A little kid's home - critique required

Spending the vacation at my brother’s place, I started modeling the laundry basket which sits across the sofa in the living room. What started as a simple modeling exercise soon extended to how the hallway looks from the couch (Sit, eat and model, now that’s life :)). Along the way I decided to change it a bit so that it looks like a 2-3 year old’s home with all the tell-tale signs of destruction.

It has been a good exercise in texturing so far. I’m working on getting realism at the moment. Would like to know whether it looks believable and whether the idea is being conveyed or not.

Points I still need to work on are:

  1. Improve the bump texturing on the toy train.
  2. Add some patches/dust to the TV and the TV stand
  3. Add some flicker to the TV screen as you would expect from a CRT
  4. (Low priority) Improve the look of the carpet

Edit: Larger version available here:

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Hey - that looks quite good. I had to really squint to make out the things that would give this away as non photographed.

I think it’s a Gallery nominee. Seriously. If you wanted to do a realistic rendering of a kid’s scrawls in “the double-wide trailer from hell,” garish lighting and all, this would be a good candidate. And, the closer you look at the thing, the more you see just how well-crafted it is. It is very persuasive in saying that “this is a photograph … of a perfectly dreadful place, but you’ve been there too, haven’t you?”

Other then the carpet which you already mentioned, the two things that strike me are; the walls baseboard looks a bit to perfect, does it even have a texture on it? And the other is the general harshness of the shadows. That one could be tricky to solve as I think ultimately I’m just missing the bounce and indirect light that BI lacks.

great work though.

Nice work. The cloth looks a bit stiff though. If you were to simulate it in the cloth sim it would maybe give realistic results. The areas that are dark in your scene are sometimes completely dark(like the train locomotive and the table with the TV). This doesn’t happen much in real life, some Ambient Occlusion of Environment Lighting could fix that : )

The only thing that I think would need the most work (to make it “photo” realistic) is that when you take an indirect picture of a TV, there is usually a large amount of glare from it. Even when you take a picture of a TV directly, you don’t get a perfect picture of the screen.

Other than that and what you mentioned, good work.

Wow! It’s very encouraging to see so many positive comments.

@kbot: Thanks, I’m really glad my skills with BI have improved since my last serious attempt with it.

@sundialsvc4: Thanks so much for the praise! To be honest, the idea for the scribbles on the wall came from my own childhood. I had no inhibitions in expressing my artistic talent on all the walls in the house much to my parents’ dismay. Not to mention always leaving my toys around to have them stepped upon by my folks. The last change I made was to add the rust, scratches and grime to the heater on the wall which I think improved the scene quite a bit.

@Atemporalskill: Thanks, the wall doesn’t have a colour texture, but it does have a slight cloudy bumpmap texture. I think it’s not clearly visible unless you zoom into the larger version, but the point is well taken. The wall would be better with some patches and some places where the paint is wearing thin. Not too sure how to fix the shadows though, I set the shadow softness to 1.3 and samples to 10. Maybe I can increase it a bit more to make it a little more soft.

@nokirar: Thanks, the white cloth in the front has been sculpted, but the red one in the back was generated through the cloth simulator. I guess the cloth could be a bit more realistic, but not sure if I’ll re-visit the cloth simulator again since it was too taxing on my laptop :(. You’re right about the dark areas, I’m currently using 0.8 AO with Multiply since I didn’t want to lose the yellow-orange light in the scene. In any case, the entire scene currently has only one point light source. I’ll probably need to set up some area lamps minus shadows to get rid of the dark spots.

@woody730b: Thanks, you’re right about the TV screen. I completely missed it. Some light emission from the TV screen would be just the thing for the scene. Perhaps a slight reflection on the screen would also help.

clarification, I think the wall itself looks fine, I did notice the slight bump on it and it matches fine. I was talking about just the base board at the bottom where the wall meets the floor. adding to much color shift might make the wall itself distract from the scribbles, but that’s your call.

As for the shadows, perhaps harsh is the wrong word to use, the soft fade looks fine, no complaint there you can leave it as is. What I meant to say was that they look a bit dark, normally this would not be the case in photograph because of bouncing light or indirect lighting. I realize BI doesn’t have that though, so It might be a bit of a lost cause. (AO, AAO, and IL are around to give a good base to faking that effect, but by themselves can’t fully achieve it in a indoor lighting scenario such as this picture.)
The only way I know to fake that extra bounce light in BI is to use large area lights just above the surface that’s doing the reflecting (examples: in the TV cabinet off the books and the carpet under the basket, train,cloths, and AC unit.) Set to the same color as the surface reflecting (the book and carpet colors) and use a very low power and short distances for falloff.
Basically manually creating each and every one of the bounce lights. Obviously this can become very time intensive, as each light needs to be twieked just right to look correct, and the more complicated the scene the harder it becomes to do correctly. I’d say you’re current scene is on the boarder of what I would consider to much effort in this regard, but again, it’s up to you how far you want to push that extra little bit.

