3D Background Process using Blender, SAI and Photoshop

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sendo
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3D Background Process using Blender, SAI and Photoshop

#1 Post by sendo » Thu Sep 04, 2014 2:51 am

Hello! So like the title says, this is how I go about creating a 3d background for visual novels. Without further ado, let's get down to business.

BLENDER: Lighting, Materials, and Rendering


DISCLAIMER: I am not a professional 3d artist. My 3d knowledge was acquired from various tutorials and head-banging experiments. Some things I do might make seasoned 3d artists roll their eyes along the z-axis and vomit n-gons...

Lighting Setup

You may have the best models and textures, but lighting ultimately makes or breaks a scene. Here's my lighting setup. Quite a lot of lamps but that's because the lighting provided by the Sun and Environment lighting wasn't enough to light up the scene so I added a few more.
ISO layout of the scene, I like doing this for my renders ^^:
Image
Lamp positions:
Image
Image
The Yellow Light or the Sun lamp is the main light source for this scene. It's a default sun lamp, nothing fancy. I used it to create the light hitting the floor. I think this creates a nice 'hotspot' for the image (which will be exploited later down the pipeline)

As annotated, the Pink lights are helper point lamps made to brighten the scene up (especially the bookshelf), this could also be substituted with an area lamp that blankets all the objects in the scene. They all have the same settings - low energy, diffuse only, no shadow, and high distance to reach all the objects.

The Green Light is an isolated area lamp affecting only the room walls just to brighten it up a bit.

The Blue Light is a default point lamp with high distance to reach every object. This is used to re-create shadows that were blended by the Environment lighting, as well as brightening everything a bit.

Material Settings

All of my materials are default Lambert with varying specular settings and some having mirror settings on. The floor is obviously textured with a simple wooden plank texture. I run my textures through the 'Cutout' filter in photoshop to simplify them, because I noticed in a lot of anime, textures tend to be pretty simple and the cutout filter does that quite effectively. The wardrobe texture is a procedural cloud texture. I played around different X/Y/Z size combinations to get the vertical lines effect then applied it as a Normal map.

A word of caution, don't use pure white or black material colors because once they are combined with Environment Lighting, Light/Shadows, and Ambient Occlusion, they easily become pure Black or White - you don't want that, because it will mess with your values and no amount of Color Balancing or Hue/Sat will change pure black or white colors.

Freestyle Settings - Thickness = 2, that's it! I rendered it separately with transparency so I can easily overlay it over the render.

I think that covers all of the Blender specific parts except Modeling because that deserves another thread but I just kept my models simple, staying low-poly whenever I can and getting the basic form first before adding the nuts-and-bolts. Now it's time to hit the Render button!
Click for full-view:
Image
Not bad! Note that I made the Sky transparent so I can easily paint behind the windows.

Photoshop Post-Processing Part 1

Values

All right, first things first, let's check the values! Just add a new layer > bucket fill with white or black > set layer mode to Saturation. I was aiming for a well-lit room for this scene, so the image should have evenly distributed values - there shouldn't be very dark or very bright spots (of course except parts where it makes sense; inside the wardrobe, dark plastic etc). Why? Because if there was an object that has a very dark value in say the right edge of the scene, the eye would most likely focus on that one. I don't like that for this particular scene. I want to control where the eye looks at (the center part, we'll get to that in the last step.)
Image
You can fix values by making a layer underneath the value-checking layer, setting it to luminousity and paint black/white on the parts that need fixing. I didn't do any value fixing for this scene because I was pretty happy with the render.

Line

Now let's overlay the line render. Once again, don't use black color for the line color - it's too heavy and harsh! Use a color that blends well with the render. What I did was to take the dominant color of the whole image and use a dark version of it, in this case I used a deep brown-red. I lowered the opacity to about 40-50% and set it to multiply to blend it into the scene.
Image
Color Balance
I wanted to give the lighting a 'Magic Hour' feel so I gave it a magenta-ish color and upped the highlights with yellow.
Click for Full-View:
Image
Now that we have the values and base colors in place, it's time to paint it over on SAI.

SAI Paint Over
You can do this in Photoshop or any painting software really, but I prefer painting in SAI. This is also my favorite part (getting a decent raw render is a clooose second). Things I did in this step:
  • add textures
  • refine materials
  • soften a few hard edges
  • reinforce speculars/highlights
  • add detail
Here's a couple of close-ups:
Image
And here's the full paint-over. Click for Full-View:
Image
Photoshop Post-Processing Part 2

And now back to photoshop for the final step. The background at this point is Okay-looking, maybe just brighten the light by a notch. But I wanted to lead the eye towards the center so that the viewer has something to focus on at first glance. This is where adding the bright lights come in.

