View Full Version : Mini challenge: Create a landscape in EI

04 April 2006, 02:33 PM

Time for another mini challenge, this should tide us over until the particle playground challenge is ready.

You mission is to create a photo-realistic landscape in Electric Image (still shot)..

The main requirement for this mini-challenge is that your scene must contain both mountains and water. A sense of scale is key, the landscape must appear daunting or vast, think Brobdingnagian in scale! Pick your weather, time of day and time of year carefully.

There are several ways to go about creating landscapes in EI.

1. A height map with Image2Mesh -
2. The Run-wave deform.
3. The free Erosion plugin from the Igors and Konkeptoine.
4. Importing a terrain from another application (such as Bryce).
5. A combination of the above.

Post your scene stats and describe how you create your geometry. Think carefully about either using a high res detailed base mesh or using a low res mesh and adding bump/displacement/ deformation for detail inside EI.

Remember atmospheric haze (fog) and keep your camera in a physically plausible location (ie. Not halfway down a cliff).

Use Global Illumination if you can (Skylight and bounce), an occlusion pass will also help to add depth. Post-production is allowed, but please say what you do.

This thread is to be a discussion of various approaches and techniques. The final image isn't the most important thing, its the route you take getting to it, however, having said that.....

I look forward to seeing what you come up with! The person behind the nicest image will receive a signed coconut courtesy of Brian.

NOTE: I have found that Image2Mesh does not play nicely with GI, the solution is to export I2M models, run them through transporter and then to re-import them (which also saves on Camera having to create the geometry at render time, so this will save you time in the long run).

This thread will be moved to the WIP lab once it has taken off...

04 April 2006, 03:44 PM
Hi, Ian

Nice idea with terrains! Just a quick note: as we remember, Erosion can use height maps as well (and blur them)

04 April 2006, 06:48 PM
Too true! Sorry Igors, I forgot to mention that.

Another thing I forgot to mention is Sky.... With stills I always pop in a sky in photoshop, but, you lot might not.... Go go go :)


04 April 2006, 08:03 PM
Cool idea

Especially as I've become really lazy using Vue for this kind of thing. I'm up to my eyeballs with work, but will try to make some time for this.

04 April 2006, 12:04 AM

Time for another mini challenge, this should tide us over until the particle playground challenge is ready.

You mission is to create a photo-realistic landscape in Electric Image (still shot)..

The main requirement for this mini-challenge is that your scene must contain both mountains and water. A sense of scale is key, the landscape must appear daunting or vast, think Brobdingnagian in scale! Pick your weather, time of day and time of year carefully.

I only had time for a Mini-mini-challenge, 60 min max.
So, not very Photo-realistic, no mountains, no water, to compensate that, I made it a VR ;-)



04 April 2006, 06:24 AM
nice one, hans! :)

and Ian: nice idea and great height maps! i'll try and post something in the next few days.

04 April 2006, 03:11 PM
800x800 maps are up now as well, along with instructions on how to use them with the Erosion plug-in. Which looks like it might be the way to go, i'll post some images on Monday...

Go play!

04 April 2006, 02:23 PM

Hi, I don't know if I can submit this still. It's a part of a work I just finished 3 weeks ago (10 stills, 4 animations). I began it 2 years ago. My client was not very speedy ;-).

This is a study case for the implantation of a bridge over a river in province of Quebec in Canada. It's a mix of photography and 3D Modeling.

All the structures are modelised with Illustrator,Form•z and EIAS (PlacerDeposit, PathFinder). The terrain come from real elevation data (number) converted in height map and processed with Image2Mesh. The mapping of the landscape is done with an assembly of 4 aerial B/W photography and colored by Hand. The water is done with Psunami. The Background is a composition of 12 photography made in Stitcher and "color ajusted" in Photoshop. The position to take pictures (to match the Camera location) was determined by GPS. The sky and the clouds come from 2 Spherical maps and applied on 2 differents concentric spheres. The position of the sun is calculated with Helios from NL. There's no Global Illumination, one sun and 4 lights to complete. Maybe I forgot somthing...

The real chalenge was to fit the 3D Model (bridge and landscape) with the Background photography. I was a little nervous about the distortion correction made by stitcher. But everything fits perfectly. And of course, a little job of Photoshop was done to finish this still. In theory, this "picture" should be as is in the real life ;-)

(sorry, but English is not my primary language, I hope everything is clear)

Laurent Capéraà ing.
Images et Technologies
Québec, Qc, Canada

04 April 2006, 01:08 AM
Well, if you would all pardon my french... Bienvenue laurent! Ça fait plaisir de voir un autre québécois sur CGTalk. This is excellent work. Would it be possible to see some animations?

04 April 2006, 09:07 AM
Here's my contribution.

Terrain was based on 512x512 Mordor terrain map provided by Ian (thanks Ian!). Terrain generated using Image2mesh, then triangulated using Dicer, exported and reimported (to solve hatching artifacts that appeared when using GI during my first test render).

