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Recreating The War Of The Worlds album cover

A while ago, I'd used Lightwave to create a model Martian from the cover - since everything else I've been doing has been quick things, I wanted something to get my teeth into with some serious modelling.

Almost all of these images are thumbnails (except when it gets very complicated where I've reduced the resolution to give me more time to get the image right.

Modelling Thunderchild

This was started on 28th November 2006 with the basic hull shape. LWCAD was very useful in generating the rails down each side of the ship.

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On the evening of the 30th (I do have a day job!), I started work on the decks (although I had to extend the hull a bit):

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And the 1st, I started some of the detail on the top of the main cabin area:

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And finally on the 4th, I had it sitting in a sea, with rigging, broken mast, captain's launch and guns:

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The cover itself

With Thunderchild modelled, it was now time to start work on the cover (although it was the 7th - I'd had a couple of evenings off).

First, I put the martian in the picture (I also changed the aspect to be twice as wide as high - like the cover). Note that this is about the size I want it (it's a big image):

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Next, I designed the dock/pier section (there's actuallt a lot more work involved in this model than you think). In doing this, I realised my view was a little high, so it needed moving down. The martian also needed a bit of work to get the legs in the right place.

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I then modelled the steamer - since it's further away, I didn't have to go into quite as much detail as Thunderchild:

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The only missing boat was the small that's pictured between Thunderchild and the docks. Again, it's quite far away, so I didn't go into an excessively detailed model:

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I wanted to add some wakes into the sea - I used an image map to add white into the bits where the boats had travelled (using an airbrush). These are down views while I was working on them - you can see how I needed to spread the martian's legs:

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I created a basic land, and started work on the smoke - since the rendering times shot up, I reduced the resolution, and turned off anti-aliasing (so these are a bit rough).

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And then, I added the flame effect above the land (as well as do a bit more work on the smoke from the ships):

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Next, the steam. This was a basic test - the steam needs to curl around the martian, and become wider.

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Once I'd got the wind working (I didn't realise that the particle resistance was important!):

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And then I added the heat-ray - this made it yet again slower, so there's no thumbnail for it:

Image!

Since I was happy with that, I did an over-night render (well, 2 hours):

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I've got to add some spray around Thunderchild, the pier, and the martian's leg, and also change the colour of the land a bit. Oh, and Thunderchild's fore-section needs to glow orange.

Adding spray

This is actually quite tricky; these are my first attempts (the first picture was a quick render of the 2nd):

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This is my second attempt:

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And my third (first image is a rough version of the 2nd):

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I'll leave that for now; and get on with some of the more details on the ships (i.e. people).

Adding the people

Evening of the 13th December - I decided to add some people in. I created a very low polygon person template, and created an array of people, rotated and translated random amounts.

To speed up rendering, I temporarily removed the smoke, steam, fire and heat-ray - the other hypervoxels don't actually consume too much time, so I left them in.

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Although the effect is very subtle, when it's anti-aliased, it should look quite good - but I won't know until tomorrow! If necessary, I can increase the detail of the people.

The next picture is a screenshot of LightWave layout - I don't normally do this thing, but I thought my "army" on the steamer looked quite good from here.

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This is my normal arrangement of windows - one perspective (so I can move around more freely), one top, one side and a camera view. Note that I've got several cameras set up on this scene (it's the first time I've really done this).

I then added some people onto Thunderchild - although they're not terribly noticeable from here.

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Glowing Thunderchild

One of the more noticeable things in the picture is the glowing front section of Thunderchild. Now rendering times are more useable, I had a go at doing this as well.

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That was too much luminocity.

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And too little

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Not quite orange enough

I then made the final shade a texture (first time I've found out how to make a gradient colour based on another texture) - and got this:

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Time for a complete render!

Smoke effects

Unfortunately, my machine crashed while rendering (it's not Lightwave's fault - there's a motherboard failure somewhere which occasionally makes it just hang). So, I wasn't able to do a new render.

Instead, I decided to work a bit on the smoke. Firstly, I shortened the engine smoke from both of the ships, and also added some smoke coming from the burning part of the deck.

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I then added some flames to the burning deck smoke.

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... then added the whistle smoke from the front stack...

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... and then did a complete render.

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It was only after doing this that I realised that the smoke comes in front of the heat-ray, so I'll have to move it a bit.

Next step - modifying the Martian so it's more like the original!

