Who I Am
Hi everyone. I’m Mao Mornity (Fabien Brochard in real life), French freelance digital artist. I’m a former sound engineer with 15 years spent in the audio industry. I discovered digital art roughly 2 years ago. 2D first, and then 3D last year with Blender, which makes everything more amazing than ever. I also work with VR, and have actually started my first experiences with the game industry.
My 3D Journey
My first try with 3D was with Terragen 4 a year and a half ago, and it was a bit too complex for a beginner. So when I came to Blender with the 2.8 Beta in May 2019, it was a revelation. The community is pretty insane and so active, with many Youtube videos to help overcome difficulties. I also followed tutorials from Jama Jurabaev, Jan Urschel, Creative Shrimp, and my last “chouchou” is Ian Hubert. These guys put so much knowledge into their videos.
The idea of this piece came from a master study I made from a John Wiliam Waterhouse painting called Miranda. I made it during my first learning steps at the Digital Painting School (a French online school). The original painting has a strange quality—I couldn’t understand why the woman stared at the sea like that, and why the artist chose his colors.
So, as always, when you are looking for something, you ask Google, and I found that the story of the painting came from Shakespeare’s tragedy, The Tempest. And there’s another Waterhouse painting called Miranda - The Tempest, which was clearly more eloquent on what was happening.
Since studying those paintings, I had wanted to make my version of them, but with a more cinematic aspect. I had to wait.
I always start a project by searching for some reference pictures. This way I avoid wasting time on things that I do not understand perfectly and the approach also resolves some issues before the creation process begins.
To create the base landscape, I used Blender Cycles displacement with basically four planes and materials.
At this point, I only focused on recreating the main things I saw in my reference pictures. The sea, obviously, the black cliffs, the medium rocks, and the pebbles.
Shaders are pretty simple: procedural, based on noise textures, Voronoi and Musgraves, displacement node, and color ramp (the juiciest node ever).
I added a subdivision surface modifier on each plane, set it pretty high, and, with the adaptive option checked, added a global HDRI for lighting, and that’s it.
Lighting and Composition
The next step was to refine the base lighting to fit the scene. At this point, I was still hesitating about whether to stay close to the original painting’s mood, or radically change the ambiance.
First, I made a quick composite on the first render, to make the mood a bit greener.
Then, I tried a sunset version that worked, but it was too different from the original idea.
And lastly, I returned to day one and pushed the composite a bit to match the overall colors. I added more greens and changed the HDRI and lighting. I moved the textures and camera to reach the final layout.
Note that I turned off the tilt-shift blur and lens effects on the last one as this could have caused issues during the next step.
For this final step, I moved into Photoshop to save time on creation, since this was more like concept art or an illustration.
First, I changed any eventual mistakes in the layout with the content-aware fill option, which is a magic tool.
I worked on the mood by changing the sky with photobashing and overpaint, painting the waves with a simple textured brush. I did the same for the boat.
The woman is based on the top right corner reference from my moodboard, and is simply painted.
I made a lot of value and color corrections throughout the process, with tool layers, LUTs, and a bit of Camera Raw at the end for the final tweaks.
And there it is. I hope you like the process, and maybe find a way to solve some stuff in your own creations.
About the Author