View Full Version : Bringing back the Magic Compass

02-13-2012, 04:28 PM
I've been meaning to do this for a long time, so I started on it Friday and picked it back up this morning. A long time ago, the inspiration for this site came from an image I was making for fun. I made the image and built the site's logo/layout off of it, and it's held true to that design concept ever since.

The image was made back in my novice days of modeling/rendering...I built everything haphazardly with no thought towards scale or realism until after everything was modeled...for example, in the above site header image...that map is about 2500 inches tall. Wow.

Since modern renderers and lighting calculations rely so heavily on scale, I decided to go through the trouble of scaling everything down to real scale...Which sounds easy, except for the fact that when you scale something, that scale factor is stored and maintained. so a 2500" piece of paper is still a 2500" piece of paper that is scaled down to 1.9% or something like that...Instead I had to resize everything. resize means to recreate a lot of it at a different scale, and for some things I was able to scale the vertices down while maintaining a 100% scale factor (crystals, bezier curves, etc.) All of this brings me to where it is now. Getting the magical glow and scene lighting to look good.

What you have here lighting wise is two candles off to the right, and one directional moonlight beam coming from the top left of the image. I'm not sure how accurate it LOOKS though, and thats where I need some advice. I need advice on lighting, and glow, and texture.

I'm aware of the tesselation anomalies in the metal textures, and I'm aware of the aliasing on the metallic edges...That will all go away when I do my final render that involves turning the settings way up. What I'm looking for is feedback on composition, lighting, and texture choice. Let me have it!


02-13-2012, 06:56 PM
Now... That! Is awesome.

02-13-2012, 08:28 PM
I do like the composition and things do look to be in scale. Maybe add some ink to the quill...

As for the lighting, I am not too sure where the second candle is located....(clock-ray location please?) because the shadows of the glowing gems look a bit off. Also, wouldn't the g;ow of said gems counter any effect from the candles? I also do not see any lighting/shadow from the moonlight.....I see reflections on the face, but no lighting effects...

I do like the shadow cast by the ink bottle...nice and subtle

02-13-2012, 09:53 PM
Thanks evile_eagle!

Korash, I like te idea of ink on the quill...The two candles are pretty much side by side on the right hand side, they're only casting the equivalent of one light because they're close together, distance apart is about 5 inches (kinda like a two candle candelabra). One wasn't bright enough, so I just cloned it instead of doublign the brightness (for realism)

I'm definitely not satisfied with the balance of the glow, versus the scene lighting, so yes, I think the glow from the gems should definitely cancel out the shadows. Also, the gems need to appear to glow internally, not externally. If you look at the gems in the site header you'll see the diffrence...they were done a different older way using shaders that I think I'm goign to revive.

As for the moonlight, it's not really supposed to cast any really noticeable shadows...I have shadows for it turned on, but the size of the moonlight emitter is large in order to make the shadow edges very diffuse...The moonlight was basically to cast some white light on the scene so it's not so yellow.

The ink bottle is the most complex shader solution in the scene. It's actually three different index of refraction calculations: Ink to Air 1.33/1=1.33, Glass to Air 1.5/1=1.5, Ink to Glass 1.5/1.33=.83. This gives the correct refraction for the different surface interactions as light passes through it, lol. Neat

02-14-2012, 08:36 AM
Are the gems glued in place? If not, they would not stay in a "realistic" model. As an aside, I prefer the top banner's more pointy gem on the "bottom"(read closest to viewer)

02-14-2012, 09:04 AM
Hmmm, good idea...move the pointy gem to the front.

Is "magic" not a good enough excuse for the gems staying in place? They are glowing ya know ;) I'll see what I can do.

02-14-2012, 11:09 AM
If you're going to put ink on the quill I'd remove the cork from the ink bottle (if possible).. maybe have the cork dripping ink onto the table. Also, perhaps add a little more definition to the quill feathers.

