Brian Prince rendered this scene entitled "Basin" as a personal project in Hash's Animation Master. Brian says that "while most digital artists seem to be interested in characters and creatures, I find myself... fascinated by environments."
Brian adds that "I would like to eventually reach a point where my digital work will be viewed as fine art, rather than lumped with the graphic arts merely because I use a computer."
Brian lives in Virginia City, Nevada. He has studied traditional art for as long as he can recall, and became interested in digital media at the age of twelve. Brian "played with Autodesk Animator and 3D Studio for a few years, but it wasn't until I started using Hash's Animation:Master that I understood the full potential of computer graphics." Brian continues to take fine art classes at Truckee Meadows Community College, including life drawing and painting, in order to improve the quality of his digital work. You can see more of Brian's work on his web site, www.bprince.com.
Brian's work is a tribute to the idea that it is the artist, not the tools, that makes first-rate computer graphics. Brian prepares for an image such as "Basin" by going outside and sketching, as well as collecting reference photographs from magazines. He created the scene using Hash's Animation:Master (www.hash.com), which has an unusually low price for a full-featured animation system, at only $200.
Brian doesn't use expensive hardware, either - his CPU is an AMD-K6 processor running at 200 MHz. Rendering this scene on his hardware (at 1800x1200 resolution) took 18 hours, but Brian says that he has "developed quite a bit of patience when it comes to rendering, so I don't think that the long calculations have had any measurable negative impact on my work. I don't mind re-rendering to fix a problem, even if its going to tie up my computer for a day."
The terrain was primarily created through modeling, with the exception of the rock outcroppings on the most-distant ridge, which were added with a displacement map. Apart from the one displacement map, all other textures are procedurals created within Animation:Master. According to Brian, "probably the most difficult task of this piece was to strike a balance between a terrain texture that looks good close to the camera, and one that looks good at a distance."
To model the plants, Brian started by creating a base version that looked fairly generic, and then copied and modified it to add both density and natural-looking variation. To "introduce natural chaos" into this scene, Brian scattered fallen leaves around the weeds, and added "insect-chewed" foliage to keep them from looking too artificial. Smaller objects like pebbles were positioned from the camera's point of view, so that they would make compositional sense in relation to their surroundings.
Finally, several hours were spent adjusting the colors of the terrain, sky, and vegetation, so that all would work together to make the image interesting, and to give it the mood he had in mind. The image below contains a wireframe of the scene as modeled in Animation:Master.