Landscape for Traffic Scene WIP

Hello one and all! I see that my last post was some… six years ago- Yikes! I’m back with a WIP that I plan to post updates on much more frequently. This project is for a traffic jam scene and I need to create a countryside environment.

Picture one is the layout of the terrain which I created roughly in GIMP.

Picture two is a topview of the sun and hemi lamps in Blender

Picture three is the in camera view with a static background image to check shadows.

More to come…!

Because this will be an animated scene, I need to make sure I don’t overbuild or over populate the landscape and vehicles. The next three images are from frame one, sixty-five and one hundred twenty five respectively. This framing indicates that I will only need mesh trees for the foreground in the last frame, medium quality in the middle distance and standard plane/images for the trees in the rear. The same should hold true for the hedges. The grass should work similarly.

The mountains in the rear need some work as well but now at least I know the limits of the composition of what I will be working with.

Here again is a preview of vehicle placement in terms of scale and composition as of the final frame. The T-62s and trucks were low poly models I created for a previous project. Now that I know where they will be, I can see how much detailing is necessary for the scene. Do I need to recreate every single rivet and track link? Nope- not from this POV.
The trees that were previously placed on the right hand side have been moved to get a clearer view of the wheat field and the hedge line has been shifted over to the right to widen the road.


Not much of an update but progress all the same. Decided to rework the road wheels on the T-62. I started the new wheel but created a mesh around the negative space of the inserts. I wasn’t confident that using a boolean modifier would work correctly.

I kept the original wheel frame, deleting the face and interior to create the new structure. Once I was satisfied that I could arrange the five holes, I halved the wheel and mirrored it on the X axis.


If the wheel had had six holes instead of five my plan would have work but I ended up having to adjust too much to get it to work. Work smarter, not harder: I quartered the wheel with the ribs and then rotated that part around four times, each as separate pieces… I then CRTL+J joined it all back together, removed duplicate vertices and joined it all back together.


Textures were created in Photoshop with additional grunge and weathered images.



I gathered more reference material for the T-62 tread and roadwheel and discovered my error: the empty spaces I had crafted are actually enclosed. That has been addressed. Re-texturing awaits.


Moving on, I’ve begun crafting the hedges for the scene. After a few false starts with the sapling generator, I decided to go with the point-mesh/skin modifier route. Less taxing on my computer’s memory and it gives me the ability to continue to modify the branches after it has been created. This provides me with numerous possibilities for shrub and hedge generation.


I used a hazel bush for reference and created 21 unique stem/branches. Each stem has its origin point moved to its base for easy scaling.


Once they were finished to my liking, I put them all within an Empty Cube to move around all at once. This makes it easier to manipulate and it still gives me the ability to tweak each branch individually.

The shrub idea worked… after a fashion. I’m convinced the concept is sound but to populate the shrub with enough leaves to make it bushy… this was not the way to go. The rendered pic below shows the model. It only used 178M of memory, which on the surface isn’t bad but how many of these would I require to populate the landscape I was creating? I needed a better solution.


I was able to track down a tutorial from animator Simon Schreibt (on an Unreal forum no less!) about how to edit Normals in Blender. This technique is used to create “rounded” or at least more rounded shapes that are composed of planes. I’m still refining the technique but below is a revised bush for the scene made up of a elongated cube with subsurf modifier and then covered with a particle system of hedge leaf shapes created with intersecting faces.

This is an object requiring 696M of memory BUT I will require less of them to create the length of hedges I require for the scene. Still needs work but I think I’m headed in the right direction.

If you are interested in Simon’s tutorial, and how you too can create shapes via Normal editing, take a look here for more information:

The revised bush shrub with a particle system of -individual-leaves, rather than the entire bush face I had attempted before. Much better.

Since the basic form is a subdivided cube, I can push and pull faces to create depth and variation to the overall bush form.

I’ve added a few bushes to the scene and added basic foundation texture to grass, wheat/rye field and mountains.

The detailed (with leaves) hedges are in the foreground with the simple base block textured cube is placed in mid and background to save render time.

I added the tree form back again to the lower right as originally planned and gave the hills in the background a more varied texture to help break up the green. The remainder of the hedges have been added so now, individual plants, shrubs and grasses will also be introduced. The tree meshes in the background (upper right) will be replaced as well.


