A new project i worked on is completed, a new version of ‘Creating 3D environments’ . This is a project where i develop new model/shader techniques to create large scale medieval environments.
I worked 1.5 year on version three, and in particular the new geometry nodes had a big impact on the development.
I worked on a total of 6 scenes, all had something specific to develop.
For every scene Geometry nodes helped me to replace the particle work i used before. Grass is one of the samples where geo nodes had a big impact. The way you can scatter and controll the looks is just insane. For example, the way you blend brown and green grass in combination with tall is so much more in controll if i compare this with using the particle system.
But grass wasn’t the biggest chanage in my workflow. After having some sucess with making a natural looking grass template i started working on tree generation. I already worked with photoscanned barks, but i didn’t had a workflow to controll teh branches and twig generation. I ended up with making generated branches in combination with a scanned bark. With the geometry nodes i was able to add the twigs in a natural way. This twig addition was the most complex part! I never spend so much time in how twigs where generated. The particle system always added an ‘acceptable’ result, but geo nodes does not generate anything automaticly. I had some help on this topic, but after some trial and error i ended up with some really cool twig spawning.
For this project i had some research trips to the belgium Ardennes to make photoscans from rocks, terrain and barks. I used my Nikon Z7 for the photo work and my mavic 3 for aerial work. I will add some extra notes later in this topic.
Another big topic that always triggers my mind is material blending. The craft to blend plaster and bricks is something that always cracked my mind to improve it. I work a lot on medieval structures, key in this process is a natural look of blended materials.
My previouse blending workflow was not so advance, but i was already able to get nice results on structures
This new material blending technique is beyond any technique i ever used before. It looks so natural that i can’t wait to add this on my new environment designs like prinsengracht( 2019).
One other detail visible in the ruined structure are the bricks spawning. I was able to do that with Geometry nodes. My previouse method was just using a displacement to pop out the bricks, this worked ‘oke’ but it was far from perfect. For this project i started from scratch to create something new, happy with the result and i keep improving the workflow.
During my research trips i collected lots of rock photoscans. The farmhosue scene was fitting perfect to add all of these in a river flow setup. I worked months on this scene, most of the time was added on the rock scattering and material blending of the farmhouse. But also finding a ‘forest look’ took quite some time.
So far, enough about material blending and tree creation. One other big topic was sky creation. Till now i always used HDRI skies in combination with a sun light to controll the light. For this project i also wanted to experiment with the Nishita sky. I ended up with procedural clouds in combination with the sun/skylight from Nishita. I am amazed by the effect of this type of sky generation. The way you can controll the looks and density of the clouds is just unbelievable. Really happy i took some time to experiment with this.
I mentioned my aerial work during my research trips. Since i use a drone, started with the Mavic 2, now using the 3, i experiment with ruine scanning. Europe has plenty of old castles/ruines, so it’s really great to now have a tool to scan these. I mostly use these ruine structures for the background, but these scans also work lovely as a foreground prop. To me this is just a little extra and not my focus point in my work. But to have this option as background filling is just epic.
Well, thats pretty much it, what a ride! I can’t wait to pick up my study work on medieval scenes and start adding all these new techniques. I made a trailer to display all the scenes in motion, hope you like it, and i hope i inspire you to join making 3D environments!
More info on Artstation: https://www.artstation.com/artwork/4X2648