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The Making of ''The Calm Before the Storm'' by Jaime Diaz Alvarez

Mercoledì, 18 Ottobre 2023 by Jaime Diaz Alvarez | Tempo di lettura: 5 Minuti

The Making of ''The Calm Before the Storm'' by Jaime Diaz Alvarez

The first image of a trilogy, inspired by the epical movie "The Lord of The Rings", was created and presented by Jaime Diaz Alvarez. A storytelling scenario in the magic woods of the Shire within a dangerous and dark ambiance all around. Read and explore how an artist gets inspired and starts creating his own story. Enjoy!

About Me.

My name is Jaime Diaz aka from “1000 Words”. I`m an architect and I`ve been working as a full-time freelance Archviz artist for over 15 years. My hobbies are all related to mountain activities; hiking, climbing, paragliding, BASE jumping… and I really love to enjoy nature photography. This is where my passion for creating 3D environments comes in. I`m also a big fan of fantasy and science-fiction movies.



Software Used.

For this project, I used 3ds MaxForest Pack, tyflow, Phoenix FDV-Ray, and Photoshop.


The Story.

In this project, I aimed to build an environment inspired by 'The Shire' from 'The Lord of the Rings,' accompanied by an engaging storytelling element. My primary goal was to construct a visually striking image that, upon first glance, would draw viewers to explore further, enticing them to zoom in and spend time unraveling its full story.


This artwork is the first of 3 images series. 

“In the magic woods of The Shire, a magic river feeds the trees and makes them grow giant, where villagers build their homes inside. It’s a really peaceful place to be but it’s about to change… Nerthul, the owner of the “The Ichy Bear” tavern found a dragon nest with many eggs, one of the most valuable treasures on middle earth. He thought he would make good money selling them in the tavern but he was wrong. Unfortunately, dragons are extremely dangerous creatures and have the most extraordinary sense of smell, so mom has just arrived and she is thirsty for blood... “

At first glance, you just see a peaceful village with a magic river and people enjoying and celebrating.

The Making of ''The Calm Before the Storm'' by Jaime Diaz Alvarez



Then you realize the “Icky Bear” tavern (a reference to “Prancing Pony” from LOTR) is selling fresh dragon eggs)



The Making of ''The Calm Before the Storm'' by Jaime Diaz Alvarez



As you keep watching the image, the highlight areas will guide you to other tree houses with more people having a good time.

The Making of ''The Calm Before the Storm'' by Jaime Diaz Alvarez



Looking closely at the image you realize a dragon just arrived and she doesn't look happy…

The Making of ''The Calm Before the Storm'' by Jaime Diaz Alvarez




The Project.

The initial idea included tree houses so I decided to search for a millenary tree to make the base model of the trunk. I found this fantastic olive tree which looked perfect for the job so I scanned a portion of the trunk. I only scanned a portion because I wanted it to have as much detail as possible.

The Making of ''The Calm Before the Storm'' by Jaime Diaz Alvarez


The result was pretty good, so I started cutting and adding some Kitbash assets and modeling the interior (just the visible parts from the camera view) to create the main treehouse in the scene.

The Making of ''The Calm Before the Storm'' by Jaime Diaz Alvarez


The first thing I usually do on my projects is set the camera; then I start composing the bigger elements on the frame and finally add all the details.

The Making of ''The Calm Before the Storm'' by Jaime Diaz Alvarez


For the terrain, I created a blend material with 2 basic “leaves floor” shaders (1 and 2)  and a more complex shader mixing 5 different megascans ground materials with different scale masks to avoid tiling. Also the different materials with distance text with an invisible geometry to make the river channel and the walking paths. I used Phoenix Fd to simulate the water flow in 3 simulators using cascade mode for the river.

The Making of ''The Calm Before the Storm'' by Jaime Diaz Alvarez




The most tricky part of the river was getting that glowy orange shader. The shader looks pretty simple but the way it looked depended a lot on the light and SSS materials are very slow to test render. I had to add a mesh light under the water to get the desired effect.

The Making of ''The Calm Before the Storm'' by Jaime Diaz Alvarez



For the roots in contact with the magic river, I used a Blend material with a distance tex mask light material vs root material so that the contact with the river glowed.

The Making of ''The Calm Before the Storm'' by Jaime Diaz Alvarez



For the fireflies, I used tylflow to animate them and activated motion blur on render to get the effect I was looking for.

The Making of ''The Calm Before the Storm'' by Jaime Diaz Alvarez


Also added some moths in the lights using Forest Pack to give some good details to the image.

The Making of ''The Calm Before the Storm'' by Jaime Diaz Alvarez


I added some Easter eggs to the screen in the form of golden eggs. There were 7 in total and there was a price for the first to find them. The price was becoming the hero of the second part of this story (his/her face will be Photoshopped to the warrior fighting the dragon in the next artwork). 
Vegetation and rocks were scattered with forest pack.

The Making of ''The Calm Before the Storm'' by Jaime Diaz Alvarez



Finally, I added cutout medieval people from Daz3d, but I wasn't very happy with the quality because they didn't give me the desired amount of realism. So, I decided to make my own cutouts. It was a lot of work to match their light with the scene but I was pretty happy with the result.

The Making of ''The Calm Before the Storm'' by Jaime Diaz Alvarez



For the Illumination, I used standard V-Ray sun and V-Ray sky. I added many invisible lights to lighten some specific areas and interiors. Also used a mesh light under the magic river. I had to put some light blockers (black planes) to darken the foreground and avoid too much light coming from the left side. 

The Making of ''The Calm Before the Storm'' by Jaime Diaz Alvarez




Below you can find a small lighting breakdown:



That's all, I would like to thank you for spending your time on this article and I really hope that you found something useful for your workflow.

Kind regards,
Jaime Diaz Alvarez.

profile photo of Jaime Diaz Alvarez

About the artist

Jaime Diaz Alvarez is an architect and freelance 3D artist under the brand name "1000 words" for more than 15 years. Fan of fantasy and science fiction movies with many hobbies such as nature photography which emphasizes his willingness to create 3D environments.

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