The Great Sea Race Begins (F1 2006)

This is a final render from my F1 2006 project called “The Great Sea Race Begins,” where racing continues underwater in a futuristic but flooded Earth.

Here is a look at the 3D view:

Since the WIP thread, this project continued to experience numerous changes, compositionally and stylistically. Test renders took anywhere from 4 - 10 hours each over the last couple of weeks. Motion blur tests took many times longer, too long, so mild zblur was used instead along with numerous particle systems and three faint wavy planar overlays of oceanic patterns/noise situated in front of the camera.

16 layers, 368 separate objects, 35 lamps (many set to “layer only”). Low AO subtract-only was used to help accentuate shadowing. This last blend is around 100MB. There were 43 blend stages up to this point. After several weeks of continuous adjustments and refinements in all areas, I knew a decidedly fantasy treatment suited this piece best, not realism, and that this render depicted the image nearest to the one in my mind when I first conceived of this project.

Thanks to all of you who contributed your insight and encouragement in the WIP thread. The “one goal” I briefly alluded to in the WIP thread was not “to win” (I doubt I will) but to create something visually interesting and challenging to me on multiple levels, which it certainly was, especially considering all I wanted to show in the environment I selected in the month I set aside for this.

As the rules permit, some contrast and color correction was necessary because I made this entirely on my laptop, which, despite calibration efforts, is not identical with my desktop monitor in terms of contrast or hue. Blenders internal post controls were also used.

Blender 2.40 (optimized) was was used instead of v2.41 regular to help cut down on the render times.

Thank you very much for viewing my work, and thanks again to CurtisS for hosting this event.


I feel lucky being the first one to comment on this thread and I will say this
“This is INCREDIBLE OUTSTANDING WORK. You really show what Blender can really do!”

Now I do have a few specific comments on this awesome piece of work:
*I love the neon style lights in the background and coming from the eyes
*the guy on the right corner as mentioned afterwards doesnt fit in the scene
*The models are just fantastic but the shark one doesnt stand out enough even though it looks like and excellent model
*the overall scene is a bit hectic to look at but it does catch the feel of an intense race if you ask me

Excellent job :smiley:

WOW! A whole lot going on in this one. Almost seems like too much IMO though.

Fantastic designs of the racers. Really original and well modelled/textured.

Some of the details get lost with the particle system employed there though. Maybe you could have toned that down somehow?

Lighting does not seem to fit the “underwater” feel here as well. Looks like it is above water level and directional on the F1’s. Thoguh the BG and the flora seem to have the “underwater” lighting feel.

The halo’s from the manta F1 are very distracting to my eye and make me direct my view to them right away. Definitely need to be less intense on those.

The guy in the bottom left corner of the image suits no purpose in the image and thus, I think he should be gone.

Good luck in the challenge!


I have to agree with BgDM; it almost seems like too much is happening. I love everything individually (especially the front seahorse the the shark; they are just wicked!), but I’m not sure they all work together perfectly.

Still, it’s an incredible image, worthy of a top spot in the contest (IMO).


Slepnyrl: I really appreciate what you wrote :slight_smile: I think hectic is a good word choice here because one of the things I wanted to convey is that sense of a huge race just getting started and things about to get very intense as they speed off into the deep. The shark styled vehicle was a special visual challenge. Since it seemed to have a powerful presence early in the piece, I considered using it as a counterbalance to the piece, a sort of anchor, where it could still be central yet de-emphasized in a way that could emphasize the vastness and energy of the scene. A lot went into each of these models, especially the Squid racer, and the Electric Eel racer (which has its own armature system, btw). It was exciting to work on them and seeing how they could work together in different visual relationships.

