The amount of soldiers was too much for a home computer, so I used the following trick: before duplicating, I applied the "multi-res" modifier to the two basic figures (the trooper and the commander type). This modifier reduces the polygons of the mesh by the amount we wish. During the creational phase, I set the soldiers to only 0.01% of their polygons (which was pretty much only a cornered ball), but was ideal for seeing where they are (and the computer did not freeze from the polygon overload). For the final rendering, I used 6 or 7% of the overall polygons of the soldiers, even with such a low rate, there were 30 million polygons in the final rendered scene, but since an individual soldier is so small, the loss of quality due to polygonal reduction was not noticable.
Picture #5 / When I added an extra 2-3000 soldiers, the computer run out of memory and created "texture leaks" (you can clearly see those soldiers that were rendered without textures, they remained white)
Picture #6 / During the workflow, using the 'multires' modifier can save computer resources
Altogether in the scene, there are about 15-20 omni lights, most of them are used for starship engine glows. There is one keylight on the top of the scene to simulate sunlight. Right beside it, there is another light, which is used for ambient illumination only. There is a spotlight from the top-left corner of the picture, aiming at the soldiers. This spotlight creates the volumetric light effect in the scene. The big shadow that appears in the middle of the picture is a star destroyer put in the front of the key light, not very far from it (to get the right size for the shadow). The engine lights have "glow" modifiers added to them. The color of different lights and the background had to be changed until they matched.
The rendering was done using the Brazil rendering system. Normal lighting was not the best looking, but using Global Illumination also was not an option, since it crashed the computer even with the loweset setting. Photon mapping solved this problem fortunately, I turned it on, and added it to the scene's lights. By using photon mapping, the rendering in 800x600 was finished in 7 minutes! No area shadows, only normal shadow maps were used.
Picture #7 / Setting the final lights and adding the main shadow
Some of the proportions in the picture may appear weird if you examine them closely, this is something I have look out for in the future...
I put Yoda in the bottom-right corner of the picture to.... well, to make some people smile!
I made a different looking background for the picture, but it was too "dark and evil", anyway, here it is, you can decide which one you like better... and thank you for reading this tutorial!
Picture #8 / The final version with a different background, the volumetric effect is much clearly visible in the version
Picture #9 / The final version (no postwork) Written by: Laszlo Racz
House of Digital Beauties
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