Landscape textured using - aStorm, Dirtlayer, Vlife, FractalFoam, Gradient (all in diffuse channel).
Water textured using - aStorm (Diffuse), CrumpleR (Bump).
Sky textured using two layers of Sky (Konkeptoine shader) (Luminance).

One broad spot set to 0.1 intensity. Narrow spot set to 0.5 for light rays. GI sky light 0.2. Light rays generated using an Ubershape plane, deformed using runwave and textured using AG Mondo Cloud for clipping.

Light fog to distance.

A depth map was rendered using fog. Depth blurring done in Photoshop using depth map. Minor levels adjustment.

What a way to spend the weekend. But it was fun and I learnt a few new things.


04 April 2006, 09:42 AM
Excellent Aziz!

The light rays are a great touch. Your water is perhaps the nicest I've seen that uses the crumple shader. I wonder how it would look from the water level.... ;)
The only crit I have is that the mountains seem a little (and I mean a little) smooth... Take a look at the Noise Factory, it's the best damn shader that comes with EI and it can be useful for getting rid of that smooth hill look...

For some reason I think that Mordor map is the first one everyone goes for, It's the one I choose too ;)

Although, I have now switched to a mountain one. I'm using runwave for the water although my water plane is close to a million polys at the moment in order to get the wavelet scale right.... I'll try to post soon.

I'm also using I2M, I've found (I'll prepare myself to feel the wrath of the Igors here) that the Erosion plug-in is great on it's own but when I add a weight map I simply cant get predictable results.... I also get a lot of file write errors when using a map that has already been put into the Erosion_Maps folder....

I'll post some screenshots tomorrow.
Thanks Aziz!

04 April 2006, 12:37 PM

finaly i kicked myself to actually start this today. seems like i missed a criteria, my mountains are hills, at best :)

now my setup:

first i looked at your highmaps, ian, but there was no nice bay, so i painted my own :) .
erosion was my first try, but like ian mentioned, it is pretty unpredictable. either i use it wrong or erosion is not doing what i want.
i2m to rescue! great tool! fractal noise and noise factory for breaking it up a little. my sand texture from project phoenix and a custom painted footstep for the foreground.
color is only a gradient in Y direction from dark blue for the water over azure, sand, brown, green and grey. yah, that simple.

the water is a überplane (about 600 divisions - in camera :) ), deformed with runwave (2x) and the good old crumple shader. it is about 30% transparent to give it a little depth (see gradient on landscape). the foam is some simple luma-maps set to screen mode to better blend together. some power particle basic emitters for the fun of it placed around some über-rocks. two über-rocks for the distant clouds.
i think thats all in eias.
a little photoshop aftertouch - level adjustment, desaturation, highlight blurring and darkening of the edges. and ready.

edit: if this was a real project, there would be much more work needed, around the waterfront for example, but for a few hours work i am pretty happy with this.
second edit: no GI on this, because i wanted fast test renders without adjusting the lighting or diffuse values at the end. maybe i'll do one tomorrow and edit it in here.

have fun, i had it!

04 April 2006, 01:00 PM
Good lad Uwe!

Thanks for taking the time, I really like your foam and spray!

In your GI version (that you ARE going to do ;) I would up the AA sampling to 2x2 to get rid of the jaggies on the crumple shader (I'm sure you would do that anyway though! :)

Great stuff, just a little further to go!

04 April 2006, 01:04 PM
The position to take pictures (to match the Camera location) was determined by GPS.

I was a little nervous about the distortion correction made by stitcher. But everything fits perfectly.

Hi Laurent,
Nice of you to share and good work!

I've found when rotoscoping that you need one of two things to guarantee a match, either:
1. The exact camera location in 3D (provided by accurate context information).
2. The correct focal length.

Of course, both of them would be best.

When you panorama images you lose the focal length, so the camera position becomes really important... But doing it by GPS!? That's great! I wish we could do that!! :)


04 April 2006, 01:09 PM
Aziz, Uwe, you made great images. Really love the colors in your image Uwe.
Congrats both fo you. This challenge is interresting I hope to find some time to participate.

04 April 2006, 02:22 PM
Uwe, Aziz, Laurent & Hans, :thumbsup: thumbs up to you all...

I hope i can participate in this challange too! but not now... back to work...


04 April 2006, 02:25 PM
Uwe, what a nice image! Really like the colors and distance fade.


04 April 2006, 04:32 PM
to complete for Richard

Ok, I send 3 days ago an illustration of a project I just finished. Here's some clips from the movies I made...

The quality is weird (color?) and is due to the H.264 compression in Quicktime I suppose. Maybe some people will find that the lanscape is poor resolution, but that was the best we can find for that region (5 meters precision). The grayscalemap is 2000 x 2000 pixels... after Image2mesh, the weight of the mesh was 142 Mo... After a lot of manipultions I reduced it in 3 parts (differents resolution) for a total of 40 Mo. The Texture Map is about 373 Mo for the high density mesh and 35 Mo for the low density Mesh.