Just finished reading the rest of the comments/replys, sounds like you’re already headed in the direction I pointed out. Also, softening the lighting with the bounce lights can probably fix a lot of the stiff look on the cloths as well.

Edit: just thought of this, but if you want to make it look as if the wall “art” is a recent thing perhaps adding the marker open on the ground like the toddler’s “smoking gun” would add to the picture.

Apologies for the late reply, had been traveling and didn’t get a chance to reply properly.

@Atemporalskill: Thanks for your reply, I can see that you’ve really analysed the entire image :). Sorry, I didn’t know it was called a baseboard. I thought you meant the base mesh of the wall. I wanted to give the baseboard a slight grainy feel, so added a noise bumpmap to it with a normal value of -.02. But it looks like the grain is too small, maybe I can increase the size of the grain a little bit more so that it gets a bit more of the feel to it. You’re right about drawing the focus away from the scribbles to the wall. But it irks me a bit to see that the wall looks like it’s been freshly painted and done with absolute perfection. Nothing too drastic, but a slight texture to give it an old wall feel is what I had in mind.

Ah, I see what you mean about the lights. What you described would probably be the most accurate way to achieve good photo-realism. But I’m not sure my laptop with 3GB RAM can handle it. Besides, as you said, it might be a bit of an overkill in this situation. At the moment, I’ve got only one point light sitting outside the camera’s view. I was thinking I could setup a couple of area lights on the sides to better illuminate whatever is visible to the camera. Just to get rid of the dark spots.

But now that I look again at the image, I’m wondering if that would perhaps ruin the slight creepy feeling in it. I’ve zoomed into 100% on the large version and just looking at the books in the TV cabinet.

Perhaps it’s just me, but the complete darkness inside, behind the books, seems to produce a slight eerie effect. I’ll need to experiment a bit with it. There isn’t anything behind the books and if I illuminate that area, it might look empty. But then, the toy train could use a little bit more lighting. Hmm, this is a little tricky. And the problem is that the scene takes about an hour to render on my laptop and sometimes even crashes because of the particles. Attempted to render with IL, but crashed on first attempt. 3 gigs just isn’t cutting it anymore :(.

You know, I was quite tempted to drop in a pencil or a box of crayons or something near the wall or in the basket when I put the scribbles on the wall. But that would suggest that it was a recent event and I wanted it to be something that was done quite sometime ago. Hence the faded feel to the scribbles at random places. Maybe I’ll add in a darker unfaded scribble also and drop in the pencil right below it.

I like the shadows with the books, and as far as 3 gigs goes. I have 6 in this machine, but I continually find the limit with it. If you’re producing this quality with only 3 then good on ya! Looking forward to seeing what comes next!

Are you rendering this in 2.49 or in 2.5 with color management off?

Rendered in 2.5. I can see that Color Management is turned on under shading in the render tab. I guess that’s the default, no idea what it does though. Why do you ask? Anything in the render catch your eye? I’d love to know :).

your image has lots of contrast and the colors look saturaturated, working without colour management tends to do that

Update: Added the slight greasy/grimy look to the wall and I think it came out quite nicely. The wall in the previous one looks too pristine and was in contrast with the heater. Took a lot of time exploring the right blend mode to use and also the right amount of color. God bless cgtextures for their excellent collection :). The long vacation is over and new job is keeping me busy Mon-Fri. So, updates on this are a little slow, but I’m determined to see this one to the end.


I like the blender icon on the blocks

Thanks :). I usually like to put in some reference to blender in my renders.

Update: Yup, I’m still alive and progressing slowly on the task at hand :). Been finally able to get the scanlines and flicker on the CRT screen using GIMP. It wasn’t as difficult as I thought it would be and some tuts from the net helped with the scanlines. I might do a tut later on to create the flicker using gimp.

Also added 4 side area lights and 1 main area light around the TV screen to get some realistic lighting from it. I guess some reflection on the screen would be nice, but wasn’t able to get it to show. Might revisit the reflection part later if I feel up to it, but I’m going to put that in low priority as well for now.


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Also tried adding some patches on the front panel of the TV, but it didn’t come out the way I wanted it, so saved it for later. There is a 0.05 color map still existing on the present image, but I don’t think it’s noticeable :).