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General => Image Sharing => NWDA Theme Challenge - Travelers => Topic started by: N-drju on May 12, 2020, 02:30:53 pm

Title: WIP - First Arrival to Alpha Cassiopeiae
Post by: N-drju on May 12, 2020, 02:30:53 pm
Greetings! Welcome to my NWDA contest image WIP thread.

This will be my first art contest ever and I am really excited about it. Travel constitutes a large portion of my "daytime job" as well, so when I heard about this year's theme... well, I just had to join the fun. Being an astronomy enthusiast too, I have chosen space travel as the setting of my entry.

So without further ado, enter stage left - First Arrival to Alpha Cassiopeiae:

NWDA 1.jpg

For those who care about such details - Alpha Cassiopeiae is a red giant star. Scientist argue whether life can develop on planets that orbit such huge stars.

Some models indicate that if a planet is far away enough and, at the same time, the star is not excessively massive, such worlds could have free water and temperatures that are "just right" to support multicellular life. The optimistic time span for these conditions to last is 2 - 5 billion years. Enough for life to develop.

Therefore, I will attempt to create a landscape of a planet which has just recently joined the CHZ Club (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Circumstellar_habitable_zone), but has all it takes to support a thriving ecosystem in the near future. Above its surface, three recon crafts (placeholders for now) travelling above a water-filled canyon, exploring the new world.


C&C are welcome. :)
Title: Re: WIP - First Arrival to Alpha Cassiopeiae
Post by: Dune on May 13, 2020, 02:23:32 am
I will wait with C&C until you are a bit further, but will wish you luck on your first art contest! Make it spectacular! So maybe a little C&C; choose a POV that allows for some foreground, creating depth, even if it's another recon vehicle.
Title: Re: WIP - First Arrival to Alpha Cassiopeiae
Post by: N-drju on May 13, 2020, 04:02:54 am
Thank you for nice words Ulco. Yes, the foreground is quite poor in this iteration and will be reworked into something else. Perhaps a low ground or, if the cliff stays, a less-warped edge.

By the way, if anyone wants to have a look, here is a comparison of the water gauze in a standard and PT render that I questioned earlier. As you can see, the standard render produces a blurry shadow edge which, at least in my view, is closer to reality. It gives a feeling as if something is indeed "happening" in the water in terms of particulate matter.

STD.jpg

And now the PT version - shadows are completely flat and suspiciously perfect (interestingly, the water is also brighter). I'm afraid nature doesn't quite work this way.

PT.jpg
Title: Re: WIP - First Arrival to Alpha Cassiopeiae
Post by: Dune on May 13, 2020, 04:25:02 am
Perhaps de blurryness in the standard render comes from the RDM of 0.25. But you're right, the PT needs work to get nicer. Maybe set smoother shadows and increase roughness of reflection?
Title: Re: WIP - First Arrival to Alpha Cassiopeiae
Post by: Matt on May 13, 2020, 04:51:52 am
What mode are you using for "Lighting method in PT"? The subsurface scattering options should cause blurring, while "Hard surface approximation" will give you a sharp shadow. For bodies of water I would use "Subsurface scatter towards normal" - this should be the default for the Water Shader.
Title: Re: WIP - First Arrival to Alpha Cassiopeiae
Post by: N-drju on May 13, 2020, 05:31:00 am
Quote from: Matt on May 13, 2020, 04:51:52 amWhat mode are you using for "Lighting method in PT"? The subsurface scattering options should cause blurring, while "Hard surface approximation" will give you a sharp shadow. For bodies of water I would use "Subsurface scatter towards normal" - this should be the default for the Water Shader.

In fact, it is set to "SS towards normal". Here are my water settings:

water set.jpg

I'll have a go and see if RDM is indeed affecting the shadow projection. There's still plenty of time to set it right of course.
Title: Re: WIP - First Arrival to Alpha Cassiopeiae
Post by: Dune on May 13, 2020, 10:18:28 am
Btw, index of 1.65 is not normal for water, should be is 1.33. But you may have a reason (interstellar differences).
Title: Re: WIP - First Arrival to Alpha Cassiopeiae
Post by: N-drju on May 13, 2020, 11:55:32 am
Quote from: Dune on May 13, 2020, 10:18:28 amBtw, index of 1.65 is not normal for water, should be is 1.33. But you may have a reason (interstellar differences).

