Mabry Mill Render

I found many images of this water mill online. Though it looked nice and seemed easy enough for me to model. I’m pretty new at Blender, spending the last year studying tutorials from Andrew Price, Sardi Pax and Rob Tuytel and others. Would love some feedback. Also, not entirely happy with the water on the water wheel. I’ve tried a few times with auto and manual world size. I used a resolution of 350 for the bake and it took about a day to calculate. I’d like the water to look less ‘blobby’. It seems like it needs more detail or smaller drops?
Thanks in advance,


I don’t have any tips for you on the fluid, that stuff is always tricky, but I feel I need to complement you on the trees and foliage, that looks amazing!! How did you make it?

Great work Robert! The mill is a great choice of subject for a render, but I may be biased because I’m originally from Roanoke and loved visiting this place.

I agree, the scale of the water drops on the wheel is way off. I’m wondering if it needs to splash at all; the water would behave like that only if the wheel were spinning unrealistically fast, or stopped suddenly. The water usually comes off the flume in more of a sheet or gentle waterfall, and falls out in several sheets as it falls off the paddles at the tail race. There might be a bit of splashing in the tail race, if the water volume is high, but you really don’t see it otherwise between the inflow and outflow. Long story short, I wouldn’t necessarily use a fluid simulation for the water in a static image.

I really like the materials and texture on the building. However the stone texture on the bridge and elsewhere looks flat. Did you use any bump or displacement on those?

The vegetation is nicely done. You should reduce the scale of some of the leaves, particularly around the mill and on the wall.

Hi Proud, I used Grove 3D for the trees. Used some of their ‘twigs’ or leaves and also my own.

Really appreciate the feedback. So you would model the water manually? I think I need to watch some video of a water wheel in action. I do have displacement on the stone, but yes, it’s a bit shallow.

One thing that might help the waterwheel is to add some secondary elements, such as whitewater and bubbles. You should be able to get some whitewater by setting up a particle system to also flow down the wheel, then render the particles with the point density texture. Or maybe have the particle instance spheres with a volume shader, which would be faster to render but might not look as good. Maybe set up two particle systems and do both? You might also want to do the same thing spreading out from where the water stream hits the surface of the main body of water. Maybe instance some more spheres here for bubbles?

I would also echo everything CD38 said about the shape of the water. For a still you might find it easier to just sculpt the main flow, then use some particles to add bubbles and spray.