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Weekend Contest: Above the Clouds



Image: Nieuport 17 by David Paul.

It's time for another weekend contest! Bjorn Strand is our previous winner with his impressive work 'The Hero'. I asked him to pick a theme for this weekend.

Bjorn said:

So since I'm flying this weekend, I was thinking a good theme for next weeks blender contest would be "above the clouds" it could be anything from flying machines and dragons to floating cities whatever people can come up with!

Well, there you have it. We might have some sunnier images than last week ;-) And if you need some help getting a good looking sky backdrop, check out the tutorial 'Adding Clouds to Blender Cycles’ Sky Texture' that I posted last week.

One other thing: there's a lot of interest in seeing screenshots of your scene in Blender. If you like, attach an image of that along with your work.

Post your work below (attach an image), and vote for your winner. The winner will get a post on monday, and will get to pick next weekend’s contest theme. Have fun!

About the Author

Bart Veldhuizen

I have a LONG history with Blender - I wrote some of the earliest Blender tutorials, worked for Not a Number and helped run the crowdfunding campaign that open sourced Blender (the first one on the internet!). I founded BlenderNation in 2006 and have been editing it every single day since then ;-) I also run the Blender Artists forum and I'm Head of Community at Sketchfab.


    • actually, that would have been a nice weekend contest topic too! "The Fifth Disease". Need to memorise that one :)

    • Slobodan Rajkovic on

      Nice,but why so fast,we have plenty of time,maybe you could improve your render or came with something completly different...First that come to my mind for entry is hot air baloon(dont know is that eng.word for it.),so i also plan to do something on that topic...
      Sorry for my poor english:-(

  1. This is what I sort of accidentally created when I followed the Realistic Earth tutorial by Andrew Price. I moved the earth without the clouds, and with some nice compositing I created this image, only using a texture from NASA of the clouds above the earth.

  2. AspiringAnimator on

    Here's my first entry, "City in the Clouds." Comments and critiques appreciated! Enjoy, and good luck to everyone! :)

    • Very cute image! :) And since you asked for critiques I will offer you my opinion, the only thing I think is missing is a few more lights in the scene. I'd do a very soft blue light to fill in the shadows, and then just a bit of a backlight to separate everything from the background, and then I think you'd be golden! I might also try experimenting with having the ground visible or not, just to see what it does to the composition. Good job though, and keep up the good work!

      • AspiringAnimator on

        Thank you very much! Sorry this is so late, but I haven't been able to check blendernation recently due to time constraints :P But now, I have time!!! :D

  3. An artwork in similar mood to the David Paul's work, shown in this contest header. It is just a rearranged example from my book.
    I tried to recreate lighting conditions for the "Brocken spectre" effect depicted on the photo: the shadow of an airplane on the cloud below.
    If you are interested in details of this scene - this is a CC work, you can download it at
    The background image is credited to Tomo Yun. You can find plenty of free high-resolution aerial clouded skies photos on his portal (
    (Click this picture to enlarge it, it seems that the minimizing algorithm of Disqus adds significant blur...)

  4. Here is my entry called "The City of Dreams". Rendered at 2000 samples in 2.70. Fun Fact: The cloud material is only made with volumetric scatter. Hooray for Cycles with volumetric rendering! :)

  5. Man, I thought I was being so clever doing a hot air balloon. "NOBODY else will think of that!" I says to myself. Oh well, you know what they say, nothing new under the sun (or above the clouds apparently :p). Anyways, LOVE that we finally have volumetrics in Cycles, great job to all the devs who worked on that! Took a while to render, but alas, thats what I get for adding all the bells and whistles. So after watching tiny squares fill in for a couple of hours, here it is: "Balloon Ride at Sunrise". Enjoy.

  6. Sigh. Uploaded the wrong version, then sat here debating how much I wanted to clutter up the feed, decided might as well post the right one after all that work. So I extend my apologies for my mistake, and please disregard the previous entry. And I'll just copy the original text as well...

    Man, I thought I was being so clever doing a hot air balloon. "NOBODY else will think of that!" I says to myself. Oh well, you know what they say, nothing new under the sun (or above the clouds apparently :p). Anyways, LOVE that we finally have volumetrics in Cycles, great job to all the devs who worked on that! Took a while to render, but alas, thats what I get for adding all the bells and whistles. So after watching tiny squares fill in for a couple of hours, here it is: "Balloon Ride at Sunrise". Enjoy.