Oh... I just googled it and I didn't even know the refraction values are scientifically defined! Thank you. I changed it back.

And no - I don't think extraterrestrial water would be any different.
:)
Title: Re: WIP - First Arrival to Alpha Cassiopeiae
Post by: DannyG on May 13, 2020, 05:37:17 pm
Nice way to kick things off !
Title: Re: WIP - First Arrival to Alpha Cassiopeiae
Post by: WAS on May 14, 2020, 03:01:13 am
Quote from: N-drju on May 13, 2020, 11:55:32 am
Quote from: Dune on May 13, 2020, 10:18:28 amBtw, index of 1.65 is not normal for water, should be is 1.33. But you may have a reason (interstellar differences).

Oh... I just googled it and I didn't even know the refraction values are scientifically defined! Thank you. I changed it back.

And no - I don't think extraterrestrial water would be any different.
:)

TG index of refraction values do not match scientific values at all FYI. Waaaay off from scanned readings for many materials, most especially being reflective. It's more correct for dull materials. For example some rock minerals I looked up were around 1.12 which, actually does look "rock-like" when used for rock reflection. I think TG is like Unity/Unreal and other engines where they're approximations based on what works. FOr metal, in TG for example, IOR needs to be ridiculously high to match physical appearance, way off the charts for scientific readings.

The water in the PT looks better depth wise imo but the shadows are bizarre. I like that cliff side color control. Nice slip zone.
Title: Re: WIP - First Arrival to Alpha Cassiopeiae
Post by: N-drju on May 14, 2020, 09:32:15 am
Quote from: WAS on May 14, 2020, 03:01:13 amTG index of refraction values do not match scientific values at all FYI. Waaaay off from scanned readings for many materials, most especially being reflective. It's more correct for dull materials. For example some rock minerals I looked up were around 1.12 which, actually does look "rock-like" when used for rock reflection. I think TG is like Unity/Unreal and other engines where they're approximations based on what works. FOr metal, in TG for example, IOR needs to be ridiculously high to match physical appearance, way off the charts for scientific readings.

The water in the PT looks better depth wise imo but the shadows are bizarre. I like that cliff side color control. Nice slip zone.

Thanks Jordan. I like the cliff shapes too. I plan too add even more detail though I have to remember not to exaggerate it...

I know - IOR may not be 100% realistic in CG, but I have to rely on something, so I'll just stick to 1.33 for now. :) In fact, the water indeed looks more life-like at this value.

Here is another small update. I have added some terrain on the right bank and changed POV to obtain foreground like Ulco suggested. It looks like it was a good decision. I'll have to fine-tune it though, because the cliff is obstructing the crafts' shadows. By the way, I have replaced placeholders with the actual craft shapes... Not at all satisfied with them. >:( I'll have to reconsider the design...

As far as colours go, I have just noticed that the soil colour is cut out abruptly in the foreground section so I'll have to work on that too:


NWDA 2.jpg
Title: Re: WIP - First Arrival to Alpha Cassiopeiae
Post by: Dune on May 14, 2020, 10:52:43 am
You could go even closer to get a really close foreground 'something'. With a bit of DOF that could look awesome. I have sometimes used just a few meter cube or sphere hanging right in front of the camera (you can place it by hand), with some displacement, texture and veggies popped on.
Title: Re: WIP - First Arrival to Alpha Cassiopeiae
Post by: Matt on May 14, 2020, 12:08:42 pm
Quote from: WAS on May 14, 2020, 03:01:13 amTG index of refraction values do not match scientific values at all FYI. Waaaay off from scanned readings for many materials, most especially being reflective. It's more correct for dull materials. For example some rock minerals I looked up were around 1.12 which, actually does look "rock-like" when used for rock reflection. I think TG is like Unity/Unreal and other engines where they're approximations based on what works. FOr metal, in TG for example, IOR needs to be ridiculously high to match physical appearance, way off the charts for scientific readings.

