This image was originally an environment I made for a Fable 2 cinematic shot at Blur Studio. I really liked the subject of a peaceful winter scene in the countryside, so later I decided to take the project a bit further by adding more details and atmosphere. It was also a good exercise for snow modeling. My goal was not to make an ultra realistic image, but rather giving it an illustration look that suits to the subject.
Concept & Refrences
For this project I had a concept design, which roughly gave me the composition of the image (Fig.01).
From this point I gathered some references of a typical countryside: trees, fences, mud paths, preferably snow covered (Fig.02). The image was supposed to be in medieval times, so modern structures like electric poles were prohibited.
The environment is divided in three distinct parts: foreground with the muddy path and detailed trees, midground with the farm and mud path continuation, then background with distant hills and mountains. This way it was really easy to manage the level of details according to the distance from the camera (Fig.03).
The ground consists of one plane with both the ground itself and the snow layer integrated in the modeling. It was more difficult to change the snow distribution this way, but it allowed better control of the snow/mud transition when texturing.
At first I roughly modeled the snow using the Paint Deformation tool in Editable Poly. Then, satisfied with the basic shapes, I added a lot of details simply by using a Displacement map on top of the original modeling (Fig.04).