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Cozy Winter
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Cozy Winter

For me winter is all about the snow, the cold and drinking hot chocolate in the comfort of your home while watching the snow fall, and so I present to you my entry for the "Winter Stories" contest.

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Update - 26 Feb 2022

This is my entry for the contest "Winter Stories - A Lighting & Rendering Challenge"

This was super fun to make and a huge learning experience for me, since it's the first time I have attempted to make a scene render in Blender withouth a tutorial. I would definitelly like to participate in more stuff like this in the future, but for now, let me present to you both my project and my process.

You probably already read in the description what the essence of winter is for me, and that's why I wanted to do a simple and cozy interior with a mug filled with hot chocolate as my main subject and the camera pointing outwards towards a snowy forest.

When it came to the ligthing I didn't know what to do, so while researching for winter images the moods I liked the most were glowy and they were either dawn or sunset, so I decided to go with that.

I scaled a box to fit the heigth I wanted for my room, the x & y dimensions didn't matter as much since not much would be seen anyway, and I modelled my main subject, a table on which to put it and some windows for the light to come through.

I added a quick HDRI to the scene and a glass material to the windows to check that the ligthing was comming from the direction I wanted it to.

I then added some trees I downloaded with an addon for Blender called Baggapie and placed them to a distance where I felt they looked good. I also displaced a plane with a very simple snow texture I fashioned myself and place it only where it was in the field of view of the camera.

At this point however I wasn't happy with the shot or the ligthing so I decided to experiment a little more with the camera and I changed the HDRI I had with a Sun light. I added depth of field to my camera and adjusted it to the mug.

Now I had a shot and ligthing I liked, but after asking for some feedback on the discord, my fellow artist made me realize that the scene looked a little empty, so I started thinking other things that might be around a table and other things you might bring you when drinking hot chocolate.

I downloaded 2 couches from Blendermarket and modelled 2 spoons, a napkin and some suggar cubes to spice up the scene (yes, I know you don't usually put suggar in your hot chocolate, but to be fair, from this angle there could be coffe in that mug). I also added a golden stripe to the mug and the plate to give them a little more detail and with a short simulation I added some vapour comming out of my mug a little later.

Happy with my interior and assets, it was time to add some SNOWIIIIING!!!

I added an Ico Sphere to my scene, duplicated it twice and sculpted and scaled each duplicate sligthly different, then I added a plane and the Ico Spheres as particles, tweaked some settings and ran a little simulation to give them time to fall.

For the snow on top of the trees I added a UV Sphere, sculpted it to somewhat match the form of the tree, duplicated it, moved it and matched it again. Then I merged my source tree with my spheres to decorate all my tree particles.

Happy with my scene I divided it into layers for the rendering and then composited them in Photoshop.

After putting the layers in the Photoshop file I put a black vignette on overlay with low opacity on top of everything gave a gradient to the sky to make it more realistic, added extra light to make the region of the mug stand out more and accentuate the overall atmosphere and last but not least, after I did that in Photoshop I exported the image and returned it to the compositor in Blender one last time to give it a glare effect for that glowy feel I wanted and a lens distortion effect to give it more realism too.

For the second mood I just added a second sun light in blender with reduced intensity to simulate the light of the sky, after that it was just a matter of changing the color of the lights I already had on my scene and repeating the process of layering and compositing in Blender and Photoshop.

And that's pretty much it, that's my project everyone, thank you for stopping by and for giving me the chance to participate in this contest!

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