Chinese Teahouse exterior

My long-term goal is to create a 3D animation movie set. The anchor location is based on a traditional Chinese tea house. This first image is my render of the model so far.

The basic structure has been textured with procedure nodes in the shader.

The green roof was totally modeled pole by pole to make the roof have a holistically organic feel.

The tea pot to the right of the door will have a flame underneath and steam out of the kettle. I had issues making that happen using quick effects so I moved on to the sculpture on the other side of the door. It is the focus of my effort right now. It is a cartoony stack of dishes.

The artwork, flying cranes etc are Public Domain images from artwork made 100 or more years ago. I love to browse through online sites such as the British Library and Wikimedia Commons. How I added them into the image was importing them as a plane and then placing the plane just in front of the wall or window shutter they are ostensibly painted on. Is there a better way to do that?


Hallo Ryan, it is a unusual way to import pictures you wonna use as textures, as a plane, as far as i know. I apply such pictures as texture via UV editing. On this way you can position the part of the texture pic exactly whre you want to have them, regards Lutz

Normally the UV map would be my first thought. As it is the greenish blue background for the flying crane is a procedural shader node. The Background does not show through the UV map like it does for the image as plane with alpha enabled. I could of course be missing something about the UV map. Ryan.

Hallo Ryan in such cases i use .png files, because they can deliver transparents or semi transparents parts in a file. And i can control there transparens with the Alpha Channel and transmission. But of course in your case your work flow might be best, i never thought about it greetings

I had a reason for my approach using image planes. About a month ago I came across online a breakdown of a picture done in Blender. It was a near future science fictionesque industrial sea port. If I remember correctly there was a tug passing by and there was a workers type 3-4 person canteen etc. Unfortunately I cannot remember where I saw it. At any rate someone was critiquing how it was constructed. The image was incredibly nuanced and atmospheric, sea fog et al. What stood out to me was how many image planes were used to handle each element of the picture. For myself, my art in the physical world has strong collagist use. It was like a light bulb turning on. This technique works really well in making a still image. How it works for an animation, that I do not know. Ryan.

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Hallo Ryan, thank you for the answer. Yes, i can think that this technique works well. I will try it for myself on my next project. Until now i used png files in such situations, because these files do transport the alpha canal in several opaque steps from opaque to transparent. But your way is very interesting - thank you for your explanation, Lutz

I actually use pngs. I realize that I uploaded the image I used before I altered it to remove the background of the image. I did set the image plane to use the alpha channel transparency. The greenish procedural background shows through.

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I created a traditional Chinese lantern to hang outside my tea house. Using references from China I created a six sided lantern. Each side panel has a different image or text . This allows me to have six different lanterns visually simply by rotating the lantern. I lit the panels using shading nodes, emission etc on each image. The images are all public domain or my own work.

The Traditional Chinese Lantern, I created as a separate .blend file from my tea house. I rendered the lantern views as six separate lantern and imported each image on a plane. The Lantern blend file I uploaded to blendswap as a Creative Commons Zero file so anyone can download it and use it however they want to. The link is
These are a couple of views: