Mars 2050

This is my second attempt at creating an image using compositing. There has been a lot of "news" about possible manned-Mars missions recently, nothing - of course - to do with the success of the film "The Martian"!

Mars 2050-thumb

The background image is from one of the NASA Mars Rovers. These images are great in many ways - especially as NASA has learnt that the public love to see the Rover's tracks in them. However, they are often built from images taken by the Rovers panoramic camera - and that does present an issue with regard to shadows. I tried to minimise the issue of shadow direction by selecting a chunk of the original image near the centre. In the original, the Rover had obviously done some manoeuvring and I didn't want those tracks in my image. That meant a bit of Photoshop work (the shallow gully/dry river bed-style terrain in front of the vehicle is not there in the original). However I did shoot myself in the foot, as you can see the shadows are a little different.

My Mars Crawler is based on a mesh by Kenny Mitchell (I think). I turned it into an open back configuration, added the crane, observation bubble - and also tried to give it some Chris Foss-style wheels. They didn't turn out the way I was hoping, but they look OK. I also gave it an interior, but you can barely see it.

The base in the distance is actually one I built for a moon base image - I may get around to it at some point. The ship is based on a super retro magazine or book cover I snipped from somewhere - I think from Dark Roasted Blend.

Again, I put a deformer under the plane object to give more realistic shadows.

My biggest issue with this image has been the sky; it's quite featureless and after some processing (rendered in C4D then into Photoshop) it began to show some banding. I have done all the usual things to reduce the banding, but it's also why the imitation vignette effect is a bit heavier than I would normally do.

Again - like Solar Observatory - this was lit with a single sun and HDR sky. The HDR image was coloured to get it as close to the Mars sky colour as possible.

Solar Observatory

I decided to learn about compositing; I have been trying to create a number of images with mesh terrains, and they have basically killed my computer when trying to render. Compositing seemed offer me an optional way of crating some of the images in my head with fewer polys!

Solar Observatory-Thumb

This is a follow-up to this image, and takes place on a mostly terraformed Venus. This is an early outpost, a scientific community established to study the sun, particularly the solar wind (Venus has  little or no geo-magnetic field)

The main issue I ran into was building colour; the logical choice - white or off white - simply made it look like Mos Eisley!

The dome building was a simple half sphere; with my first thoughts for the image I did start modelling the interior and there are still remnants of that - a floor and lift shafts. The tower isn't mine at all - it's by Serg Sobolev and is part of the DCCGI Buildings collection, available over at

The solar wind detectors (the top) also started life as simple sphere objects.

The radio telescope is a NASA model, hacked a little bit, and sat on a version of the base used for the solar wind detectors.

The vehicles were actually built for another image - a Mars colony idea. They are essentially a single decker bus-sized vehicle on balloon tyres. They didn't turn out very interesting, but are fine for distance shots like this.

The background image is the Yelan desert in Iran - I came across it on the interwebs and it was pretty much exactly what I was looking for. You'll get an idea of its real scale when I tell you that the tracks my vehicles are following are actually the single set of tyre marks left by a 4x4!

To get some irregularities in the shadows of buildings and vehicles, I added a deformer object to each of the plane objects. This also enabled me to create an irregular terrain around the base of the buildings.

I kept the texturing pretty minimal; the concrete texture on the buildings is from Total Textures "Aged & Stressed", the Solar Wind Detector top is from Total Textures SciFi. The texture on the base of the SWD is by Philip K. The windows and the telescope whitish paint texture are mine.

The scene was lit with a single sun and HDR sky.