As the title suggests, things are really starting to slow down on this diorama. It’s beginning to look pretty much like a finished product and I’m working shorter days as a result. It seems like while there will inevitably be a few things I need to polish later, there will be a much smaller list than for my first diorama. Not that I’m not agonising over stupid, tiny details though. There are a lot of things I want to add that aren’t really worth the time and I’ll try to force myself to ignore. Currently, my polish list is;
- Increase the resolution of the dragon’s face, add details.
- Add moss to dragon texture.
- Add scale/feather tufts to dragon’s face.
- Improve the birch tree texture.
- Moss on tree roots.
- Rock face variation.
- Dirt for roots (replace placeholder).
But, I have also considered adding;
- Blue flowers.
- White ivy flowers.
However I think ultimately it’ll just make the scene even harder to read than it already is, and they won’t be worth the time.
This week has been a mixture of new asset creation, but also a lot of polishing, playing with lighting, and general fiddling to respond to critique.
The newly-added pink salvia flowers, heavily inspired by The Witcher, help bring some much needed colour variation into the scene. I’ve also added a similar pink to the dragon’s spines and even a rose tint to the birch trees to compliment it. The large white ox-eye daisies also help to break up the rather green/orange palette of the foliage.
The pink/blue of the now-fixed sky contrasts the orange/green of the diorama nicely too, I think.
I’ve been quite good for keeping on schedule with this diorama, and I feel happy that I’ll get what I want to get done, done.
There’s a lot of little things I’ve done this week so I won’t list everything- you can see that in my time schedule spreadsheet above, but I’ll run through a few bits. On Monday I created the black stone pillar at the back of the scene. In the books I am basing my work on, these pillars act as portals between other stone pillars throughout the realm. I also began the creation of the large fallen tree trunk which sits next to the stone pillar. I realised that I would probably need to scale down the trunk size, otherwise it would be absolutely huge in the scale of the diorama and look a little weird.
Though I liked how it broke up the scene, the trunk’s height near-matched the stone pillar and looked wrong. I decided that to save time and frustration, I would take one of my existing trees and modify it to have a large root system. This worked well, and the two tall trees frame the pillar nicely.
I also made the decision to re-add the birch trees, which I had previously removed because they were throwing off people’s idea of the scale of the scene. I modified the leaf texture to make the leaves smaller so that they matched the scene better, and placed them mostly on the raised section behind the pillar to make it come forwards more. Without them, the darkness of the pillar blends in a little too much with the dragon. I also feel that the white of the birch trunks breaks up the darkness of the foliage/dragon and adds interest. The trees are also all now animated to sway in the wind.
The above image shows a subtle mosquito particle I made. I think it grounds it for the viewer a little- everyone at some point has had to walk through a gross cloud of flies. I find myself thinking back to warm, sunny days when I’ve had to duck through fly swarms, and it brings the feel of those days into the diorama scene for me.
The final addition to the foliage I made was the ivy.
The main reason I chose to add ivy was to create the sense that the dragon has been laying where it is for a long time. It’s really difficult to create the sense that the dragon is stone, while still maintaining all the colours of the dragon as if it were living. Some things don’t work as well visually as in writing, and this is one of them. The ivy definitely helps, but it doesn’t completely solve the problem. Also, the ivy is so noisy that it just makes everything confusing to look at.
The whole damn thing is confusing to look at. It’s frustrating.
I wanted to get the feeling of the scene being very overgrown and alive, but I think I’ve just ended up making the whole thing feel really messy. I’m not really very happy with a lot of aspects of it unfortunately. I think it looks good as a whole, which is what I wanted, but it just looks awful when you start looking at it up close because all the assets aren’t very well-done. For future projects, I’d like to take the time to create really nice-looking hero assets for my portfolio, as I’m lacking that in my portfolio.
Currently, I still actually prefer my diorama as an unlit scene. Since this is week 5 of this diorama, I doubt that’ll change. In the unlit scene the colours are just nicer, and without the dappled lighting adding more noise it’s much easier to look at. I’ve tried to reduce the contrast between the light and shadows by upping the sky light brightness and bringing down the brightness of the source light, but it’s impossible to completely ease the nosiness created by the lighting.
So, this diorama is nearing completion. Over the weekend I’m hoping to create a blackbird to sit in a tree somewhere, and perhaps a bumblebee later. And of course I have my polish list. I’ll be taking this work to Polycount and to university tutors for crit, so I’m sure that list will grow. I’ll write a full post-mortem in the next week or so. 🙂