I think magic is a fine reason for holding the gems in place, but if you want the added realism you could always wrap a tiny piece of steel-silk thread or the like around the gem that can be attached to the corresponding prong.

Overall it's just awesome... I'm so jealous..wish I could do stuff like that.

02-14-2012, 12:39 PM
I'm doing a render now with the cork off and some wire wrapped around the gemstones to hold them in place. I've also adjusted the lighting a little, and for some reason, the stupid gems were creating a glow, but they weren't casting light...I've fixed that now, and they're actually making little pools of light on the table and map and stuff. Also, some more texture tweaks.

02-14-2012, 03:14 PM
Here it is. I experimented a little with the surface of the metal this time also, and made the edges of the metal beveled for added realism. Next trick will be to add some patina or scratches to the surface of the metals or something. Also the ink on the cork needs to be added. What do you all think of the wires holding in the gems? keep or lose?


02-14-2012, 05:30 PM
Honestly, I think it's going to come down to which way you prefer the gems. To me, it looks great both ways. If you don't like the wire look though.. you could always try some braided strands, or maybe even some ornate metal gem settings.

Personally, I like what you did with the cork.. although now the top part of the bottle gets a little bit lost in the background.. at least to me it does. Any chance you can add a bit of dried ink to it.. or maybe some type of silver band around the top to make it stand out more?

02-14-2012, 06:28 PM
Argh, I've accidently closed my browser so I have to type it again.
Are you planning a new banner?
If so I won't care about realism, shadows and IORs. The banner should be an eyecatcher and I think it looks good as it is. IMO I would refine what you have like the structure of the compass and its material. Adding details like the open ink bottle and ink on the feathers are very good ideas.

02-14-2012, 08:25 PM
Wasn't really considering redoing the banner, but it's an option. Thanks for all the feedback! Tomorrow I'll post a version that's hopefully a little brighter overall.

Sent from my DROID BIONIC using Tapatalk

02-15-2012, 04:22 PM
Here ya go, updated. I added some texture to the flat metal bits to give it some pop...but I'm not sure about it. I also redid the inkwell so it looks a bit more defined. Didn't get much time to spend on it today though. Still need to add ink to the inkwell lip, cork, and quill tip.

What do you all think of the texture of the metal and the brighter lighting?


02-15-2012, 05:26 PM
This is my favorite version of the metal so far.. I love the texture and the lighting.

I can't quite decide, but I think I liked the previous version of the ink bottle more. To me.. the lip just needed to stand out better so it wasn't lost in the background.

02-15-2012, 09:19 PM
Hmmm.. Arcana..Magic Compass. I say EPIC! Wow, I wish I had a prop like this to throw down in the middle of a game. Oh if only wishes were nickles I'd be rich. I, for one, am loving the lighting.

02-16-2012, 05:29 AM
The brushed metal looks really good, also the new inkwell. Imo the dark warm lighting fits better to the scene. More structures on the crystals could be seen. I would definitely try to put a small light source (perhaps coloured?) inside the crystal pointing north.
Please tell us what software you use for modeling and rendering :)

02-16-2012, 09:24 AM
Hmm.... not sure what others think, but I personally would like to see the facets of the gems come thought a lot more.

02-17-2012, 01:59 AM
Hehe, jf I was thinking it would be killer if there were reflections of the room in the crystal or maybe a cartographer's face but that's probably way over the top and only something I would look for...even though I wouldn't expect to see it.

03-04-2012, 04:00 PM
I like the brighter lighting, it stands out nicer than the first shot.

Lovely work.

03-05-2012, 12:49 PM
I like it, I agree a bit more definitions on the facets would make the center gem pop.. which i'd assume it should being the centre of the compas itself... obviously if it's easy enough to do, it looks great either way..

I like the texturing on the metal as well, i just find it to be a -touch- to defined, i think it might look better a bit more transparent, but really i'd have to see it to decide.. i'd also think the gold should be more textured than the metal, since it's softer, but this is all just throwing out ideas to experiment with.. all in all it looks fantastic!