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Making castle scene look realistic?

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VMPMP    0

Hey guys,

I am working on my first (fairy like) castle scene with C4D.
It is supposed to look as realistic as possible (convince common public that it is a real castle). It is for an indie movie, I want to show this scene in between some real life landscape footages. 


Even after doing some post processing it looks, CG. Any tips from you guys would be great.
So my question in short is, how can I make this image look as real as possible without changing the landscape so much?

The vegetations is a combination of Forester plugin and some free C4D trees.
The fog in front is a transparant cloud texture pasted on two planes.

Here below are some images
- Image: VMP Castle (1) - main with post production.jpg
Is the one with some post processing, film grain, glow, color correction, chromatic aberration.
Without global illumination.



This one below is rendered with global illumination, but it looks too flat, the one above is with three point lighting. That has more depth.





VMP Castle (2).jpg

VMP Castle (3).jpg

VMP Castle (4).jpg

VMP Castle (5).jpg

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Cerbera    1,914

The biggest problem in this is the textures and the lighting and the lack of sense of scale. The castle / stone / roof textures are just not realistic enough. If you want those to look real you need some high res high quality photographic castle stone / roof tile textures. And those should be mapped on so that there are no discernable repeating patterns, and then further variation can be added to simulate damage and wear. Or you can get reasonable results from the brick shader if you spend enough time with it, making sure patterns are not spottable, and that you add weathering effects.


And then there's the lighting. You need to give a sense of scale, and the impression of size in your scene. In yours I worry that the model is not detailed enough to give that impression, and the placement and relative scale of other things in the scene doesn't seem correct to me. The crenellations particularly seem wrong, both modelling and texture-wise. If the white things on the ground, for example, are meant to be individual flowers, then the castle is tiny in relation to them. The trees look like young saplings, yet come near to the top of the walls.


The lighting itself seems vague and muddy. There should be a single strong directional sunlight, and a bluer ambient light dome filling in the shadows from that.

Physical Sky and GI is often the best way to achieve naturalistic lighting, so that's the first thing I'd try in your scene. You can also add fog and atmosphere there, which all contribute to the sense of largeness.


Here I am trying that on this really old WiP model of Hogwarts main tower I did a few years ago. Texture-wise I'm using photo textures on the right tower, and brick shader on the main hall. Atmosphere and depth and lighting all coming from physical sky, with a photo BG.




Looking back with the benefit of hindsight, I can still see tiling patterns on my tower, so that could be better, but the overall effect is not too bad. Here's a closeup of the hall, so you can see the sort of variation the brick shader can give you, although if I'm honest I was never fully happy with the way that looked either.




There are opinions on both sides to the argument that modelling to real world scale is better when using physical sky, so that might be something to consider as well.




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Well that's quite a challenge you've set yourself. Creating a photo-real complete castle is not gonna be easy. Obviously, the farther away you are from it, the less detail you will need to make it convincing. I agree with Cerbera that mainly the texturing of the "brick" walls and the lighting are off, as well as the scale of the vegetation compared to the castle. As for the lighting, I actually feel that the second, darker image looks more realistic to me considering we are looking at a backlit scene and if this is gonna be the position of your sun, you can get away with less detail  again since you are mainly showing a silhouette of a castle.

Then adding some animated banners blowing in the wind will also help sell the shot as "alive".

You might also consider if you really need a fully CG scene. I suspect if this was a Hollywood movie, they would use a plate of an actual (empty) hill and place a CG castle on top. This way you have the added benefit of all the surroundings being real in the first place, although you will still need to do a lot of compositing (and camera tracking of course) to make the added castle look real.

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Midphase    12

Everything that's been said above is quite valid. Just to add a few cents in, I think the castle is too bright and too perfect. Adding grunginess and imperfections will go a long way. Also, which renderer are you using? PBR's like Octane will immediately add much more realism to your scene than, say the Standard Renderer. Also, post production color grading and some other post tricks like adding some particulate fogs and haze in the foreground, some smoke coming off chimneys, and some lens flares and other imperfections will go a long way toward realism.


Keep going...I think you're on the right path, but you're still only halfway there!

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VMPMP    0
  • Topic Author
  • Thank you all for your detailed feedback!


    Yes I agree, the castle was too small compared to its surrounding and the trees.
    One of the reasons I kept the castle small was because I wanted the flowers to be visible, the bigger the castle became, the smaller the flowers became.
    I have now scaled up the castle. becasue 'realism' is what is more important.
    Due to the castle being too large for the original hill I had to pull out the hill too.


    I have now disabled the three point lighting and added the physical sky (have not worked with it before) , and also enabled global illumination.

    This I really need to look further into.

    I have not yet worked with brick shaders.
    Would a castle brick texture something like this do? :


    The renderer is the standard renderer, I have not yet tried the octane render.

    @ King of Snake
    Indeed I have considered using 
     a plate of an actual (empty) hill too! I might do this afther the castle is looking acceptable.

    Issue with current texture after scaling.
    After that I have scaled up the model, the current textures from the roof is dissapearing in the renders, it is visible in the editor, but not when redered.

    Would that be an issue with its texture tag?

    Here is the new render with the scaled up model and physical sky lighting, hope to hear your feedback:


    Render setting options

    Global illumination setting



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    EAlexander    22

    Keep looking at research. Take note of composition, contrast, it seems the nature around the castle is just as detailed and important as the building  structure to get the right vibe. Golden lighting? What is the mood? If my research isn't the right vibe, then find the one that is and study it. Make a list of elements. 


    Keep going, you've got a good start here.







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    VMPMP    0
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  • Thanks EAlexander,


    I guess for a bulding standing on a similar flat surface/landscape these would be good reference:




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    VMPMP    0
  • Topic Author

  • Latest render:


    I have:
    - Lowered the camera
    - Added more bump to the bricks.
    - Darkened 'mixed' the brick texture with some dark brown color.

    - Added more bump the grass texture
    - Added a bit light green to the grass texture

    - Did some post production to the rendered image, a bit glow, sharpness, filmgrain, made it a bit warmer.

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    caliburn    7

    Adding Ambient Occlusion will also help the realism,but the stone looks too shiny,it doesnt have to be grubby but imperfections add to the effect. also consider the brick textures, look at the other pics given,you can only see the stone/bricks etc when up quite close,a lot closer than your final pic, so that crys out unreal for me,i think you need to get a realistic reference for the size of your stone texture and then perhaps alter the antialiasing of that texture so its a bit more blurry. you want to have hints of bricks at that distance as various parts of them will be lit or shaded,you cant really do that so you have to fake a lil bit 

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    VECTOR    526

    Id also lose that brick snake statue you've got or change the material as it blends into the main castle wall to much and just doesn't look good imo

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    Harrison3D    2

    To make your textures pop you'll need more then a bump map and a hi res texture the light in your scene needs to be able to cast onto the details in the textures to make them stand out more and make it more believable Displacement and normal maps are something you should look into to make your textures more realistic.


    I made a really simple scene to show what I mean 



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    Midphase    12

    I would suggest you look into Poliigon for some high quality textures at a damn affordable price:




    Also, switch your renderer, you can try the Octane demo to give you a rough idea of just how much better things can get once you go PBR.


    Last but not least, I agree with the comment someone made about the Snake head. I realize that this must be necessary to the story and something that your client requested. Nonetheless, if you want the thing to feel realistic, you also need to take into account the architectural realism and physics involved in that structure. You might consider re-modeling that snake head to feel more structurally realistic since at the moment it doesn't look like the neck would support the weight of the head.

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