View Full Version : FXWWARS! Winter Kingdoms, Mustan9

12 December 2008, 06:51 PM
I have a project to complete for the middle of Jan. So the odds that I get anything done on this is unlikely but this one sounds good.

12 December 2008, 07:28 PM
Good luck Mathew, I hope you are able to complete something. This one should be fun :)

12 December 2008, 07:16 PM
Good luck Mathew, I hope you are able to complete something. This one should be fun :)

Thanks, I'm finding it hard to get some free time. So I'm not making much progress, but I'll post some updates now of what I've done so far.

12 December 2008, 07:43 PM
My entry is based on Superman's Fortress of Solitude. I thought this was a good scene for an establishing shot for a film. The Fortress of Solitude as been featured in all the superman films, but none of them really gave the view of the structure much screen time. All the films focused more on the interior then the exterior. Since its in located in the Arctic this makes for the best Winter Kingdom location.

So I gave this a lot of thought on how to proceed. I could not find much visual references for the Fortress of Solitude because it hasn't had much screen time on film, and all other sources are comic references.

I tried to create the structure by hand modeling the crystals, scaling, position, rotating and after an hour I realized that the amount of detail needed was over whelming. There is also a specific style to the crystals with the way they are angled, grouped together and shaped.

So I decided that creating a script to grow the crystals was the best approach. It would allow me to create variations in the crystals so the thing looked more natural.

So that's the MaxScript that I used to create all the pieces of crystal making up the Fortress of Solitude.

I hope to clean up the interface a little and then make it available for download. So people can grow their own Fortress.

12 December 2008, 07:49 PM
I can now grow crystal in different shapes and sizes. So I need to come up with the shader for the crystal as I wasn't sure what kind of UV mapping I was going to need. I wanted something that looked like a mix between frozen snow/ice and glitter like crystal.

After a few frustrating attempts I find some old tutorials on snow shaders, and adapted them to look more like what I was after.

So here's the crystal shader for the Fortress of Solitude.

I'm not completely happy with the results but it was close enough for me to modify the MaxScript. So that it would create the UV mapping that I needed in the crystals.

12 December 2008, 07:56 PM
So now I knew it was possible to create the detail model of the Fortress of Solitude. I needed to draw on paper some design ideas for the structure. It was a lot harder then I thought, because there isn't much in the way of references. Also, I found that everyone shows the Fortress of Solitude from the same front on angle. With the crystal structures crisscrossing to form a solid building. While still looking random in placement.

I tried a few dozen variations in the placement of crystals. I also tried a circular pattern of placements, a organized grid placement, arranging the crystals one by one by hand but nothing seemed to look correct. Trying to translate reference images from a front perspective into a top-down perspective so you could place objects was giving me a headache.

Anyway, after a while I finally settled on this design for the Fortress of Solitude. I feel it captures the original Superman design people think of.

The structure still needs more work, but its a starting point.

I wasn't expecting this to take so long to render. With GI turned on it was about 6 hours on my quad-code machine. So I will have to setup some fake GI with lights for the main building. Hopefully the full environment can be incorporated as separate passes in post.

01 January 2009, 04:02 AM
that's a very cool looking script,I'll be keeping an eye out for it if you make it available for download.
looks like you'll need to get the rendertimes down to get some animation done but it's all looking good..keep going!

01 January 2009, 12:27 PM
That model looks good, but I think you need some kind of sub-surface scattering going on the ice, if you want it to look realistic. Try Mental Ray's SSS shader, or do a Max "cheat", and use a direct light set to "ambient only", with a "far attenuation" set to span over the length of your model.

- Jonas

01 January 2009, 02:11 PM
That model looks good, but I think you need some kind of sub-surface scattering going on the ice, if you want it to look realistic. Try Mental Ray's SSS shader, or do a Max "cheat", and use a direct light set to "ambient only", with a "far attenuation" set to span over the length of your model.

Thanks Jones, that's a clever idea. I will give that a try. I was working on some fake SSS shaders but your approach sounds so simple :)

01 January 2009, 03:10 AM
Just worked a little tonight on some shader ideas for the fortress. A lot of the final look for the structure will have more to do with the environment then anything else, but I think this is close to what I'm hoping to achieve. It also renders a lot faster since there is no more GI.

01 January 2009, 12:53 PM
That looks great!

Tell me, do you have some kind of falloff in the material?

If not, try that. For instance, put a falloff map in the self-illumination slot.

- Jonas

01 January 2009, 01:57 PM
Impresive work, I would love to see thatīs script, that could be use for a lot more that only Ice, Iīll say entire cities could be made out of this.

Good luck man, nice work

01 January 2009, 02:32 PM
Thanks guys,

I'm now adding the feature to grow crystals along the path of a spline. So that I can have crystals coming out of cracks along the arctic surface.

01 January 2009, 04:07 PM
I finished with the script used to create the fortress. Once I block out the landscape I'll use the script to grow more crystals. Hope to post a concept layout for the fortress tomorrow.

I'm now starting the painful process of deciding my camera animation. One idea I have is to do a first person perspective of an ice climber coming over the edge of a mountain to reveal a valley, where the fortress is featured. Getting the camera animation just right so that it feels like a person is climbing a hill will be a challenge. I've thought about using a video camera to record some references and maybe do some camera tracking. I want it to feel like the camera is being held in someone's hands.

We're experiencing a cold snap of -20'C here this week. So I thought I would go out and record some nice crunchy freezing snow sounds when you're walking across the snow.

Anyone have any tutorials or advise it would be greatly appreciated.

01 January 2009, 02:52 PM
CgTalk:FXWars! Winter Kingdoms - You have ONE WEEK to GO! (Jan 26th) (

Just a heads up!


01 January 2009, 11:13 PM
One more week to go! Hard to believe how quickly time goes by.

I decided in the end to just animate the camera by hand. So I think I'm close to a final animation for the camera. I can see a few spots that I might adjust but I'll wait until I have the model for the fortress finished.

You can download an animatic of the camera aniation.

Download Link (3Megs) (

Now to start rendering my all my layers. I expect there to be a couple dozen elements to composite together.

01 January 2009, 12:55 AM
I like the hand held look, can't wait to see it finished :thumbsup:

01 January 2009, 04:55 PM
I've changed servers so the above links are currently broken. I totally forgot about the fxwars folder on the server. I hope I have a backup somewhere to copy to the new one. :)

CGTalk Moderation
01 January 2009, 04:55 PM
This thread has been automatically closed as it remained inactive for 12 months. If you wish to continue the discussion, please create a new thread in the appropriate forum.