"Lakeside Cliff" Creating Process

I created this file to give an overview of the creating process of my Lakeside Cliff Image.

Most of the pictures here are renderings I saved while working on the scene. Some of the early stage pictures are reconstructed, so there might be inconsistencies. The single pictures are of very different quality and size. For this documentation I rescaled them to a constant width of 600 pixel.

First of all, you can have a look at a larger version of the final image. I really recommend that, because there is much hidden detail.

Some words to the creative process itself, starting an image I usually have only very rough conceptions about the final result. Most ideas come while working on the scene.

I hope, you find this description informative and useful. Any comments are welcome. I did not go very much into detail, because I think nobody should really copy the technique and style of someone else, and especially because I do not think that my way to work is the best.

The scene started with the main background heightfield.

I used Ategeros, a program I wrote myself to create a 1024x1024 points heightfield. It is the classical ridged multifractal algorithm also used in megapov. I played around with the random seed until I found an interesting configuration. You can see this first stage as a program screenshot on the right.

After that, I did some hand editing and nonlinear scaling leading to the heightfield shown in the second screenshot. Furthermore you can see two other functions of Ategeros, namely object distribution and classification masks.

right now, Ategeros is in development state, there is not yet a public version. As soon as I get it ready, I will announce it on my web-site.

Parallel to the heightfield editing I did some first renderings with Povray to check the results. Most of the hand work was necessary to remove the foreground parts of the heightfield, that would have been to inaccurate from this camera perspective.

This part of the description is mainly reconstructed, I tried a lot of different viewpoints, but I am no more able to recall them.

The water level was ajusted to create a terrain flattening towards the waterline and forming this type of cliff.

As the next step, I looked for a good position for the main sunlight. I wanted to create a sunrise/sunset scene (later i decided it IS sunset :-) I was also trying to emphasize the ridged structure of the terrain this way.

The terrain definitely needed some texture, so I started working on that. This and the following image should give an idea about that.

Meanwhile I also tried some possibilities for the sky, The general structure for some layered clouds was already there, I only had to modify it for this scene.

I struggled quite hard getting realistic clouds this way. Some steps of this process can be seen in the following pictures. In fact i also thought about a cloudless sky, but I decided against it.

Well, let's look at this one. First of all, I added some vegetation, the green in the texture is done with megapov's slope dependant texture. For the trees, look at the next paragraph.

Not to forget the foreground heightfield, It is created with Fourier Synthesis (similar to gforge).

For the trees, i first tried some detailed models using macros. After the first render stopped because my 1GB swap limit was exceeded, I thought about alternatives.

It ended up with image maps in different configurations: For the nearer trees, some more detailed models like the bottom left one, the others more simple.

The trees were positioned by Ategeros according to a slope and height dependant mask.

The image maps were created with Povray using Gilles Tran's maketree macro.

Added some ground fog, some modifications of the textures...

The next is the foreground tree, also modelled with the maketree macro, this position seems a bit to central.

The smaller plants are created with a L-System generator I wrote in Delphi.

Ah, this looks better, even though the tree covers some nice part of the mountains.

Also added a second light source for general sky light.

Now some isosurface rocks on the foreground heightfield.

Trees also for the lower part, some green on the rocks and a rough surface for the tree on the right

The waterline looks a bit empty, some more detail: reed with Gilles Tran's makegrass macro, stones are similar to the ones in foreground.

This now is the final version of the image, put in some smaller plants again, some fine tuning...

some data about the scene:
42071 frame level objects
Peak memory used: 175424075 bytes
background heightfield resolution: 1024x1024
foreground heightfield resolution: 512x512

new megapov features used:
angle dependant reflection
ridged multifractal pattern
slope dependant pigment

As the last picture this one shows the arrangement of the whole scene from above, camera location is on the large island on the bottom right.