The purpose of one animation is to simulate a car on the road. The road have a lenght of 9,75 Kilometer. The total sufarce of the mesh is 10km x 10 km. I said to the client that we will have a problem of quality, but he doesn't want a final movie quality, but just a simulation. The duration of the road movie is 3 min 20 sec (speed of the simulation is about 200 km/h). A lot of frames... The road movie is very boring but that's what he wants... ???

It takes 18 hours to compute the movie on 19 slaves camera (mix of G5, G4, iMac and one MacMini)... I used some client's cumputers over the internet with renderama and everything works great. If I remember, there's a total of 4 millions of polygons... The total space on my Hard Drive for that project is 57 Gig after a good clean ;-)

I really like EIAS

Laurent Capéraà ing.
Images et Technologies
Québec, Qc, Canada

04 April 2006, 04:45 PM
Just because Ian asked so nicely :) one from the water level (with a drop of NoiseFactory on the terrain. Too little?).

Does anyone have a good recipe for a waterfall - from a distance and close-up? Sometime ago I attempted one using power particles basic, but I could never get enough particles to make it look convincing. I tried combining a textured plane with power particles but it looked odd. Should I get Wondertouch's ParticleIllusion instead?

04 April 2006, 06:51 PM
hey aziz! very nice!

for a distant waterfall power particles basic works quite well (i think). quick test:

this will not work for close-ups.
for stills the setup is quite easy, animations would need a layered setup.
ok, what i did was this:

easy as cake, but very limited. if you are after more complxity you can always add more emiters.

again, eias buildin particle system is not up-to-date!

04 April 2006, 01:50 AM
Brilliant Uwe! Thanks for the tip and images of your settings. They'll live in my harddisk now :)

04 April 2006, 02:14 AM
Hi Laurent, that's an amazingly huge project. Looks great too. Could you post some wireframes? Thanks.

04 April 2006, 08:28 AM
Mornin all,

So.... I have been sent something to share from a user who will remain anonymous. Dun dun duhhh.

They are just tests by the way...

04 April 2006, 08:46 AM
Hi Ian,
Could you ask our mystery artist how the second landscape was textured? Thanks.

04 April 2006, 09:03 AM
ohoo, now there are mysterious men n the dark? ;)
i like the second better, the first somehow reminds me of bryce, don't know why, hehe.

04 April 2006, 04:06 PM
Hi Ian,
Could you ask our mystery artist how the second landscape was textured? Thanks.

Yes, but I would be shot If I posted the response ;)

Er, now, back to the challenge at hand.... Aziz! Nice render... now for the waterfall.... Speaking of which, very cool tip Uwe! And I agree completely, the built in particle system is a little skeletal. Perhaps it's time for Dante Lite?


04 April 2006, 10:05 AM
Hello all!

Here is my graphical contribution, I'm happy with everything but the Lighthouse beacon. If I have more time to play I'll add some spray.

Skylight: 0.3 (deep blue)
Sun: 0.5 (yellow-orange)
Environment dome: 0.67 Luminance (Overcast sunset image).
1 bounce.
100 primary rays.

Render time: 23mins @ this size. Could be faster if I hit some check boxes (I think the water is shadow casting which isn't good).

Photoshop work was Levels and Brightness/Contrast.

Right, I'm away from my Mac until Tuesday, so, feel free to talk amongst yourselves :)

04 April 2006, 06:01 PM
Here is a little test, extremely disregarding the current season! However, growing up and living in Norway is all about learning to love snow :-)

I am experimenting with the gradient shader, and using a light to color it, with the purpose of leaving snow where there is relatively flat, and make it rocky elsewhere, using reactive shaders on top of the gradient. I haven't found any obvious way to hide this light from anything else. If you tick off both "Illumination" and "Highlight", the light fails to drive the gradient shader. I wish it didn't!

I used the Erosion plug-in with height-maps from Photoshop. Two instances, one close, and one far away. This gives enough polygon-density without running into the millions. Approx 800K polys in this scene.

Water is deformed with 3 runwaves, increasing in amplitude towards the middle. There is also a besier on top to bend the river along the landscape.

Lighting is GI Sky at 0.4 and one "Moon" at intensity 0.6. The combination GI+DriverLight for Gradient+SSS gave me unexpected results. The snow parts blew out. It looked like the DriverLight participated in this somehow. I haven't had the time for any deeper investigation yet. Snow looks much better with SSS!


04 April 2006, 02:50 AM
Hi Reidar,
SSS for snow. Good idea!

Just wondering about the water edges - where the river meets the snow. There seems to be a slightly darker area, as if the snow is wet. Was that achieved using a texture map or am I seeing things which aren't there? Thanks.

05 May 2006, 10:14 AM
I got something similar with a gradient map last night.... Very cool water/ snow in that image Reidar.

Was Power Particles Basic used for the spray?

Lots of detail in it, and very sharp too. Kudos!

05 May 2006, 10:52 PM
Hi Ian,
Could you ask our mystery artist how the second landscape was textured? Thanks.

Looks like Conception3 shading to me, i'll also take a wild guess a say the terrain was created with the upcoming adaptive tesselation terrain plugin (as shown on the EEUM dvd).

Looks quite nice done it :)


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