Literary Kings - a WIP Webseries

Hey, It’s a long time since I’ve been on the Blender forums regularly but I’ve been working on a project and I’ve recently decided that using Blender in the production line would make things cheaper and enable me to get to the next stage sooner.

What I’m working on is a short webseries with live action blended over a computer generated background. It’s not a hugely fancy set and doesn’t involve lazers or giand dinosaur robots but it’s a fun little project I’ve been working at in my spare time for a while. I recently used Blender to create a background for a news show I’ve started running on YouTube (Shameless Plug: and I was very happy with the result and the whole CG background/ Live action workflow. I guess Robert Rodriguez was on to something…

So here’s what I’ve got so far:

I started by fleshing out a basic model for the shop based on my design. The areas off to the sides are just to give depth if I need the doors open at any point. I extruded out some simple shelves and then put in some cycles materials from the material library. I’m not sure if they’re final yet or not. The scene is lit by an overhead plane which mimics store lighting and a blueish plane outside the door to spill some light in from around the door and through the glass window.

Next up I placed a few place holder “books” that were cubes with a couple of random materials from the Material Library. I placed these manually and it was very tedious and restrictive so I started looking into a more modular way of placing the books. I settled on using particle systems and groups of book “blocks”.

I made a book model and using a plane as a template for the block size I made a few of these pieces. They’ve all got the same footprint so they can be arranged randomly and work together. I’ve only made one texture so far and haven’t messed with book scale but that is on the agenda.

Using a Plane I created a grid with a particle system that instanced random book blocks from the linked group. I scaled it appropriately until they lined up correctly and then I used the count, seed and particle numbers to mess around with the filled bookshelf until I got something that will do for the mean time. This is still a temporary set up as all the books are identical and there are only 6 blocks at the moment. Now when I create new blocks in the group’s .blend they will automatically be incorporated into the bookshelves. I can easily control the density of books and can select from effectively infinite iterations of stacking patterns

And here are a few test renders of the stacked shelf:

Made a couple of quick book covers this morning. I think I could get away with having ~50 covers to avoid it looking too repetitive.

And here they are up on the shelves. I didn’t make any new blocks with them yet I just assigned different materials to the ones I had. I think I’ll probably stick with the ones I’ve got until I’ve enough covers.

I’ve added a few more blocks and created about 10 more books. I originally wanted to use all original artwork but It’s far too time consuming for something that will just be hiding in the background so I’ve begun using stock photos for the covers. Makes life much easier.

The orange books were far too garish though so I had to desaturate them. I’ve desaturated that texture and it’s a lot less attention grabbing. It’s still very repetitive but I’m going to step back from making book covers for a bit and work on the rest of the shop. I need to change the door and floor materials, especially the floor one, and I’m considering playing with the colour of the bookshelves. Originally I was planning on Black shelves but I think they may be a bit too dark.

Currently Render times are the most limiting aspect of this but soon enough I should be able to do my final renders for compositing into the backgrounds. I’m thinking it would probably be easier to render a few generic setups as large (1080*2) images and then I can use them across the show rather than rendering a background for each specific shot. I should be able to zoom in pretty close on these images without a problem as I’m currently planning 720p as a final output for the series.

Shot a quick test video in front of my green screen. The scaling is off and I have a different focal length on the render and the camera but it came out Ok, I’m quite happy with it