Add another layer, set it to screen and use a soft round brush to paint the light streaks. Try to use whatever the sky color is or any dominant color, in this case, Yellow, Orange and Magenta. Use as many layers as you want to achieve the lighting you're aiming for. Overlay, Color Dodge, Linear Light etc are your friends here.
Click for Full-View:
Image
And there you go! That's basically my process for making backgrounds with a lot of man-made objects. I have a different approach for nature backgrounds and the like, but that's for another time. If you've come this far, thanks but oh, there's one last thing!
Click for Full-View:
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Re: 3D Background Process using Blender, SAI and Photoshop

#2 Post by Fungii » Thu Sep 04, 2014 7:22 am

My god, that's amazing. I don't know why painting over the fabrics so they look more, well, fabricy never crossed my mind before.

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Re: 3D Background Process using Blender, SAI and Photoshop

#3 Post by fleet » Thu Sep 04, 2014 12:50 pm

You do nice work.
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Some are at http://www.visualnovelty.com.
Poorly done hand-drawn art is still poorly done art. Be a Poser (or better yet, use DAZ Studio 3D) - dare to be different.

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Re: 3D Background Process using Blender, SAI and Photoshop

#4 Post by Tempus » Thu Sep 04, 2014 5:19 pm

Nice process overview! I was thinking of doing a post like this some time in the future. This is pretty similar to my own process -- I often find I have around 4 - 8 lamps per scene to help pick up dark areas / cast shadow.

It's a good looking end result. Thanks for sharing!
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Re: 3D Background Process using Blender, SAI and Photoshop

#5 Post by Ezri » Thu Sep 04, 2014 10:16 pm

This is a great tutorial, and the end result is lovely! Thanks for sharing!
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Re: 3D Background Process using Blender, SAI and Photoshop

#6 Post by LateWhiteRabbit » Thu Sep 04, 2014 10:38 pm

crestforge wrote: DISCLAIMER: I am not a professional 3d artist. My 3d knowledge was acquired from various tutorials and head-banging experiments. Some things I do might make seasoned 3d artists roll their eyes along the z-axis and vomit n-gons...
Don't be so hard on yourself. This is good work. Easily equivalent to work I saw down in art school for the same type of thing. A really good break down of the process for everyone.

I need to start doing this sort of thing again - I DO have an actual degree in 3D work, and I keep trying to illustrate backgrounds from scratch. I have not opened 3ds Max in so long....

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Re: 3D Background Process using Blender, SAI and Photoshop

#7 Post by MaiMai » Fri Sep 05, 2014 12:07 am

This is really great. I might try this, but I'm positively allergic to 3D programs; I'll get over it since this process has painting steps involved!
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Re: 3D Background Process using Blender, SAI and Photoshop

#8 Post by sendo » Fri Sep 05, 2014 12:31 am

@Fungii: Thank you! I'm happy this could help.


@fleet: Thanks a lot, I try my best : )


@Tempus: Hey thanks man! Actually, the idea of adding a bunch of helper lamps was thanks to you. I think it was in the Kitchen BG you did and you mentioned in a post that you added lamps to fake bounce lights. And then something just clicked and that's how I got the idea of those helper lamps. So, thanks for that!


@LateWhiteRabbit: Wow, thanks for the encouraging words! I still draw backgrounds from scratch as well especially for relatively easy scenes. I guess the biggest draw to use 3D for me was because I make a lot of mistakes in freehand perspective and so using 3D takes that big weight off my shoulders.


@MaiMai: Thank you! I hope you still find it useful : )
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Re: 3D Background Process using Blender, SAI and Photoshop

#9 Post by Hellboy » Sat Sep 13, 2014 12:07 am

Beautiful! :D
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Re: 3D Background Process using Blender, SAI and Photoshop

#10 Post by verysunshine » Thu Sep 25, 2014 1:05 am

Looks great! I'll be skipping some of the steps because of the art style I'm using, but this was very helpful.

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Re: 3D Background Process using Blender, SAI and Photoshop

#11 Post by verysunshine » Thu Sep 25, 2014 3:31 pm

I'm having some problems with rendering the lines. The lines don't seem to cooperate with the objects in front of them. See how the lines around the piano don't match the piano's position.
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Re: 3D Background Process using Blender, SAI and Photoshop

#12 Post by sendo » Thu Sep 25, 2014 9:58 pm

@Hellboy: Thank you! : )

@verysunshine:
I tried recreating your scene and it didn't do that to me. Could you show me your piano model in wireframe view? It also seems you are using modifiers (Sub surf?), try turning those off if it helps.
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Re: 3D Background Process using Blender, SAI and Photoshop

#13 Post by SinSisters » Mon Sep 29, 2014 5:28 pm

Amazing tutorial! Very nice (also, I like your scene!) Really helpful and well done :)

-Nat

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Re: 3D Background Process using Blender, SAI and Photoshop

#14 Post by Railgun » Tue Sep 30, 2014 5:02 pm

The result is stunning! Good job and nice of you to share it :)
I should try it too, but I admit I really don't like 3D T__T

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Re: 3D Background Process using Blender, SAI and Photoshop

#15 Post by tscbr » Thu Oct 02, 2014 12:00 am

Wow, it looks great! Love the repainting you did on SAI. It gives more 'comfy and natural' feel.

Now, I'm thinking of learning Blender since I suck at backgrounds.
Would you mind sharing some starter tips? My head kinda fried after I visited the Blender site.

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