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Craft dynamic landscapes in Vue

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Date Added: 20th March 2015
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Dmitriy Eremenkov reveals how he evoked the power of the elements to create the impressive landscape scene Cataclysm using Vue, 3ds Max and Photoshop


The first thing for me in any project is the idea. I wanted to create something dynamic and realistic, so I decided to ignore the laws of physics. My priority was to create more action in the scene, so I focused my idea on a massive tornado with a giant whirlpool and several ships torn apart by the strong wind. I wanted some ships to be sucked into a vortex.

To start, I made a quick five minute sketch to work out the composition and amount of work involved. From this sketch, I saw that I needed a panoramic view to catch all areas of the scene that I wanted. The panoramic camera in Vue is an excellent feature that gives you the ability to create epic widescreen renders.

This was a fast five minute sketch to determine the tornado as a central object of the whole composition


The next thing I made was a 3D whirlpool. This is actually an easy task for major 3D packages like 3ds Max or Maya, but I really wanted to make this thing completely in Vue.

Because there is only metablob-modeling technology in Vue, the only way to make it was to create a height map for the terrain. So I created a grayscale map in Photoshop, and saved it out as 16bit (to save all the gradients without banding), with a resolution of 2048x2048.

After that I created a standard terrain in Vue, changed its resolution up to 2000, and used the height map.

On the left side is the height map created in Photoshop, the right shows the height map applied to standard terrain and a basic water-shader


Terrains are a really cool feature of Vue. I always build whole landscape from lots of small standard terrains because it gives me more control over the topology of my landscape. I never use procedural terrains because they are too slow and buggy in big scenes.

The front cliff consists of two ecosystems; the first ecosystem has several samples of palm trees in the foreground, and the second ecosystem has 3D models of small stones and patches of grass, to add nice detail on the ground.

I modeled a radio tower in 3ds Max to determine the scale of the foreground.

For the distant landscape, I used the same technique, except that the trees were low poly. I used a ventilator object in Vue to bend the trees because I wanted to show the strong windy weather in my scene.

The landscape created in Vue so far


The sky was done in Vue with three layers of clouds; these all had different heights, density and mass in the sky. Vue clouds are truly magnificent, though takes a long time to render them.

I rarely use meta clouds ? they're nice when you need to create one single beautiful cloud with a specific shape (because the cloud layers in the Atmosphere editor are just Extruded Fractal noise with a volumetric shader, it's hard to control the shape), but with more than one meta cloud, the render time slows dramatically. The more cloud layers you have, the slower the rendering will be.

There is a trick here though, you can do two things; first - hide all the objects in the scene, then turn off the object's Anti-Aliasing. The trick is that environment effects (such as the sun glow and clouds) are always anti-aliased regardless of whether the object's Anti-Aliasing is turned on or not.

If you turn on the object's Anti-Aliasing, the clouds will be anti-aliased again, because they were already anti-aliased. So you lose lot of time. That's why I always render the cloud separately from other objects. The second trick is to render each cloud layer separately. You can combine them all in Photoshop together and erase any bugs in them.

Creating separate renders of clouds is much faster overall.

This shows the settings for the atmosphere and one panel of the cloud layer

continued on next page >

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Readers Comments (Newest on Top)
Dustin Moore on Fri, 20 March 2015 11:27am
Could you elaborate on how you got the textures to transfer from 3ds Max to Vue? Did you just bake everything?
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