Modified Martian

While modifying the martian, I had to move some of the pivot points, which Lightwave doesn't really like. This meant I had to re-attach all the bits of the Martian, and reposition its legs in the same place. This required some down-views in order to move them around.

Here's my first attempt - the left leg needs to move forward a bit, but the right leg needs to be moved quite a way forward, and to its left.

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I removed the steam for a better view, and also increased the resolution. The left leg is now better (but I didn't move the right leg).

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I also had to redo the heat-ray. I got an effect similar to coloured pencils...

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...which I played with for a bit...

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...before reverting it back to the old style (which is more like a flame thrower).

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I did a full (small-screen size) render

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However, I didn't like the fire from the deck (that goes over towards the back of the ship) - it's too monochromatic, so I fiddled with it for a bit.

I also tried some other views - from above the Martian:

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From the dock-side - this image has gone wrong in a way I've never seen, so I may ask the Lightwave forums about it:

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And from the steamer:

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I then did a full-size render of the cover - and after 8 hours of rendering, I'd found I'd accidentally changed the steam's colour definition when I was changing the deck fire. Oh well! Note that this is a large image.

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I could've aborted it, but I wanted to see the size of the people on Thunderchild - they don't need to be made any more realistic.

HDRI background

In order to solve the background image problem, I found an HDRI image to replace the background.

This is the view from the steamer (it's the only view where the HDRI view looks a bit wrong - however, the steam hides most of it):

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From above the Martian:

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From the dockside (I'll need to sort out the bricks if I want to use this view):

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And above:

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Getting close to finishing

I did a full-size render of the cover shot - the Martian does look different, but I'm going on the original sketches by the artist (Michael Trim) where he shows the top, front and side views of the Martian body.

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A new background image

I installed Vue 5 when I got it, but their registration page wasn't working. Eventually I got around to playing with it, and found that it was great at creating sky scenes - and exporting them in a form that Lightwave can understand (UV Sphere is the best one). So, I tried a few variations, and came up with a sky scene that is similar to what I want:

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I also re-did one of the other views with this:

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And created a new one from Thunderchild looking at the Martian:

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But I tweaked the view a bit:

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Before doing a full render including steam and smoke:

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I did try to do a larger version of this with antialiasing, but after around 11 hours, it was still doing the first pass, so I aborted it. The problem is the number and size of hypervoxels - pretty much the entire screen has a hypervoxel covering it, and I can't get surface baking working.

However, I did do a new full-size rendering of the scene using the new sky:

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I am contemplating getting the land, fire above the land and the smoke fixed into the sky image, which may look odd in other views, but should render nice and fast.

Reworking the land and sea

I was a little unhappy with the sea, so I went and did a search for Lightwave sea textures (I was quite surprised that this page was on the third page of Google's results). I knew that this one was wrong, but I thought it would be fun to see how wrong it was:

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That would have been fine if I wanted either a very shallow, clean water, or if it was in the bath!

So I reverted some of the settings back:

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However, the surface was too faceted, so I changed it again:

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I then added a slope to the texture, the thinking being the steeper the wave, the more frothy it would be:

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I increased the effect:

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The small boat in the centre-right of the picture was the right height, but it was too fat, so I narrowed it (it also needs the sails to be pushed over - but I'll worry about that later).

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I then extended the land so it touches the end of the pier

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In order to improve rendering speeds (it takes about 5 hours to render the full version), I removed the smoke and fire hypervoxels, and created a curved flat surface which would act as amoke. I used a fairly complex texture to allow the edges to become randomly feathered.

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I then created a new camera view to check the smoke at both ends.

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And also did some of the other views

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Next, I added an orange glow to the bottom of it, based on height, and distance from the edges (this is one complex texture!)

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Which I tried on the other views

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I did a larger version of the image:

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And then turned off volumetric shadows for the smoke - this increased the rendering speed quite dramatically - this scene took 6 minutes to render.

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Finally, another full-size antialiased render:

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While this only took 1 hour 20 minutes to render, the sea texture is too faceted (again), so I'll need to reduce the size for the crumple texture.

Very high resolution

I've been asked about doing a version of this for a poster, so I wanted to check that the people wouldn't look too "basic" when scaled up.

This is a limited-region render of the picture as if it's 3840x1920 (i.e. double the resolution I normally do):

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Updated: 2013-03-24 11:27:18 | Comments: 2 | Show comments | Add comment
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