General / 25 August 2020

I just came back from a little holiday in Sumava (small mountains in the south of Czech republic at the border with Germany) and wanted to share few pictures...I love forests, trees, rocks, moss's all so inspiring especially with a little bit of sunlight or a bit of mist :)

I was just running around and taking pictures all the time thinking how great it will be to use them as references in some future projects :)










  *and you can of course have a tea at some amazing places :) (this pictures is from Brdy, little hills in the area where I live)


Steampunk city 3

General / 04 February 2018

I spent a little bit more time on this project. Thought it would be nice to have there some kind of "houses" for those poor workers in the lower city. Made them with green lights. Probably because they feel a bit toxic :) 

the main view is almost the same

but i also tried a random view from the lower city. I will add some piles of coal, workers, steam etc. but i like how they can see a bit of that sunlight above them. the biggest challenge will probably be to make those gears and pipes look like they have a meaning :)

Roadtrip - making of

General / 31 January 2018

I was asked by quite a few people how I made this picture lately. Well, I don't really think I'm using any fancy techniques here, but I made this more in-depth description of the process... 

At the beginning, there is usually a simple idea/goal followed by a rough sketch... My goal here was actually style/look development. I wanted to create a 3d picture with a slightly different, more cartoon and soft feel. For that, I wanted really simple scene, something I won't be spending months with.  

I use Clip Studio Paint on my Surface Pro tablet. It's an amazing combination, especially because CSP allows you to define pressure curve of each tool separately, which is way better than what default windows drivers allow you to do with that Surface pen :)

Car and character...

I picked "Skoda 100" car, a very popular model produced in our country in 70s. My intention was to create stylized version, not a perfect model and so I used this reference picture mostly to get the lights right and few other minor details ... There isn't much I can say about modeling a car.  Create a box, cut edges, move points...  (well, I'm not really a good modeler, so I'm usually trying to speed up this part, skip what is not necessary etc.)

Character is also very simple. I didn't even connected her body, arm, fingers etc. into one model, because it would require at least basic rigging... instead I simply kept everything as separate meshes and rotated them into the pose. It was good enough when seen from that distance and hidden behind the glass... 

Ground and road model

This is getting a bit more interesting. I wanted to keep things "live" to be able to change the shape of the road, slope of the hill and things like that easily anytime.  So I used combination of standard Softimage operators and ICE (visual programming thing).

I knew the ground will have spherical shape, but to get nicer topology, I projected a grid on top of a sphere. I also drew a simple curve in a top view in a shape of the road. 

Then converted the curve to a mesh (because it's easier to work with polygon meshes later) and projected it to the same sphere as the grid before... Don't worry, that ugly mesh won't be rendered, it's there only for calculation of deformations...

And then used simple ICE tree to deform the grid based on a distance to the road mesh (it's already hidden in this picture). As you can see, I can easily control a profile of that deformation, it's intensity etc. It would be easy to add some irregularity as well, but my goal here was to make it look quite smooth... 

The last thing was to create a weight map that is used in a ground/road material (that Color_Map_Lookup node is reading the values of that weight map and using them to mix 2 colors...), to add a little gradient on the sides. I'm not using any textures unless I really have to, I don't like wasting time with UVs etc. So this is really a nice and simple way do add a little something extra...

Even at this point, I could just change the road curve, or change the radius of the original sphere and everything would get nicely updated... 


This is all vegetation used in this project. As you can see, nothing complex. 

ICE is amazing for scattering things around. I'm using instances on particles generated randomly on a surface of a geometry with that Scatter Simple node. Then modifying their attributes like size, shape, orientation. In this case, there are thousands instances of grass, few of them randomly scaled up, they are deleted if they are inside of that road curve (projected from above), their size is modified by some noises and also modified by a weight map painted on different mesh etc. They are actually generated on different mesh for some reason and moved to the final render mesh at the end.... I love ICE :)

To place some specific objects in the scene, I use instances generated on Nulls. With several custom parameters created on each of those nulls, I can control shape and color of the instances generated with ICE and the color is later passed into material per instance (also size of the instance is based on scale of the null, orientation is the same as orientation of the null). Of course it would be really simple to place there those models directly and modify their materials by hand, but it's really great in more complex scenes, where those instances can have millions of polygons and more attributes etc... (also ICE can display those instances as points, boxes, spheres etc, making it much faster in the viewport)


Well, there isn't really anything special about lighting. But my goal was to create a picture with a nice soft look, almost like painted. And to achieve that, I had to cheat a little bit. 

