I made this a while ago and it recently came up again, so I’m going to do the detailed discussion of it that I always meant to do.
For the record, this was made with Blender 1.5x but anything more recent will work. Even since making this I’m already onto 2.60 which was just released the other day.
Break it down:
So we’ve got two things going on here – the basic render and then the compositing over that done internally with the nodes. It depends on the look I’m going for but this second step can usually replace Photoshop for post-render colouring and touching up so take the time to learn it. I’m not sure why I ignored it for so long and in hindsight I think it could have really helped my renders back then.
Part 1 – the render:
So you can see how important that post/node work is – the pure render is really drab and lifeless.
The geometry is really simple, it’s just a text (Futura) with another text behind it at a 0.094 bevel and some extrude to give it that really thick pillow look. Remember to up the bevel resolution to make it a curved fillet instead of just a chamfer. The inside text is the glowing green and the pillow part is the reflective black part.
The ground is just a giant plane with the same piano black finish that the pillow text has.
There’s the two materials. Pretty self explanatory, I think. We’ve got the black with a bright, sharp specular and a nice reflection (which you’ll notice isn’t doing blurred samples – we’ll come back to that) and the green with is just a green with an emit value to it for that extra zest. The speculars and such don’t really matter there since it’s rendering pretty much shadeless and specs won’t show up at all there. There is one light but it’s pretty irrelevant since the green glows more or less by itself and the black just reflects it. There are slight speculars on the black, I guess. It’s up to you. (Note, you still need the light for the emit to work, it just multiplies the natural surface illumination by a ton)
Which should give you that first render there. It works but isn’t very exciting at this point. Let’s spice that up, shall we?
Part 2 – node work:
Here’s the end result (click for fullscreen as always):
It breaks down into nice chunks.
Starting on the left we have the render layer as normal which then branches into the glare node up top (the major render) and into the overlay node to it’s right. This overlay uses a little bit of the render and mixes it with a scanline texture I had laying around. Basically it’s just horizontal lines that can be easily Googled or made in PS. That texture is scaled to fit the render dimensions and all of that is sent through the RGB curves to really intensify the bright parts, giving it tons of contrast. If you were to render from the tail of that RGB curve, this is what it would look like:
Which is sent through the glare, which just brightens it further and gives those side to side streaks (note the “Streaks: 2″ in there @ 0 angle offset). The color modifier is actually important here as it creates that sort of jittered spotty pattern to the streaks.
That whole things works basically as an overlay to the original render layer (and it’s glare node for the text’s neon look)) – those two run through the Lens Distortion which has a tiny bit of dispersion (the glitched out red/green/blue tinges on the far sides of the lettering) and a lens-barrel distortion for that fisheye curve the whole thing’s got.
The defocus does the ground blur and it’s actually a bit of a bug in the renderer itself. Since it’s not doing any real light physics, it’s not smart enough to know that reflected things exist in the same place as real objects and therefore should exhibit the same DoF as the physical object does (as real life would) so the blur is actually controlled by the bokeh as if it’s out of focus, although our knowledge dictates it isn’t. It’s usually annoying but it’s really handy here since it’s blur is far faster than doing actual sampled glossiness on the ground material itself. If we were making an animation that would have really nice time savings.
That should give us the completed image!
Which you can see again if you’d forgotten since the top. Click for full to appreciate those little details. I’m really quite fond with how that dispersion turned out and mixed with the scanlines.
Questions, comments, critique? Feel free to send a message my way!