The making of Lakeside Summer

Claudiu Hanga created a beautiful set of images that capture the feel of a warm summer day out by the lake. We spoke with him to gets his tips and hints on creating such a wonderful scene and to learn a little more about him!

Claudiu Hanga Lakeside Summer cam01

Read Claudiu’s tips and techniques!

Hi, my name is Claudiu Hanga and I’m an 3D Artist / Interior Designer based in
Manchester in the UK.

Claudiu Hanga Lakeside Summer house wireframe

I first came into contact with the world of CGI while in college, where I studied interior design. Of course I had seen 3d before, but in my mind it was like 3d meant some abstract shapes with pretty colors on it. In my second year of study, they introduced us to 3d tools and showed us some 3ds Max renderings of some interiors made by the teachers, and in that moment I was blown away! I think if someone had taken a picture of my face you would have seen sparkles on my eyes :D. That was the beginning of my passion about the CG world.

Inspiration

The idea for this project was in my mind for a very long time. I wanted to explore the exterior side of an archviz project in depth, but I was always scared about the complexity of it and didn’t know exactly where to start.

Claudiu Hanga Lakeside Summer Inspiration Shots
Inspirational photo sources

Then one day I saw some advertising photographs from Esprit Home (a company which sells home accessories) and I fell in love with those images. The way light was used to create a very comfy atmosphere, which I’m very into, and the softness of the fabrics combined with the location – it was perfect. And I knew that would be a good place to start.

Lighting

For the lighting in this one I used a Corona Sun and Sky. I used the daylight system from Max, and used the Corona Sun for the sunlight and adedd a Corona Sky for the environment.

Claudiu Hanga Lakeside Summer cam07

I like the Max daylight system because I can input the time and location and have a perfect light for that particular moment. Usually in interiors I use HDRIs because they give a more natural color on the walls and objects, but for some reason I find that for exteriors a Corona Sun and Sky performs better than a HDRI, so I stick with it.

Fabrics

Since at the core I’m an interior designer, I have a soft spot for everything fabrics! So, lately I have dedicated more time to Marvelous Designer, and I can say in terms of cloth simulations there isn’t anything better. Now every time I need a fabric object I go straight to MD. As a starting point, I used the Juraj Talcik tutorial from 3D Artist  magazine, Issue 51 from 2013, and from there you just need to keep practicing. The more you do it, the better the results are.

Claudiu Hanga Lakeside Summer cam02

For the rug, I used a mesh from MD and applied a Corona Displacement (which I hope in future will become extended with more options in it), with a noise map plugged in to it.

Surrounding Environment

For exterior foliage, I did everything in 3d, since this was the whole point of this project. I used some trees and grass from Evermotion, some free grass models from Adan Martin, some shrubs from Maxtree, and some dead leaves which I had in my library.

Claudiu Hanga Lakeside Summer grass+shrubs

I scattered everything with Corona Scatter which works very well. For every object or group of objects, I made a different Corona Scatter object to control the variation, and I used multiple planes for each Scatter object, hiding them in the render visibility where I didn’t need them.

Then I converted everything to Corona Proxy to reduce memory consumption and keep a responsive viewport. For the scattered objects, I played with rotation, scaling and translation for a more natural look. Nothing fancy, but it is very important to work in layers, especially when you have complex scenes – it keeps you in control at different stages of the project and is very easy to manipulate when needed.

The set up for scattering the trees (click for larger versions):

Claudiu Hanga Lakeside Summer grass+shrubs treesClaudiu Hanga Lakeside Summer grass+shrubs trees-shaderClaudiu Hanga Lakeside Summer grass+shrubs trees scatter object Claudiu Hanga Lakeside Summer grass+shrubs scene wireframe

On using Corona

What I like about Corona is “it just works”, and that’s exactly what I have wanted from a renderer since I started with 3d! I hated when I worked with other packages and had to waste a lot of time with rendering problems and complicated settings to achieve a fairly decent result.

Since I went to Corona, I could dedicate more time to lighting, composition and shader complexity to achieve a better result, because it gave me more free time to do that. I use default rendering settings for everything I do. I don’t care too much about rendering times since I know that when I press render I will have exactly what I want and won’t be holding my breath waiting for something unexpected to happen after a few hours of rendering.

Claudiu Hanga Lakeside Summer cam10

At the moment I care more about stability and confidence in a tool I use than I do about hype. Another aspect I very much like is the stability of Corona; it handles insane amounts of geometry very well.

To summarize how Corona helped me, it gave me more creative time to focus on making my images better and takes care of the render settings by default.

Cameras

For each shot I use a different camera with its own settings. I do that on every project. But also in this one, for each shot I changed the position of the sun to achieve proper light composition, otherwise I would have ended up with blown-out or underexposed shots. On every project I keep a text file with info settings for each camera I use, in case I need to go back later and re-render, because who knows when that information might be useful!

Claudiu Hanga Lakeside Summer cam03

Future Work

I can’t say too much about my next projects, as the commercial ones I’m not allowed to publish. For personal projects, keep an eye on my website and my Behance page, and if something pops in my head, you will see it there.

I want to say thanks to Corona team for having me here and letting me share my process, and also to congratulate them for the amazing job they do and the care they put in for their community. I wish them to grow bigger with every release and keep the same commitment to us, the users!

For the readers, if you want to ask anything that I forgot to mention, please use the comments section to ask.

Cheers!
Claudiu Hanga
Website: claudiuhanga.com
Behance: behance.net/claudyo

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