You are generalizing here. It's only metals that are "way off" because metals behave differently from dielectrics. Dielectrics (most materials) should correspond quite closely to IOR tables. Terragen 4.5 has a metalness parameter so you won't need to use high IOR for metals much longer.
Title: Re: WIP - First Arrival to Alpha Cassiopeiae
Post by: WAS on May 14, 2020, 06:06:59 pm
Quote from: Matt on May 14, 2020, 12:08:42 pmYou are generalizing here. It's only metals that are "way off" because metals behave differently from dielectrics. Dielectrics (most materials) should correspond quite closely to IOR tables.

I don't really understand that, considering the scientific data on metals, or other reflective surfaces. It's really down to the wavelength, isn't it? And using generalized one things don't match up from one to the other. And I believe you really just generalized what I generalized. Dull materials are more correct than reflective. The constant for generalized metals, for example is 1.6670, and wouldn't work in TG, same for crystals at 2.3866, even some dull materials don't align where a constant of 1.4260 for clay montmorillonite powder wouldn't work in TG and would be nearly as reflective as glass.

Isn't this why all the tables out there have a 3D and Graphics generalized table?

Also some things depend on other properties. Like water. Water at 20c has a ior of 1.33.
Title: Re: WIP - First Arrival to Alpha Cassiopeiae
Post by: Matt on May 14, 2020, 08:43:34 pm
This discussion belongs in a different thread so I'm going to split it. Edit: No I'm not, it's too complicated already.
Title: Re: WIP - First Arrival to Alpha Cassiopeiae
Post by: N-drju on May 16, 2020, 10:22:46 am
I agree with you Matt.

I will be grateful if anyone commenting here sticks to the subject - which is my WIP. If anyone wishes to argue, please do so elsewhere...
Title: Re: WIP - First Arrival to Alpha Cassiopeiae
Post by: N-drju on May 19, 2020, 11:52:50 am
Might seem like a small update, but it was quite an effort for me...

Dissatisfied with the previous scout craft shape, I have completely redesigned the vehicle I will be using in my image. I decided to make my travellers more aerodynamic and build a vehicle inspired by the "flying wing" design. Not unlike F-117 fighters, only smoother in form. I think it is easier on the eyes, compared to the previous one...

Again, the model is probably not "Pixar-grade". But it is made by me. From scratch, textures included. And I am quite satisfied with the result.

In any case, I would like to invite you guys to share your opinions on how you like this model. Perhaps I should add more details? Maybe another texture element? I am open to suggestions. Let me just say - modelling aircrafts is way more difficult than houses!

craft1.jpg  craft2.jpg

And this is the graceless lump which I have designed prior to the "flying wing". What was I on...? ::)

craft.jpg

I'll take a break from Blender now and dive back into my contest .tgd - time to work on the terrain and the POV.
Title: Re: WIP - First Arrival to Alpha Cassiopeiae
Post by: Kadri on May 19, 2020, 12:37:21 pm
Looks good. I would just try maybe a little different cockpit style.
Title: Re: WIP - First Arrival to Alpha Cassiopeiae
Post by: Dune on May 20, 2020, 02:16:48 am
It's very nice, very aerodynamic (apart from the white hitch-hiker). If you have a good UV-map, you may consider a lot of rivets connecting the plates (just placing a lot of tiny dots, easy in PS, as (additional) bumpmap), that always looks good. And make it a metallic surface with some dents and scratches (again, additional bumpmap).
Title: Re: WIP - First Arrival to Alpha Cassiopeiae
Post by: N-drju on May 21, 2020, 07:54:11 am
Kadri, Ulco, thank you for the comments.

Yes, the cockpit could probably be a little different as in - smooth merging with the fuselage.

The "hitchhiker" was supposed to be a long-range antenna. :D Maybe I need to repaint it to a less contrasting shade. As a matter of fact, I also thought about adding rivets along the displaced beams.

As far as scratches and denting on the model goes, I don't think this would be accurate. This is the first flight over the planet's surface after the mothership's arrival. In that case, it is reasonable to assume that the scouting crafts have been sitting in the cargo bay for the entire voyage and should be in a mint condition.

Okay, now I have a difficult decision to make! :D Here is another draft of the image and two POVs. I tried to get the camera closer to the ground, having the prior suggestion in mind. Both of these views have advantages and disadvantages! For your consideration:

NWDA 2.jpg

This, is the default POV. I have added another mesa with a steaming crater (there might be more of them scattered around). My attempts to remove the unwanted contrast between the bedrock and soil have yielded some interesting leaking patterns on the ground which I am tempted to keep (but perhaps I shouldn't?). Part of the right-bank cliff removed.

