More Compositing


I tried to add the foreground trees to an image the same way I did yesterday – with the image as an image node in the compositor, and using ObjectID to mask out the trees to layer over the top. However it didn’t work too well – the leaves of this tree are much finer than the one I used yesterday and that was giving me some problems.

So this time I imported the background as in image plane. I used an emission shader so that it wouldn’t respond to scene lighting, as it already looked the way I wanted. So I didn’t have to mask the trees as they were simply in front of the image plane in the scene.

Matching the colours was a bit of a problem. The trees in the plate are a little yellowish, whereas the Western Red Cedars (probably not appropriate for this scene) are much greener. Anyway I discovered (via YouTube of course) how to isolate the actual leaf material to colour correct it in the compositor. Very handy. I think the result is much better integrated.

I did a bit of clean up work on the plate as well. A few people and a truck didn’t quite give the feel I was after. Used GIMP for that. So I’m slowly developing my matte painting skills, although I don’t plan on doing any camera moves so a lot of the work matte painters do isn’t really relevant to me. I’d call myself a concept artist but that sounds pretty pretentious. How about just an artist. Amateur artist.

Matte Painting


I’m doing another matte painting course. Uses Maya, Photoshop and Nuke of course. Seems like it’s time I got my head around the compositor in Blender. Not quite Nuke perhaps, but at least it’s a start. In this image the foreground tree and grassy plane is geo, rest is an image rendered out of Vue some time ago.

Here’s another


Made a butte brush, here’s a scene using same. I decided to colour it this time (the brush itself is greyscale) using an appropriate and fairly traditional colour scheme. The composition is not that great, and I haven’t fixed the lighting on the smaller butte, but playing around with these is a lot of fun. Maybe I’ll try the Dolomites next.

Custom Brushes


Looking at the image component approach to concept art again. I’m doing a course on LearnSquared about World Building, and the tutor is creating custom brushes for architectural detail. Reminded me of a tutorial I have by David Levy, describing the custom brush approach. Basically use custom brushes to create a library of image components that one can quickly throw into a speed painting. Also Simon Scales was big on custom vector shapes, but basically the same idea.

The trees here were rendered out of Blender as masks for an XFrog tree, then turned into a brush. Learning how to do that should be really useful. The clouds and rocks were made by hand in GIMP, following David Levy’s tutorial. I used mainly the path tool in GIMP to draw a mountain following a reference image that I like, then turned it into another brush. Also I used a couple of standard GIMP texture brushes.

Most concept artists recommend starting with value sketches, so this approach definitely lends itself to that. With a library of elements it should be fairly easy to play around with scenes and compositions, which is the whole idea after all.

Mirabile Dictu

I’m looking into concept art again, doing a course on LearnSquared on Creating a World. Lots of sketching of course, so I’m looking at GIMP again and trying to get back up to speed, especially with custom brushes. I got a bit stuck on some details, but lo and behold I remembered that I made some tutorials on this very topic about five years ago.

So, off to my YouTube channel, and reviewed the three tutorials I made on creating custom brushes in GIMP. All my questions were answered! I knew what I was doing back then. I guess that’s because I used to teach GIMP in my web design courses before RMIT made Photoshop available to everyone.

Neolithic Hut


Finally decided to tackle a thatched building. This is a particle system, specifically hair. I found a couple of useful settings for thatch, and doubled it up anyway for extra thickness. There’s no thatch on the back so I guess I could afford twice as much on the front.

I sculpted the walls a bit. Saw a video on recreating a thatched hut similar to this near Stonehenge. Walls were wattle and daub (crushed chalk plus hay + water). This hasn’t turned out too badly, given that it’s just a rough ‘sketch’. Have strewn a few plants around for extra realism.

Garden with Grapevine



I’ve been spending time playing around with ground textures. A while back I did a course with Andres Rodriguez on Environment Art, and he demonstrated making ground textures in Substance Designer, so I thought I’d have a go at doing something similar in Blender. Substance Designer has a nice library of noise textures to use, and Cycles is a bit limited to a noise texture, a voronoi texture and a musgrave texture, so I had to do what I could with those. You don’t actually see much of the ground in the above image, because I got carried away a bit and added grass (from an XFrog tutorial), a grapevine (XFrog library), and a brick wall (texture from CC0Textures). I did make the grass myself though. And the ground, of course. Lighting courtesy of EasyHDRI.