It doesn´t really matter how much memory a bush or tree requires. If you use particles or any other kind of dupli objects to spam your bushes and trees you can add nearly unlimited objects without running into memory trouble.
By using the particle info node you can the add variation to your bushes.
The same is of course true for your tanks.

Hi Lumpengnom and thank you for the feedback. I wasn’t aware of the particle info node actually (and it was right there in front of me). My concern (if unwarranted) regarding the memory comes from when it comes time to actually render the scene at 2k. In an earlier project scene Blender quit (not crashed- quit) due to the amount of particles (and physics) in the scene. Processor and graphics card are decent enough but before it stopped, it was taking 6 hours to render one frame.

I did a test a while ago with 400 000 trees. Each tree had around 400 000 triangles. It rendered without problems on my GPU. It takes about 2.1 GB of GPU memory to render the scene. Resolution shouldn´t matter.

Wow- really nice! But is this a still from an animation or just one image? And how long did it take to render that frame? All in all though, that’s a mighty fine test.

One frame at 1920X1080 took about 15 minutes. This test was just a still. For a final scene you would probably want to increase the samples as you can see that there are visible artefacts and smearing caused by the denoiser.

The scene I made for a client later on was a 4K animation, though and took around 120 minutes per frame on a GTX 1070 GPU or around 55 minutes on a 36 core Xeon CPU. But besides the forrest that scene also contained a whole city, so the comparison might not be useful.

Here are two quick pics of my progress so far. The image below contains some cryptic notes to myself for improving the scene. For instance, the hay/wheat/rye field at an angle that was counter to the composition. I was following the reference material too closely and as a result it made the focal point- meh.


There should be grass tufts at the edge of the road and thanks to Lumpengnom’s suggestion, more color variation in the leaves.

The hedges were too thick for my taste, looking like leafy meatloaves. I narrowed their widths and then turned my attention to the scraggly tree at the bottom right. I changed the leaf/branch texture so you can now see individual leaves.

I also replaced the strange curve of hedges from the original plan and swapped them out for tall grass particle systems instead.

I wanted to see what trees would look like in the scene so I put in a group of placeholder particle trees to verify height and vision lines. Still have to model the trees on the right mid-foreground but that’s for when I have more time.


I’ve reduced the amount of trees in the particle systems, put in some more bushes with color (textured planes) and added the truck models. The image below is from frame 65- I wanted to see what held up and what didn’t for the fly over. I noticed that the grass texture (circled in red) on the right doesn’t appear to be scaling correctly so that needs to be checked. Also, the trees will need to actually be “facing” the camera as well. Might add some trees forms in the distance to help with the scale…

The next picture is from frame 125 (last frame) with the trucks added. I think the lead truck will require a driver of some sort . I added more color variation to the grass-scape. The boundary of the wheat/rye file on the left seems to have sunk into the ground and the field on the right looks “cut-off”. Have to address both. These images are only 150 samples at the moment taking about 8 minutes per frame. I’ll up the sampling once I 'm satisfied with all the details.

Was able to get a little work done on the T-62 rebuild. Still much to do.

Woke up early to get some tank detailing done before work. Added driver hatch, turret ring fence, engine cover latches, and other stuff. After reviewing how close the camera gets to the front T-62 and testing bump and normal maps, it still looks like I’ll have to make a few nuts and bolts after all.
Also… I’m not a fan of the “plane” face trees from frame 65. If time permits, I want to make them a least with some sort of volume to help flesh out the scene.

Just a quick update. Finished the face of the rear drive sprocket and started metal band cinch that holds fuel tank.

Man plans and life happens… had little time to work on the project over the last few weeks. Decided to work on the turret to gather my momentum once again. Started with the basic cube and vertex modeled it into shape. The last image shows the distortions in the mesh that I need to clean up.

Had a few hours over the past few days to continue work on the turret.
I removed the housing from the search light, cleaned up the topology a bit and made the basic form of the main gun barrel using a cube with a subsurf modifier.

I was not able to make the main gun mantle utilizing this method so I kept the barrel and will craft the mantle later. Detail work on the hatches and hinges is VERY time consuming. Didn’t I say that I wasn’t going to over detail this model?