    • Thats cool! I love the light rays! And yeah, the volumetric stuff really slow down the render (mine took 5 hours), but it does make it look awesome :)

      • Thanks! And yeah, mine was a couple of hours too, I went to bed before it was done, so can't remember how many lol. In retrospect probably should have done the clouds a lot simpler, just diffuse/glossy really, you can't tell at all in the final version but they're actually using a little bit of volumetrics, and some SSS too, so probably could have saved a lot of time there...

        • Yeah, my clouds (which I now see are at a bad viewing angle) were done purely with volumetric scatter. I was gonna add SSS to it, but I found it didn't do much for mine except slow it down. SSS might work better with volumetric scattering if some kind of spotlight is used instead of a sun lamp.

    • That's a good example of an image where we do not only see a Blender user but also a painter at work. Congrats for a very nice composition and a nice mood!

  7. Hi!!!! Already is weekend!! This is my "Hot flight with Blender" As always, time will not give more... In this render, one of the balloons makes an effect that I do not like, it seems less rounded than it really is. If I have time I'll upload another view.

    Hope you like!

  8. Hi!!!! Already is weekend!! This is my "Hot flight with Blender" As always, time will not give more... In this render, one of the balloons makes an effect that I do not like, it seems less rounded than it really is. If I have time I'll upload another view.

    Hope you like!

    Sorry to repeat the entry. I was wrong with the previous version

  9. Spyros Toufexis on

    Hi this is mine scene.i finally finish it and i just want say sorry to my old friend amd 7750 for the overheating through the rendering and modelling process...He is 6 years old you know...I am pleased with the final render 4000 samples i dont know if it has a big difference from a 2000 samples i just wanted the glass to have the less possible noise a noob you know still learning..

  10. Mine is called: "The Mountain Above the Clouds". Inspired by Angel Island from Sonic the Hedgehog. I used lots of displacement modifiers for the Mountain and Island. Rendered in Blender 2.70 with 500 Samples.

    • Thats really cool! I like the way you made the island with the water under it. I have a special place in my heart for low-poly/simple design stuff like this. Makes good wallpaper :)

  11. Here's my entry, first time entering. Done in Blender Internal, about twenty minutes of work and five minutes of rendering. I call it "Floating Sunrise". Comments and critiques are welcome. Thanks!

    • Brilliant idea, quite out of the box, and excellent execution. What, if any, post-production did you do? I'm fairly new to this, and I love your style. Thanks!

      • Thanks for the feedback! This is my first contest so I was a little nervous about posting anything
        Anyways, I try to use just blender if at all possible, (so no post)... I did, however, use the compositor and the "color management" tab

        • You're welcome. Thank you for the "behind the scenes" look at your artwork. It's a cool artwork, I must say. I might try something similar in the future, just to see how it works. Are those just modeled planes, or are they alpha images on planes, or possibly curves? Sorry for all of the questions, but I really like your style and want to know how you accomplished it. Thanks!

          • They're modeled planes. The broken stumps are part of a particle system linked up to a group of stumps in a different layer.

            Don't hesitate to ask any more questions, I'm happy to answer!

          • Thanks! How did you go about creating the smoke? It looks really good. Also, what was your method for modeling the tree? It also looks fantastic. Thank you for answering all of these questions! I really appreciate it.

          • The smoke was made from a bunch of circle meshes placed in front of each other. The tree started as a plane and I just extruded one side all the way up, subdividing the edge whenever I hit a break. The "e", "r", and "s" hotkeys were heavily utilized :)

          • Okay, thank you. I'm definitely going to need to try this style of artwork. It looks really good, and I'm interested to see if it's a style I can use. What type of lighting set-up did you use? Thanks!

          • I'm actually curious as to how you got the light scattering near the base without cycles? Did you do anything special for that or is that just how the lights ended up working? Its been a while since I used internal, but I didn't think they created that kind of effect.

          • I just used a hemi-lamp and ambient-occlusion. The planes intersect each other at the base, so perhaps that's why the light scatters, but I'm not entirely sure.

          • I am sorta interested in knowing why you chose the Internal engine over the Cycles engine. By all accounts, I am quite new to blender and I have basically only learned how to do stuff in cycles. I know the Internal engine is needed for smoke rendering and stuff, but I don't know the full ins and outs of it.

          • I started learning blender before cycles was implemented (I think I started with 2.49) and my computer is fairly old. The cycles stuff is great, but I'm more focused on efficiency- a scene like this in cycles would have taking exponentially longer on my machine compared to the internal renderer. Don't get me wrong, cycles has a lot to offer, but nothing I'm (personally) willing to sacrifice my time for. I'm looking forwards to the day when it's just as fast :)

          • I can attest to it being faster. Whenever I have done rendering involving smoke, it definatly seemed to render a lot faster.

