The New World

I little while ago I stumbled onto a scene I made a few years back:

The New World

There are definitely problems with this scene.  My intent was to create an otherworldly terrain that demonstrated large scale.  The fog is a great touch.  However, there are serious texture and geometry issues.  The sky is very low res, and compression artifacts are visible.  The terrain has some unnatural looking edges and the shadows look awkward.  Nevertheless, I like the message this scene is conveying.  I like the mode.  I like the style.

A few months after that, I made this image:

Scape

while this scene is void of interesting elements, it showcases my improved comprehension of texturing large areas.  I used two seamless textures: dirt and grass.  Using the Gimp, I tiled them ten by ten to make a huge texture.  I layered the grass on top of the dirt and painted transparency on the grass which let the dirt show through.  I forget the actual resolution of the resulting image, but it was a 41mb PNG file.  The ground may look rough and cracked, but that is nothing more than a high quality texture.

When stumbled upon the first image a few weeks ago, I was inspired to try again.  I love finding old images that I hardly remember making.  With my improved skills and that important thing called “inspiration”, I created this new scene:

The New World v2

This turned out better that I ever though it would.  A lot of work went into this.  Let’s begin.

I knew I wanted to use the same technique that I used in Scape.  That is, mixing two textures together to produce a less uniformly textured surface than The New World original.  This time, however, I wanted the green patches of texture to only show up near the water level.  A random texture placement would not do.  I needed to use the height field information with the texture itself.  I decided that Terragen would be the best tool for the job.  Terragen is a landscape generator.  It’s is capable of a lot of things, but I only needed a height field.  Terragen excels at generating height fields.  I ended up with something like this:

The black spots are valleys and the white spots are peaks

As this is a perfect 2D representation of my landscape, I could use it in the Gimp as a reference.  I actually used this image as the mask for the grass layer.  The grass ended up being too evenly spread, so I tweaked the contrast and brightness like so:

The grass line is much more defined

I ended up with something like this, but with a much higher resolution:

The grass is the valleys and the dirt is the peaks

Applying this to a terrain mesh that’s based on the same image gave me the result I was looking for.

The next major challenge was the trees.  The more trees, the better.  I needed something that looked good, yet was light on system resources.  I played around with a few different pieces of tree modeling software including Arbaro, POV Tree, and SpeedTree Modeler.  The resulting trees were high quality and slow to render.  That’s not the kind of tree I could use.  I got my hands on a bunch of tree textures.  Not bark and foliage, but full images of trees.  I tried randomly placing them around the landscape.  It was obvious that it was one tree copied hundreds of times, but it gave me a better understanding of what I wanted to see.

I finally settled on a suitable tree model.  I used the same texture as above, but I used multiple copies for one tree.  Rotating the different planes to form a circle, I achieved a pseudo-3D tree.

The water is just a cube with a simple noise texture applied to it.

The fog is just a cube with a noise material applied to it.  While materials like this are simple to make, they take LONG time to render.  The whole scene took about 19 hours to render.  That seems like a long time, but I may have set the rendering accuracy up a little too high.  I’m sure I could’ve gotten away with a 5-6 hour render, but I started the render right before bed.  Upon coming home from work the next day, the render was complete.  It took 19 hours, but it didn’t really feel like it.  The point I’m trying to make is that the fog accounted for almost 10 hours of render time.  It’s a great effect, but it has it’s consequences.

Finally, the sail boat was added.  The simplest things can make a big difference.

AOI FIle: Newworld.zip (due to the large image textures, this file is 50mb)

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