I resolved my issues with E-cycles rendering RealSky clouds, and have used it to render out this scene. It took about one third the time that regular Blender did. The terrain is just a basic noise generator in World Machine, nothing fancy. I’m getting a bit more familiar with that program. Throw in a water plane, some RealSky and a couple of plants from xfrog and Bob’s your uncle.
I’ve been looking for cloud solutions after e-Cycles failed to render RealSky clouds properly and I got no advice on BA. I did buy a couple of addons on BlenderMarket but they didn’t really help, so I turned to YouTube for tutorials on how to make my own. The best one I found was by Kent Trammell of CGCookie. I’ve always found him to be a great teacher, and this tutorial was up to par.
Clouds need a lot of light apparently, too much for the rest of the scene, so I implemented here my technique of pseudo light linking in Blender, which has worked pretty well, and provides additional compositing options as well. As I was rendering out the cloud layer I thought I could easily render a whole library of clouds to be comped into just about any image.
This scene is pretty ugly, just an default ANT landscape and a couple of clouds on a gradient background, but it was really a fairly successful technical exercise. Still took a long time to render though. I’ll have to try it out in the RTX verson of e-Cycles, although it is said that volumetrics are slow with that engine.
Still working on World Machine. I expect to be doing that for some time. Mainly using a Layout Generator to define the area where I want rocks to be, and then Advanced Perlin generator to actually create the rocks. Seems to be a good combination. The material here is the rock material only from MaterialGuru rock/snow material.
I’m slowly getting more familiar with World Machine. The scaling function inside the Advanced Perlin generator works in a strange way. Scaling down results in a scale on X and Y but not on Z (up), which is rarely the intended effect. One has to independently scale the height. I’ve found just using a clamp filter is the quickest way to do this.
I’ve used a deposit map from the Erosion filter to distribute materials here. That snowy mountain material from MaterialGuru course is proving very handy, except using maps for material distribution and swapping out the snow for whatever second material is appropriate. In this case I just changed the colour to green to get a bit of vegetation.
The image above was rendered using an HDRI for lighting. I did it again using the RealSky addon with clouds and mist, and a couple of background terrains to match what’s in the HDRI (approximately). I think I prefer the second version.
I have a little conceit (is that the right word?) going on BA. I’ve decided to keep the number of posts in sync with the number of views. At the moment it’s 182 posts and 18.5k views. Views go up every 100 (0.1k), so once I reach 185 posts I’ll add a new post for every increase in views. I guess it’s just a way for me to pretend I’ve got some sort of control over the process of interaction with my work. Mind you, the work I’m actually doing now really is just sketchbook stuff, trying things out, so not surprising there’s so little interest. Nonetheless interest in environment stuff does seem to be pretty low on BA.
Rocks made in World Machine. Background terrains are from ANT Landscape addon in Blender. I’ve used RealSky again instead of an HDRI. Render time is certainly a lot longer, and I get a strange result if I use ecycles so I guess the addon is not totally compatible with that.
Materials here are pretty simple. The background just has default Principled BSDF. Foreground has the rock/snow material from MaterialGuru course, but I’ve used the snow for talus material instead of snow. I used thermal erosion in WM and rendered out a talus map.
So this is starting to look a lot like the kind of scene I could render in Vue. The foreground is probably more detailed than I could easily have got in Vue. World Machine is the way to go for terrains I’m sure.
I’m still searching for a good procedural material for mountains. I never found a decent one in Vue, and I’m having the same problem here. I remember when I did Scott Brisbane’s Vue workshop that he said they always used photo texture for the rock surfaces. I’ll take that as a challenge.
I’m also using my procedural ground (grass) material here, and I’m reasonably satisfied with that. Plus I’ve added a narrow strip of AP’s grass along the front.
I think I should take Scott Brisbane’s advice. A bit of rock texture over the top of the render adds far more realism than I can hope to achieve with a procedural texture. Maybe I should render out the background mountains as a separate layer just to make the job a bit easier. Then I won’t even have to mask it.
I’ve made a grass material that is just textures, no particles. I had a good look at a similar material in Vue, basically just a colour gradient driven by a noise texture, and HSL modified with another noise texture. Plus a simple bump which is also a noise texture.
Being able to colour pick a gradient by dragging across an image is a great help. I’m glad I discovered that you can do that in Blender. So my colour gradient is quite a bit more complex than the Vue one I was referencing. I do need to be careful with the lighting with this material though – it makes a huge difference to the final result.
I’ve cobbled together a scene using my grass material and my recent ground material. I need to do a bit of work on the scale of the latter. Plus a Golden Shower tree for good measure.
I worked through Andres Rodriguez’ tutorial on creating a ground material, but in Blender instead of Substance Designer. There weren’t any problems really and I’m quite happy with the result. Lots of variations can be made. The advantage of using Blender is that the final output is not tiled but uses the infinite noise/fractal algorithms which look a lot better than tiled images on a larger surface.
Here I’ve added some Purple Lovegrass from Andrew Price’s Grass Essentials collection, so the gound is not so obvious but at least is not obviously bad.
I’m trying to narrow down to a fixed pipeline rather than try to do too many unrelated things. So I’ve decided to spend a while just making 8k terrains in World Machine (the default size), bring into Blender as a height map at 80m but using cm as my unit so I get 8000 cm for the terrain, plus a couple of other maps (wear, deposit, maybe flow) to help with material placement. So here I’ve separated a rock shader from a ground shader (pretty basic one) using the deposit map, and the wear map for the spec on the rocks.
So I’ll be exploring World Machine, refining my rock and ground materials, and maybe add a plant or two. Perhaps eventually a building or two. Let’s see where that takes me.
Simple terrain from World Machine, with deposition map as well as the height map. Plus a couple of Mugo Pines from xFrog.