Light setup is extremely simple. Sky and Sun. (and separate lights for clouds + extra fill for the character and bottom of the car). But instead of using some physical sky/sun system, I like to use ordinary spot light (area light) with a big radius (producing not realistic soft shadows) and a gobo filter to add some variety in the intensity of the sunlight and to focus attention more around the car. 

(those clouds have their own lights)

One of the main tricks to get desired look of the grass was to get rid of all the shadows. I found out that I don't really need small grass to cast shadows and it looks much nicer without them :) 

And one small step outside of Softimage. I used Houdini to convert a 3d mesh of a teapot into a volume. Blured it a little bit and exported as VDB. Then imported it back into Softimage and rendered it there with Arnold. And if you are wondering why teapots, well, simply because I really love tea and teapots :)


Nothing too complex here either. I rendered clouds in separate layer and put it together in Nuke (non-commercial version is amazing, if HD resolution is good enough for you). There are several color corrections, glows and effects like DOF and vignette.

And that's pretty much it. I hope you enjoyed that :) 

Steampunk city 2

General / 27 January 2018

a small update...  I started working on some kind of public transport system... want to make simple shuttles, kind of like old trams, but flying around, so people can move between those platforms. (and yeah, i need to spend some time thinking about their design) 

I also want to have the lower part of the city filled with steam engines and fireboxes and workers loading them with coal. So I made some coal and the first test of those fireboxes... 

Will have to be more careful about strong lights because of all the noise...

Steampunk city

General / 25 January 2018

i want to share this project with you. it's something i want to do for a very long time... and now might be the right time to do it. 

the idea is to make a steampunk city with very obviously divided areas. rich people living in nice sunny higher parts and poor workers in the dark industrial lower parts of the city 

here is an old sketch: 

and here is pretty quick 3d test... just one unfinished building instanced around... I'm hoping i could make just a few variations, some pipes, gears etc. and it would still feel pretty complex :)

with a little bit of smoke and few minor details like street lamps...

and a simple volume light pass looks quite cool :) 

Landscape tests 5

General / 23 January 2018

I've decided to try to use these trees in a scene with real-world scale... And for that I picked a lovely village where I live :) 

It's not the most epic scene in the world, but I like it :) There are still some areas that need polishing. And I'm not sure about the camera angle... I want to show as much as possible (especially that river and also the big mountain in the distance), but it might be more interesting to lower the camera... not to mention that 2d trees are not working so well then the camera is above them... 

I got real height map. Unfortunately not the best resolution, but good enough I guess. 

and I places the houses exactly where they are supposed to be, based on a regular map... 

Landscape tests 4

General / 14 January 2018

I tried to render a little animation in this scene. Really love how it makes the depth more obvious. And I haven't even used 3d volumes... 

and here are 2 amazing books that i highly recommend to anyone interested in Eyvind Earle's work (and my tiny teapot collection in the background :) )

Landscape tests 3

General / 08 January 2018
I spent some time in a train this weekend drawing more trees and bushes on my tablet. And I put them in 3d scene today. I've decided I will finish this picture (want to add some birds, nicer fog and maybe few more details) and then create a second one, that will be more fantasy oriented.

Landscape tests 2

General / 03 January 2018
I spent some time playing with shaders and colors today. Figured out way to improve backlighting issue on the big trees, that made them look quite messy and tried some distant haze... I got to a point where I really believe I can make something cool with this :) It will require more variety, some tweaks etc. but I can start thinking about proper scene now... 

So, here is the new version:

and here is older one:

and a little test with volumes:

Landscape tests

General / 02 January 2018
I really want to make some Eyvind Earle inspired landscape someday. I started with few trees and bushes a did few tests... 

I'm also a big fan of Banner Saga game so I tried a little nordic scene with a ship, but want to give a it a bit more thought in future... 

Here is a test with more realistic scale of the hills... 

test with sharper shadows and more contrast in lighting

and here is more stylized island scene

early test of trees and bushes

All made with Softimage (I just love ICE so much I can't use anything else unless I really have to) and rendered with Arnold