Blender 2.8 Magic in Minutes: Atlantis Space City Tutorial

Hi! I just completed my latest tutorial after only focusing on projects and improvement for 3 years.
I wanted to cover a quick and effective way of creating some cool sci-fi scenes so I started making many small independent tutorials that require blender basics.

Here is the video:

Feel free to comment what you think and if i should think on anything for future tutorials. Since the focus with this one is to show the general workflow and tricks rather than teaching the basics, i decided to speed up the stuff that contains modeling or iterating.

The tutorial in text form:

  1. Building modeling.
    To produce the buildings I start by making a mirrored cube to base the building asset from. I duplicate the cube and save the duplicate for later. This cube is then extruded in the Z-axis (Up) using the extrusion and scaling tools so that a building-like shape is produced in a matter of seconds.

  2. Platform modeling.
    To produce the main platform that the city will rest on, I use the same kind of mirrored cube as in step 1 by duplicating the saved cube from that step, and instead scale the cube in the X- and Y-axis. I use some extruding also to get a star-like shape on this platform. To detail the platform i make an inset and extrude repeatedly over the faces. I also move the faces under the platform to form a plate-like shape.

  3. Second platform modeling.
    I like designing my Atlantis Space City with a second floor so i repeat step 2 but split the star-like extensions of the platform into 6 smaller parts using loop-cuts. Each new face on the top of the plane is then individually scaled down using Insets and then extruded for a building-like shape. Pillars are also added under the second platform so that it looks like it’s connected to and standing on top of the larger city-platform.

  4. The central towers are now designed using mirror tool so that they become symmetrical from the middle of the city. Two pillars are added next to the towers so that they can emit light for a sci-fi and cyberpunk-like design.

  5. Two massive spheres are then added to contain the city within. One is used for the atmosphere shader and the other is scaled a little and used for the shield generator shader.

  6. Shaders are added to all of the objects.
    One city-wall material is used as the default surface type, it consists of one BSDF Principled shader, non-metallic with low roughness and grey color.
    The light-shader is assigned to everything that emits light, it consists of one emission shader with blue color.
    The atmospheric shader is added to the inner sphere that contains the city, it is set to use a density of 0.01 (depends on the scale of the sphere and city) and slightly blue in color.
    The shield generator consists of an emission shader colored blue, shader mixed with a transparent shader, the mix value is set to use 0.98 in the transparent shader’s favour.

  7. Background HDRI.
    Any space background or space image can be added behind the space ship using either world shader with environment texture, or by placing a large plane behind the city that emits light colored by the colors of the image.

  8. Rendering.
    A camera is placed right in front of the scene and pointed right at the city so that the city looks perfectly symmetrical. The scene is then rendered using Blender Cycles and any adjustments can then be done to all the used colors for the shaders, light strengths, atmospheric density and camera angle to fit personal preferences.

  9. Compositing.
    Using the composer, the scene can be adjusted additionally using color balance nodes, saturation and contrast nodes as well as by adding glare filters with star, ghost and/or fog glow effects mixed together.

  10. Small Space Ship.
    If a space ship flying by is desired, the image resulting from step 9 can be saved locally in the computer. The same scene can then be reused to produce a small space ship closer to the camera. To hide the city, move it and everything that should be hidden (Everything except the world sun and the space ship should be hidden) into the collection and deactivate the rendering of the collection by toggling off the camera (render) icon at the blender collections panel (Outliner).
    Activate scene background transparency at the properties panel in Render > Film > Transparency.

  11. Final result.
    Now render the space ship image, it should get the same effects applied to it as the city got after step 9. To get a blurry effect over the ship, add a directional blur node in the compositor and set its quality to 6, its zoom level to .1 and its angle to whatever feels fitting. Now the ship should look like as if it’s moving rapidly close to the camera. Now add an Image node and locate the image of the city that was stored locally from step 10. Add a color mixer with transparency toggled on so that the alpha channel of the space ship will result in the space ship seamlessly being added over the city background.