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I don’t know which country you live in and what weather is like there, but
winter is coming. It’s coming now! …today we have the very first day of
the astronomical winter. So let it snow 🙂

Nowadays I live in so-called winter capital of Poland, Zakopane. This is one of those places, where you experience 10 months of winter followed indirectly by summer season. Looking at the snow outside makes me only think that I have to get up 15 mins earlier in order to clear the car of snow and shovel the driveway rather than being a reason to admire the nature’s beauty.

A different story is when I look through.. Behance, for example, and find renderings that present winter scenery. Where everything looks so majestic, almost like on the Christmas postcard. And that’s the topic for today!

Let me start with the work of Federico Ciavarelli. Personally, I often call such works ‘beautiful ugliness’ not because they are ‘ugly’ themselves of course, but rather that they perfectly show how skilled and talented the author is. At first sight, the image below doesn’t make you appreciate the winter time… but when you look more closely… Perhaps, the best way is to actually ask the author himself.

Author: Federico Ciavarella

I guess that the visualisation isn’t made for the developer whose building is in the background? 🙂

I started this image to develop my skills on winter moods, after collected some reference images I went for this NYC street view, I don’t honestly know what kind of building they are represented, even if I’m architectural visualizer I think the main topic here is the mood and not the architecture, my main goal was to let the viewer ‘feel the cold’ of the weather 🙂

And you did it. I actually felt that cold, I like the rendering very much. But could you tell me what do you think about using that ‘feeling’ in commercial renderings?

In commercial rendering is obviously more difficult to achieve that result, because of clients requests, that in different way it is: show the much as possible of the project, but it is in the mind of the artist to find tricks to add the mood, this is why I, from time to time, do personal images, to have complete freedom and to learn tricks for the next commercial work.

Author: Rafał Wróblewski

When I look at such houses with so much snow around, it always makes me wonder: what about the driveway and the access road? On the other hand, you haven’t forgotten about the snow shovel 😉

When working as a 3d artist it is relevant to keep customer satisfied which often means showing in the visualizations things that are not necessarily attractive. For the sake of this image, it wasn’t important to show such stuff as driveway or parking space. The main aim of this shot was to capture atmosphere of a warm sunlight during cozy yet still cold winter day.

Author: Adam Zorian

Corona for Blender, it makes me think more often about switching from 3ds max, I’m not convinced yet though. Ok.. It’s a subject for another post. Can I ask you if making snow is more challenging in Blender than in 3dsMax?

My knowledge about 3dsmax is quite poor. I used it only for a few days as a demo version, and I have to say that I’m really used to blender interface. But as I know, every serious software has got something as a displacement modifier. So it’s more texturing than modeling. I’ve tried to make my own displacement map according to Blender Guru tutorial – but the same day Poliigon just released photoscanned textures with displacement maps so I chose them. In this case I connected every plane with sculpting tools. For making a building and car snow covers I used only sculpting tools with dynamic topology turned on.

Author: Michał Nowak

I’ve seen your works before but I’ve been surprised to have seen only one project in the winter setting. Ok, that’s quite normal.. most graphic designers don’t make winter renderings and people in general tend to like the ‘warmer atmosphere’ more. Do you think that’s the main reason for such rare occurrences of winter renderings?

Visualisations in the winter setting are a bit problematic because of their specificity. We have infinite possibilities to create reality/atmosphere in 3D, but you always have to bear in mind that the winter scenery is a quite narrow direction. Not many topics require that type of presentation and even less clients decide to take that road.

In case of projects that actually are set in mountains or places where snow is everywhere, it makes sense. You have to remember that you don’t get such tasks very often, once in a while. The second element is ‘the sale’. Our job, as visualisers, is to show the project in such a way that the investor would like to implement it. Winter time is a cold one and it actually doesn’t go with many things. In my opinion, there are directions way more interesting but of course if someone needs a winter scenery, we can make it and have a bit of fun along the way 😉

What was the reason for choosing this time of the year in this case?

The winter setting was chosen on purpose in this particular project. The project proper takes place in the mountains. Additionally, the investors are enthusiasts of winter sports, so why not to use it. Architects from 81.waw.pl created the building using the ski-jump launching pad form, that was their first idea that partially shaped the direction they were heading to. Dynamic, minimalistic clump, the shape of land and the investors’ hobby – the decision of choosing the winter scenery was quite obvious and in my opinion it corresponded to the whole project. The project itself still looks pretty good and has this unique aura around it. I think my job has been done really well.

