Introduction talking about the start point of this render

(later I’ll show you the making of)

Have you ever participated in a render contest?

Do you know how to start the planning to win?

What considerations must be in your mind to be satisfied with your result?

In this post, we explain you the path that we followed to get the first prize,

obviously, with a big dose of luck ?

Competition rules

The same 3D model were provided to all contestants. From here, your imagination was the only limitation.

You could deliver as many images as you wanted.

This type of competitions attract all kinds of competitors. There were with experience and novice ones. I do not know how many finally participated, but it was a worldwide competition and the level of the finalists very high. Without a doubt, we are proud of winning in these circumstances.

Our initial process (before render)

It was not the first time we took part in a competition. When they are so very open, it is hard to decide to go. What criteria choosing to win.

First render test of the structure
Renders with different moods
  • Imaging what will be the composition of the jury and what they would value.
  • Choosing a view and a frame.
  • How to light the scene up: day, night, cloudy…
  • What materials to use.
  • In black and white or in color?

Anyway, many possibilities and many decisions to make.

The decision

We immediately found that the 3d model of Arya Siek was very versatile. It offered many views to be displayed.

Our working method is not subject to strict rules for decision-making. That is, with the same test, we checked whether the textures, lighting, perspective, etc. was working or not. Little by little we opted for one option.

It was as valid as the other we rejected.

So, we decided to visualize the model as if it had been abandoned. As if time had swallowed it.

Vegetation had grown up around and even inside. The original materials were not recognized.

Attractive render framings

As I already mentioned, the bridge was attractive from many points of view.

We considered the possibility of distant and even very close views. They all had something interesting.

In the end, to limit decisions, we focused on these three points of view.

For various reasons, more linked with aesthetic sensations than anything else, we kept the vertical framing.

Render - Frontal framing of the structure

Once again, the attention to detail for the render

Details make the difference between a good image and a winning image. We made additional efforts.

In modeling

We wanted to show the deteriorating situation of the bridge. To do this, we made multiple actions on the 3d model:

We broke the windows, both on the deck as lower floor.

Render - Broken glass detail

On the stairs, we eliminated some steps

In the handrail, we made a few notches.

Messy vegetation grew everywhere and some dry leaves appeared in the foreground.The standing water also helped.

Render - details of vegetation grown over the structure

In the end, we even put a few crows in 3d and the rusty barrel.

In the textures

Materials should appear, accordingly with the above, cracked, rusted, battered by time:

Render - snowed frames with different moods

The other render image we submitted sought this desolate look with the lighting of a cloudy day.

Snow

It was the latest discovery. It was quite costly but it was the icing on the cake.

Render scene snowed

Render post production

Although we did some tests with the final image in black and white, which we liked very much, we decided to submit them in color.

progressive different moods

 Successive adjustments allowed us to reach the desired end and we sent the renders.

Uncontrollable factors

I do not know how long we dedicated the three team members. We did what we could and then, one of the most decisive factors in a competition, gave us as winners: luck.

Luck not understood as “I do anything and let’s see what happens”. I mean the jury take a liking to us. Another jury would probably have chosen another image (we believe there are several very good).

We are very happy and it gives us strength to continue.

We hope our clients find that, when they let us to do, we get the most brilliant render results.

YES, now, the making of

Inspiration

Once we have chosen the point of view and the aspect of the scene, we set out to search for reference images, which help us to get, as close as possible, the final render idea.

The fundamental keys of our image were the deterioration and the abandonment of the place.

We are looking for images that show that feeling, to apply it to our scene.

Therefore, the first search was made on bridges or similar locations with some deterioration.

reference images of destroyed structures

We think also that, such scenario like this, it could be habitable place for some individual animals, whom often use this type of places or conditions for nesting, such as crows, vultures, etc …

So, this was the second search in internet.

reference images of crows

After deciding that the scene would be lit like a night or evening ambiance and snow finally take part of our scene, we made a third and final search, searching dusk sunset skies, and places where the snow is present.

reference images of landscapes snowed

Modelling

SNOW

For snowy process, we used a plugin for Cinema 4D : MagicSnow.