    • This really is a good example of using a 3D graphics program like Blender to make 2D(2.5D?) artwork, thats not always the easiest thing to achieve. I love the abstract design mixed with the red bird to draw your focus. Really good job! :D

  12. Prashant Kumar on

    Messerschmit Me 262 (above the clouds)
    Blender 2.70 custom
    Cycles Render 200 samples
    My Blog=

  13. Quick low poly attempt to get the "ground above the clouds" :P.

    Crepuscular rays and clouds with cycles volumetrics.

  14. For some reason I can't login on firefox.. When I click the little login button, enter my username and password and press enter, the popup window displays rotating gears for a second and then disappears. I tried deleting BN related cookies, but it didn't seem to help.

    Works fine in chromium though.

  15. This is my entry, a slightly modified version of RAH-66 Comanche helicopter.
    this was actually started a bit back but just finished it recently

  16. Here we go! Been working away from home on my "Oh, so slow laptop" this weekend. Had a bit of a struggle to get this done in time. Everything modeled in Blender. Some texture work and post-pro in Gimp & Inkscape. A lot of good work in here as always. Good luck to everyone! :)

      • Thank you! I actually started out with the eyes on Friday, need them for another project as well so I'm glad you like them. The "regular balloon" thing is an important detail. :) Glad you noticed. Guess I could have spent more time on the balloon instead of the Blurred out Antonov which were the most time-consuming object in here.

          • That could do it, thank you for the tip. I will take that it in to consideration if I ever decide to make a bigger project out of this. I also managed to loose some of the details on the balloon. It should have been rotated about 180 degrees. It's not easy to get everything right in such short time... :)

  17. This is my entry, hope you like it! I didn't have much time this weekend so I couldn't upload it earlier.

    "And when Earth and soil was not enough, they thought about Cephalopods..."

    This is my Blender cookie proflie, to see more of my work.

    Render Cycles, postpro Photoshop

  18. My first submission. No hot air but also ballons.
    Rendered in Blender Internal. For the clouds I watched the tutorial from Andrew Price.
    A Particle System for the ballons.

      • Hi Pablo, one thing that strikes me about this work is that the Blender screenshot is a lot more appealing than the final render. Somewhere inbetween something went off track in my eyes. One obvious thing is that the composite contains WAY too much dispersion, and also the motion blur does not add dynamic to the image, it does quite the opposite. Take it easy on the effects, they should be so humble that it's hard to notice they are there, and focus a bit more on the composition. Modelling wise this could have been an A+ image! Also like the idea how you made the clouds, actually very efficient!

        • Thanks for the tips, for sure ill keep working on it to get better results and maybe a A+ render. =)
          I also planned to do a hand made texture paint on it.

  19. Here's my humble submission... figured since I wrote the cloud generator I couldn't stay away from this competition in particular...

  20. Brennan McFarland on

    My PC obviously needs some help. It kept overheating, so I had to turn down all the render settings a ton. But I'm glad to say it finally did render, and here it is: Misty Islands

    • Brian Lockett on

      Good on you for working through the hardware trial. I had an issue of my computer running out of hard drive space. It's funny how these small challenges can throw you big obstacles.

      And I'm curious--are those particle system-based clouds? :)

      • Brennan McFarland on

        No they're just a shader that's part transparent and part white diffuse shader using a noise texture. I basically took the tutorial for world clouds and modified it for a cube.

  21. Brian DeVincentis on

    This is my first real Blender project and weekend contest entry. There is a big mistake at the bottom of the balloon that needs fixing, but I am out of time. Also, I struggled to make the balloon material more realistic, any suggestions?

  22. "The Mountain Adventurer"
    This is a piece that I created, I added color to create contrast I also did it all in blender internal with a little bit of compositing.

  23. Brian Lockett on

    Had only a few hours this weekend on my hands, and time constraints prevented me from refining and finishing this, but it was fun anyways. Maybe next time, I'll finish one the way I want it:

    • Jonathan Cygan on

      Thank you, Eric Varela! Yes, it was indeed a single file, a single image, a single scene, but two render layers: All the elements is the first, and the the triangulated backdrop/background was the second, just to save render time. I will be posting in the next hours screenshots of the viewports, wireframes etc. on the Blender Artists thread.

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