Blender guru christams competition - homeless


Please just say how to improve. This is almost at my limit, I don’t know how to progress.

Thank you.

Well, not that I could really do much better, but here’s a few things I would experiment with:

  1. The red brick wall ends abruptly at the door, I think you need a door frame there.
  2. The door needs a bottom piece so it doesn’t just sit atop the sidewalk
  3. Dirty up the spec map for the door (the white part) or lower it
  4. Put some grime into the edges where the brick wall meets the sidewalk
  5. The light above the graffiti splat is too blue
  6. Lower the reflectivity/glossiness of the pavement
  7. Dirty up the bricks. For example: water stains, cracks, missing bricks, gunge map for the mortar, etc.
  8. Align the brick texture with the edges of the wall mesh. I can see bricks transitioning 90dg from one face to the other at varying extents as they wrap around.

Overall I think the lighting of the scene is blotchy and in those blotches it’s too uniform. Try add a lot more variation to the light sources (don’t position any lights above the scene). Maybe use an HDR environment map to achieve that.

all I can say is that the textures look very flat and the blanket or newspaper thing looks way off, other then that, you get 100% on storytelling and composition, it’s just aesthetics that needs worl

It’s not clear where in a city/town the image is supposed to represent. The door looks like it would be suited on a suburban house, the street looks like it is downtown. There is a general lack of detail I think - the scene looks too ‘clean’. Try adding in some garbage on the ground, old newspapers, a discarded can or two. What about some extra detail in the alley? Old metal fire escape? Drain pipes? Puddle of water? Cigarette butts? Old bricks? A couple of posters on the wall? The posters are a good opportunity to a little side story to the image. Try adding some more grafiti (there may be some on CG textures you can use?), alternatively sketch you own from reference images. As for the buildings themselves, perhaps something with a little more architectural interest might help? I googled a few images of old buildings in Harlem just for some examples, and there’s definitely potential inspiration you could take from old downtown city building/alley photos.

Harder to model, but if I were doing it I would attempt to add a dog curled up next to homeless guy, or perhaps lying flat on the ground next to the sign looking forlorn (e.g. link).

I’m not sure about the composition, the intended focus of the image is obviously the homeless guy and his notice left on the street, but I feel like the area of the render that they are drawing my eyes too doesn’t really help the overall presentation. Whose eyes are we seeing this through? Seems like it is at the eye level of a rather small child, I may be wrong but perhaps a wider angle lens might look better in that case? I would try working on your lighting a bit, I know it’s dark because it’s night, but a greater contrast between light and shadow might produce a better result - potentially if the rays of light are cast at key areas on the render.

One other thought is that perhaps you could try adding some snow, frost and ice? I’m sure there are plenty of tutorials and tools available to help do that. It would help place the image as a seasonal one. Personally, I would also try and add something else that represents the commercial aspect of Christmas that would provide a poignant contrast between the homeless and the extravagance of holiday spending. I haven’t thought much about that, but my first thoughts would be some decorative lighting on a lamp post (which could cast light on the sign left by the homeless guy, and also on the ends of his bed/feet). Some lighting from the street, to provide a few gentle highlights in the alley may help to define the forms a bit better too (emmission plane + appropriate mix of glossy shaders?).

Anyway, good start, and good luck!

Good work, so far and it has definitely improved since before, however I want to make a few points about the realism of this scene.

As I said in your previous topic, I don’t think a homeless person would choose that kind of place to set up their bed especially not in the rain. A door way or a more sheltered place would be more believable. Homeless people aren’t stupid, they’re not going to let their bedding get ridiculously damp, certainly not at Christmas time with the temperatures dropping. I know you may not care about this aspect of it, but it is one of the first things I think of when I see the image and it stops me believing in the scene. I’d scrap the composition and go for a more sheltered scene. If I was homeless I’d pick somewhere like this over being totally exposed any day.

Its also worth noting that a homeless person would probably not pick such plain-sight a spot because they are often moved on by the police, and sadly sometimes get abuse and suffer violence.

Also where is the person? Homeless people—as the name implies—don’t have homes to keep their belongings safe. Would you leave your possessions in the street to get damp or stolen? A homeless person wouldn’t either. So you really need to imply that someone is present at the very least, if you don’t feel able to model someone.

