Critique for this render

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Old 10 October 2012   #1
Critique for this render

Hi there,

I just completed the first draft of this image. I got the models from Jeremy Birn's lighting challenge (Juan Carlos Silva did the modelling). But I really don't know what I've accomplished. At times, I really like the results so far. But then, I keep getting the feeling that something's off. The house looks miniature, the grass, gigantic... The elements of the image somehow do not seem to blend together. And this is also one of my first images where I took great pains to work out the composition before I got my hands dirty. But as said before, I'm not sure what I have in my hands now.

Here is it:



Could I get any critique for this image? I would like to hear how my composition holds out, how the lighting is and if my image "work"s at all or not.

What I'm planning on doing next is to reduce the saturation of the lighthouse. I find that the colors stand out too much. Then use some polygon grass among the particle grass I'm using now (for variety) and add details to the textures (and some models).

I'd be very obliged if I could get any critique at all,
Thanking you,
Timothy
__________________
O thou sculptor, painter, poet!
Take this lesson to thy heart:
That is best which lieth nearest;
Shape from that thy work of art.
-Longfellow
 
Old 10 October 2012   #2
What you have is a not too exciting composition coupled with very unexciting lighting. The shadows would never be black or as deep as you have them because light in the world bounces off dust and surfaces, or at least lights it up.

You should be making your own stuff to render but in the mean time check out all the great environment scenes that are available to look at and read up on lighting and composition.

Environments can be a lot of fun.
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Old 10 October 2012   #3
I think this image have some potential, great work so far.

A few things I thought of, since you asked;
To me the wooden fence seems a bit big compared to the shed, I think you could scale it down or move it down a bit. The poles closest to camera especially, they could be brought down to create some negative space in the top left corner. Also the wood seems to be a bit reflective?

Regarding the lighthouse I do agree with you, it seems a bit too saturated. Or at least a bit uniform in color. Play around with some glossy reflections on the rusty metal as well, maybe some bump maps could enhance it further.

The shadows could possibly be a tad brighter all over, and maybe tinted slightly blue. And have a look at the red top of the lighthouse, it's almost fading into pink, I would expect it to be darker?

The grass looks superb! Very well done!

Finally I would consider adding some subtle depth of field, possibly put a light in the lighthouse and some lights inside the shed. Finish off with a little bit glow on them and add some distortion and other lens artifacts if you want.

That's it for now, let's see a new revision!

Cheers,
Elias
 
Old 10 October 2012   #4
Thank you, Kanga.

Thanks for the critique. I found it hard. Hard because I had put in a lot of effort into this. But I accept it and I'll look for ways to improve the image. But I'm not sure how. As I had already put in a lot of research into this. But I do have some new ideas for lighting now. Instead of a steady stream of sun light, I'll break it up. So that the shed and lighthouse will be lit by broad patches.

I willl increase the brightness of the shadow. But is it only in the grass that you meant? Or everywhere else?

I nowadays don't tend to model a lot because by the time I'm done with the modelling, I loose most of the juice. But I do like to do everything from the start to finish by myself.

And I do read all I could on lighting and composition. And that is what scares me. I either don't do enough exercise to put into practice what I've learnt or simply this is not my thing at all. I hope it's the former.


molgamus, Thanks.

I will rearrange the fences a bit. And take care of the wood's reflectivity as well.

I'm working on the lighthouse now. And I was planning on adding some lights inside the shed and the lighthouse as well.

Yes, I meant the top of the lighthouse to be red. But I was in a hurry towards the end. I wanted an opinion on my image before I went to deep (having already spent a lot of time on it, haha) so I slapped some rust textures on to the lighthouse and some bare materials to some of its parts and hit render.


Once again, thanks for the valuable critique. Much appreciated!
T
__________________
O thou sculptor, painter, poet!
Take this lesson to thy heart:
That is best which lieth nearest;
Shape from that thy work of art.
-Longfellow
 
Old 10 October 2012   #5
Your scene lighting suggests a verry warm toned sunrise type of sky, but your backdrop is far too cold/blue/grayish for that. Those two, really dont fit togetter.

Also, if your going for realism, the overal saturation of your colors is way too high... but thats ok, if you're going for a non-realistic or semi-realistic scene. Just thought id add that too.

Last edited by CHRiTTeR : 10 October 2012 at 03:27 AM.
 
Old 10 October 2012   #6
Oh man I hear ya on the time and effort thing!
This stuff just takes loads of time. There are a lot of things your images misses, like critter says saturation is one of them. I am not a landscape guy but what seems to help me is looking at the best work I can find. Look at landscape photos that take your breath away and mix what you see there with tutorials on technique.

Like your avatar there is light in the distance right
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Old 10 October 2012   #7
Thank you, CHRiTTeR. I didn't realize that it was so over saturated. I'll study it properly and try to reduce it.

I've used this image by Bill Melvin as a lighting reference of sorts:


But I never kept it and compared it side by side. I see the differences now. Maybe it'll look more plausible if my backdrop is the same cloudy grey as in the ref.

Thanks for the encouragement and advice, Kanga. Really appreciate it

I now have a suspicion that my monitor may be too bright. I'll try and view this image from others screens and see the difference.
__________________
O thou sculptor, painter, poet!
Take this lesson to thy heart:
That is best which lieth nearest;
Shape from that thy work of art.
-Longfellow
 
Old 10 October 2012   #8
nice!

as you can see in the right bottom of your reference pic, there's some pinkish coming up suggesting it's a storm coming up just before sunset. you get this typical "good summer weather all day ending with a bang" kind of feeling... i can almost feel the wind getting stronger in that render.

the problem with your backdrop, i think, is that it's a typical normal rainy day in autumn kind of vibe, while your light(color) is suggesting more the type of weather of your ref... as you are planning to put some light in the house and tower, i would make the overall outside light blueish in contrast with very warm light coming from the house and tower... and maybe think about putting some rain in the scene. on an emotional side the viewer should want to rush inside the warm cozy little house i think.

