The project "SandStorm: Alien Environment" was a personal project Tiberius Viris created for the recent Vue competition. Unfortunately, due to workload, he did not finish it on time. His goal was to create a beautiful alien scene while keeping it as photorealistic as possible. When the viewer looks at the picture, he should be able to observe both natural and alien environment at the same time.
About the Artist
Tiberius Viris was born in Bucharest (Romania). He has been working with Vue for almost 3 years; he started when Vue 5 was released. He describes himself as an advanced Vue user and is currently working as a freelance matte painter, taking various projects from feature films to games.
"I have been dreaming of environments and exotic worlds ever since I can remember. I am inspired by nature. There are so many places of incredible beauty and only a few people know they even exist. Books are also a good source of inspiration, especially those that depict scenery. Fortunately, I became a passionate environment artist who seeks hyper realism and artistic value at the same time."
While traditional concepts quenched his thirst for scenes for a long time, he did not find the desired realism at this time. He opened his first 3D package - 3dsMax 5 - when he was 17 years old. He was amazed by all the things he could do with it. He then read several tutorials and books, but still was not really satisfied with it. That was when he started to look for a natural environment solution.
"I first tried Terragen, which was quite a thing at that time, then after a couple of months I found out about Vue and my journey began."
Project "SandStorm: Alien Environment"
"When I started this project I didn't have a precise setup in mind, but I knew I was going for something atmospheric with a big vertical field of view and an alien-like environment."
"I started by testing several atmospheres. At this point it was very easy to get misled by something I call the 'wow effect', because Vue tends to produce a lot of eye candy atmospheres. It is very important to keep a balance between beauty, color, and realism."
When the atmosphere started to look closer to his idea, Tiberius began shaping the terrain. His first try was far from satisfying since the atmosphere covered most of the terrain and the image did not look 'juicy' enough. To correct this, but still to keep an alien-like atmosphere, he tried to create a spiky, rocky terrain. Unfortunately, it did not work either, because it was an obvious CG terrain that did not look natural enough.
"Seeing that functions wouldn't do the job for me, I started to sculp the terrain manually until I was fully satisfied."
The terrain was now looking good, but the atmosphere was still too colorful and too contrasted for a realistic sandstorm. He adjusted the shades and the amount of different atmosphere components. By using several cloud layers set to a low opacity in front of the camera as well as placing different metaclouds closer to the terrain, he managed to get to the final look. This also helped to differentiate the cloud layers from the sandstorm level. Finally, he added the star effect and a decent 2k texture to the planet for full realism.
"When seeking realism you must pay attention to lighting, colors, shapes and texture. You have to use patterns and values that are recognized by the human mind as 'real', based on previous experiences. I believe that if you would create a purple hazed atmosphere, no one will like it, except kids. The right balance between the different shades used by Vue to create the atmosphere (such as fog, haze, decay, skydome) is the most complex part of achieving the goal."
"You have to use tricks, such as invisible spotlights/point lights, or cover objects to correct faulty lighting.
Last but not least, do not expect to get a cool scene immediately. Have patience and work it out until you have found the shape you want."
It took a dozen hours spread over several weeks, including try-outs to finish this project.
Tiberius Viris is currently working on illustrating the environments of a game title through matte paintings and concepts. Vue is playing an important role.
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