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Medival fisher hut
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Medival fisher hut

Dominic Heber
by DHCGI on 22 May 2022 for Rookie Awards 2022

My first ever entry into the Rookie Awards and its more than just a bunch renders.

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Introduction 

Hello everyone, this is my first time entering into the Rookie Awards and I wanted to make it interesting so I decided, instead of just showing my renders I'll also show the process of making those renders from the idea to the final product. I also linked some words, a layman might not understand, to articles and websites that explain them.

Inspiration

My inspiration for this project came from two walks I had with my family. One Inspired the setting and the other the subject. The inspiration for the setting came from a beautiful walk during the sunset in which the lighting and overall landscape looked very similar to the finished render. The other walk inspired the subject. The walk was in the open air museum Molfsee, which showcased many buildings and structures from the medieval times.

The house comes pretty close to those seen in the museum, barring a few exceptions like the roof, which usually isn't flat or the walls which most of the time don't have a wooden beam at the base. Though the original idea for the subject wasn't a medieval hut. At first it was an abandoned concrete building in a Chernobyl type location, I decided against the idea because, to me, it seemed overused. Then I had the idea to make a WW2 bunker but I scrapped it because I already did some World War stuff and didn't want to do anymore in the near future. The final idea came up when I remembered the walk in the open air museum, with this idea came a burst of inspiration, a diamond in the rough, now I had to refine and define it.

Pre Planning

So I had the idea to create a medieval hut. To further define this idea I created a txt and wrote down questions that I would answer myself, I would use these answers to find out about who lives in this hut, what the hut looked like and so on. For some answers, I came up with a follow up question to find out more about this non existent character. The end goal of all these questions was to find out which objects the hut would have and what assets I'd have to create.

Now knowing what I'd have to create, I gathered reference images, not only for the assets but also for the hut and environmental surroundings.

Asset Creation

With all the assets in mind I split them up into 3 groups: large, medium and small. For all of these assets I created placeholders which I used to block out the scene I wanted to create.

I started with creating the large assets which were the roof and walls. Both the roof and walls were made from a single mesh that I then spilt up into multiple parts. All of the pieces are about 2x2 meters in size, so that they can be easily tiled to create buildings. The overall poly count of the large group is 3,114 polys. Because of such a low poly count, I first had to bake the details of the high poly models, this was very easy, because the roof needed no baking and the walls only needed color ID's to differentiate the stone between the wood. I then continued with the texturing.

For which I use quxiel mixer, mainly because its free but also because of its large library of textures. A concern I had before texturing was that the textures wouldn't tile very well but this fear would be silenced quickly after creating my first 2 textures for the thatched roof tiles. All I had to look out for were the custom textures I painted, other than that I was just replacing the last model and color ID with the next one the rest would be done by mixer.

After that I continued with the medium sized assets where I started outside with the fish drying rack of which I only did the logs at first, the other assets like the rope or the fishes were left for the small group. After making the rack I followed up with the 2 tables which were basically the exact same except a few texture changes which were made for the outside one. What's usually next to a table? A chair which I made next. This was also very simple to make because the textures were the same as for the table. Which also goes for the closet.

Then I made my first softsurface asset of this project which was the bed. It needed some baking to keep the folds that I had made in the highpoly but due to some texture issues with mixer, that had, by then not yet been figured out by me. The normal texture always showed the uv seams in blender, therefore I had to loose the custom baked normals, to keep the texture at least somewhat convincing in blender. I made the chest as my final asset which was also the most difficult asset to make. Because I wanted to make the chest look polished yet worn at the same time, which took some time to do but in the end I think I achieved the look to a degree but due to some problems down the line I had to redo the textures to make the chest not look so empty inside. The overall poly count of the medium group is 5,981 polys. 

Now at the homestretch of asset creation. I don't really remember the order in which I made all the assets of the small group. It was chaotic and I did what I felt like doing with mostly no reference, trying to fill the empty spaces in and around the hut with as much stuff as I could. This where my imagination came in handy, filling in the gaps with the assets which you can see below. The most notable assets were the candles and cloth because they were softsurface models for which I needed normal maps to be baked, I usually don't do softsurface stuff.

Something that also was notable were the fish models which are the first animals I ever made in 3d. They were interesting to make but also pretty easy, the only thing that annoyed me was the texturing of the scales on the fish. I could have baked the scales but I decided on doing them in mixer with a brush instead. A brush that I had made myself and that I had made too small, which forced me to constantly click on the model with the brush until there were enough scales to cover the whole fish. This coupled up with a few crashes from the constant clicking and no autosaves after those crashes, made this probably the most frustrating part of this project. All in all the small group has the most polygons of all groups, with 11,904 polys in total.

Scene Creation

After making the last assets, came scene creation, which mostly meant the environment around the hut because I already replaced the placeholder models of the hut with the final ones in asset creation. Though I still had to fill in some emptiness in the hut, with assets that were mostly copy pasted. Before creating the environment, I first had to create a proper ground which I did with great size and lots of subdivisions, to many subdivisions, a displacement texture and grass texture for the ground.

Then I continued with the grass for which I used Quxiel megascans which had a lot of choice maybe a little too much choice which led me to download more grass then I needed. filling the scene with particle systems of 8 different grass variants that were made up, of up to 20 models. This hurt the performance of the scene a bit. For the trees I also used a particle system, I downloaded from blenderkit.

Rendering

Now, the last steps of any of my projects, rendering. For rendering I used eevee with the hope to make renders in real time to save time but I still wanted to make the renders look good therefore I cranked all the settings to the max, which hurt the speed of the renders quite a bit. In the end, I didn't really achieve my goal of close to real time renders. The speed of the renders was more in the territory of frames per minute instead of frames per second but it all still worked out somehow. Now that I've been writing about renders so much, here they are.

Final Thoughts

This project was one most interesting things I have done, from the inspiration to writing this. I'd like to thank everyone who has read this far (or just skipped this far). As a gift I have uploaded the blend file of this project to blendswap, you can download it here.


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