Textures of those bricks are good.

the blue lights will have volumetric lighting to direct the eye.

I am making a character who will go next to the sign.

Man model. I have placed in bones to pose him.#



I have added more leaves, changed the lighting and added a poster


he didn’t upload last time.


I have added the character on the mat.

not sure if its just my monitor, the picture is too dark to see anything

As usual, the first thing that I’m grabbing is my pair of cropping boards, to see where is the real drama of this photograph.

I’m cropping away the entire left and right sides, leaving only the punch-line: “Help Me Eat This Christmas,” and probably just a slight edge of the left wall. I’m also positioning the camera so that it’s looking down that alleway, toward that provocative yet ominous light on the wall. (There’s an offstage blue light splashing at my feet, from the cold icy winter sky above.) I have also raised the overall light level throughout the scene so that everything is clear, yet seems night.

And the emotion that’s now in my head is: ominous foreboding, because what in my minds eye do I see in that alleway but the prone figure of a man, mostly but not completely covered-up by a scrap of blanket that does not or no longer completely covers him … or his frozen body. I can’t quite clearly see him in the shadow, because of that warm red light splashing on the walls, and because the contrast of the image is high. Perhaps at the top of the frame I see that light is streaming through a curtained window, implying the existence of another one on the other side (hence, an explanation for the light on the wall). I’m working light-and-shadow, blues-and-reds, and, yes, life and death.

I can’t get to him – can’t find out, can’t see, if he is alive or dead this Christmas night. But, trust me, an image like that will be a “sucker-punch in the gut” visual that just might win a competition or, certainly, a place of honor in the Gallery. Yet it is mostly built from what you already have.

I like this idea for composition. I imagined your suggestion and it came to life. My first instinct would be to have “light at the end of the tunnel”, as it were, in the form of a lit street in the distance at the end of the alley. This would make the things in the alley back lit - the silhouette of the homeless man sitting hunched over, head down, would be enough to convey the message. Appropriate rim lighting to bring out the edge his detail would help. Of course, anything a bit more dynamic would be an improvement in lighting, right now it’s just dark.

Yup790, what are you working on right now? I notice that you have added some debris on the floor, which is a good start to making it seem more believable. What do you think of all the other suggestions in the thread? If you don’t want to implement them, what is your reason? The work on the homeless man seems to have been wasted given than he isn’t even in the current image - only his sleeping bag is.

Dark for the sake of dark does not mean moody, or expressive - it often just means hard to look at. The lighting has to compliment the scene you are trying to show. Check out some work by Rembrandt, for one example, he has many “dark” paintings, but he uses shafts of light to bring attention to the important parts of his work. It’s the contrast and composition that brings it all to life.

After looking again, if there are two things that you should work on above everything else, it is improving the composition, and then sorting out the lighting. Hold off on all additional modelling/texturing/etc (and lighting) until you have the idea for your work better defined. Do this with paper and pencil, keep sketching different options until it reallyworks. Sundialsvc4 sounds like he has some great ideas for the composition, you should at least try them out - and ask for more suggestions or clarification if you can’t get it to work. Once you have a good idea of what the final composition will look like, then set up some simple lighting that follows the concept you have decided on that actually allows people to see what is in your image (and allows you to see how it is coming along). It is too uniformly dark right now. Once you have those things worked out, then I think the suggestions for additional objects to bring the scene to life will be more appropriate.

Thanks for the lighting advice. I use that and the composition guides to direct the eye to the sign.

The blue will be volumetric to move the eye that way.

Ok, just be careful with the light! If the viewer instantly notices things that don’t quite make sense, then the effect of the image on the viewer can be ruined. Where is the blue light going to come from? It could look rather odd if it is just an arbitrary shaft of light from nowhere.


The blue light has a source

That door just looks wrong in the scene, it looks too wide. It would also benefit from a step at the bottom. The character sitting in the alley maybe lit with the blue light from the neon would give a nice cold feel to the scene. Some bump to your cobbles and the kerb would bring it out better. Add a bit camber to your road, it looks very flat where it meets the kerb…otherwise its shaping up nicely :wink:


I’ve done all you said. I’ve added a puddle and volumetrics as w