Blending Nature

note: this was originally BlenderArtists vs Nature Academy

Hey all,

Like most people here, I was fully psyched when the Nature Academy got announced. I wasn’t too psyched when the price came out though, and because I couldn’t afford it, I decided to have a go at it myself. I started with a pretty simple mountain lake scene, that didn’t go so well…

(my first attempt, as you can see pretty bad)

Our Gallery of work(old and outdated, the more recent pages have probably higher quality work)

Me, and a few other blenderartists, will be creating nature scenes! Anyone can join, just post any work you have here!

Also, I might post some text tutorials up on making some of my scenes… others may as well, but I don’t know.

I can’t speak for others, but what I want from you is harsh, honest critiques. That’s it.

Hopefully we can get something worthy. Wish me (and the rest) luck!


Feel free to join in at any time!

Image looks good. Only crits would be DOF is a bit much if needed at all and the background seems separate from the mountains. Where have i seen that cloudscape before, is it a windows desktop theme perhaps?
Keep up the good work its much better than I can do.


thanks Bill

There’s no DOF in the scene though… I have fog, and the reflective plane is slightly glossy, is one of those the reason you suspected was DOF? As for the background (this image) i’ll see what I can do to make it more “connected”.

Its just the blurred reflection that made me think of DOF but as I said its a hell of a lot better than I can do. I still haven’t produced anything I would consider good enough to post here. Keep up the good work.


I would say that if you add some DOF and play more with material nodes you can get this a whole lot better than Andrew Price’s tutorial. One last thing, the sun is a little overdone and looks unrealistic.

Excellent effort, but the lighting is off. The sun doesn’t fit the clouds, they suggest it’s past sunset. The intensity of the light on the clouds would mean more light in the scene, place some reddish area lights in the sky. The mountains are great but the trees don’t fit, they too should have snow, and ideally the lake would be frozen. Think unity of effect, it would be stronger that way.

But yeah, it’s way better than anything I could do in Blender.

Thanks! That’s really going to help; the change in lighting should “connect the sky to the scene” a bit more, and the unity of effect should greatly help the image. @gat19g, I’ll fix the sun.

Out of curiosity, what is the texture on frozen lakes like? Being in Australia, the closest thing I get to see concering snow and ice is when we empty out the freezer and chuck all the ice onto the grass :wink:

Changed lighting, sky, sun and added more snow.

Link to Image (won’t attach)

Please ignore the little white dots above the mountain and the separation of the sky and scene, and the white circle, I’m working to fix that.


Different, yes, and still engaging, but same problems really. It seems you would be better off practising with more straightforward setups first, ie. late morning, no sun in picture, blue sky, clouds. Shooting against the sun is more difficult, finer control is required to be believable.

Search for pictures of icy lakes if you don’t know what they look like.

I am not a blender expert by any stretch of the imagination, but I have to question why the lake must be frozen.

Here are a couple photos that I shot last year in Grand Teton National Park. They both clearly show a lake that isn’t frozen and trees that are not snow covered. These were taken in July, so the amount of snow left on the mountains is a bit low, but if I had been there earlier in the year, I am sure there was a point when it would have looked more like your first attempt.

I live in Colorado, and I can tell you that not all lakes ice over, particularly early in the season. During the dead of winter, even the deepest mountain lakes will ice over, but it mostly depends on the time of year. When they do ice over however, snow accumulates on top, so you just do a snow texture, if that’s what you want to do. Here’s a link to some pictures of Lake Dillon in the winter. The places without plants represent snow-covered ice. Link

I think your composition is very nice, as is you execution of Andrew Price’s methods. It’s hard to tell if this is happening or not, but IRL the snow on the mountains would be reflecting that amazing sunset with the golds, oranges and yellows. You might go ahead and tick Environment Lighting and change the lighting to your world texture. That way you get those colors automatically. Also, in your compositing where you’ve enabled your distance mist, you might also change the color from white to the sunset color. As the atmosphere changes color, so should your distance mist.

The only other thing that stands out to me is the brightness of the sun as it sets. I am fortunate enough to see the sun set over the Rocky Mountains nearly every day, and to my eye, the sun seems just a tad too bright. It could use a little more of a gold/orange color as well. Just a little though.

Keep it up!

Well, there’s snow all the way down to the base of the mountains, so it looks kind of weak if the trees don’t have it. If it weren’t too dark to tell anyway. Ice on the lake would reinforce the impression of a cold winter. If it isn’t supposed to be winter, then bring up the snowline and create more of a suitable mood for the season.

The point is don’t just portray passable reality. Express something, make it punchy. Wishy washy never wins awards! :stuck_out_tongue:

As trees are green (opposite color to red), there absorption in infrared wavelength is high. If the temperature has not been very low for a long time, the infrared rays keep the trees with persistent leaves at a temperature that melts the snow, for some time. So if the snow fall duration isshort, the trees do not keep the snowon them. If you have ever looked at a forest with infrared googles, you may have noticed that trees look very bright.

You can also make an experiment with very cheap materials :

Take a floppy disk (you certainly still have some in a drawer). BASF work best for this use. Break the plastic enveloppe and keep only the flexible disk itself. It is made of a plastic film coated with iron oxyde, and has very good optical properties as a close infrared filter.

Put it right in front of your eyes, and look through, making a mask with your hands on the sides, to avoid direct lighting on the sides.

You will see that trees look very bright, showing that infrared is predominant in the visible light spectre.

This doesn’t mean that they reflect infrared rays, but that their temperature due to infrared absorption makes them behave as secondary emitting sources in infrared wavelength.

Have fun !


Nice! Mind if I join you? My N.A. story is pretty similar to yours.

The mountains seem a little flat. There’s not really much variation in the Peak heights.

Not at all! If anyone else wants to join, feel free.

@all. Decided to stay with the frozen lake, and did some more tweaks with the current lighting, increased the peak variation in the mountains, did a couple of changes with the sun flare. Definitely not finished yet though:



dude … you are learning verywell…

but for that you should not have to give this kinda title “me vs nature academy”

I can just imagine some nomadic herdsmen trecking across the frozen lake looking for a good place to set up camp, drill a hole in the ice, and start fishing.
The only thing is the trees look wrong in the distance. I think it might be the scale of the scene or the mountains need to ease in, they get to verticle to quickly if you know what i mean… Or maybe its just me :stuck_out_tongue:

@SamM here are my crits,

  1. The image does not appear convincing because ur sky and mountains dont mix well. u need to use a bit of color correction and bit other composting so the sky doesn’t look odd.
  2. Color of lake is wrong it should be dark blue and fairly reflective.
  3. the top edges of mountain look like jagged outlines probably due to lights. ill advise u to use bloom to get rid of those.
    4.some hills (at the top) are just too pointed, u need to manually tweak them using proportional editing.
    lastly, idk somethings wrong with trees too either they arent of correct proportion or maybe just bit too populated at one place.
    high populated trees at the bottom and absolutely barren mountain looks a bit odd.

Regarding sun its just awesome looks perfect to me. keep up the good work.

  1. Color of lake is wrong it should be dark blue and fairly reflective.

Are you referring to the first image or the frozen lake images?

Thanks for those other crits though, will work on them.