NWDA 1.jpg

Another POV where I attempt to shove camera up close. I like how the cliffs look in this point of view, though the camera position needs refinement. Water coverage would have to be expanded as well. This shot would let me show my models off a little better. 8)

Which POV would you recommend to carry on with? How do you like the second elevation with the little crater on top?
Title: Re: WIP - First Arrival to Alpha Cassiopeiae
Post by: Dune on May 21, 2020, 11:30:47 am
Latter one, definitely. Much more depth idea.
Title: Re: WIP - First Arrival to Alpha Cassiopeiae
Post by: N-drju on May 22, 2020, 05:32:55 am
Huh... this is also what my friends advise me. I change the POV then. By popular demand. ;)

But I think I need to redirect the lateral channels now... So the crafts will be flying upstream. What do you think?

upstream.jpg

This produces even more depth too.
Title: Re: WIP - First Arrival to Alpha Cassiopeiae
Post by: Dune on May 22, 2020, 08:33:45 am
That's a nice POV.
Title: Re: WIP - First Arrival to Alpha Cassiopeiae
Post by: Agura Nata on May 24, 2020, 04:06:19 am
Looks good, wish you luck for the contest!
Title: Re: WIP - First Arrival to Alpha Cassiopeiae
Post by: N-drju on May 25, 2020, 07:18:55 am
Thanks!

Still trying to get a good POV, but not only. Is this going in the right direction? Hmm...

NWDA 2.jpg

The "downstream" flight seems to have better terrain features after all... And I need to put my crafts in a gentle right-bank turn. They are soooo flat. ;D
Title: Re: WIP - First Arrival to Alpha Cassiopeiae
Post by: Dune on May 25, 2020, 11:08:04 am
Also nice, but I would get rid of the intrusive shine in the water, either by moving cam or sun.
Title: Re: WIP - First Arrival to Alpha Cassiopeiae
Post by: N-drju on May 27, 2020, 08:36:50 am
Quote from: Dune on May 25, 2020, 11:08:04 amAlso nice, but I would get rid of the intrusive shine in the water, either by moving cam or sun.

This should go away as soon as I add more clouds. In fact, I have started working on the skies:

sky_only.jpg
Title: Re: WIP - First Arrival to Alpha Cassiopeiae
Post by: WAS on May 27, 2020, 03:42:30 pm
Since we're flying, why not tilt the camera to provide some rule of thirds? You could tilt the cameras so the distance hills fall to the right, which with the distance peaks will align more with the rule of thirds and may look better.
Title: Re: WIP - First Arrival to Alpha Cassiopeiae
Post by: Dune on May 28, 2020, 01:53:03 am
That's a good idea, gives it some action. Perhaps even get some sort of screen right in front, as if you're in number 4.
Title: Re: WIP - First Arrival to Alpha Cassiopeiae
Post by: N-drju on May 28, 2020, 03:43:03 am
Quote from: WAS on May 27, 2020, 03:42:30 pmSince we're flying, why not tilt the camera to provide some rule of thirds? You could tilt the cameras so the distance hills fall to the right, which with the distance peaks will align more with the rule of thirds and may look better.

Funny you mention this, because this is one my concerns. :D

Many of the key elements do fall on or near one of the "thirds" lines - consider the leader craft and the farther river mesa for example. But it might be aligned even better, no doubt.

There is a different concept I need to take care of - headroom. It is not well seen from this crop, but the clouds are a bit "squeezed" between the terrain and the upper edge of the image. Some tilt could indeed make 'em more visible.

Anyway, I'll think of something and keep you guys updated.
;)
Title: Re: WIP - First Arrival to Alpha Cassiopeiae
Post by: N-drju on June 01, 2020, 05:38:32 am
Update, as promised. Jordan's suggestion to tilt the view was spot on - more space for the clouds. I just need to tweak the thunder lights - they seem quite overdone despite looking good in the RTP.

Some stones in the canyon, some fake grass here and there (it was already present in the Jurassic... now, was it?) so the new world doesn't look all that barren.

