My name is Davide, I’m 31 years old artist from Italy and a self-taught guy who spends half of his time working on 3D models and the other half to make them look as if they were not 3D made.
I like to design dreamlike scenarios and fantasy characters, focusing on finding my own way to mix many different things together, such as combining handmade sketchy textures with realistic ambient lighting, or low poly fairy-looking models with procedural materials and toony lineart. After a long time (and a millions failed experiment later) I finally came up with something that would like it was drawn by Tim Burton and painted by Hayao Miyazaki, spiced up with some of my personal taste.
Let’s now take a look inside the Island following a breakdown on how the whole scene is made, starting from the base materials until the final compositing. To make things clear I’ll show all the steps by using only the Moka House since the workflow is the same repeated on all the other object in the scene.
Making the base material!
After modeling the Moka House and unwrapping it I used some flat-no-shaded emit material to create the basic color palette of the object. This is super useful when you are planning to work with super fast Cycles setting (10-20 samples, no light bounces at all) and basically have a realtime render preview.
Since I was looking for having some handpainted-like effect I’ve worked on this material node:
Even if it looks so big, the node is not so hard to figure out:
- Base color is selected, then it goes into 4 different Hue/Saturation nodes in order to create 4 different darker/lighter variance of the base color.
- The different colors are then mixed by using some procedural Musgrave, Noise and Wave texture as Fac. The first node group (ORANGE) creates some bigger color variance randomly over the mesh, the second node group (GREEN) makes some tiny lines and curves to simulate brush strokes, the third one (AZURE) adds some final noise and contour effect on the surface.
As you can see on the Suzanne below, the outcome is now close to some sorta of hand painted color, made just by Blender’s procedural textures, without any external editing.
The next step is the baking of textures. For the Fantasy Island I’ve made:
- Diffuse color texture as explained,
- Hard Shadow textures; by using a flat black/white toon material and just one sun light with 0 size,
- Scratches textures, made by applying a handmade scratch textures, randomly displaced all over the building,
- Ambient Occlusion and Normal Map textures, which I’m not going to talk about because they are just made by baking them with the standard Blender setting into the bake tab.
Diffuse, Hard Shadow and Scratches texture are then edited all together to create one detailed color texture. With just a simple diffuse material and some AO/Bump in the node this is the final result of our baking process!
Setting the scene!
After going through the same procedure above for all the scene’s object, it’s time to start compositing the scene.
As for the most of my personal work, I really like to keep things as simple as they could be. In this case, the ground is made starting from an icosphere displaced accordingly to look like an island, and all over it there’s a simple particle system emitting 2-3k of tiny grass hairs.
A displaced plane is used for the ocean, and another one far behind is set for simulating the background. For the final render I’m using just and only diffuse materials,so there’s one sun lamp (with size close to 0) and a small yellow/orange spotlight at the centre of the scene to make things looks warmer. Once everything is done, Cycles is proceeding to render 3 different layer:
- Shadow only/Ambient Occlusion; to have a better control on balck and white areas during compositing,
- Freestyle only; with transparency ON and everything in the scene set to be considered as holdout,
- Diffuse/Base; being the main render, with all the materials and lights set on.
With some minor editing (I’ve used Photoshop for this, but Blender compositor is working really fine too) it is now just a matter of taste about color balancing, rgb curves, saturation and sharpness to have the image looking like this:
What I try to do with everyone of my works is creating something immersive and inspiring. Unfortunally sometimes this can be hard and being inspired is not enough for someone like me which has not so much knowledge about the whole animation process, and everything I’m creating are just images.
But at this point, this is where Sketchfab allowed me to move a step further!
Creating such a little scene like a small universe in a shell and watching people navigate into them and enjoying it was really satisfying! Even if nothing is really moving into there, having a chance to fly into the scene, surrounded by lights and music was such a beautiful experience, and today, exporting my creation on sketchfab has become an ordinary part of my daily workflow 🙂
Thanks for reading this little story about the background of the Fantasy Village! If you want to discover more about my works, you are welcome to come find me on Sketchfab, ArtStation, Behance or Facebook and hitting me me up to talk about digital art, gaming, Italian food and cute dog gifs 🙂