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Behind the Scenes: Riverside Life



My name is Luigi Marini, known by the nickname raffyraffy. I was born in the previous millennium, way back in 1957, which makes me a man of the past! However, I now live in this new millennium, in a small suburban town near Rome, Italy, with my wife and our three sons.

My Hardware

I work on an HP Pavilion desktop with an Intel i7 2.80 GHz processor, 8 GB of RAM, and an NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1060 graphic card with 3 GB of RAM. My operating system is Windows 8.1 Home Premium 64-bit.

My Work

I define myself, essentially as an environmental modeler. Normally, my projects stem from a specific idea, an image from somewhere, or experimenting with a terrain editor program. From there, I step right away to process them using one of my terrain editors: Gaea - World Creator. Once the terrain is well-defined, I create a heightmap (usually in TIF format) and export it to a scene editor, such as Blender (and sometimes Unity as well).

As supporting tools for my work, I use GIMP for raster editing, Inkscape for vector editing, and XnView for image editing. For more general editing, I use Blender and Flora3D as a tree generator.


This was my starting point: a typical and classically picturesque Klischè image. I love these types of pictures because, if nothing else, they give you an easy starting point (though it's never actually that simple). However, they also give you the freedom to take a completely different direction.

Furthermore, it should be kept in mind that I create 3D scenes, not just images. The design of my scene often starts with an image but then it becomes a whole 3D scene (also inventing and creating what is not seen in the reference image). And that's the beauty of it!!!


All my scenes are born through the creation of an environment. The first step involves a terrain generator (in this case, Gaea). From here, by exporting it in TIF format, I bring it into Blender.

With the use of a couple of deformers ("Subdivision" and "Displace"), I recreate it nearly perfectly.


When the scene is rich in vegetation (as is the case here), texturing becomes really simple. A material combining rock and grass, distributed using a mask (created in Gaea), is applied. Here is the breakdown of the terrain material.

Here is the detail of the terrain material.

Below is the shader of the grass material with the texture beside:

Below is the shader of the rock material with the texture beside:


A significant portion of my scenes consists of vegetation, all of which is created using Blender's wonderful particle system.

The distribution of each asset (rocks, trees, grass, flowers etc.) is defined by a mask, created again in Gaea.

The main assets for the particle system are shown below:


A special mention goes to modelling the structure of the river embankment. I often model structures that have to adapt to the terrain (or a part of it). The procedure is almost always the same.

I create a raster model (top view) of the structure to be modelled. I then convert it into a vector SVG format and import it as a "curve" into Blender. At this point, I can treat it to create the model I need, such as the river wall in this case.


I achieved the lighting effect using the "Sky Texture" shading node while disabling all the lights.

And that was the breakdown of my project!

RENDER - Riverside Life

Thank you very much for taking the time to read my article. I hope you liked my artwork and found some useful insights within the article. Have a wonderful day!

About the Artist                       

Luigi Marini (RaffyRaffy) is an experienced environmental modeler who resides in a tranquil town near Rome, Italy. He brings his creative ideas to life using tools such as Gaea - World Creator and Blender.        

About the Author

Avatar image for Alina Khan
Alina Khan

A self taught 3d artist, who seeks to excel in the computer graphics field. Currently a student, freelancer and the editor for the 'Behind the Scenes' at Blender Nation.


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