In my opinion a landscape should always stir up some feelings...

the house seems a bit out of proportion because the windows are huge i think... also the light tower could serve the scene better if you make it the cliche white with red stripes kind of thing i guess.
 
Old 10 October 2012   #9
Hi Jister. Thanks for pointing so many things out. I'll see what I can do with my backdrop. Though I don't know if I get hold of such a picture.

The very propotions of this cottage seemed odd to me from the first. Even though I made a lot of changes I still haven't nailed it. I'll try the windows now.

And I agree about having a bluish cast to compliment the warm interiors. I'll definitely try that. But I really don't know about putting up the red and white in the lighthouse. I fell in love with this type when I came across this: Whiteford Lighthouse. I'll try to texture my lighthouse to a less-weathered version of it. If that doesn't work, I'll go back to the red and white.

I feel like I'm starting all over again and have so much to do!

But thanks again, Jister!
__________________
O thou sculptor, painter, poet!
Take this lesson to thy heart:
That is best which lieth nearest;
Shape from that thy work of art.
-Longfellow
 
Old 10 October 2012   #10
I actually think the mood and lighting look pretty good in this. I think the modelling and textures really need work though. The cabin is very simplistic and lacks the weathering you would expect from such an exposed place. I think if you improved the design and textures there it would help. Even more so on the lighthouse. You are right, the lighthouse feels out of scale, like a miniature, so try finding a good image of a nice lighthouse online and recreating it for your scene.
Some lens effects would make a difference too, particularly depth of field. Everything looks in perfect focus at the moment, which would be very tough for a real lens to do. Render yourself a depth pass and try a little defocus, but that is a small thing to improve final renders, you need to improve your elements an CG renders first.
 
Old 10 October 2012   #11
I'm only going to comment on lighting, because that's what I do for a living! This is a good start, but...

1) the screen-right side of the lighthouse is WAY too dark. You have half a sky illuminating that wall, remember. This goes for the image overall as well. You can do a lot with the contrast between warm sunlight and cool skylight without having your shadows go so black.

2) compositionally, darkening the foreground fenceposts would be a good way to guide the eye to the brighter lighthouse

3) you're right, bringing down the saturation on the lighthouse would help. I'm on a nice color-calibrated monitor right now, and it's super hot. I would also reduce the yellows and introduce just a touch of blue. Once you're adding that yellow light from the sun, it just goes orange -- you can push just a bit of that brick color back into the final look.

4) I would work on the reflections in the scene - the single pane of glass catching the light in the lighthouse may be correct, but it doesn't look appealing. I would fake in a slightly dimmer reflection on the two windows on either side of that one. Also, the window in the cottage is facing roughly the same direction, it should also catch that light. The lighthouse itself doesn't seem to have any reflectivity, which is making it look dull, dry, and uninteresting.

5) notice the hard line where the cottage meets the ground -- there should be some kind of cast shadows or contact shadows.

6) I would eliminate the fencepost that is obscuring the cabin. It isn't adding anything to the composition

7) I am going to guess that you aren't using a linear lighting workflow. If I'm right, then you should look into that FIRST. It will go miles in making your image better.

8) there are a lot of little things you could do to make this image better in a technical sense -- add a little bounce from the red lighthouse onto the underside of the platform, for instance.

9) unlike some of the others, I'm less bothered by the warm foreground. One of my favorite times is when stormclouds are gathering in the eastern sky while the sun sets. It can create exactly this kind of look. The only thing that bothers me is that you can still see blue sky through the clouds in the foreground, which should be both darker and warmer in tone. Make sure that the highlights on those foreground clouds are matching your sunlight color as well.

10) I disagree wholeheartedly with Nick -- don't even think about lens effects until you've nailed down the lighting.

Hope this helps!
 
Old 10 October 2012   #12
Thanks nickmarshallvfx and EdtheHobbit!

nickmarshallvfx, I agree about the textures. I haven't started working on them yet. I plan to do a whole lot of weathering on the cabin and on the lighthouse. I'm having trouble with the scale of the lighthouse right from the start. I don't know how doing another lighthouse will fix that till I nail the scale first. So I'll tinker with the scale yet again and see what I can do. It seems so elusive!

EdtheHobbit, thanks so much for such a detailed critique! I'll put them to use here

About point 6: I had kept that fence post there in the hopes that it will slow the eye down so that you look at the cottage a bit longer. Guess it's in the wrong place. I'll remove it.

T.
__________________
O thou sculptor, painter, poet!
Take this lesson to thy heart:
That is best which lieth nearest;
Shape from that thy work of art.
-Longfellow
 
Old 10 October 2012   #13
Originally Posted by EdtheHobbit: 10) I disagree wholeheartedly with Nick -- don't even think about lens effects until you've nailed down the lighting.


Originally Posted by nickmarshallvfx: ...but that is a small thing to improve final renders, you need to improve your elements and CG renders first.


Cheers,
N
 
Old 10 October 2012   #14
Sorry Nick, I elided over that bit! I bow to your wisdom!

on point 6 - the fencepost is right on the corner of the building behind, which makes us lose the shape of the building. You might try having the fence post broken in half, so that you can see at least part of the corner of the cottage, or try to move the post to a place that doesn't coincide so perfectly with that corner. try a few configurations!
 
Old 10 October 2012   #15
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