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A Beach Environment in Blender - Cycles X


This project was largely an experiment in creating a decently-sized environment with a focus on composition and vibrant colors. The assets used to create this environment were a few Megascans for the cliffs, some nature photoscans from Ian Hubert, and a Ford Model B pickup model from Voronin_37 on SketchFab.

The water shader was an interesting challenge as it was all done within a shader on a single plane. I was able to use adaptive subdivision and displacement to give a bit of depth but the real highlight was the fake caustics using some Voronoi textures, some fancy ray mixing, and some vector transforms to give the appearance of motion. I created a tutorial for how to make the water which can be found here:

Rendering was handled in Cycles X which got render times down to about 1 minute per frame at 128 samples on a 3060 mobile. The render was then cleaned up with OpenImageDenoise to make sure that everything was grain-free.

Compositing for the render was done in Nuke. I did some basic tricks like some lens dirt and flare and also tweaked some of the passes to add more local contrast in some areas. I also put the entire image through an ACES to sRGB transform. Since the image was initially rendered in sRGB, the transform really brought a lot of saturation into the colors which fit the almost fantastical feel I was trying to get in the render.

About the Author

Hayden Gray

A 3d artist and engineer based in Virginia, Hayden Likes to focus on the technical side of 3d as well as the more artistic side.


  1. It looks really good, but It looks like the YT recompression is messing with things.
    You can really see it on the car roof and sides, there's jittering in a lot of places.

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