Rainforest in Cycles

Hi Blender Artists, My name is Alex Walker (aka. Wireheadking)
Recently I’ve been working on a Rainforest scene in cycles. It would be great if you could critique it.

I want you to be as harsh as possible so if there is ANYTHING you dislike, please express your views and I will get round to fixing it or at least make some adjustments to improve it. It goes without saying that I wont be upset if you list hundreds of problems. The more you criticise it, the better.

Here is the current render:
(Click it to see the full image)

Image Dimensions: 1280x720p
Render Time: 1 hour 52 minutes
Samples: 500

I am willing and able to make any changes to it but remember this was made in cycles so some things will be quite difficult to do in this version of Blender (v 2.64)

If you’re stuck for criticism which is understandable :wink:, I’m mainly looking for ways to improve the following:

But if you have any other feedback, it is very welcome. Keep in mind my future updates will probably only have about 50 samples so try to avoid any criticisms based on that.

Also if you have any questions about how I made any parts of the scene, I’ll be happy to respond. I will probably turn this into a tutorial later on that will be made available on my YouTube channel if you are wanting a guide on creating the entire scene.

Thanks in advance for any feedback (good or bad)


In my opinion you should color correct either the cg aspects you made in the scene or the image at the back as the image is quite noticeable, try to composite it as if it is one whole image.
Also add some volumetric lighting, or rather improve it as a strand of volume of light is noticeable(if you have included volumetric lighting)
try to add some, it will help sell the scene. Here’s a tutorial on volumetric lighting in cycles - www.youtube.com/watch?v=FuzDtirK2qk
Also try addind some grass to the scene as you can see the ground and its texture quite easily.

Just some tips.
Hope you find them useful

nice picture but two things catch my eye: the glossy reflections on some of the leaves are very bright. That might indicate that these leaves are wet, but then I would expect these reflections to be sharper. The other thing is that the fern-like plants are to regular, especially in the repetition of the leaves.

Thanks! Great advice. I’ll get round to making the adjustments soon.
The only thing I have a problem with is the grass. I don’t think Cycles can support strand particles right now and I want to avoid mesh grass as it always looks kind of bad. Though I agree some added greenery on the right of the image would look good. Thanks :slight_smile:

It looks like a cool forest, but not really rainforest…

Yeah I know what you mean… It’s missing rain. I could change the lighting and make it look grim as if it’s about to rain though. As for the rain itself, Cycles still needs some development. But I can’t use volumetric lighting sensibly when it’s stormy. And volumetric lighting seems like a good idea. Any opinions?

I’m new to Blender so can’t help with the technical aspects, but from a composition point of view… the front right tree draws the eye and puts something of interest in the foreground which is nice, but then the eye seems to bounce between the two paler trunks. Maybe something to draw the eye back into the middle of the composition would pull the eye back to your lovely ferns. Cliche, but that is why there is so often a “path” in forest scenes. To avoid such a solution you could try more variety in the shades of green plants in the middle - or a single specimen of a plant type with more complexity.

I suppose that makes sense. Composition is really important in scenes and balance is what can make or break a scene. But I think my scene is already well on it’s way to being balanced in terms of Foreground/Background. But I agree that it looks like the scales are tilted slightly more to the background. I’ll play around with the scene a bit and post an update within 24 hours.

it is a good render picture,but still seems common,and cirruses are not realistic.
personal feel,don’t mind.

Hey Alex. I dislike the flatness of the plants but it still is beautiful. The trees are great and I like the juxtapositions of the brown and green but the plants are still flat

Hi Everyone, thanks for the feedback.

I (finally) have an updated version of the render here now - please critique this render from now on.
I apologise for the delay (if any of you were bothered). School has got in the way ; it always did suck. I also only managed to squeeze about an hour in on this (most of which was wasted).


  1. Background image - Modified colour correction
  2. Ferns - Less ‘flat’ (taller)
  3. Composition - more plants put into the left side of the image and a few more at the front
  4. Materials - Sharper gloss (though I think there is still room for improvement)

I tried adding volumetric lighting but I can’t find a way to make it not look strange and/or boring so I’m scrapping that plan for now.

