although I am not going to participate as a contestant, I'd like to create this thread as a mix of a blog, tutorial, my own image development ideas related to the current NWDA image contest. YOU are invited to discuss with me here, as questions, make suggestions etc., so don't be shy.
In particular, I am going to challenge myself and apply exactly the same restrictions that the Terragen 2 Free Edition has: no more than 3 pops, 800 px width max render resolution, Anti Aliasing max 3, and I am determined to create a really photo realistic road scene with it - to the best of my abilities of course.
Now, how will I approach the image challenge? I have a lot of thoughts and even more questions, so I am just going to write them up down below and see if I can progress the thoughts and answer some of the questions I have for this, one by one....
1) I need to figure out where to begin best, so that later on, I don't have to make too many changes because of dependencies. For example, I could start with making the terrain. Or should I start making the road? Or should I first figure out what kind of scene I want to create?
2) AA3 is a tough limitation. Usually such a low AA value will result in not so great looking vegetation. Luckily with Ray trace objects, that's not awful, but something tells me that for a winning image I need smoother edges.
3) Also I want to submit a full HD size final image. I know it's not required, but an 0.8k image isn't even usable as a desktop wall paper
So that means I have to render multiple images and then stitch them together somehow later. I think I will want to render at least 9 800x600 tiles, which gives me a 2400 x 1800 render. I would then reduce the final image size to full HD and through that get smoother edges, hahahaaaaa!
4) I have never done (3) before, so... Just thinking out loud: when a "regular" render uses maybe 60 degrees FOV for the camera, and I would render 3 tiles horizontal, will I have to reduce the horizontal FOV to 20 degrees each, in order to stitch the images together seamlessly and retain the original 60 degree FOV? I think I will have to do this, but I can solve that later.
5) there are multiple ways on how to create a road. I could launch photoshop or gimp or whatever you prefer and just paint a mask for the street in white color on black background. I would then use that mask as a blend shader in TG2. (If you have no idea how to use such a mask in TG2 please ask and I will do my best to explain.). Second option would be to create a mask right inside Terragen, and for that I see 2 practical possibilities: either I create that road mask through a long and thin simple shape shader, or I create a procedural road.
I think the simple shape shader based road might be most practical for this image.
6) In order to keep things simple, I think I will start with a straight road on a quite smooth base terrain and see where that takes me.
I think I will just start somewhere and I am going to share every step of the way here.
Look on for my next post!
Any thoughts about how you're going to approach this yourself, yet?