This plugin had advantages and disadvantages when is used. The advantages were obvious, the scene brought something different and for us back in our work. The big drawback was that we had to “wait snowing”, since the snow go fill the scene, like in real time. There wasn’t something like an airbrush which go filling the snow scene. We “had to snow” the different objects in the scene, and see how they appear, depending on the values we gave them.

We also had an additional problem because the snow pure and simple geometry, computers resented if we tried to do the whole render scene at once.

We had to make it snow in parts, and adapting the final snow geometry to the scene, meanwhile in the distance, the snow could be less in quantity, resolution and definition.

Finally we were able to fill the scene after multiple render tests, since not always chose in the right values, mainly because it was a novelty for us to use this plugin for the first time.

Some screenshots of the snow process:

magic snow plugin
wireframe image snowed with magic snow plugin
wireframe image snowed with magic snow plugin
wireframe image snowed with magic snow plugin

PUDDLE

Initially, it was an element that was going to have some prominence, because we wanted to put in the foreground, and its inclusion in the surrondings, along with its values of reflection, diffusion, etc., would make it an attractive element in the scene . Finally, it is a “lost” element but still there giving more detail to the final image.

We sought photographic references to get an idea, although the water acquires multitude of aspects depending on multiple factors …

reference images of puddles

We used geometry and tried to liken as possible to reality. The puddle was more attractive when it was over. Finally stay in the background, but partly have fulfilled its function.

simulating a puddle inside 3d app

VEGETATION

Regarding the issue of modeling vegetation we used “hair” of cinema, proxies for trees and pure and simple 3d model for the dry trees.

Finally back trees that seems placed in post-production, but, during the process, many tests of vegetation were conducted.

vegetation around the structure
vegetation around the structure

The trees were placed back in post-production, because we obtain more control, and we avoided having to “snow” that amount of trees, resulting polygons weight.

Also, we kept a large percentage of herbs and shrubs. Unfortunately, most of them were rather hidden by snow.

SINGULAR 3D MODELS

Some elements were modeled to be include in the scene.

BIRDS

We decided to place the crows perched on the bridge deck to generate renderings from different viewpoints right placed in scale and form.

Once the render competition ended, we made some experiments with our footages of bird videos.

3d model of a crow

We generated a specific UVs map for this model. The “skin” of the object is sectioned into “slices” and these are used as a canvas to “paint” on the texture obtained from several photos. Thus realism is very efficient on very short distances. As in other cases, at the end, the object is a bit off but, anyway, all the details increase the realism of the final image.

DRY LEAVES

As in the crow case, we used UVs maps to texture the leaves. Later, we ajust exactly to the model. In this case, a projection canvas floor was used like guide.

With the 3dpaint brushes of C4D we directly retouch it into the camera perspective to tune.

texturing and modelling a leave

“BREAKING” THE BRIDGE

First we model all the glass areas, then with Thraussi plugin, we broke it.

It generates random cuts in the model, but, unfortunately, The number of polygons, excedded the power of our computer. We thought that, in this way, we gained time and our image grew in realism.

We modified the top rail stairs manually, both, ruptures and folds.

In this case, we used a tool that appears in the latest version of Cinema 4d and previously was to be found in other more specific organic modeling applications: “SCULPT”. With this tool we could bend and soften the cuts and create dents.

However we made major breaks manually and then refine the details later.

In the creating process we shuffled several options, so we used elements in the scene in the beginning that don’t appear in the final image.

In a less snow version, the surrounding soil appeared full of small bushes and stones. Here we use the MoGraph, a tool to multiply and distribute copies of an object. We modeled three or four stones and three or four bushes. With the aid of this tool, we multiply randomly on the floor.

breaking the 3d model structure

Really, we used several polygon’s selections on the ground to make it even more random (mostly to avoid overloading the file, placing elements only where needed).

