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Creating a Simple Stylized Japanese Garden in Blender

Farrukh Abdur Rahman did a breakdown of his stylized Garden made in Blender and talked about modeling, material creation, grass and water shader setup, lighting, and more.


My name is Farrukh Abdur Rahman and I am a 3D artist. I have a deep interest in creating 3D art. Currently, I am working as a freelance artist on different 3D projects with clients around the world. I've developed most of my skills through self-learning and studying different internet resources.

In this article, I am happy to share the creation process of my recent Garden artwork. I have used Blender 2.8 for this project.

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Concept Idea

As the fall season was coming, I started exploring different colors of fall and wanted to create an artwork based around it. I looked for different reference places and in the end, I selected Japanese gardens as the main source of inspiration for my artwork.

Collecting References

Before starting with anything in Blender, the first step was to gather reference images of Japanese gardens and fall season colors. After collecting the references, I started identifying which objects I would be including in my work. The references were really helpful in making the scene representation more pleasantly similar-looking to a garden that I wanted to show.

For this project, I was going for more stylized forms yet maintaining a Japanese theme alongside.

Here are some of the references which I collected in the beginning:


I use standard poly modeling techniques starting with one object at a time and completing it. Usually, I use simple primitive shapes like cubes and cylinders as the starting point. As the final views were going to be mostly from a distance, I did not need to model too many details.

In some objects, I added a subdivision modifier to make them smoother. There are about 25 different objects in this scene.

I have added some views of the different 3D models that I created.

Usually, I make only half of the model if it is symmetrical. Afterward, I add a mirror modifier to generate the other side.

Once the models are complete, I keep each original model in a different collection layer in case if I need it later. A linked instance can be created so changes made to master model are reflected across the instances in the scene.

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For creating the Koi Fish Material in Blender, I recommend a very nice tutorial by String Fairy. I have added it below for anyone interested:

During the creation process, I also changed the proportions as I was not going for a completely realistic look. Sometimes, I add bigger blocking shapes to help define the model with smaller parts.

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There are some models that needed to be created with sculpting tools because the poly modeling method would have taken more time. For this purpose, Blender’s new sculpting tools are great.

I used the new remesher tools to combine meshes and then later generate clean topology.

For any sculpt, I block out the basic shape with spheres or cylinders, then remesh them to combine together, smooth the surface joints and start adding details or making adjustments. I was mostly working with low mid poly meshes in the sculpt mode. Sculpting brushes like the grab brush, smooth brush, and pinch brush are a few common ones to use.

The remesh panel offers two options: Voxel and Quad. First, I use Voxel to combine the meshes into one and later, if needed, Quad can be used to clean the mesh topology more.

Creating Grass

For the grass, I first created a plane and then added the hair particle setup. I used 2-3 different patches of grass and placed them in the scene. The material I used is a standard BSDF shader.

For the underwater plants, I also used a particle setup. I assigned a custom object collection to a flat plane and changed some parameters to spread it across. For this collection, I made a few plant shapes and placed them in a separate collection.

Koi Fish and Material Creation

I modeled one fish and then later created different material variations for it. The pattern is a procedural material which allows creating any sort of Koi-looking pattern.

For variation, I added a bend modifier to make the fish body shapes slightly differ.

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For creating the Koi Fish Material in Blender, I recommend a very nice tutorial by String Fairy. I have added it below for anyone interested:

Rocks with Particles

The rocks that surround the base are using a particle system. First, I created a low poly cylinder and then added a particle system using a rock collection. It then created a rounded wall-type looking rock structure. It was efficient and easy to create, and I could customize it as needed. For the rocks, I created a set of low poly and some smooth high poly rocks.

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Creating Trees

The trees were created using a great free Modular Tree add-on by Maxime Herpin. It allows you to quickly create a variety of trees with leaves. This add-on allows node-based tree generation which is fast and can be customized as needed.


For the water material, I used a refraction node and a glossy node. I also added a small noise displacement on the water plane to break the reflections a little bit.

I have attached the node setup for it below. Although there was room for improvement, I was still happy with the result.

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Lighting and Rendering

The ambient source of light comes from the HDR map which I used in the world environment setting. The HDRI map is taken from HDRI Haven which offers free HDRI maps of great quality.

The other source of light is the sun. I used it to add more lighting to the scene and control shadows better. I used Eevee for most of the real-time views and animated turntable. Later, I did a few more renders in Cycles to get more refined details and improve visual quality.

For rendering in Eevee, the settings are standard. They generally work well, but depending on any scene, I recommend changing values as needed. Each render is generated almost instantly since results are real-time.

  • Ambient Occlusion
  • Bloom
  • Screen Space Reflections/ Refractions
  • Soft Shadows
  • Color Management Look Contrast

I have added a standard world node setup that I always use in my work. It hides the HDRI map but keeps the HDRI lighting to show in the scene. Plus, it allows you to set any background color in the render and viewport.

Creating a Turntable Animation with Eevee

Finally, I was looking to create a 360-turntable real-time animation. For this, I used a very good free add-on available in Blender called Turnaround Camera. It will create a camera rotation around any specific object.

Keeping the Scene Organized

I usually create a separate collection in the outliner to manage the scene. It helps at later stages when there are many objects in the scene and I want to select any particular item to work on. I have attached the outliner view below. Giving a simple name to a collection of objects can be useful.


Some Additional Views of the Garden Scene.

In the future, I may update the scene one more time and add more animated objects like falling leaves, fish movements and maybe some snow.

I had a great time making it and I hope you've found this article useful in some way. Feel free to let me know in the comments below if you have any questions and I will be happy to reply.

Thank you for reading and have a good day!



Farrukh Abdur Rahman, 3D Artist

Interview conducted by Arti Sergeev

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