Once again, thanks for the feedback. All of it is appreciated (even if I didn’t act on it).
Also, just like before, please critique this new image harshly.

Thanks in advance for any new feedback!

I think a wider variety of plants and more variation in the plants would help a lot too. Also, I know it’s almost impossible to avoid, but there is some clipping between several of the ferns. maybe do some manual repositioning of the closer plants to try to offset it.

just my $0.02

I feel like there is a definite disparity between the foreground and background. The foreground has a lot of (green) leaves while the background has almost none that I can clearly distinguish. Unless a forest fire passed through the background, the background needs to be greener and leafier. More particle systems are needed to model the debris on the forest floor, because right now the forest floor looks too smooth especially on the lower right.

rainforests, contrary to popular belief, arn’t perpetually wet! but they are dense. if you realy want to go for rainforest then i would suggest replacing the background image entirly. use one that has greener leafier trees and more of a canopy. make your vines thicker and add more leaves to them. the forest floor is made up of dead leaves rather than dirt and pebbles.
your trees look wrong, there is very little colour variation on them and the shadows are too soft and not contrasty enough. also there is too much depth of feild. a photo wouldnt have that much fall off unless you were using a proper short focus lense which due to the composition i would say not! so bring the background back into focus a little more.

also your forground tree is the main point of interest, so i would make it interesting, spread the base wider and give it interesting thick root stems spreading off the base and add moss and make the ferns be growing on it and some dancing elves. ( don’t add dancing elves) perhaps some fungus on one side. and hanging vines always look good. have a look at “forests” on google images to see some nice natural volumetric lighting in woodlands, to help you visualise how it could look in your scene.

hope this helped. your videos have been helpful to me since starting blender :slight_smile:

Thanks! I’m glad I have a fan helping me out.
Your advice was great and should definately improve the scene substantially, so thanks. I’ve had a few problems with volumetric light in this scene as it always looks a bit out of place, so I don’t think I’ll give that another go too soon…

Also, thanks to everyone else. Your input has been a great help and I’ll definately see how I can improve the render based on what you’ve said. Thanks again!

Nature scenes are great, but a hell for the computer XD the first render was in my eyes the best, the second one has to many reflections and the background is not blending in ( strange color)

The light streak on the tree works good, but i think that if you play with it and put more depth in the tree it works better.

Try to fix the ground close to the camera, there are some empty spaces and that looks fake. The foreground is the most important thing in the scene, so try to put as much nature as you can ( maybe rocks)

Just some advice, hope you post a new render with new imporvements.

Hi All!

Thanks for the latest feedback. I’ve recently made some adjustments and am aware there is still some more to do. It would be great if you could tell me if I’m going in the right direction.

-Bigger Leaves (Ivy)
-Debris is now a lot more dense
-Twigs / Sticks added to the debris
-Regenerated Ivy
-Modified (front) tree model **though the changes aren’t so visible due to greenery
-Changed Background image
-Changes in the Compositor (mainly Defocus and a few bits of colour correction)
-Fungi added to (front) tree
-Lighting angle
-Shadow softness
-Texture of trees

(click to view full screen + in more detail)

So far, I’m pretty pleased with how this has turned out. Once again, any feedback is welcome.

Thank you in advance for any feedback given.

yeah, now it is starting to come together! the back ground image looks great and fits in well and the density of the ground plants looks about right for a clearing in a forest (more of a canopy would mean less light gets in so the ground level foliage would be a lot less)
the mushroom look good but could us a bit more in their materials, i’m not sure, maybe some flecks of darker brown. one more thing, i think the green on the fern like plant needs to be a slighty different green to give a bit of variety, as it is kind of all fading in together at the moment. over all though, its looking good.

Very nice! I like the way this one turned out. It definitely looks more lush. One thing to remember about rainforests, is that they are very likely to be hot and humid. Even if you don’t add rain, things like steam might add to the composition of the image (correct me if I’m wrong about the steam). Dark soil, dew, and things of the like might work. Also, the forest floor is usually pretty dark because of the denseness of the trees above.

Thanks for the tips!
I’ll get round to the fixes soon.

EDIT: The new render is on Page 2