BgDM: Haha, thanks so much, BgDM! There are several over the top aspects here, I must agree, since I really meant for this to be too much, especially after several mentions in the past from people wanting to see me do more involved scenes. This was one of the largest scenes I worked on in Blender. Blender performed amazingly throughout the process. The manta racer actually became a key element in terms of the centrality, left direction, and angularity of the piece. When I took it out of the shot, something was definitely missing. When I had it in, it became an all or nothing proposition with the lights, because they bleached the scene in a way I didn’t like when they had a lower energy. Once I boosted the saturation in Blender it seemed to work more, but only with everything “turned up.” So I used Multiple (positive values) and Add (negative values) to draw out that and the glowing portions. Initially I was using the glow plugin, but it murked everything up in each test. I would have been able to take care of this in post better, but I had to work within the rules. I would have liked to pack this with much more detail yet, with many more racers and varieties, but the sheer poly count and the maintaing the composition were always major considerations. The foreground driver was in and out of recent test renders. I decided to keep him in there mainly because I spent so much time modeling him and also to give the viewer a sense of what the pilots look like. I had to discard a lot of ideas and modeling to free up space. At this angle things are very tight, with all the vehicles in formation and just starting to go forward. The lighting is more complex than usual. More realistic lighting looked less interesting and hid plenty of the details. I have some “caustic light” textures, which I made based on custom voroni patterns generated in Blender then edited in an image editor and made tileable. I also toned those down because they were adversely affecting specularities throughout the scene. There is a “real ocean” and floor that extends over most of the Blender grid, but I’m also using Mist, so much of that fades away, even with camera clipping range extended far. Even though that was out of visible range, it helped creating this entire underwater world and to be able to move things around in it until things started to click.

Obiwan_C: Thanks, Obiwan! I knew from the beginning all the different elements would be difficult to tie together. I had so many different designs in mind going into this, and most of that had to be sacrificed to concentrate on what had been established in the WIP thread. I continued working back and forth on all the vehicles so they’d look more like at least they could have existed in the same world. It was a lot of work, but I’m happy I went this more difficult route. So many things in Blender feel even simpler now after a project like this.


before I comment on anything, something just flashed my head like an hammer would…

the rule of the challenge state… “open cockpit” as the only rule… :confused:

that’d be sad cause it’s a great piece of work…only thing I really don,t like is the blue fish (sorry can’t remember how it’s called) in the bottom right and the dude in the bottom left.

notice the rider on the seahorse. i think that would meet this rule.

i love the scene and the shark F1 is wonderful, but i think simply turning down some of the “noise” and color saturation (in selective areas) would help this out alot.

Ecks: LOL, fear not, all the cockpits are open :slight_smile: I have pilots in the Shark and in the Eel racers, even though they’re not too visible. The squid is open too. The orcas in the back are pilotless because I left them as “real” aquatic life. I knew CurtisS would be checking on that since it was the one rule. Thanks for the positive comments too. I know your F1 entry will be amazing. Judging from your WIP thread, the design is beautiful and technically sophisticated, just like all your work.

treatkor: Thanks, yes, the seahorses are the most obvious with the external riders. Most of the noise is from the particle systems. When I made the particles sizes smaller through hardness and halo size they became noisier, even at minimal opacity, so one of the things I did was to soften them up and distribute them more widely thoughout the scene. For a while I was testing them with dupliverted bubbles, which resulted in insane render times. I increased the step rates and spatial distribution for the emitters. In the second to last test render, I moved them all to layer 20, which was unused, to see how the scene would look without them one last time. It becomes 50% clearer/sharper, but then the consistency of the sea all but disappears and it appears the vehicles are just hanging in ultra clear water. One thing I think that helped, from a render point of view, was that the particles helped “pull together” the scene in much the way a typical application of noise in post can do. The saturation was also a tough choice. With it up it looked more exciting to me at the expense of realism, which was fine in my mind since I was going for certain non-realistic style with this. Thanks for commenting!


It is a great work.

Sooo damn pretty ! The colours are perfect. No, everything’s perfect ! I especially like the blue manta ray thing, love the headlights. And all those little details like the riders and the school of fish are excellent. I can’t tell if it’s meant to be technological, organic or a truly unique combination of both (which is good because it’s usually very easy to tell). Awesome creativity, I just wish it was larger.

sumatra_invitro: Thanks!

