Puzzle Tree

Hello to those which are reading this,

This was the image I put together in the last two days of the blenderguru.com contest, and while a number of things may have been ‘rushed’, I still was happy/surprised at how it turned out. It was all done in blender minus texture editing in gimp and some masks created in gimp (but then utilized in the node editor): I also used cycles for “both scenes”, since the image texture of the puzzle was also a scene I had to create for the contest

Full resolution can be found here!

The idea behind it was that I would have a scene displayed in a puzzle, still being pieced together, expand and grow into the foreground scene. I had hoped to perfectly line up one of the trees in the forest scene with the interior scene to make this work the most, and just use a feathered mask to blend between the portion of the tree rendered in the forest scene (applied as a texture with the puzzle pieces normalmap) and the same tree rendered in the interior lighting, going beyond the border of the puzzle. In fact, it is the exact same tree (and camera), just enabled on more than one render layer as I show here:

(on the scene to the right, you see it is without the tree overlaying the puzzle; to achieve the final image, I actually take two renders: one with and without this tree that you see in the left side of the forest scene also shown above, and then make a blending mask between the two)

Then I took the render of the forest scene (posted below) and unwrapped it onto the puzzle ‘box’, keeping the same perspective in both scenes:

(it’s a little on the dark side, so for the actual puzzle texture I brightened it up some, and you notice to increase rendertime I blocked out part of the frame so that cycles wouldn’t spend time rendering out those camera rays not to be used anyways in the textured projected from view)

The problem was, even though I unwrapped it “perfectly” from the camera view, the way the texture coordinates manipulated the image to display it on the plane, it warps it fairly significantly. If you look closely, you can see that the lamp shown in the final image is bending, whereas in the raw render of that forest scene above it is straight. Actually, I had to put a subdivide modifier on the puzzle box because before when projecting the puzzle texture from view, it made it appear that the lamp had a very sharp bend (by which subdividing smoothed out). Very strange indeed. In the end, it meant that even though the exact same tree was used and with the sam position of object/camera, the branches of the tree in the interior scene didn’t properly overlay the unwrapped texture on the puzzle, but I managed to still go for the effect by just using a high feathered mask to blend between the render of the interior scene with and without the foreground tree.

Please, any suggestions comments and critiques are welcome! I spent and good deal of time on this image and I really grow off of the constructive feedback :slight_smile:

Very nice! I like the idea and the final render is well done.

The most time consuming thing with the creation process for this one was figuring out how to create the trees with snow… How have other people managed to make pine trees in cycles (or anything…)? I’ve done it by making a couple random branches, duplicating/rotating/slightly modifying them (using proportional editing), and then doing multiple layers of the branches up the trunk of the tree, to then add a particle system adding a pine needle I modled- it may not be very apparent in my final output, but the tree itself really didn’t look good. And I have zero success trying to add snow via the fluid simulator, as you probably could tell, I modeled bits of snow and manually added it in a couple orientations on each layer of branches.
Looks alright for a fake tree, but I want to know how to do it better!

Any advice would be well appreciated :slight_smile: