Watchman's Ease

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If you want to skip to the finish, you can check out the final version here: https://www.artstation.com/artwork/lVN2Ra


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Starting out the landscape: 




This piece I'm calling "Watchman's Ease" (brownie points if you know the reference) is my first ever predominantly organic scene. I'm very curious to hear about feedback on the whole thing! I'm looking forwards to reading your opinions/critique.

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  • Retribution
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    Implemented a dramatic mountain range, in an effort to give the project more depth and scale. I also discovered (thanks to a friend's advice) that the lighting was actually not working correctly with my two-sided material textures. After remedying that situation, I can definitely see an improvement on my grass & leaves. 

    I also played with the colour values in post-processing to push the "dawn vibe", most noticeable in the sky now. I'm happy with the direction the scene has headed in, I intend to transition the snow/grasslands more effectively. I also intend to introduce another tree type, perhaps a mountain pine. This might end up replacing the willow tree altogether. 
  • Retribution
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    Opted for a common alder tree-type, which has now populated the scene and added a lot more character to the whole thing. I think it suits the highland vibe a lot more than the willow, and as I've now had a bit more practice with tree creation; a bit better looking too. I'm not sure if the tree is too sparse, I may add further branches & leaves to fill it all out a bit more (perhaps a second variation, one sparse, one filled out). 

    I've also removed the hastily made rocks I mocked up, and dropped in Megascans rocks. I intend to give a personal touch to the rocks with some overgrown moss (they're too clean right now)! I also want to introduce some climbing growth on to the tower itself. There is also subtle light from the tower window now, adding a tiny bit more story to the scene. 

    When I've got to doing all that, I'd also like to introduce another flower type to the scene, to give it more vibrant colour. 
  • Ashervisalis
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    Ashervisalis ngon master
    Hey bud!

    I think you should put some time into learning about composition, specifically focal points and colour. My eye is having trouble figuring out where to focus. What is the path you'd like my eyes to follow on this image? How are you going to make my eyes do that? The colours are clashing. Purple might not be the best colour for a sky in an image predominantly green, especially if you're mixing blues and reds.

    The tower looks like a little dark shape, and isn't drawing the attention is probably should. Bring it closer! The sun being visible isn't helping the image, and would provide better light if it was behind the camera. If you increased the mountain size, it would give a grander feel to the image. The land slopes down on each side, and I feel trapped on this creek bed. The creek could be improved if I were to be able to see a pebbly bottom. Also, some variation in the land, aka bald patches of ground. I feel like your trees could use a whole lot of love. Go and check out some trees from modern day games and see if you can replicate something to that quality! If you can't reach that bar, maybe push the trees further back, because my eyes keep looking at them, and the trees look a bit unnatural right now. The area of the beach closest to the camera, on the left, would be an excellent place to get rid of grass and show off your excellent material blending skills, by having a pebbly or muddy beach. I think if you flattened out the ground alongside the river, it would give me a 'hey I can walk along there!' feel, which would be nice. That bridge looks dope but its too far away. Bring it closer so I can see it! You spend time modeling that, don't let a megascans rock steal your thunder.

    Are you working from reference or concept?



  • Retribution
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     Hi Ash, 

    Thanks for taking the time to offer some feedback. I've taken the path of using references to build this scene, predominantly inspired by the lowest, larger image. I adapted the scene to try and reign in the over-all scale of the project, whilst sticking with the highland theme.  I can appreciate your comment about the focal point being too weak right now, and the paint over suggests some cool ideas! Thanks for that.

    I'll see what I can do about the trees, practice makes perfect - perhaps third time is the charm. I'll also see what I can achieve by clearing some grass away for material blending. Meanwhile, here are some of the references I've been using.




  • Ashervisalis
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    Ashervisalis ngon master
    Those references are really cool! I actually spent some time at some of these places, such a beautiful area eh? I think the colours of the bottom image work so well because they're predominantly purple and blue.There are only a few touches of green. There is a James Gurney book: Colour and Light. It goes over the difficulty in using a lot of green in your art. You'll notice in a lot of the photographs you posted, the image is predominantly green, or green with a mix of red, or slightly monochromatic. I think that's how the photographers were able to achieve such a pleasing image while using a lot of green.
  • Retribution
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    I definitely need to swat up on some more advanced colour theory when I can pull myself away from actually doing 3D long enough to do so, lol. Highlands (especially in Scotland & Iceland) are so impressive. I took the time today to terra-form, re-work the lighting and add in a bunch more rocky stuff. It's still WIP, but you gave me plenty to chew on with that critique, which has motivated me to take it to where it is now. 

    The mountains have also been super-charged with growth potions (just in case you missed them, ha). I'm also working in several ground textures to create more variant to the landscape. The sky now also hopefully counter-acts the green with a stronger blue. I'll work on breaking up areas that are a bit "too green", perhaps more "terra-forming". 

    I really appreciate you engaging with the scene and offering your thoughts dude! Hopefully, this now looks like a step in a better direction. 
  • Ashervisalis
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    Ashervisalis ngon master
    It looks far better already! Did you make those mountains? I feel you could redo those to better match Scottish mountains, because I'm getting a Swiss alps feel with them. Another thing that's throwing me off a bit is how there is no transition between grassy fields and snowy mountain.

    I think I might start a thread soon on colour/composition theory, that might be fun. I'd honestly spend one day watching videos on colour and composition. Good modeling skills look great, but when you can combine that with composition skills, it'll look even better. Check out the below video on colour theory; it's only 23 minutes long!


  • Retribution
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    I did make those mountains, using some height maps I stamped them in to existence via Maya's sculpting tool. I know they don't offer much of a highlands vibe, but I have to confess that I can't bring myself to replace them! I'm very happy with the character they bring to the scene. 



    Here we have what may well be the final result of this project! I went back to improve the trees, grew some ivy around the tower and moss sprouted in to life on the rocks. Oh, and added some banners flying in the wind on the tower. I'm still open to any final suggestions or critiques before I do get to work on a fly-through and other renders. 


  • Retribution
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    Ok, so I'm now finished with this project. I learnt so much doing it, and I'm sure there are still things I could improve upon, but I feel like it's reached the potential I was pushing it toward. Thank you @Ashervisalis for your critiques, I'll be sure to carry across what I've learnt here on to the next project to try and make it bigger and better. (: 

    You can see lots of different renders & a video fly-through on my artstation: 

    https://www.artstation.com/artwork/lVN2Ra 
  • Ashervisalis
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