Dimitris Sakkas did a breakdown of his short forest scene studies made in Blender: quick production of the forest, texturing, lighting, post-process.
Hello, my name is Dimitris Sakkas and I am a Motion Designer and 3D Generalist/Artist. I am from Greece and currently live in Athens. My Master Degree is in Graphic Design and I have worked as a graphic designer since 2004. From the beginning, motion and 3D stuff was my main inspiration and I knew I wanted to create stuff like this in the future. So, eventually, someday I downloaded Blender and started working and learning. From that day, 6 years ago, I continue learning more and more every day and this never stops. For the past 5 years, I work in the Advertising Industry creating animated videos, static 3D illustrations and motion stuff.
The concept for these artworks was to create an animated 2 min video with misty and atmospheric scenes. My main inspiration for the video was the movie “The Mist”. So, these artworks are the first study I did for the video. The idea was to design a misty forest with some traveling of the camera and some giant creatures passing by. The next steps are to make some misty city streets and abandoned places. Then, I will model the creatures and create some movements. I have a lot of work to do!
Due to the fact that these scenes are studies for an upcoming video, I tried to finish them as fast as possible and have some quick results. The trees, the grass, and the car are models and 3D scans from the Blender market, textures.com, Blend Swap and the Blender kit plugin for Blender. In these scenes, I modeled the terrains, the lake and developed the look and feel of the scenes.
Assets & Forest
The basic models I used for all the scenes are 1 car, 3 types of trees, 1 type of grass with the addition of some flowers in one scene, and 1 lake, plus 1 house in a separate scene.
As you can see, there are the same models for all the scenes. For the upcoming scenes, I will also use the same models, probably with some additions.
The trick I used to build the forests was to add lots of big trees in the front and some trees behind to fill the holes of the front row. With the lighting and the effects on the top, it looks like a scene full of trees.
For the trees and grass, the textures come along with the models, and I did not make anything else.
For the car, I used a car paint material mixed with a glossy material controlled from a dirt texture, also controlling the roughness.
For the water, I used a glass material and a Voronoi Texture (build-in Blender texture) controlling the roughness of the surface.
For the terrain, I used some simply mossy textures from Blender kit and Quixel.
Generally, when I use textures, the process is to transform and render every time, until I am happy with the results. Also, Quixel Suite is a great help.
For all the scenes in this study, I used a Sunlight along with an HDRI map with very high contrast. Some lighting leaks and beams are added in the post process.
I used the sun to fill the scene with light and the HDRI map for some sharp light edges. The main reason I did something like that was to keep the scene as simple as possible and create the mystery light I wanted for my scenes.
The major challenge with the lighting was to keep the light in the front part of the scene and at the same time make the back part misty and dark. The solution was basically to use the Mist pass from Blender and the Sun source to be in the front with soft shadows. The car scene is an exception since the Sun source goes from the back.
The same setup is used in the scene with the front part of the car. A Sunlight from behind with soft shadows and an HDRI map with high contrast for the light edges of the trees and the car. The reflection on the car model is from the HDRI map along with a mixed material, made from a classic car paint combined with a glossy material that is controlled from a dirty texture. The texture here controls the reflection on the car bonnet and produces that cool effect.
Besides the work that has done to develop the scenes and to render them, a lot of work has done in the post-processing too. When I render a scene I always get as many passes as possible to control it. For those scenes, the basic passes among others are Ambient Occlusion (AO), Shadow, Mist, Environment and the Beauty pass.
The AO and Shadow passes allow me to control further the lighting and the shadows in the scenes. Usually, I use them in Multiply or Overlay blending modes. The Mist pass allows me to control the misty part of the scene and the depth of the scene. Also, sometimes, it helps with the lighting when the light source is from behind. Furthermore, the Mist pass can help to mask the smokes and the fog (images or footages) I usually add afterward.
Moreover, the coloring is an important thing that everyone must do and develop in the renders. As you can see from the breakdown, the colors, the lookб and feel are very different from the raw render to the final images. Every time I try to thoroughly focus on the coloring process to develop the best results.