The Seasons

I have this project in the WIP section of the forum I am not intending for the double post. I would just like serious critique on this. I can provide the .blend upon request and with an email to send a .zip to. I don’t have internet at home only my cell phone.

My previous works can be seen at Not all of my works can be found there but a vast majority of them can be. I have been slowly learning and using blender for about 7 years.

My intentions with this project are to showcase the 4 seasons; Summer, Fall, Winter and Spring. I will be animating, to the best of my abilities, the transition between them. Grass will wither and die, snow will fall. Rain will come and snow will melt away. Flowers will bloom, grass and leaves will grow, completing the cycle.

I would like to keep this entirely within blender and cycles. I have had to improvise a few things already, such as shaders and how I did the background sky. I attempted to use the sapling plugin for the tree but did not like the results that I was getting for the tree. I hand modeled the tree and used a particle system for the leaves. The generous people in the WIP thread helped me get the results I have. I still feel that I can push this even further. I have had no part with the Nature AcademSpecs was created by me 100% with the exception of textures that I got from I have had no referance images for this. Was created from my head and with a few critiques from the blender community.

As far flaws that I have noticed and I do not like.

  1. The leaves on the Tree.
    I do not like how they are spread. I have even used weight painting to try to improve with no avail.

  2. The grass is a tad sparse for me towards the camera.

  3. I feel that there should be more to the background but it has to be static so I can keep the poly count down for render times.

My Pc Specs:

Asus Sabertooth 990 Fx Motherboard
AMD FX-8120 3.1 Ghz 8 core cpu O.C.'d to 3.88 Ghz
Corsair 16 Gb 1866 DDR3 Ram
MSI Nvidia Geforce GTX 560 1 Gb DDR5 video card (Dual)
Western Digital Green 500gb sata6Gb HD
Seagate barracuda 1 Tb sata6gb HD
Asus 21" Monitor (Dual)
All air cooled in a thermaltake spedo advanced case.

Thank You to all in advance!

The sky looks way too bland! Add some clouds, or just use a sky texture. Also, try to make use of the sky to show what season it is. I would imagine a summer sky to be sunny, for example.

Also, add a lot more grass. The viewer should not see the dirt underneath (it shouldn’t be obvious at least).

Right now, you are more or less relying solely on the tree to show what season it is. This makes the images quite boring. I would prefer a stronger contrast between different images, so the viewer would think, “Ah! It’s winter now!”, not just, “Oh, less leaves.” For example, for the autumn scene, I might add a shower of fallen leaves in the foreground, so you have some depth. For winter I would have some sort of frost or snow. For spring I would have flowers springing all over the place. Of course, these are just my suggestions, and in the end the point is, make the four images DIFFERENT!

I don’t know about your lighting setup, but it would be nice to have some soft shadows. Right now the render looks like something from the internal renderer.

This project has potential; keep working on it!

I love the concept and it’s coming together really well. I agree with the previous post that you need some variation in the season (and where are the colorful leaves for fall? Also the leaves on the tree have some issues. Something was off and you can see it better in the zoomed in image below but many leaves are not attached to anything. Now I suppose they could be falling, and if they are they should be colorful and also shown falling lower. Great work, keep going.

This image strictly displays summer only. I think you might have misunderstood my first post here. I am only working on the summer image for the moment. I have not got into fall winter or spring. There are shadows. My lighting setup involves a plane straight up because this is meant to be summer mid day. I have background lighting on as well. I agree that the lighting and the leaves randomly floating is not cool. I am assuming that both of the posters above thought that the dead tree look in one of the other pictures on that link was a differant season. I am sorry for the confusion. but those are all just WIP pictures for summer. I want to get the Summer look complete before I move onto to another season. I agree that the ground shouldn’t really show through and I will try to add more grass. As far as the sky. If I use a background image or a sky texture I cannot change color for the season’s also as far as clouds. If I add clouds then I have to figure out how to animate them and get cycles to render them. I’m not below the idea as long as I can figure the aforementioned things out. Clouds are constantly changing shape so that will be interesting to try and do. Currently my sky right now is a plane with a gradient shader in cycles so that I can smoothly transition between colors for the overcast of rain and snow. In no means do I not appreciate your responses. I value eveoryone’s opinion. Thank the both of you for taking the time to critique this.