WIPpost1.jpg

I can't decide if the light overall is fine given the stormy conditions in the distance. Perhaps I should go for a more shadowy, darker environment (but not scary at the same time), add more cirrus or cumulus beyond the field of view. I'll keep thinking about it.
Title: Re: WIP - First Arrival to Alpha Cassiopeiae
Post by: luvsmuzik on June 01, 2020, 09:07:30 am
I would not go too far lessening the thunderlights. That landscape is quite the competition for the terrific sky. Your hard work is paying off with this image. Yes, sun direction and reflections much improved. Well done!
Title: Re: WIP - First Arrival to Alpha Cassiopeiae
Post by: N-drju on June 01, 2020, 03:34:30 pm
Quote from: luvsmuzik on June 01, 2020, 09:07:30 amI would not go too far lessening the thunderlights. That landscape is quite the competition for the terrific sky. Your hard work is paying off with this image. Yes, sun direction and reflections much improved. Well done!

Thank you! I am quite satisfied with the lightning areas, so yes - just some minor tweaks, nothing big.

I'll start playing with the pops and pick appropriate plants now (loving it). I plan to add some "highlights" in this field too!
Title: Re: WIP - First Arrival to Alpha Cassiopeiae
Post by: N-drju on June 08, 2020, 03:06:13 pm
So I added a Jurassic forest to the render but once I was done with that, the water surface caught my attention...

I find it a little too stagnant. So I added some extra waves (displacement). I think it is a change in the good direction but perhaps it should have a smaller amplitude:

wat_wav.jpg
Title: Re: WIP - First Arrival to Alpha Cassiopeiae
Post by: Dune on June 09, 2020, 03:08:30 am
I think it looks good. maybe a tad smaller waves, but you have to take care not to get it too 'busy'. I would perhaps work on the shores more, give them a more distinct difference from higher up. Wetter, muddy beaches, dark from dead algae, some patches or a continuous vegetation... or something lighter, like calcium deposits under the floodline.
Title: Re: WIP - First Arrival to Alpha Cassiopeiae
Post by: N-drju on June 10, 2020, 03:30:07 am
Quote from: Dune on June 09, 2020, 03:08:30 amI would perhaps work on the shores more, give them a more distinct difference from higher up. Wetter, muddy beaches, dark from dead algae, some patches or a continuous vegetation... or something lighter, like calcium deposits under the floodline.

This is an "econo-fast" version of the shore for faster crop render. It is not as dull when everything is enabled.

There are some altitude-based stands of Macrotaeniopterae and Williamsonias covering the shores. Also, some FSS rubble from the cliffs and yes - there is a dark, wet-layer just above the water level.

The problem is that the camera is still about 70 meters (pretty much) above the water. So maybe this is why the wet area and stone details cannot be made out easily. I just hope this will get better in the final, HD render. ??? In any case, the sediment layer is an addition worth considering.
Title: Re: WIP - First Arrival to Alpha Cassiopeiae
Post by: Jo Kariboo on June 12, 2020, 12:56:18 pm
Interesting concept, I'm curious to see a rendering with vegetations!
Title: Re: WIP - First Arrival to Alpha Cassiopeiae
Post by: N-drju on June 13, 2020, 02:57:33 am
Quote from: Jo Kariboo on June 12, 2020, 12:56:18 pmInteresting concept, I'm curious to see a rendering with vegetations!

This, I guess, will happen when all entries are revealed because (I think) I'm almost done with my project... :) So the next render might as well become final. Having in mind that I should create but not "overcreate".

Currently I add some colouristic flavours and compare STD vs. PT render crops. Maybe a few additional objects as well. Thank you for your support Jo. :)
Title: Re: WIP - First Arrival to Alpha Cassiopeiae
Post by: N-drju on June 15, 2020, 06:55:40 am
After being seriously impaired by the less-than-perfect volumetric SSS in the path-traced water that I have complained about here (https://planetside.co.uk/forums/index.php/topic,28001.0.html), it looks like I have, after several trials and error, found a way.

With a little trick of mine, my water in PT currently looks like this:

good_bigger.jpg

It is brighter than I have planned, but it's just the matter of adjustments.

The important thing is, I can now have all PT-related benefits and an acceptable level of light transmission in a sediment-rich river!
Title: Re: WIP - First Arrival to Alpha Cassiopeiae
Post by: WAS on June 17, 2020, 02:42:59 pm
Quote from: N-drju on June 15, 2020, 06:55:40 amAfter being seriously impaired by the less-than-perfect volumetric SSS in the path-traced water that I have complained about here (https://planetside.co.uk/forums/index.php/topic,28001.0.html), it looks like I have, after several trials and error, found a way.

