This project took me a long time. Not because it’s hard, but because it just took a long time to get done and I don’t do it full time. As I mentioned previously, I make this as personal stress release-r and as experiment/study of tools in Blender.
Onward and forward to how this come into being.
The composition is simple. The idea is to make a photo with the same theme as my previous work “Sake bottle with cups.” Thus Chinese Lantern comes naturally. The lantern’s detail is partially inspired by the dragon texture on the table at “Sake bottle with cups.” But the best part is to make it with limited reference, let the rest come as inspirations. In short “let inspiration fills the unknown.” I think that make better artwork, as in it one can imprint a tiny bit of one’s soul.
The setup is simple. On layer #1 we have the lantern with all its “bells and whistles,” lights plus camera. Layer #2 is to balance the composition with the pole and the underside of a roof aka the ceiling of a corridor looking outward. Layer #3 is a background (BG) photo that will get blurred.
Taking real world into account:
In the real world, this shot will use an camera aperture of F/2.8 or bigger (F/2.5 or even F/1.8). So it was taken with AV mode. BG is extremely blurred with circle bokeh. I personally have shot many such photos. To emulate the same feel in Blender without using Cycles (render engine) one must think in 3 steps. 1st is foreground (FG) which is the subject lantern, 2nd is the middleground (MG) the pole + ceiling and 3rd the BG.
Render layers and composite nodes:
The render layers take all the above into account. Later I need to composite them to have the same effects as in my ideas. The composite nodes are very simple. Blur the render layers as they go further (depth of field). A tiny bit of glow and vignette (never overdo these or everything will look cliche).
Lighting the shot:
There are 3 lamps. All of them are sun lamps. The lower outside (right) lamp is yellow-orange colored as it bounce light from the soil. The lower to top (left) fill lamp is slightly red, bounce light from the unseen and imaginary red wall. The top right lamp is our sun, this is positioned to cast solid shadow on the lantern. Shadow for the main sun lamp must be solid as real sun does and must emulate sun light at around 10 O’clock in the morning.
Texturing the Lantern:
There are minimal texturing. Only play with many normal value to give it an imperfect CG look. If you observe carefully there are quite a number of empties in the scene. Ten of them. Few hidden used for array, few more for instancing and the rest for projection texturing.
What not done?
Balancing top-down composition. Not only I want to balance the left-right (Lantern to Pole) but top to bottom too. The top is busy with dragon heads, but bottom is void with only few hanging strings. To solve that I’ll hang more stuff and I’m still thinking of what to hang so that they won’t compete with other elements. Final composition will give it a V-shape arrangement.
So, that’s it for the behind the scene of my composition “Chinese Lantern.”