Texturing

Due to the aspect of the scene, there were several items that we took some special attention when we textured. Probably, some of them rather stay in the background, or they had less prominence at the end, but they are there, and they worked well.

One of them, it was the puddle mentioned above and others were the drum, graffiti, the crows … etc..

RENDER THE DUSTBIN

The drum was an added element in the last minute. Its texturing was based on finding an original picture and a model adaptation.

reference image of a drum
Render - rendered image of a drum

The texture map would be something like that:

texturing the drum

We joined 2 textures, because the first hadn’t graffiti painted.

Noting that eventually some of them (the graffiti) were lost on the ground by the snow, we decided to include one in the dustbin.

We put some occasional bump to show damage, and weight material to trim the texture. With these tricks, we got the same sensation with a simple cylinder, but with a more efficient 3d model and less polygons.

Finally some specular value was added to the material.

The next screenshot, shows the model with its texture, and a reference about their labels.

applying the drum texture to the 3d model
applying the drum texture to the 3d model
applying the drum texture to the 3d model
drum rendered inside the scene

GRAFFITI

texturing steel 3d model

Other elements were textured, and we made successive tests to achieve the desired results.

Some screenshots of the process:

Test ground with graffiti included, first test of damage in beams…

Testing ground, graffiti … will eventually be hidden by snow, but was equally textured.

Render - texturing grafitti on the ground

Clean indoor tests, no shrubs, or herbs … etc, only a few leaves and a bit of “hair” (grass) in the boards.

3d models of leaves on the ground
Render - post production inclusion of graffiti in the image

Tests graffiti, glass …

BROKEN GLASS RENDER

Finally, we “broke” the 3d glass.

Here, you can see a test with the glass broken with texture effect.

Lighting and settings for the render

inserting area light in the scene

We used a GI Environment map (both cloudy and night). We didn’t use any physical light for general lighting. The scene also contains several artificial lights that illuminate the upper structure of the bridge and the lower corridor.

In all cases, they are area lights, although cloudy scene, was without any.

During the process, we did several lighting tests.

Different lighting situations were proposed for the scene, specifically these three: DAY, CLOUDY AND NIGHT.

Examples of the work in progress :

vray settings for lighting the scene
Render - different rendered moods
Render - night and day lighting of the scene
render passes of the final image

With the snowed scene chosen, we discovered that day lighting did not work as we wanted, so the two options that we considered were cloudy and night.

In the process we doubt about which one was better, which one could provoke more love, which one could like most, wich one we liked most … We loved the night shot.

We didn’t waste the opportunity to present both.

An example of the previous study of both illuminations, before the final process:

Render - two final mood of the scene

GENERAL SETTINGS

For the rest of the settings, we applied a MAP + LIGHT CACHE IRRADIANCE.

In both cases, the settings were the same, the only thing that varied was the GI main map.

Some screenshots of the general configuration of IRR + LC:

vray settings to render the scene
vray settings to render the scene

Post production of the render

This part was the “twist” ending to the scene. In this process, there did several important steps that dressed the scene.

The common elements for both images were added as birds flying, or background + sky, obviously in this case, should be different, as the highlights.

Despite working all 3d vegetation through proxies, we finally decided to replace it with a background of snow covered trees in both cases.

Small elements were inserted also little noticeable, but they are, as the fog was added at some points and colored the snow in others, the tree sticking out of the top mixed with existing small details that embellished the scene .

There are many alternatives retouching in this process, many options, many tools used.

We used different programs and combine their results.

They touched exposure values, brightness, contrast, hue, saturation, levels, color balance, cromatic aberration, vignette, focus, blur … and the end result is already known.

Some screenshots of post-production process:

post production phases of the final image
post production phases of the final image