7 Steps Take You From 2D to Dynamic 3D Landscapes

2d to 3d landscapes

Michaeljohn Day shows us the steps to create a full motion fly through sequence using 2D images and a 3D package

From 2D to Dynamic 3D Landscapes

You can put together full dynamic 3D landscapes from locked-off 2D shots using camera mapping. In this tutorial it is used it in a somewhat limited way, but a more refined application of this technique is useful if you have projects that involve photo-real effects. This tutorial looks at the creation of the 3D basis for a landscape, as well as the setting up of a simple spline-based steady camera rig. This allows for complex movement using minimal key frames.

The following is a very short clip (12 secs) showing the finished sequence. The details on how this was arrived at follow…

Step 1: Start out with some great 2D photographs to use as your source material. For your landscapes, you will want to find interesting shapes with varying slopes, and make sure you have a good distance between your foreground and background so that you can move around.

Step 2: Next, the geometry is built by eye using Cinema 4D. Begin by applying the texture to a background object, and then line up the horizon and floor level. It is important to be consist when doing the setup of the scenes. When you are happy with how it all looks, put a camera at the Viewport position. This will be used to project the texture onto the geometry, so it would be wise to lock it with a Protection tag.

apply the texture to a background objectStep 2: Apply The Texture to A Background Object

Step 3: Locate a prominent slope in your landscape and put a single plane object in your Viewport matching its position and gradient. Make sure you note where it is relative to the floor level, and put it a fair distance from the camera, leaving enough room to allow space for the entire foreground of the photograph.

prominent slope in landscapeStep 3: Locate a prominent slope in your landscape

Step 4: Place your image texture on the plane using Camera mapping as your projection mode, and set the camera you made earlier as your source. Ensure that the aspect ratio of the image is correctly set up in the texture tag, otherwise it will distort. Duplicate your first camera, name the new one ‘View’ and keyframe its position. This will be used to check the progress in 3D from different angles. Keyframing allows you to go back to the original view.

camera mappingStep 4: Camera Mapping

Step 5:  You can create new surfaces using the Extrude tool and refine with Point mode. Now you can fill out your landscape around the original plane. The entire process is very approximate. Be careful to note that there are concave areas of the hills that go back into Z depth, and make sure that you frequently examine their relationship with the rest of the landscape.

Step 6: Now you can use the View camera to move away from your original viewpoint and ensure that the landscape is working from various angles. Turn on and off the background image to check that the geometry works even without the sky and environment. Use the camera to move around in the landscape and observe how the different elements move together. Does it appear natural? If not, you may want to re-check your distances.

Step 7:  Create a number of landscape segments using other photographs, and when you are happy, put them all together in one scene. Arrange them into one continuous landscape. If you find that you have some big gaps, no need to worry, the style of this piece is about the negative space as well as the geometry.

landscape segments 3dStep 7: Putting it all together

This tutorial was adapted from Computer Arts, the world’s best-selling magazine for digital artists and designers.

-Val Cameron/Dreamlight

P.S. Want to make your photos and renders POP? Master Photoshop and become a 2D Postwork Master HERE.

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