Making Of Stonemason’s Urban Environment

Stefan Morell a.k.a. Stonemason is one of the leading 3D modelers and artists out there. He’s made quite a name in the DAZ 3D marketplace, and his models are loved by thousands of 3D artists around the world. Follow behind the scenes, as Stefan explains his approach to 3D modeling.


Stefan begins his work by collecting a good amount of photographed reference material. He then turns them into usable textures, by correcting lighting & perspective views. The photos usually need to be taken on overcast days to avoid shadows or other visible light sources. Stefan uses a 10 Mega Pixel camera, with a resolution of 388 x 2592, and the photos are then rescaled & cropped down to 2048 x 2048, using Photoshop’s distort tool.


Stefan explains: “The buildings start as single polygon planes, which are UV mapped & have the final texture already applied, I slowly make cut’s & extrusions following the underlying texture as a guide. A recent feature in 3dsmax is the ‘Preserve UV’s’ option, when checking this you can easily move points & edges around without affecting the underlying UV’s. Because the mesh is under constant change at this stage, it may require some remapping (the preserve UV’s feature won’t work all the time) wherever possible I use planar projections. For the sides of the extruded windows, I have given a generic Unwrap UVW & placed on the UV template to take best advantage of the texture. Any extrusions & bevels will quickly destroy the UV mapping. ”


Stefan continues to populate the scene with smaller props, and it’s those details that make the scene vibrant and cool to look at.


He also makes full use of previously modeled assets to quickly populate a scene. Things like this not only will make the scene look more interesting, it will also save tons of time.


For lighting, Stefan sets up the final perspective view, and places the camera low on the ground, since that adds depth to the scene. He often uses a low focal length as well, since that adds more drama to the render. In this case, 31 mm.


He continues: “Lighting is kept as simple as possible, I’ve used a Final Render GI solution with a direct light casting raytraced shadows. The shadow strength is around 80% & the light Strength is 120%, as I’m rendering in passes”. Stefan keep the interiors of the buildings as simple boxes, just enough to give a sense of something behind the windows. The distant buildings were rendered as a separate layer. After a 4 hour long render time, at a 4096 wide screen resolution, with a total polycount around 300,000, what remains is the postwork process.


Stefan renders everything in layers, including special matte passes of objects or buildings, to make the selection process easier. Before the final image, there’s lots of color correction,  painting light rays plus atmosphere effects. He usually also does a specularity pass, to ensure highlights are picked up. He explains:  “The specular pass is also duplicated several times & set to screen, the occlusion pass is set to multiply. The opacity of all the layers is adjusted. Working with passes is very specific to each image & what works for one may not work for another”.


And that’s it…

Keep tweaking!

– Val Cameron / Dreamlight

P.S. If you want to create your own 3D models, then head over HERE.


See full article HERE.



No comments yet.

Leave a Reply