With a little trick of mine, my water in PT currently looks like this:

good_bigger.jpg

It is brighter than I have planned, but it's just the matter of adjustments.

The important thing is, I can now have all PT-related benefits and an acceptable level of light transmission in a sediment-rich river!

Yes this does look like a nice middle-ground here. The transmission still looks nice, the shadows aren't super hard. Well done.
Title: Re: WIP - First Arrival to Alpha Cassiopeiae
Post by: Hannes on June 17, 2020, 05:18:00 pm
That looks already great!
Title: Re: WIP - First Arrival to Alpha Cassiopeiae
Post by: N-drju on June 19, 2020, 05:05:35 am
I guess this is the penultimate iteration of my entry. Populations and minor tweaks in "starlight" added.

Of course, this is only a standard renderer test, though I guess I reduced the quality a bit too much... Of course, the complete image will look much better with the PT enabled - less noise, realistic water (like the one above) and more depth in shadows. Looks like I'll finish the job on time. ;)

NWDA 3.jpg
Title: Re: WIP - First Arrival to Alpha Cassiopeiae
Post by: Dune on June 19, 2020, 05:20:53 am
Looks good! Dramatic sky and I like the lightning flashes. Curious how this will look in fnal resolution. Good luck. What size will you render out?
Title: Re: WIP - First Arrival to Alpha Cassiopeiae
Post by: Hannes on June 19, 2020, 07:34:50 am
Yes, this is great! Indeed dramatic. Looking forward to the final image.
Title: Re: WIP - First Arrival to Alpha Cassiopeiae
Post by: N-drju on June 19, 2020, 07:38:07 am
Quote from: Dune on June 19, 2020, 05:20:53 amLooks good! Dramatic sky and I like the lightning flashes. Curious how this will look in fnal resolution. Good luck. What size will you render out?
Judging by the crops I have rendered, the PT will really make an impact - I'm myself eager to see it. ;)

I think I'll go with the standard FHD (1920x1080) or a few hundred extra pixels more along the 16:9 axis. WUXGA could be a good choice as well - more headroom top and bottom.

Quote from: Hannes on June 19, 2020, 07:34:50 amYes, this is great! Indeed dramatic. Looking forward to the final image.
Thank you!
Title: Re: WIP - First Arrival to Alpha Cassiopeiae
Post by: DannyG on June 26, 2020, 03:09:25 am
Nice progression, happy to see TG showing here
Title: Re: WIP - First Arrival to Alpha Cassiopeiae
Post by: N-drju on July 02, 2020, 03:14:37 am
Dear TG-Enthusiasts,

I am happy to report that my final entry has been approved by NWDA. :) Head over to the contest webpage if you want to have yet one more look - this time, at the final, high-resolution image. :)

I would like to thank all who participated in this WIP thread and offered their advice, comments and opinions and others who followed this thread! This has been a great experience for me and, as always, Planetside Forums have proved to be a genuine "fair-play zone".

It's been fun! Good luck and thank you!
Title: Re: WIP - First Arrival to Alpha Cassiopeiae
Post by: Dune on July 02, 2020, 04:58:36 am
I'll check it out. Good luck to you too...
Title: Re: WIP - First Arrival to Alpha Cassiopeiae
Post by: Jo Kariboo on July 06, 2020, 11:02:13 am
I just saw your final image on the contest website. Very nice rendering quality! Good luck!
Title: Re: WIP - First Arrival to Alpha Cassiopeiae
Post by: sboerner on July 06, 2020, 11:07:49 am
Everything really came together on this - landscape, sky, lighting, models. Good luck!
Title: Re: WIP - First Arrival to Alpha Cassiopeiae
Post by: luvsmuzik on July 07, 2020, 11:10:41 am
You made a wonderful image and followed your plan exactly to the challenge presented! Good luck and resume rendering! :)
Title: Re: WIP - First Arrival to Alpha Cassiopeiae
Post by: N-drju on July 08, 2020, 02:57:35 am
Pierre, Steve, luvs, thank you for those nice words and for sticking around! :D