This whole project was actually a series of test renders that eventually become too good to be stored in hard drive. It started with the notion that using just Vue for my terrain scene is not enough. I want more control.
After doing a series of research, watching so many tutorials, here are the workflow i acquired to create this scene.
First, with a single piece of polygon, i sculpted it into a mountain ( it would later turned out to be a hill, not a mountain – i will explain later ). I set the brush in Zbrush to move the polygons in Y direction only. The reason for this is… I don’t want to export the mesh. Instead, I want to export the displacement map. I generated the displacement map from level 0, that means, Zbrush would have to calculate the distance between the flat plane to the furthest polygon ( which is on level 7 if i remembered correctly ).
The displacement map would go to world machine. Here, i applied the erosion filter, and output it into a number of maps that i can use to produce color map. Without this procedure, i would have no idea how to “paint” and “texture” the mountain.
The newly generated height map from World machine would then go to both Modo and Photoshop. In Modo, i applied the height map on a single polygon. I hit “D” several times to add geometry into it so that there are enough polygons for the mesh. In photoshop, i combined color map, ambient occlusion, bumps, flow maps, etc to produce the final color map. I made sure the top of the mountain is bluish, and the rest is dark greenish.
The sky was generated by Vue’s cumulus and cirrus cloud.
There are 4 trees i use to grow on the mountain. I simply used the real time sample trees, modified in such a way so that they have very few polygons. Each branch or bark are 3 sided. Imagine a cylinder that doesnt look like a circle when seen from the top, but looks like a triangle. Every tree has two sets of leaves, and these leaves have different color and different sub scattering surface color and depth.
I use a low res black and white image to control the spread of the trees. I want the mountain to be bald on the top. There are millions of trees, and after a number of tries, i had problems with scale. In the end, the mountain looks smaller because of the size of the trees. That is why refrained from using the word mountain as the title. Instead, i use “hill”.
I also wanted to generate wispy cloud/fog at the base of the hill, but modo’s volume item was hard to control. I dont know how to scale the volume item’s parameters up to match the size of my hills. So, i generated the wispy clouds using the combination of photoshop’s difference cloud filter and Modo’s depth pass.
The depth pass is masked with difference cloud filter. I carefully, manually, control the transparency of this layer ( which is positioned on the top, obviously ).
Someone asked me to make a tutorial out of this, but unfortunately since it started as a render test, i didn’t save the world machine files. I didn’t save the Vue file either. Sorry.