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Hey all,

I'm wanting to recreate these Slot Canyons and I'm not too sure how to start. I'm also looking to have it look as real as possible too.

How would you guys go about it?

Thank you!

Slot canyons.jpg

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highly subdivided cylinders with layered noises and gradients in a displacer deformer will get you there.

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Texturing and lighting these things is fairly easy - it's the modelling that's the most interesting part of this. But the whole approach to that should change based on whether this is for a still shot or an animation. If it's for animation, then I would recommend building a vast area of Canyon mostly procedurally whereby you'd start with a moderately segmented plane, make poly selections of all the paths through the canyon, then invert that and start extruding the canyon geometry in low poly even steps until you have nice high pseudo-random canyon walls. Initially these will look very blocky and square, but you can deploy the Iron tool to great effect which will relax your polygon towers into much more organic shapes, and get you pretty reasonable low poly canyon geo (eminently suitable for a fly-through) fairly quickly.

 

And low poly is the key, because once we get down to choosing the best location for your camera in the canyon you want to be able to further design your canyon walls with tools like the sculpting brushes, which allow you to move and sculpt polys into more complex formations.

 

If this is for a still shot, you don't need a whole canyon, just the surfaces that your camera can see, and in that case I would start with a couple of planes on their sides which would eventually form the main canyon walls, and then make a few hero structures like archways and whatnot further back in the scene. These too would start very low poly while we use Grab and pull brushes to quickly establish the overall shapes, and then we can subdivide a level at a time and tweak and refine our canyon until it is at medium poly density, and ready for those displacement materials again. One thing I will say is that Cinema's displacement can't do overhangs, so if you want those they need to be built into the base mesh.

 

With both approaches the real complexity will probably best come from sub-poly displacement and textures comprised largely of stretched noises to give you the stratified look..

 

Your lighting should be strong and contrasty and heavily directional, and if you spend a bit of time with the atmosphere and fog controls in Physical Sky you should be able to get some convincing distance haze going on to better impart a sense of scale, which is actually one of the hardest things to get right using Cinemas native renderers, with which it is often a challenge to make things look massive. 3rd party renderers are usually better at this.

 

For that reason I would make sure there are other things in the scene that help reinforce the giant scale of things - very low camera angles etc, and a tiny silhouetted human judiciously placed can go a long way to establishing that sense of scale, but you can also do it with plants and scattered stones / rocks etc...

 

I like to do interesting things with volumetric light in canyon and cave environments, so maybe consider that too...

 

CBR

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  • Thanks, guys.

    @Cerbera I should have clarified — This is just for a still shot.

    I understand everything up to the displacement materials. Once the main forms sorted, we then throw a material and add displacement with a noise? What are the overhangs?

    I'm also using Octane render so can definitely add in some fog!

    Good points on the lighting too. 

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    2 minutes ago, Paul Milinski said:

    Once the main forms sorted, we then throw a material and add displacement with a noise?

    Yes, but we use sub-poly displacement to massively up the resolution at render time, which is a suite of settings in the displacement channel of materials. However, that should only be doing larger and medium-level details - you'd be better using bump or normal channels to get the fine detail on surfaces.

     

    5 minutes ago, Paul Milinski said:

    What are overhangs?

     

    Exactly what they sound like. Bits of rock that jut out or 'hang over' other bits such as you often find in canyon type rocks and cliffs. Don't worry about this too much - if you start with planes on their sides, then it's just not an issue, and if you do it the other way (building forms up on Y) then just make sure any overhanging bits of canyon are in that base mesh.

     

    CBR 

     

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  • Okay great! I'll make a start now and see how it goes.

     

    Thanks CBR

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    I can't get across enough how good displacement is at getting those weird canyon rock formations in about 6 clicks...

    Here I've got Voronoi 1 noise, scaled to 500% in World space driving displacer deformers assigned to simple medium res planes...

    Now you can just step through noise seeds until you find a great one before refining detail by combining differently scaled noises in layers and increasing plane subdivision so you can capture that additional detail...

     

    image.thumb.png.e7b07a159ec9348625b63521c5ef97a6.png

     

    And at any point, you can just do a Current State to Object to get a polygon copy, and then start pulling that about with the sculpt tools to really art direct your rock formations. The Pinch, Knife and Flatten tools are most notably useful here.

     

    Here's the scene file for that if it helps...

     

    Canyon start.c4d

     

    CBR

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  • Oh wow, that looks great. 

    I can go into that file and take a look at what's going on! Thanks

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