Computer Science 3710 Project - David Lenz

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Final - 1600x1200
Final - 800x600
Large with DOF

This image is of a run down barn and a tree set against a broken fence and a field of hay. It was created using box modeling techniques, splines, scatters and many, many material maps. I have had previous experience developing for 3D Studio Max and decided that I would use it to create this image.

Creation Process
The barn was the simplest of the models to create. I first drew a quick guide to get the proportions that I wanted. The guide was brought into 3DS Max and mapped to a plane. I then quickly splined the main shapes of the barn, created editable polys and then extruded them to give the depth required for the barn. Since I was going for the run-down barn look I quickly added some unfinished framing to the inside of the barn. At the time I wasn't sure how much would show through so I was careful about adding extraneous geometry.

The dirt path and the grass/hay are simple planes that have been converted to editable polys. The points where then translated to give the effect that I was looking for. For the grass a simple three-point spline was converted into polys and then bent. After it was instanced 45 thousand times for each of the planes of grass. The compound scatter object was used to do this so as to add randomness and save me time.

The tree was an absolute nightmare and the cause of most of the frustrations that I had later on. This method for creating this tree was not developed for this particular project. In the past I created an animation of a man running through the woods. At the time most of the tree details were blurred and it was only being rendered out at 320x240. In addition the scene was at night so quality details were not required. I decided to reuse the technique from last time. However, in this case detail was important, render size was much larger and it was daylight. Essentially the tree is a combination of two objects. The first is the trunk and some branches - these were created with a box, converted to editable poly and pushed and extruded until the shape was realized. Originally the leaves were added using shag fur and a material, however, there is no version of shag fur available for 3DS Max 7 so a different system had to be created. Instead planes were scattered over a hidden object that matched the shape of the branches that I was looking for. Scatter was used to create the randomness and the new planes were told to 'point' towards the camera. It's a slightly fancier take on standard billboarding. I've included a wireframe shot of the tree:

After the modeling was completed a began texturing. Most of the objects in the scene have some kind of texture applied to them. The barn has 4 textures. The top parts in red were created from a shot of old boards in my backyard and a bump map was created from the same. The colour was added with photoshop as the original boards were brown. The chipped white paint is similar and comes from another shot I'd taken previous to this project. The shingles are from 3DS Max's standard library as is the dirt trail.

The grass blades are a combination of 3 different grass textures. I've used this technique for grass before and likely got the texture ideas from a tutorial. The tree bark is another homemade texture and the branches are a combination of google image shots, personal photos and stock images that I've collected over the years. The broken fence is a modified version of driftwood from the Max library and the sky is a photoshoped google image. My final materials palette and a close up of the barn:

The rendering and lighting took the most time in this project. I wanted to do a daylight scene and the new version of 3D Studio Max comes with a 'daylight' solution. I used it in combination with a skylight to simulate day. After several test renders and some adjustments to exposure I had it set how I wanted. In addition I decided to use the lightracer to simulate realistic shadows. This is where the problems began. Due to the setup of the tree there is *A LOT* of geometry to perform light calculation against. I finished this project Sunday morning and began the render some time that night. After >36 hours the render was only about half done. Since I was going to run against the deadline I was forced to quit the render and disable the lighttracer. This was quite disappointing since with the lighttracer enabled the tree looks considerably nicer. All the inside branches have shadows cast against them. However, the estimated render time would have put completion about 10 hours past the deadline. No good.

Conclusions/Final Thoughts
I'm pretty happy with the way the image turned out. Given more time I would have likely tweaked some of the textures and adjusted the lighting somewhat. I will also likely render the image out using the lightracer at some time to see what it actually looks like. In my initial planning I had opted to do a depth-of-field render. You can see one up top if you visit the large w/ dof link. I ended up rendering the final image at 1600 x 1200 and liking the result enough not to add the dof to it.