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Matte-painting in Blender

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Date Added: 10th November 2014
1948_tid_13.jpg

Carlos Mazon reveals how to matte-paint the textures on his Kindergarten arch-viz model, using tools in Blender


In this article I'm going to show you my workflow, from the 3D idea received from the client to the post-production of the image, which is the main part of my process.

About the project

The architect's main idea of the project was quite an original one. The kindergarten tried to expose the art of graffiti to really young children, creating a learning and exposition site. I was quite excited about the theme as I knew it would lead to some original-looking images.

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The idea of the 3D concept from the architect

Import model

The client sent the model in a 3ds Max file, and I exported it out in an FBX format. The new FBX importer in Blender worked flawlessly but I know OBJ would have worked equally well.

1948_tid_02.jpg
Exporting the file as an FBX file and importing it into Blender

Mood

The project is located in a suburban area of Alicante, southern Spain. The architect wanted an aerial view and I knew it was going be a challenge to hide the ugly tall brick buildings and centre the attention on the low modern kindergarten.

I decided to make a late sunset view so I could have all the tall façades in shadows and light the interior of the main kindergarten. The intention was to show the mood of the place rather than being just descriptive about its shape. I wanted to have lots of children playing, graffiti, and parents chilling around in the image.

The first step was to do some online research for hi resolution pictures of aerial sunsets so I could see the real behavior of the light, shadows, reflections, etc. I always do this to analyze the different elements and make an interpretation of them.

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Deciding the view and composition of the image

Camera and lighting

I had to show a lot of the context so I used a wide 25mm Focal Length. The final image had to be printed in A1 size so the final output image was 6000 pixels wide. I used Cycles as the main render engine.

I have an Nvidia GeForce GTX 670 along with a GTX 770, but after several tries I found that my workstation with double CPU (Intel Xeon E5) rendered faster, so later in the project I decided to forget about the GPUs and use the CPU instead. The final render took about three hours and used 1,5 GB of VRam (when using the GPU).

For the lighting I used a HDR background along with a Sun lamp to pump up the shadows (Note: I recommend reading this Ben Simond's post to view other advanced ways to solve this without the need to add a Sun Lamp).

The other main light source is an Emission Shader I used for the interior of the kindergarten.
The HDR map was called Barcelona Rooftops from Hdrlabs. For the lights configuration I did nothing complicated, just reduced the strength of the HDR to 0.75 and raised the strength of the Sun to 3.

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Setting up the light in the scene

Assets

As this job involved a lots of different 3D elements I decided to split the scene in different files to keep it all organized: I had different files for the main building, context, cars, people, and linked all those files to a main file that had the lighting, camera and render passes. This way of working also allows me to have more people working at the same time in different files of the project.

I worked with Groups and linked those all to the main file. I set the Outliner to display Groups, which allowed me to work in a similar way to the layers, but with an infinite number of them.
I strongly recommend using the script Edit linked Library to as it speeds up the process of editing linked files a lot.

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Here you can see a graphic with the different files and groups I used for the scene

Materials

The materials in the scene are quite easy as I like to keep my node trees simple. Almost all the materials in the scene are Mix Shaders (Diffuse/Glossy) with Bump Maps.

The deadline for the project was quite short, so I didn't have time to UV map anything. I used Object in the Texture Coordinates for all the materials in the scene.

Most of the images are from cgtextures.com, later modified to make them bigger and with a less repeating tileable pattern. I kept the main textures at 2000 as I didn't want to overflow the VRAM.

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Here you have a few examples of the Materials used in the scenes


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This image shows the brick shader node trees


continued on next page >

 
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Readers Comments (Newest on Top)
avatar
Ramon on Wed, 30 November 2016 2:31pm
Absolutely inspiring
avatar
Alex Mcil on Sat, 05 March 2016 2:22am
Awesomely detailed tutorial. Would have also been awesome to have this done on video to ease of follow.
avatar
Jay on Fri, 12 December 2014 1:01pm
wow great stuff! its amazing what you can do in post. is there car modelled as well? any good place to start in regards to the special techniques such as colour correction amongst others out there that you could recommend?
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