Making of "Coming Home" using Blender and Cycles

03 november 2023 year
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Hello! I'm Thijs de Bruin, a self-taught 3D artist based in Utrecht, The Netherlands. I currently freelance for a range of clients in product design and the architectural field. While I initially studied Industrial Design Engineering, my passion for visualization led me to focus my career in this field. It perfectly combines technical expertise with creativity. I began my journey using Blender with the Cycles render engine and later expanded my skills to include 3ds Max, V-Ray, and Corona while working in various architectural visualization studios.

Making of Coming Home using Blender and Cycles 1

final render

This project was made with Blender and Cycles because I have to do a lot of client projects with 3dsmax at the moment, and in this way, these personal projects do not feel like work but just as a personal creative challenge!

Collecting References

The first part of a new project is always collecting good references. This will give me a clear goal and vision while working on the project. I try to collect a reference board for every aspect of the project I have in mind.

Making of Coming Home using Blender and Cycles 2

Making of Coming Home using Blender and Cycles 3

Making of Coming Home using Blender and Cycles 4

Making of Coming Home using Blender and Cycles 5

Scene Block-out

After I collected all the references, I started out with a quick landscape study. I added a plane, subdivided it a bunch of times, and sculpted a very basic landscape from a camera perspective.

Afterwards, I added a forest ground environment with the Geoscatter add-on for Blender. This add-on is in the same category as Forestpack for 3dsmax but feels more intuitive in my opinion. I used assets from the Graswald Library, which are the best vegetation models I've used up until now. I placed a cabin that I modeled for an earlier project and added a tree scatter system using trees from the Forestation add-on for Blender. These are again the best-looking ones I've used so far, as they combine 3D scanned trunks with well-optimized branches and leaves. For the water, I used a Quixel texture and combined a few bump nodes to create the ripples.

For the lighting, I used this HDRI from textures.com and tuned down the brightness a little.

Making of Coming Home using Blender and Cycles 6

This scene study proved that I was headed in the right direction, so I continued developing the scene.

Scene development

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I played around with the lighting, composition, and added more assets like fallen trees and branches from the Quixel library through the Quixel Bridge add-on. I tried to capture the forest environment as best as I could, so I kept looking for little details to add to the scene.

I decided to remodel the cabin. I modeled it in a separate file to keep things organized. I used a lot of photoscanned materials and assets from Textures.com, Polyhaven.com, and Quixel to achieve a realistic result.

Making of Coming Home using Blender and Cycles 8

After finishing up the modeling, I switched back to the original HDRI, as this gave the preferred results.

Below you can see the Raw render and Wire.

Making of Coming Home using Blender and Cycles 9

Making of Coming Home using Blender and Cycles 10


A few tips and tricks to keep your scene running smooth, and reduce the Vram usage:

  • vUse high detail, high resolution meshes in the foreground, but lower resolution meshes in the background.
  • Use the simplify option, located at the Render properties, to scale down all of the textures. It is not necessary to have 4k textures on each and every model, 2k will do just fine most of the time if not working with a close-up shot.
  • Use camera culling with your scatter systems to reduce any unnecessary geometry in your scene.

Photoshop work

I rendered out the image at a 4K resolution, and afterwards, I switched over to Photoshop to finish up the image. I added several PNG cutouts of forest animals and added a campfire to tell more of a story with the image. After I added the animals, I used the Realpaint FX add-on in Photoshop. I came across this add-on through this tutorial from Piximperfect, and I was amazed by the end results, so I tried to give it a go for this project.

It turned out my image was lacking some resolution to implement all the fine painterly details I was looking after, so I used Topaz Gigapixel AI to upscale the image by 4 times. After upscaling the image, rerun the script and finetune the image with the same techniques as shown in the PixImperfects tutorial, I was really happy with the paint effect. It still feels like magic to turn a 3D render into a painting!

After adding the paint effect with the add-on, I added a little bit of a vignette and adjusted to colors, contrast and saturation a little bit with the Camera Raw Filter.

That was it! It was a fun project to do as it combines my passions of nature, architecture, visualization and storytelling. Hopefully this brief breakdown has taught you a few tips and tricks, and if you have some specific questions, feel free to reach out on my instagram page!

Cheers, Thijs.


About the author

Thijs de Bruin

Thijs de Bruin

3D Visual Artist

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