Rhysy 2: I really enjoyed your reaction to this :slight_smile: Thanks! A render of this size took around 9 hours (AO at 5 samples, OSA/CatRom 5, Octree at 512; 12 hours at 256). My poor laptop, hehe. This scene requires 1.7GB of rendertime RAM. It was swapping out VM even with 2GB of onboard RAM it seemed (running minimal XP home on this with a 2.13ghz Pentium-M). At one point I tried Yafray just for fun, since sometimes it can be fast with some scenes, but it had a heart attack during the scene conversion.

Here are some closer looks at the shark and eel drivers/pilots:


It has to much clutter. The picture doesnt have a focus point or whats it called.

The background look like a photoshop filter added on.

The shark and the octopus are the stuff I want to se more of. The sea horse aint doing it.

Too much color. I did a quick photoshop hue/saturation thing. It look so much better without tha strong colors.

You can make something really great with the stuff in there but keep it more simple and add a little more action. It looks stiff.

Well thats my crit.

I like this image !

There’s one thing that bothers me though (and it bothers me in many of your images). You have to many different and sometimes overly saturated colors in this image. Like the fluorescent green in the top-right corner. It draws to much attention and makes the image look cluttered.

But as I said I like this image very much.

bigbad: Thanks so much for taking the time to leave the detailed feedback. I checked it on three monitors at home at lower saturation, and it lost a lot of presence (but these are all LCDs). I tend to obsess over focal points in renders, but for this I knew the scene had to encompass a wide field and a lot of pending action, with the race just about to begin. Any additional sense of action would have required things like motion blur, which would have quadrupled render times and cost more details. An emptier scene would have been possible and easier to do, but one element here I wanted to maintain was a density of detail distribution, a full world, much in the way Wu alluded to in the WIP thread with the Dinotopia examples, which are far superior in their artistic ability to bring together so many elements, even at the expense of focal points, while preserving very fine details. I’m at the point in all my work where I run through crits much like what you’ve described, and I actively question decisions made in each scene. The decisions I made for this weren’t reached easily, but they weren’t always the right ones either in retrospect, which is where this, like mostly every other blend, becomes another study in what and what not to do next time :slight_smile: And I still have lots to learn.

hannibar: Thanks! I may have to start checking these on more monitors. I’m using only LCDs, and images seem pale and lifeless if I reduce the colors any more. When I print them out, they seem about right, but that’s never a good gauge on an inkjet. I do like experimenting with color, but sometimes I like working in B&W too. I probably prefer saturated to desaturated looks. I will continue experimenting in future pieces to find a better balance.


It’s colorful! Like Rainbow Road in Mario Kart 64.

…Beautiful.I also made the F1,But it’s not good.Cry~~~

Whoaah. What PC have you got??? I wouldn’t even dare to load that on the new aurora (alienware).

This is just a sweet image! I really like the texturing on the seahorse and the shark is great. Only critiques are the guy in the bottom left looks out of place and the manta ray’s headlamps are a hair too bright. Overall, great image; this would make a great background for my desktop.

henrymop: Yes :slight_smile: I definitely wanted this to be colorful.

deathblood: Thanks. Never despair, just stay positive and keep at it :wink:

Ubuntuud: Haha, I don’t have anything ultra special at this end, just an aging 2.4ghz PC with 1GB of RAM and a 2ghz laptop with 2GB of RAM. I designed this on my laptop primarily because of its Nvidia 6800 GPU, compared to my simpler 64MB GeForce card on my PC. The difference between the two cards is felt in the 3D view while modeling and editing scenes. Both computers take forever to render this though.

frodo2975: Thanks so much!


Wow! This is absolutely stunning. :wink:

It is a certainly quite busy.

16 layers, 368 separate objects, 35 lamps

It sounds like mamoth project.