Desert Scene

  • November 07, 2012
  • Blender 2.6x
  • Render: Blender Internal
  • Creator: BMF
  • License: CC-0
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Saguaro Cactus Scene UPDATED 2012-11-10

Added Composte Nodes and made a couple of minor adjustments. I think the improvements are fairly significant.

Key elements of the scene:

  1. The sand and colorations are improved variants from two of my previous scenes (Sand Landscape and Beach Scene). I assigned the faces for the mountains to a separate material to give them a more purple and red-ish tint based on various reference images of desert mountains in the distance.

  2. The main Saguaro Cactus at the left front is modeled and UV unrapped. All of the other Saguaros in the scene are based on several variations of the model grouped to the right side of the ground plane and distributed by a particle system.

Other cacti in the scene are billboards except the one with the yellow flowers--that's a detailed model that turned out well.

  1. The rocks are several variations and sizes grouped and off to the right of the ground plane (with the Saguaro cacti) when in object mode and are distributed by a particle system. Note, the rocks are too high poly for this scene, but I didn’t feel like doing them over again.

For some reason, I had a lot of difficulty getting the rocks to rest on the ground. About half would end up floating in the air. I finally solved the problem but I don’t know how. Some combination of adjustments finally worked. Also the particle system seems to distribute models in crazy positions and it takes a while to understand which rotation options will get them into proper orientation. Sometimes the Rotation panel in the Paticle System will correct the orientation, sometimes the Global and/or Rotation in the Particle group option will correct it, and sometimes it takes a combination. Strange.

  1. The grass is procedural and distributed by a particle system.

  2. The agave plants are billboards as are the birds. The small blooming cactus is a detailed model with spines and flowers. The large saguaro cactus is not as detailed because the spines were much more difficult to place due to the specific pattern and they didn't show up well in the render to be worth the effort.

  3. There are a number of different lights. The main sun provides the sharply defined shadows for the foreground.

Three large spot lights with volumetric halo settings provide the haze for the mountains in the background. The lights overlap and are positioned just above the ground with low energy settings. The middle light has a lower setting than the two on either side to reduce the doubling effect in the overlap area. Yes, I could have simulated haze in the compositor, but I wanted to experiment with other ways.

Another spot on the right side set to shadows only helps bring out the contours of the distant mountains.

There is a low energy blue sun to give the shadows a bluish tint.

There is a hemi lamp to illuminate the grass and other objects where the shadows were to intense.

There is a small AO factor of .1 to provide some ambient reflections but keep the shadows sharp as they would be in the desert.

  1. There are no nodes enhancing this scene. It’s a personal thing. I want to first see how much I can achieve without the nodes before using them on a regular basis. I think if forces me to think more about textures, colors, lighting, etc. during the modeling. Like Photoshop, it’s best if you take the best original image before enhancing it. I want to (try to) be a good modeler before I begin using the compositor in a serious way.

While this may seem like a simple scene, for me it was a difficult one to get right. My job takes up most of my time, so it took a long time to finish it. I’m fairly satisfied with the results. I had a lot of ideas to make the scene more interesting, but it was growing too large.

I have a five year old computer with duel processors, a 64 bit OS, and a lot of RAM. This scene takes 3.5 minutes to render on my computer. It will take considerably longer on older/slower computers, but I think there is a lot of value in the models and techniques I used without having to render it.

As always with my models/scenes I give all away freely with no attachments. Use the models and textures however you like. No credits to me are necessary—this is just one of my many hobbies and my enjoyment comes from improving with each new scene.

Personal Comments:

  1. I’d like more control over the shape of the spot light cone. I’d like to pinch it in the X, Y, or Z axis to illuminate specific areas.

  2. I’d like a more robust mist function that would give me precision control over height, width, density, color, and placement of the mist.

  3. I’d like more control over the shape and of procedural textures.


  • Wooxen profile picture

    Very nice and good description, this goes to my favorites ! :)

    Written November 07, 2012
  • JVA profile picture

    Muito bom!parabens

    Written November 08, 2012
  • nathanferguson profile picture

    really magnificent scene :D Great Job!

    Edited November 16, 2012
  • wulkan profile picture

    a... a... a... amazing job bro :)

    Written January 04, 2013
  • BMF profile picture

    Thanks, it was more difficult to get the right look and feel than most of my other nature scenes. I had a number of good ideas to improve on the scene, but it was already 15 MB.

    Written January 05, 2013
  • bunjyman profile picture

    thanks i will use this in my next animation

    Written February 06, 2013
  • BMF profile picture

    Glad it's going to be of some use.

    Written February 07, 2013
  • yvesbodson profile picture

    Hello This is both a wonderful and very technical work. I used to roam the Nevada, Utha and New Mexico deserts doing photography for magazines but your work is very pertinent and close to the real thing. Very nice Yves Bodson

    Written May 18, 2013
  • BMF profile picture

    Thank you for your comments. The scene is based on about 50 reference images of deserts. The one thing missing I think are sage bushes, but only do this part time and so my real job is always interfering with with what I'd really like to be doing.

    I haven't posted a model in a couple of months because I'm working on a complex blend that is taking more time that I had anticipated. It will be a tribute, so I want it to be accurate and impressive.

    Thanks again.

    Written May 18, 2013
  • andibluh profile picture

    Thanks a lot!!

    Written September 20, 2013
  • fesain profile picture

    Es un buen trabajo,gracias

    Written December 07, 2013
  • Tudy profile picture

    Superbonne travail Un travail jamais vue depuis ma naissance, Hey dit donc peux-tu nous faire une autre tuto s'il te pla

    Written May 06, 2014
  • BMF profile picture

    Tudy, I speak English and Spanish, but not French but I think I understand what you are asking--but maybe not.

    Thank you for your comment. I believe you want me to do a tutorial for the Desert Scene. If that is your question, then I have to say that I don't do tutorials for a couple of reasons. First, my skill level in Blender is low so it would take me too long to record each step. Second, I run my own business and so I don't have much time to spend creating models--Blender is just one of my many hobbies I enjoy in my spare time.

    I hope I understood what your question and I hope you understood this response.

    Take care.

    Written May 07, 2014
  • Allengib profile picture

    Very good photo quality to me. that means better than very good

    Written October 25, 2014
  • blenderdude84 profile picture

    how do you make your sand

    Written January 08, 2015
  • BMF profile picture

    Blenderdude84, Select the ground and then look at the materials and texture settings for the sand. It would take too long to explain it here step by step.

    The rocks, grass, and cactus on the ground are distributed using the particle system for the groupings of rocks, grass, and cactus.

    Additionally there are several good tutorials for blender making sand and other ground elements.

    The best ways to learn are from doing tutorials and reverse engineering other blend files. Also select a subject to model that is beyond your current skills. That forces you to learn how to model objects that you've never tried before. Just keep practicing, and you'll begin to better understand how to combine materials and textures in blender to get the look that you want.

    Written January 12, 2015
  • reidh profile picture

    You must live in Tucson?

    Written February 12, 2016
  • neoscribe profile picture

    wow! very nice bro. this may save me a lot of time, as I'm also doing this as a hobby, my goal is to animate rather than model. so models like yours allow me to spend time perfecting animation. thanks for sharing this for free. if i use it, you'll get full credit and i'll send you a link to the animation i used it in. thanks again

    Written April 29, 2016
  • FM5 profile picture

    hey, this model is Great,can I use this for comercially?

    Written May 18, 2016
  • CGLord profile picture

    a bit laggy on my old computer but still works. looks great!

    Written June 11, 2017
  • jenyakulich profile picture

    Written June 27, 2018