I created a Displacement map for the ground to make sure there were some nice bumps that looked realistic. Another thing that I did to make the ground look more realistic was to add particles like stone and gravel. I used the Spray Point tool in Modeler mode and the Point Clone tool to create a nice random effect on the ground.
The lighting setup was simple. There was an area light to create soft shadows, which had an orange color applied to it to give a sunset feeling. The scene was then rendered with Monte Carlo Radiosity in FPrime. The second light under the shelter is a point light.
I often add a background environment image to help me get the colors right. It's a simple but powerful way to make sure everything looks correct (Fig.08).
After the render was complete I moved everything into Photoshop CS4 and the first thing I did was some color corrections. I then played with the levels and used some photo filters to get the mood I wanted. I usually use a 55mm plug-in and Color Efex Pro. All my work is done with a Wacom Intous 4 (Fig.09).
I searched for a good mountain image on cgtextures.com for my background. I tried to find an image with similar lighting as the lighting I set up in my scene. I then added the sky. For still images I like to use photo backgrounds to give the image a nice finish. When creating 3D stills you need to remember that you don't need to model everything. It would be inefficient to model all of the distant background for a still (Fig.10 - 11).
After this I did some adjustments with the Burn and Dodge tool to add some dark and bright values. When I was happy with the results I merged all of the layers, but the image was not yet finished. I continued to add to the image without having to worry about all of the layers I just merged. I added some spot lights and glows in the brighter areas with a round brush and used my Sharpen brush to add some nice textures.
After eight hours of post work I was happy and you can see my final image in Fig.12.
It took about three days to finish the project. It was a nice experience, and a challenge to get crisp details. If you want to know anything about my technique or just want to say hello, write me an email. Thanks for reading.