Then I exported a few clumps of trees as OBJs into Max and started to set up the scene.
For the rocks and plants on the ground I used some basic Scattering tools in Houdini by painting color on the landscape and copying spheres on the scattered points (Fig.13).
The machine was modeled by making a small part of the arm and then copying it over a curve in Houdini. The front of the machine was made in 3ds Max (Fig.14).
The final setup in 3ds Max looked like Fig.15.
Texturing and Materials
Once I had setup my scene in Max, I started with the basic lighting. I usually light and texture my scene simultaneously. That way I know how detailed my texturing should be. Since this scene was fairly dark, I didn't bother with too much texturing. Most of the textures for the trees are essentially procedural maps like Noise and Smoke.
The main shader for the glowing pod is a blend material. I mixed a basic reflective V-Ray material with a V-Ray light material. To mix the two shaders I used a Voronoi map mixed with a falloff for a Blend map (Fig.16).
The lighting and the atmosphere were the most crucial parts of this scene. I wanted to create a glow around the tree to make it look like it was generating light and also have the rest of the forest shrouded in a haze. So, I decided to use V-Ray environment fog for the effect. The primary light is inside the main pod and I kept another light on the top. V-Ray environment fog generates volumetric light out of any light kept inside the fog area and generates a haze as well. However, the render time was quite long. The series of images in Fig.17 should give a fairly good idea as to how the lighting progressed.