Profanity, I took your advice and added a lot more grass and I also changed how the lighting was setup. I have a sun lamp in now, instead of an emitter object. I did however notice that if the direction line poi ts the way that would indicate what direction the light is going that it actually does the opposite and poi ts the opposite direction. So I actually have a sun lamp pointing straight up and away from the camera so the sun lamp would work properly. Any others having that issue?

Sorry I been busy. Here is an update! I have the grass animated, the color change animated, the color change of the leaves animated. Here is a viewport render of the tree. Sorry took it with my phone! Will get a screencap in the am. I am currently setting up the falling leaves right now! 87k leaves to fall! Hope this turns out like I planned! Oh and I changed the camera angle and adjusted the lighting a tad. Again I will post an update tomorrow!

Final update for the night. Im really liking how this is looking. I think this is my final for the summer part. Tomorrow I will finish setting the leaves to fall. And get a render of fall and put it up. From there I will then work on winter. I have a differant way I am going to try for snow buildup…we will see how the tests work out with that…then on to spring! Please crit this! I want to know what you all think of this. How does it look overall! Something I may need to improve? Please let me know. Thanks for the feedback up to this point.

Ooh. That’s quite nice so far. Grass looks fairly good and the leaves are convincing.

But…it’s a tad bland and uninspiring, to be honest. For one, it fees like a set on a movie. The sky appears as simply a blue background, and the grass just stops and it’s an eternal blue backdrop beyond. No mountains in the background, or a city or anything. The lighting, which appears to be around noontime, is also the least flattering light of the day. Noontime light is notoriously flat and relatively visually uninteresting. Try moving the sun to around morning or evening, and set up a theme that features these seasons at a particular time of day each of the four snapshots. Also, make the image about something, or, better yet, someone.

Just an idea: an old man’s routine during the year. He sits in his chair on the porch of his little house every morning/afternoon despite the weather outside. Then your pictures tell a story, and it instantly becomes something special, and not just another technically perfect pretty nature scene, which The Nature Academy gave us a glut of. Also, with the new lighting, it would seem extremely interesting.

At any rate, I hope it doesn’t sound like I’m bashing it. It’s nevertheless very good in its current state, and the lighting is much better even now than when you stated. Nature shots can be tricky, and kudos on you for tackling it. Keep it up! =)


I have no issues with making this have a theme…but this will actually serve as a background video for another video…I do intend on putting more into the background, grassy hills and a tree line I think…I am just unsure of how to tackle that…if I make it real grass…kills my render times…image background…can’t change the lighting or mood of that. There will actually be a house in the foreground on the right side of the screen. But to have all that in one scene my dual GTX 560’s can’t process for rendering. So I haveto tackle this in parts. I figured I would start with the background first…thus is what I have done thus far a d I appreciate your thoughts and input. I will look I to changing the lighting some I just don’t wish for it to get too dark.

Here is the fall render. Decided to throw in a fence to break up the horizon line some more…lowered the horizon down the the third line with the camera guides in blender.

My animation went back to summer when I hit render…here is a small update with the fence more detailed. Any thoughs or critiques? I’m still torn on the background. I don’t like the way it seems to just end but I have to be able to change the color of whatever I put there in the animation so the colors match the foreground color change of the grass and the lighting changes and snow…

Latest links to google are dead for me…

​sorry about that. Here this one worked for me.

Looking really nice. The tree still has the floating leaves issue I mentioned before. Seems pretty simple to fix. If they are particle children, then just lower the child radius, or try interpolated. The fence is a little too perfect, I’d bend those posts and rails a bit. Grass is pretty solid. Good improvements.

Actually no they are not particles. They are real. And I will do what you suggested for the fence. I think the grass and rocks are the best parts of this entire scene…can’t seem to get the rest to fit in properly.

So as much as I like this scene it still doesn’t look realistic enough for my tastes and what I want this to be.

Here is a breakdown of my scene.

Lighting: 1 sun lamp, miniscule yellow hue, 20 blender units above the scene. Size is set to .1, strength is set to 5. Cast shadow box is checked.
World is set to background, miniscule blue hue, with a strength of 1, AO is off sample as lamp box unchecked.

Sky background: A single face plane with a gradient, diffuse, light path, emitter node material.

Grass: Subdivided plane with 12,703 faces and 6 particle systems each with their own group.

Particle systems:
Short Grass: small grass group with 7 objects, 72 faces total. 30,000 particles, 200 children.
Long Grass: long grass group with 7 objects, 85 faces total.
30,000 particles, 200 children.
Bent Grass: bent grass group with 7 objects, 68 faces total.
10,000 particles, 200 children.
Dead Grass: dead grass group with 24 objects, 72 faces total.
12,000 particles, 100 children.
Weeds: weed group with 6 objects, 1,833 faces total.
2,000 particles, 20 children.
Clover: clover group with 4 objects, 96 faces total.
4,000 particles, 30 children.

Fence: 1,467 faces. Standard cube shape, loop cut and beveled.

Tree: 95,702 faces.

Leaves: 21 objects. 60,694 faves total. 17 of these objects have soft body physics.

Snow: I am not yet to this part but what I have is this.
Falling Snow: A single face plane above the sun lamp with render restriction. A particle system will be applied to this with a single subsurface modifier on a plane.
Snow Buildup on the ground: haven’t decided.

21 rocks at 100 faces each.

Render Settings: CPU rendering on an 8 core 3.88GHz slight OC’d AMD FX-8120
Dimensions: 1920 x 1080
Samples: 100 passes. Anything higher achieves no better of a result.
Light Paths: set to Limited Global Illumination. Shadows enabled and no caustics enabled.
Performance: fixed: 64 threads Tile Size: 128 x 128
Static BVH acceleration structure with spatial splits, cache BVH, and persistent images selected.
Single render layer with combined and z passes selected.

Takes roughly 20 minutes per frame to render. Use 11Gb of the 16Gb of ram.

All of the image textures used on the leaves, fence, tree and rocks are under 1k textures and were found at, with slight photo manipulation to each.

I have seen some of the still images created in cycles that blow mine away as far as realism but I cannot afford the render times that come with those. I am looking for a happy medium. I think I can achieve better with little increase in render times.

I would like to improve the horizon line more but am unsure if where to go with it. I like the idea of trees in the distance but I would have to animate the color change to match that of the rest of the scene. Same for hills of grass or mountains.
I don’t know where to go from here. Any thoughts, ideas, comments, critiques, suggestions from the community?
How’s the composition? The color?

I appreciate everyone’s input up to this point. It has helped me immensely.

Do me a favor and post a screenshot of the group of 7 blades of grass for either the long or short grass systems. They don’t need to be rendered but shoot an angle (or two) that shows their geometry pretty well.

Also explain to me the process you are using to fill the tree with leaves.

Blenderallday. Here is the screencap you requested. I hope it shows what you were looking for. As far as the process for adding the leaves to the tree. I created a vertex group with the tree and the a particle system from that vertex group. I have a group of I think 15 leaves that were used for the particle setting. But in order to make them fall properly I had to convert the particle system into a mesh. I then selected random faces and seperated by selection. I have created multiple versions of the vertex group, the particle amount to better get the look I wanted and to try and reduce the random floating leaves. This is the best I came up with. There are no children for the particles.

Hmmm. I’m just thinking back to a model I did of a hairy spider.

I had a problem with the hair not being “thick enough” and what I had to do was scale the hairs by x and y only. I spent quite a while just increasing the number of particles to no avail. So what I’m saying is that I am thinking that it is possible the blades of grass are too thin. Now I can’t tell if they are extruded, if they have a solidify modifier, or if they in fact have any depth. But you may be able to reduce the number of particles you are using and create thicker, more convincing, grass while you’re at it. If you find the time, try a temp blend with the grass extruded more (in edit mode), or solidified more, or generally having more depth. Also maybe knock up the random size of the children a little.
Now about the tree. It is definitely the focal point of the piece and the eye is drawn there first naturally. The first thing I notice is the floating leaves and missing limbs/branches. Now the limbs are easy to add. The leaves, well you need to delete ~20-30 of them for sure (see image) If they are a giant mesh just click on the vertex of one of the leaves and click ctrl-L to select all the vertices connected to it. then delete it in edit mode.

But in general I think it’s a great concept and it’s looking really good. Look forward to seeing future versions.

Thank you for your comments. Actually not a single blade of grass has any depth. They are all just planes with exception of the stalk of each clover and the seed and stem of the weeds. And I have included 2 pictures that show I actually do have branches were you suggested I added them. And the second picture shows the leaves with the tree. Both are just quick viewport renders. I will however look I to deleting some of the said leaves…I however did add a solidify modifier to all of the grass…yep all of them…rendering that to see if I need to up the children any…