Moonlit walk

Another Sardi Pax adventure in Blender. This post presents my results from his excellent modeling tutorial, intended to create a snowy moonlit scene, with tracks breaking the snow field. I hear the crunch of icy snow, shiver in the chill of the cold moon. I’ve included my model at the end of this post.

Two aspects of this tutorial forced me to backtrack and rework certain portions, both times a result of my own inattention to detail. Following along in Blender as SP described the methods and techniques he used to create this beautiful scene, my first mistake was obvious half way through SP’s video: I had positioned my camera to catch too much of the Environment Sky Textures brighter bands of color. Adjusting the camera angle brought my Blender model back into line with SP’s, replete with a dark blue twilight sky suitable for stars and the moon.

The second problem resulted in a moon without craters, or any obvious texture. SP installs stars in the moonlit sky, and my comparison of a render with stars, and without, led me to believe that caustics, or ‘fireflies,’ were the root cause of the delta between the two:

Prelim render, sans stars
Prelim render, with stars

I adjusted the ‘Sampling:Clamp Direct’ and ‘Sampling: Clamp Indirect’ settings to quash the fireflies. I didn’t discover the error of incrementing the ‘Clamp Direct’ value until I modeled the moon. Try as I might, I couldn’t get the moon to display the texture of our moon, cratered and pockmarked–it just rendered as an indistinct white circle. I paused Sardi’s video lesson, and stepped back through all the adjustments I had made. This required that I replay the video multiple times. Finally, I zeroed out the ‘Clamp Direct’ setting, and back came the Man in the Moon.

This scene can stand alone, or serve as a backdrop to any number of animal and human encounters. The following image shows the scene before rigged character insertion. An obvious problem with this render is that a tree or two intersects the track path. I correct that below in the final render by selecting a different ‘seed’ for the tree particle system.

The number of parameters in any scene results in unique output for virtually every render. Even a single node can affect the scene dramatically, such as the ‘stars’ generated by a ‘Noise texture’ node; less than .010 variation either fills or drains the sky of stars.

The compositing step of the render added moon beams and the crepuscular effect, which I like. Volumetrics on the cheap, I think Sardi labeled it. My model is here.

Thanks for reading.

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