Green Knight Takes Red Queen - Experimenting with Cycles SSS

I’ve been meaning to toy with the SSS shader in Cycles for some time, and now that it’s finally available for GPU and test renders can be done faster I’ve decided to finally give it a try. The idea behind this scene was to create a simple composition with two plastic figures that would enable me to concentrate on the shaders and lighting, then the idea struck me to use chess pieces. I’ve always considered both queen and knight to be the most aesthetically pleasing and interesting types of chess pieces. Coincidentally, both pieces allowed me suggest a little story beyond the composition by referencing literary fantasy characters such as the Green Knight and the Red Queen. In keeping with the fantasy undertone, I allowed myself a small license by adding a unicorn horn to the knight piece. For such a simple scene I think I managed to create something interesting.

Oh, and Cycles SSS is a very beautiful thing to play with.

Everything was created with Blender 2.7x and rendered with Cycles.

Materials look nice! I don’t really care for those colors personally but, that’s just me. Also I think the white tiles on the chessboard could be brightened a bit. It would be cool to see the chess pieces with a rim light or, a fresnel white diffuse fake rim light.

My high school class critiqued your work as an exercise today! Thanks so much! WE loved the way you used repetition in your work.

Thank you for your comment. I don’t think making white tiles any brighter would benefit this scene. They might add too much light or simply spoil the overall balance. In fact, I darkened them on purpose to get a moodier scene.

I tried to avoid too abvious rim lights because I wanted the lighting in the scene to feel natural, as opposed to the typical and too obvious behold-how-light-comes-through-my-traslucent-material scene.

Your last suggestion left me a bit puzzled. I don’t see how a fresnel rim light could look any better than an actual SSS shader. In comparison to real subsurface scattering, fresnel rim lights look fake and tacky to me.

Thank you for your nice comment. I don’t know what to say. That’s very flattering, to be honest. When you say my work, you mean the render in this thread, don’t you?

Very good plastic material, like a child toy.

Yes, that was the idea. Actually, I thought this after the fact, but I love the way the concept of toy chess pieces connects to the ‘Through the Looking Glass’ reference. :slight_smile:

Not sure if this was on purpose, but you have too many squares going off into the distance for a standard chess board.

Yes, it was on purpose. I didn’t mean to represent an actual chess board, but rather an infinite chess board scape fading into darkness. I guess I got caught up in the allegorical aspects of the composition. :smiley:

I also deliberately made the pieces smaller relative to tiles than actual chess pieces usually are, just for the sake of aesthetics.