- Like I said earlier, this is a massive scene, and in order to keep it interesting and not repetitive, I needed to make a very wide range of objects, buildings, trees, people and animals. I am not going to cover every single thing I modeled, just a few interesting points -
- I've made 9 different variations to the bricks that make the well so that even the bricks won't look the same.
- Before scattering all the flags, I've prepared a bend and a twist modifiers to them so that no 2 flags will look the same, I've * also made allot of actual symbols that represents the different cultures.
- The temple is modeled pretty much the same way as the tower. it was placed right in front of the tower to enhance the Sense of scale - notice that it is four stories tall and yet it doesn't reach the height of one level of the tower.
- I've made variations in the fire parameters of each torch, and I also changed the color and intensity of the lights they emit.
- I gave all the characters a basic rig so that I could pose each one differently.
- As I already mentioned, the vases have over 100 combinations. The mapping is the same in all the vases so that each vase model can go with 10 different textures and with different stretching (non uniform scale).
- I've been asked allot about the materials. Evan though I used mental ray, the materials are actually pretty Basic. Almost all the objects in this scene have the 3dsmax's standard multy-layer material. I like to use the multy-layer shader simply because it gives me control over the diffuse LEVEL (not colour) and because it gives great control over the specular. Most of the objects have matching colour maps, diffuse level maps, specular maps, and bump maps. I often used mix maps with masks with map channel 2 (and sometimes 3) so that I could easily change the mapping of the masks differently for duplicated objects to create variations easily.
Lighting & Rendering
First of all, I'm going to talk about the biggest challenge I've had to face when I worked on this image - rendering it. Right at the planning stage, I knew I am going for way more details than what my computer can render at once, that meant I had to plan where to break the composition into pieces and render each piece separately. It meant I had to first prepare everything in the viewport and at a certain point decide that the camera angle and general lighting setup are final. After I did that, I've started working on two main parts separately. in the viewport - the tower and the city, both parts had to have the same "connection point" which was the first 2 floors of the tower. Besides some effect passes, the tower was pretty much rendered at once, but the city was more complex than that, it had too many polygons and textures to be rendered at once so it was rendered in pieces as well - the city, the market, the ocean, trees and effects. It was quite nice to put everything together and see that things actually worked after I finished rendering all the pieces. The renders crashed allot because of memory run outs and it was a relief when it worked out because I was on a tight deadline. when I had all the geometry rendered, I started rendering a few different passes to enhance the image at the compositing stage. The main passes I rendered were occlusion (you can see here
how I work with an occlusion pass) for the city and the tower and dust for the city and the tower. To make the dust pass, I gave all the objects a matte/shadow material, added several volume fog effects and added allot of gizmo's in the scene, some for general dust in the air and even some for local dust below people's feet.
When I rendered, I didn't really use any of Mental-Ray's fancy features. To light the scene, I mainly used Mental-Ray's Area lights because they give excellent soft shadows and work well for large scenes. I used 2 main lights from the left and right to set the warm / cold contrast and about 5 fill lights with variation in area size, color and intensity.