Author: Strahinja Drazic

In reference to Federico’s work, you succeeded in letting the viewer actually feel the snow storm. It;s still hard to believe, that the picture on the left is just a render. Can you tell more about how this illustration came to be and what techniques have you used?

The point of this personal project was to use my amateur photography knowledge and experience and transfer it to my 3D scene. That included creation of physically accurate environment first (wind, snow flakes, trees, bushes, rocks…etc.). As for the “hard” technical stuff, with simple animation and particle knowledge anyone could do it. Rocks and bushes were distributed with Forest Pack plugin. The combination of realistic environment behavior and real world camera settings (based on my experience what settings I would use in that situation) I got motion blur I think is a good representation of snow storm. The post-production process was used for color correction, little lens distortion and to add some noise on the image.

How many years did it take to acquire such skill level and how long have you worked on this particular shot?

I did start with 3d when I was 12 years old, that’s about 17 years ago. I had only 3D Studio max bible, 3DS max v3.2. I started learning basic stuff from the book. The process of learning was much slower that now since I had now Internet and there were not much tutorials. For 5-6 years as a kid, I was modeling props and sell it on Turbosquid and after that I followed the footsteps of architecture and went on university. It was about 7 years ago when I started working as 3d artist professionally. Just 2-3 years ago I god my first DSLR and started taking photographs and tried to merge it in my 3d workflow ever since. It really helped to improve my composition skills and to better understand how things acts from the lens. The current project took me about a week to finish all four of the images in my free time, so I guess for the winter image it took me about two days after I finished all the modeling of plants, house, rocks and all other props for the scene.

Author: Sam Habbaba

Winter vs. summer! I love comparisons like that. But on the whole, I have never wondered if such works are created rather for fun, for showing skills, or simply the client wants to see both versions? Or maybe in a different way …what is your opinion?

This project was initially made as a summer visual. The client wanted afterward a winter version because winter came. For me getting the opportunity to create a winter scene is always enjoyable. I think creating a winter scene is more like getting a mood/feeling across to the viewer than just an informative visual. Creating a winter scene gives me the freedom to be more creative and free in what i like to show rather than only showing the clean situation.

I truly believe that you like it. I’ve looked through many portfolios during the research for the article but I’ve never encountered such many of the winter renderings anywhere else. What is the most challenging element for you while creating winter sceneries? How much time does it usually take?

I almost always make the summer version first. Converting the scene from the summer version to the winter snow scene is easier because i have a clear idea what types of trees and vegetation i need. I have a good set of custom made geometry stacked modifiers and shaders to create the winter landscape. It usually takes me 1 to 2 days max to convert a summer to a winter scene depending on the complexity of the scene.

Author: Milan Stevanovic

Nonetheless, after the winter time always comes the spring, snow melts, snowmen die. That is a completely different approach to the winter topic than others take. In the end, it worked really well. Did your client have any objections to it.. perhaps at the beginning?

Let’s say that the client didn’t have a problem with it 🙂 On this one the client gave us a freedom to do what we thought was right. It was mid July when we started working on this project and it was very hot. Doing a winter scene seemed like a good idea to cool off. We shared initial drafts with the client and he gave us a green light to go for it. Usually with writer scenes you have everything covered in snow but here we wanted to capture something a little bit different, that part of writer that nobody really likes 🙂 Regarding the snowman, I wanted to use it in render for quite some time but until now I didn’t find the right opportunity. I wanted for it to make some kind of sense and not just be there without any particular reason. The back facade of the building wasn’t that exciting all buy itself and since the building is a family dwelling it made sense for kids to make a snowman in the back yard.

For sure there is still plenty of questions to ask. One of my friends, who was shown the article before the publication, said that he would love to know more about the workflow and the tools used by the artists mentioned here. Which tools they used to achieve the desired effect. In conclusion, I would like to say that it’s only the second article published here but definitely not the last one. I will probably add a piece about winter renderings some time later. I can only hope that you like the form of the articles. Give me some feedback, because there will be more articles!

Meanwhile, I want to give my thanks to all the people that let me publish their works. Thank you for taking the time to answer all my questions. Merry Christmas and see you all in the New Year!

Best wishes,
Janusz Gnatowski

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