongside Unreal and Cry-engine in terms of visuals.
This technique to producing snow can be transferred across different platforms.
Rain is part of the environmental cycle. So rain is seen every now and again, whether we like it or not! So it makes sense to produce 3D scenes that include wet surfaces and puddles. In this article I will be studying how rain affects materials and how to re-produce them in the virtual environment. To start I set out after a rainy day to take some photo’s in my local area. Paying particular attention to how rain affects tarmac. The way light bounces back from the wet tarmac really equalises the scene.
This is the result of the tutorial video. This gave me a node setup I understood by following the tutorial. So adding modifications is easy and understandable. From the result I highlighted areas for improvement. I wanted to take full advantage of the displacement map; so that the water slips into the lower spaces in detail. To do this I multiplied the bump map in the material nodes to get this result.
My first photographs using an old SLR, Pentax MX. I was worried all these photos would be either over or under exposed, thankfully my shutter-time judgement was correct. Using a fixed wide angle lens with a completely open aperture was a good first choice, this gave me enough light to play with. I love the warm and green colours produced by this film, the picture inst completely sharp but gives a soft feel.
Inspired by the work of Alberto Seveso, I set out to create a small set of images using my EOS700d and a small fish tank filled to the rim with water. After a small amount of research I found cream was best to produce these cloud like forms when dropped into the water. Temperature of the water was important, too cold and the inks would drop to the bottom, too warm and they would hug the surface. Shooting in RAW helps me pull out the natural colours taken from the camera that I can then boost in Photoshop later.
I would like to revisit this form of photography using a slight more lit setup, thus allowing less depth of focus to capture more of the detail.
A thick layer of snow fell over stockport, brought my camera to college to find college was closing, feeling productive I revisited the Asylum. One of my favourite photography locations. I made sure to use the Cameras large colour depth to boost the perceptual saturation so the viewer could see more colours than they would their naked eye.
A large outdoor light installation in Salford Keys, This large cubic array of lights change colour to the wind and your movement. Walking through the tentacle like dangling lights feels much like a scene from avatar, this immersive experience feels warming to the eyes despite the actual freezing feel. Salford keys is very open space and modern, a location to revisit.
Experimenting with long exposure has helped me understand more about my camera and how it works, for this project I went to an abandoned barn that would of been pitch black without my torch. I noticed I could create complicated looking lighting setups just using the one torch. A tripod was particulaly important to keep the camera steady while taking these 30″ long exposures, this also allowed me to move around with the light.