Here’s some grass I made in XFrog following a tutorial by Jan Walter Schliep, who made quite a few of the plant assets for Vue. It’s turned out pretty well, and I don’t even have variations here. Not quite sure how easy it is to make variations in XFrog, but I guess I’ll find out soon enough.
It’s just turned September here, first day of Spring. I must admit the weather today (or yesterday, as it’s after midnight) was pretty nice. Maybe a bit too nice. I’m wondering how hot it’s going to get in summer.
I think I’m working out a general approach to my art. Feng Zhu commented in one of his videos that a painter can get in more features than a photographer usually can, simply because the real world doesn’t conveniently compose all features in an area into one frame, but a painter can take liberties. Then I’ve been watching a tutorial by Aaron Limonick where he takes a photo with a decent composition and ‘improves’ it by altering the proportions, position and form of important details. Once again, taking liberties. Then there was the workshop I did with Simon Scales on Environment Design where he recommended finding reference on all the features you would like in your image, then compose them all into a single image. Taking a few more liberties.
So the general idea here seems to be that you can start with something that’s close to what you want, and then improve on it. As an exercise I’ve been looking at a few photos in my reference collection and then ‘improving’ them simple changes such as cropping or adding in features to get a better composition. All the while bearing in mind the compositional schemes outlined by Edgar Payne in his book ‘Compostiion of Outdoor Painting’. The Rule of Thirds is so overrated!
Found a nice pic of a windblown tree on a slope, recreated here in much diminished form. The original had rocks and clouds too. This tree is not nearly gnarled enough, must find something more appropriate (or create it). Anyway just looking for ideas at the moment.
I’ve been watching the basic tutorials on the XFrog site, and also a tutorial on YT about creating a simple shrub with XFrog. Above is the result. It’s actually pretty good although there is an issue with all the leaves being the same. Perhaps I could just make the branches in XFrog and use a particle system in Blender to create more varied leaves.
I’m getting a little interest in my work on Renderosity. Of course the couple of works I’ve uploaded there are some of my best, Vue images from just before Cornucopia3D shut down. BA is much more a ‘tech’ forum, more about the software than the art. I guess if I ever get good enough I could create a portfolio on Artstation – seems the place to be these days for real artists.
Eon (or rather Bentley) have recently announced that they won’t be re-opening Cornucopia3D. The commentary focused on the asset store, but I must admit the community and galleries were much more important to me. Most of the work I posted there got some kind of comment, and people appreciated when I commented on their work, which I tried to do constructively. Alas no more. The above image is one of two that was selected by moderators for Cream of the Crop gallery, and I guess it represents the high point of my CG artist career.
As the site went down about 18 months ago I wasn’t even aware that there was still a chance. I guess I had already experienced the death of community on istock after it was taken over by a more business-oriented organization (ie Getty). Very few people on BA are into environments/landscape, and those that are tend to be professionals who have more significant outlets for their work.
XFrog is another one of those programs I bought several years ago and never really explored. Just like The Plant Factory a couple of years later, which now seems almost identical! Anyway here’s a rather abstract plant created from the first XFrog tutorial I’ve tried. I’m hoping to be able to use it to edit the thousands of XFrog trees I now have to create variations for my scenes, instead of relying on rotating and scaling to give a different look.
Trying out a few things here. I’m sure I’ve done all this before but it’s taking me a while to work out how I want to go about this. This previs image is using a workflow inspired by matte painters and concept artists such as Chris Stoski and Rafael Lacoste. I first painted (very sketchily) a scene with druid oak by a lake with standing stones, and altar, and forest in the background. POV is a somewhat high ledge in extreme foreground looking down a bit.
So I set this as a background image in Blender, added a ground plane and dug out a ditch. Sculpting was very slow so I ended up just using proportional editing in edit mode – much quicker. Added a plane with a basic water texture. Also an oak (MTree addon preset) and various cubes to represent the stones. Background trees are billboards from Xfrog. At that distance I don’t think I need to use actual models.
Finally I rendered and used the compositor to cut out the sky background. I added a sky gradient in GIMP.
I’m finding using Cycles in the viewport tends to crash the computer in any but the simplest scene. I think I’ll use a very small viewport window set to render mode like with Vue, while using LookDev mode in the main working window. Also set the number of samples to 16 instead of the default 32. That way I can get an idea what the scene actually looks like while still being able to work on it.
Different approach here – RealSky addon instead of HDRI, simple noise texture on terrain instead of image-based texturing. I think I should keep all this sketchy stuff here rather than on BA. Maybe it’s time to create some more finished works.
I’ve finally done all the xfrog Africa trees. Plenty of other collections still to do. It will probably take a couple of years to finish. At least I’ve sorted out a good workflow.
I’m concentrating a lot on composition. This image uses the Rectangular or Ell (L) scheme, which I rather like. Seems the only compositional scheme that ever gets mentioned (outside the Payne book) is the Rule of Thirds. Also I’m using a 1.4 format for my images lately, which is close to the golden ratio. All good fun.
I didn’t spend much time on this image, mostly finding a nice HDR for the lighting. Ground material was taken from another image and doesn’t really fit well here. The scene reminds me of a visit to Carnarvon Gorge in Queensland many years ago, which also had cycads.
I think I’ve got a good workflow going for xfrog trees at last. Here’s a little scene with some Tree Aloes, not particularly good but I had a bit of fun with it.
There’s no interest in my stuff on BA, not too surprising I guess since none of it is finished work. Still, may as well just post to this blog that no one reads as post to BA for the same result. Such a pity Cornucopia went down. Maybe my work will be good enough one day to attract some attention on ArtStation or similar. I didn’t get much interest in Deviant Art I must admit. Oh well, I enjoy the process. Pity to let lack of interest get in the way of that.