A Cliche, but Chess

This is me still learning. I’d like to say it’s 100% Blender, but it’s not. It was all modelled in C4D some time ago. My challenge was materials and lighting this time. Even the general composition is wrong, though depending upon feedback, I may re-render the same (or similar) camera angle, DoF etc. as close as I can get. For now, materials, light, and the overall DoF are up for criticism.

The light-brown chess pieces looks perfect to me, in comparison to the dark ones.
Could it be that the glossiness is to rough on the chess pieces?
Ah, or maybe that is the focus… is it focused on the on the white king ?
I think my eye would like to see more detail when looking at the black pieces. Like I miss some reflections there.

And I would improve the material of the floor, but I suppose that will come later.

Thank you for your feedback. In fact, both black and white use the same texture, the only difference being adjustment of the HSV value. I think I’ve overdone it and gone too dark, but that will be a part of the tweaking before I set the scene.

I agree that the floor/background needs some work. At the moment, it’s very much a placeholder.

OK, re-worked the textures (there was too much bump in the wood, and the dark pieces needed to be less black), the camera and the DoF.

I may call this done, subject to critique.

I like the DoF, but personally speaking, I would darken the far background for contrast, and maybe consider a slightly warmer colour in the foreground lighting. also, the darker chess pieces seem to be slightly overlapping the side of the board, which is making me want to push them all forward a little. Lovely models though :slight_smile:

Of all your comments, the one I noticed most myself was the overlapping pieces. I was hoping no-one would notice but I’ll fix it this weekend. I’ll also warm up the colours and darken the BG, since I can see (more so) from my original render in C4D hor it adds.

Thank you.

ok. warmed up the lighting, darkened the backdrop, and i honestly didn’t think it would work, but it does.

To be honest, I would make the dark pieces darker. They feel a bit too light to me.

Also, my eyes really want to focus on the white rook on the far side. The repetition of the white pieces draws my eyes in that direction, but I don’t find anything there. You should probably try to place the king in a more focused place compositionally.

The warmer light works fine. About the chess figures, I wouldn’t make them much darker, otherwise they will absorb the whole light.

Since critique has moved on to composition, I figured now was time to address that. I fully take the point about the perceived repetitiveness of the render at the start of the game, but rather than try to tweak to pick out a focus, I thought the drama would improve with a game in progress. This does also, IMO, add the story.

I’m not keen on focus to the far white rook, but I have shifted focus to the white king.

Hey Rioken.

Your image is getting better and better. I like it. Have you already thought about adding more drama to the scene, like having a checkmate, or a castling or capturing a piece? For me, the black rook on the left side to too much in the focus and diverts the look from the white king.


I did think of finding an “interesting” checkmate. The board is taken from a professional game (though I can’t for the life of me think which one, now - I looked at so so many). I may search more, and find a checkmate, or one move from mate.

Re the focus, it’s added in post using the depth pass. Maybe I’ll try real DoF and see if it helps (I entirely agree that there’s too much in sharp focus there)

OK - here we go. I rescaled the scene to real world scale, and got rid of the post DoF. Now the DoF is from the camera. I also added real world IoR to the wood shader. The image is a genuine checkmate, and dramatic enough that he loser sacrificed his/her queen (foreground piece, very out of focus).

f-stop is down to 1.3, to simulate a macro lens, and rendered at 1000 samples. I’m tempted to post a final render image at 2000 samples (this has indirect clipping at 0.01, which I’d like to get rid of, and to eliminate the noise in the foreground DoF).

I have to say, real DoF is more convincing than in post, but of course you have to wait for the render, rather than being able to adjust on the fly in post.

I hope that you agree I’m approaching a final render thread stage with this.

EDIT: The most focused pieces are the checkmated king, and the knight that got him. I chose this checkmate because, whilst it’s been a good few years since I played, it’s an interesting checkmate.

I love the way this image has evolved :0 It really is looking good now :smiley:

Thank you for your kind appraisal, and I’m glad you’ve enjoyed the evolution.

Since the critiques have dried up, I’m calling it done and going to final renders with it. Thank you to everyone that’s contributed. I don’t think there’s been a crit that I’ve not acted on, and it’s all helped make a better render.

Great image. But it looks a bit underexposed. You give away lots of contrast. Ideally the darkest point in the image should be black while the brightest point should be white. So that the whole range of the contrast gets used. You use just around 2/3 of it.

Open the image in Gimp for example, and do a automated white balance or contrast, and you will see what i mean :slight_smile:

I have to say, both destroyed the colour balance (went far too cold). However, Stretch HSV helps.

Yes, this was just to quickly show how much contrast you miss in your image. When there is a drastic visible change with automatic white balance and contrast, then the contrast doesn’t use the whole range. Means there is need to have a second look.

Leveling by hand does a much better job here :slight_smile:

Go to Colors, values. And have a look at the histogram. The black lines in this field shows you how much pixels uses what color value. At the left are the black pixels. At the right the white pixels. And in between all values between 0 and 255. Ideally the range of the pixels fills the whole width. In your image the upper section of the histogram is empty. The brightest pixel in your image is at around 170 or so.

I have moved the ruler for the brightest color to the area where the brightest pixels in your image is. Now have a look at the difference :slight_smile:


Often I notice in Photoshop ( or gimp) that my levels are not correct as described here above.
At first I thought to solve it by using the tools in Photoshop, but…
no matter what we do in post processing, we cannot put more (info) into it than came in.
Instead of trying to solve it by post processing we better have our lighting setup in blender balanced well.
So In your case I think one of the following might solve the problem described above:

  • More contrast in your lighting? ( In case you used a HDR background, put more contrast ?)
  • Simply put more light ( Sun-lamp) ?
  • Bring back some bounces… usually I use 1 for diffuse and 3 for glossy.

When the render is finished in your image viewer, in the toolshelf there are some tools to check these levels, like histogram etc.

Indeed. But better this way than burned out white areas or completely black areas. That’s not to fix in post processing anymore then. This image information is lost.