Highway Overpass (2 of a series)

Hello everyone,
here is the second image in my artifical landscape series.
If you missed the first one, you can see it here.

The background info:

I managed to talk my illustration professor into allowing me to do an independent study in CGI. My project is to create a series of images of “artificial landscapes,” i.e., landscapes which are highly modified by humans, such as parking lots, highways, and power lines. I’d highly appreciate any feedback.

However, one caveat: the reason I am doing this project in CGI is because I’m trying to create a parallel between the artificiality of the landscapes and the artificiality of CGI. (One of our graduate students has dubbed thus “enhanced fake-ism.”) For this reason, these images are not supposed to be photorealistic. I am trying to make these look artificial, but obviously I don’t want them to look bad, either. Hitting the happy medium between not realistic but not ugly either is going to be one of the most difficult parts of this project, and I’d especially appreciate any suggestions along those lines.

So, here is the highway. There are some obvious issues which I will address soon: the lack of detail in the distance, the flat-color sky, and the bad textures on the road and hillsides. Anyone see any problems I haven’t noticed yet?

There is some levels-tool postpro on this image.


Shouldn’t the street light be casting a bright spot onto the road?

Looks great. May I suggest an idea from Digital Lighting&Rendering?: For night scenes, instead of making the entire scene dark and hidden, it might be better to use more light, but raise the contrast to give the effect of darkness.

ok, a few minutes of googling found me this
to me, it looks like it was taken with a decent camera, but wasn’t post-processed, so i shall draw some conclusions from it.

There are some obvious issues which I will address soon: the lack of detail in the distance, the flat-color sky, and the bad textures on the road and hillsides.

  1. the “distance” needs detail, of course, but the main issue is that the road has nowhere to go. maybe add a tunnel through the hills?
  2. the sky is actually quite good, it’s probably the last thing that need fixing.
  3. cgtextures has some good road textures, but you do need a login to download any. also, you will need a specularity map for the road
  4. the lighting is a “Big Issue”. the streetlamps need to be much brighter, and yellowish.
  5. the modeling is very good, just a few nit-picks, the sound barrier wall is sticking up out of the ground, and you need to do some beveling here and there.

sorry double post :frowning:

the street texture looks like it’s just the same thing over and over again… I’d add a difrant one but that’s all I can think of that hasn’t been said

Your scene looks really good. It’s got lots of potential.

I’ll offer these suggestions for realism, but as you already know sometimes accuracy in scale and detail doesn’t always translate in a way that connects viewers to the mood or energy of the scene.

So here goes…

  1. Take a look at Jersey barriers. I think the barrier on the left would be taller and have some angles.
  2. Roads often have a little bit of a curve across the middle for rain runoff. It’s usually slight or in some cases the road is slanted across all lanes to one side or the other of the road. (This isn’t the case in every instance but it’s more common than not)
  3. The signs on the bridge are higher than they would be in real life.
  4. The 3 signs seem to imply that the driver is about to be faced with some upcoming exits, turn-offs, or merging lanes. But the street seems to become desolate after the signs.
  5. Where the hill on the right meets the road, I would expect to see a bit of shadowing as there would usually be a ditch for water run-off.
  6. At the left edge of the road where the asphalt meets the barrier, there would be some bit of decay, debris, and likely a bit of broken asphalt from the winter expansion and contraction of these different materials. As to debris, this could be crumbled pieces of asphalt or just road sand that collects near the barrier wall and would have a small amount of sparkle to it. (Can’t believe I just used the word “Sparkle”. I probably just lost some man-points for using it.)
  7. If this is to represent a heavy traffic road it may need more distinct tire grooves. Asphalt over time usualy develops grooves (shallow and wide). This is especially true if you’re on a truck route. Converserly, the shoulder of the road nearest the jersey barrier would be flat as it almost never sees traffic. Drivers rarely pull to the inside median so it’s usually in good repair.
  8. Reflectors. This may not make the scene look cool, but the barrier and the railing would have some sort reflectors evenly spaced, and the road may or may not have reflector plates between the lanes. ( The annoying kind that make noise when you drive over them. Used to keep drivers awake and alert in high density areas…especially near over and underpasses.)

Sadly, if you make all those changes it’ll probably look like another section of highway that a tired worker has to endure to get home. That doesn’t seem too enticing…

Best of luck with it! You’re off to a great start and it already has a good feel to it.

