I’ve been using Blender for 2 years. Such a great program and great community!
I wanted to take on the challenge of Sun Flowers after taking a close look at some real ones. Recreating nature is definitely a challenge, but I’m always trying to learn new techniques, as well on working on composition. There is always more that can be tweaked, but here’s what I was able to make.
This is all done on my macbook pro (which is a pain, but oh well). I rendered the image is 200 % of 1920x1020, so I think thats close to 4k? Rendered at 600 samples.
salamun: I used particles systems to build the center, no photo textures used in this.
I did paint texture maps to affect the materials and used weight painting to affect the particles. There are 7 particle systems used for the flower and another 4 or 5 for the bee. 5 of those particle systems are used for the center (pollen/seeds). Some of those particle systems use objects/groups, while others use hair strands. Even the pedals are a particle system using a group (not sure if that is a wise approach). The trick to create the center is making this pattern which took a while to figure out:
The hairs on the stem are very easy (unlike other parts of the flower, LOL). Just a particle system with a lot of hairs. Make sure the particle system is in the right place in the modifier stack (modifier panel), so if there is displacement or subsurface on the mesh, it doesn’t screw up the particle system. Then use “brownian” in the particle panel somewhere between .01-.05 should work. That makes it more organic looking. I also probably enabled “random” at the top. I usually just play around with it. Go to thickness at the bottom of the particle menu (in cycles mode) and control the scaling to make the hairs more thick or more fine.
For the material I used a simple translucent white material. You can also use the hair BSDF. Then if you want you can use the Hair Info node and a color ramp to change the hair to your liking. See BlenderGuru or others to learn some techniques. This one was helpful for instance: