I have jump into process of creating the actual forest, and I can say that its a very nice tool to work with Onyx, even if it looks like you watching a Russian nuclear screen. You have great poly count control for optimizing the trees, either during the process as you build your trees or you can even go in and edit specific regions afterwards. I feel like I got the hang of the full process from modeling, optimizing, UV-map adjustment, to shading. Hopefully I can start really start produce all the content regarding vegetation in the next week. And get a more clear picture of the shots state.
Last week was most about designing the solid terrain of the landscape. The ground it self, rocks, earth, cliffs, mountains. Going from the previz to starting building the terrain was abit more time consuming then i thought. But I’m now on the road again, and you will see some pictures soon.
I decided to postpone the creation of the water, because I think its more important to get the terrain and over all look going before I start with water motions or specific shader properties.
This is the very first water motion test I made, using the Houdini Ocean toolkit. I haven’t had time to do further testing, but I think it could have the basic features I need. Next week I will take a closer look regarding the motions of the waves.
This is the sort of the style I want to achieve in my shots. A cinematic landscape view of a jungle island in a tropical paradise. The above image is my current mood-board.
This week and the last one have been I have been focusing on breaking down my shots in smaller components and research around these elements. And finally test in practice how to make them a reality. I have to nail several different elements in the shot to make a convicting realism. As you see, there there is a lot of vegetation and water in the shots, so this is clearly key components.
I decided to create most of the island’s trees in geometry. My very first idea was to use Maya’s paint_effect to create a vegetation, and be able to control variation and randomness in the nature. And convert the paint_effects to polygon meshes and treat them as regular geometry. But when I tried out paint_effects I found it very hard to control the poly count and the process of getting where you wanted was abit too time consuming even though it was possible . So my next choice was Onyx, a pure tree modeling tool. It turned out great for my needs and are currently a part of my upcoming vegetation pipeline.
Secondly I wanted to try out to some sort of water to ensure it would be possible to achieve a descent realism in the ocean. After a long time of researching I came across a Houdini ocean toolkit which both where very user-friendly and gave instant visual feedback in Maya.
By using a deformer combined with an animated displacement map I get a geometry plane act like moving waves on a ocean. The Houdini toolkit also included some shader tools which will be the base for my ocean shader.
The more blue/white-ish version was a undesirable shader effect i was struggling to get rid of and finally solved by founding out that the leafs normal was inverted by some reason. This is my first attempt of a leaf shader, a more advanced two sided shader for the front and the back of the leaf will be my next goal.
Being able to have hundreds of trees on the island is of course a problem. Both when it comes to “create” all of them, and to be able to render the huge amount of objects it would require.
My solution to this is not perfect yet. My plan is to create a set of trees,with around twenty different trees. And then use expressions to randomize the scale and rotation of the trees to create the illusion of a forest with all unique trees.
And to avoid place everyone of these by hand on the island I’m currently using particles to scatter the objects over the island. I make the solid ground of the island to a surface emitter that emits static particles. These particles gets replaced by my trees and bam! I have a entire forest in no time. And by using black and white maps i can control distribution and other settings are also easily handled by simple parameters for the entire forest look. By using this method, I also instance all my trees from the first set of trees that i created, which speeds up the render time!