Better lighting makes a huge difference, as always. Check out this nifty update. Also includes roadside rubble, jersey barriers (I did not know that term, thank you!), and some more plants.

spacetug: can you explain exactly what you see wrong with the sound barrier wall? I’m not quite sure what you mean.

RAMBO187: The asphalt texture is just a temporary one until I get a chance to go out and take a new one. (I pride myself on doing all my own textures whenever possible.)

anykey: I added a curve to the road surface, although I’m not sure the effect is actually visible.
Are the signs really too high?
The road actually does continue and branch off at the far hill, the road you see going up the hillside is an exit. The rest of the road curves around at the base of the far hill, but I think that is somewhat hard to see. Hopefully the lines, when I add them, will clarify that.
Added a ditch, although I’m not sure it makes any difference.
Added some debris, and will probably add more. And sparkle seems like a fine word for me.
Tire grooves are beyond the level of detail I’m trying to achieve.
I added reflectors to the jersey barriers, but I should probably add more.


The debris is too big; aside from the tire shreds, the rest should be small chunks(about fist sized at most). I’ve never seen chunks that big on a highway, especially without a hole where they came out of. :slight_smile:

Usually you’d see them along the edge of the asphalt, where it crumbles off, and not along the jersey barrier…

I think the bottom of the sound barrier is usually underneath the ground(and hence not seen). That’s probably what spacetug is referring to.

thank you, that is exactly what i meant.
like this

also i think you must have lamps set to linear falloff, instead of square.
it’s kinda hard to see some areas, though. Could you post some renders from other angles, also?

More awesome updates. This image can probably be considered finished fairly soon. Anyone have some last-minute crits?

Besides the real update, here are some alternate angles as well, plus a screenshot. As you can see, I cut a lot of corners, and if something is not within the crop it generally does not exist.


looks awesome …but its going to be much more awesome looking if rendered in an external.

I guess some of the trees could look a little less like a 2D plane and you could combine your asphalt texture with procedurals to minimize or remove the tiling effect. You could also make it much more complex if you proceeded to load this up in Jaguarandi’s branch and use the optimized raytracer.

The lighting could be improved by perhaps a weak hemi lamp pointing up simulating light bouncing off the ground and a similary weak hemi simulating atmospheric lighting, Jaguarandi’s branch will allow you to render this type of scene quickly with Blender’s raytraced AO (which is much faster on scenes like this than 2.4x).

Also it looks like the pro-external render crowd has caught wind of your project.

lots-o-angles! :eek:
now i know why the end of the road bothered me…
it turns so sharply, it would take an F1 car to stay on!
joking aside, i do think that it turns too sharply
and the lighting comments are good.
and the trees–at least in my area, they plant a lot of evergreen/fir trees by the highway.
not so many deciduous trees.
keep it up, the quality increases by 50% each update. :yes:

I must say the background trees do look a little flat… maybe you could make some low-poly game-type trees that would look a lot better! Also, just using a grass texture bugs me, particle grass would look great if done right, even if it’s just along side the road. Another thing that would help out is using soft shadows… I’d love to see just one render with some nice soft shadows in it:D! The overpass looks great though, can’t wait for future updates!

Haha, but a Gumpert Apollo could make that turn no problem… it handles like an F1, but is street legal!

I’m not singling you out specifically, CD, but I’m quoting this because there are a couple of points I want to stress:

  1. As I’ve said before, the asphalt texture is a placeholder. It is only there until I go out and get a better one. So everyone please stop talking about the asphalt texture. Thank you.
  2. I’m glad to see people getting excited about the project, but I want to remind everyone that my intention is not photorealism, so suggestions about ways to make the render more realistic will not necessarily be implemented. Furthermore, learning to use an external renderer is way beyond the scope of this project.

The trees and weeds probably could be tweaked somewhat…but I am using their flatness purposefully. You may consider this the art school excuse if you must. (“I liked it that way” being the art school excuse.)

I think you’re right about the curve… onto the old to-do list with it! Also I will enter the file in the F1 contest. (Whaddaya mean it’s over?!)

Regarding soft shadows: Patience. Soft shadows will come. I just don’t feel like increasing the render time any further until I’ve got everything the way I want it. I mean, come on, it’s up to almost seven minutes already! (Blender has spoiled me.)

Looks really good to me.

Even though you’re purposely avoiding photorealism, I think the scene has some real character. Like a good photograph, it leads the eye and compels a little extra thought.

The sign height is fine. It’s low enough to be seen for what it is without distracting attention from the overall scene.

Going to be a long render when it’s finished!

Best of luck

It looks good. You achieved the lighting efect very well.