Durian DVD

Follow our progress!

  • on Twitter
  • on
  • Follow our commits on Twitter!

    Skin and city

    on November 17th, 2009, by soenke

    skin_texture_test_01 At the moment we are thinking about doing our own skin photos to texture Sintel and I’m stuck with thinking about how to create good skin photos.city_color_variations_01 So if you have anything that might help, like super high quality skin images you made yourself and want to share or if you have knowledge/links about creating epic skin photos or anything else that is important, go ahead and throw it at us. But be aware that everything you post here needs to be cc-by.

    pottery_bezier_01In the meantime you can crit a city scene I worked on the week before last week. Everything except the barrel and the potteries is straight forward modelling. The potteries are bezier-circles with a bezier curve as a bevel object and the barrel is a simple array deformed by a lattice.barrel_lattice_01


    78 Responses to “Skin and city”

    1. Axel Says:

      The city’s overall design looks very good to me. The irregular orientation of the buildings gives it a nice “lower class” feeling.

      Just one thing I noticed that doesn’t quite fit, are the roof shingles. This might be because this is a WIP, though.

      Although there are holes and color variations here and there, they seem a bit too regular.

      Somehow I would expect the alignment of the shingles to vary a lot more. Probably jittering around the perfect axis.

      Also, the shingles should vary in size and in color. So far we see color variations that can be attributed to weather and sun as it spreads over various shingles. But shingles also usually have their own color difference to their neighbors, just because their material was slightly different or they were older when bought.

      Otherwise, great work!

    2. Wahooney Says:

      That city is absolutely top notch πŸ˜€

      I love the slightly off-plumb look.

      A great sign of things to come πŸ™‚

    3. Shinobi Says:

      Wow, soenke!
      The city images are magic, realy awesome. I suspect this film will be truly epic, the mood those image drive is….. extraordinay!!


    4. Jogai Says:

      The city looks good! Do you have a wallpaper version of it.
      The different color settings gives a good atmospheric change to it.

    5. TheANIMAL (marcus) Says:

      Roof tiles are a little too uniform other than that its more or less perfect.

    6. TheANIMAL (marcus) Says:

      Also – if you want good skin, why can you hire a skin model for the day? Just make sure you take ALOT of photos of skin at various different angles with mroe or less uniform lighting, thats the only advice i can give.

    7. grafixsuz Says:

      Wow this looks great. It’s scale is hard to realize though, it looks like a little toy village at the moment, but it does look great.

    8. ZanQdo Says:

      That’s amazing, really lovely feel on the lower right pic.. are you using tiles inside dupligroups for memory instancing?

    9. TeTine Says:

      I really like the mood in the two bottom shots of the city.
      The gate thing in the background and the building on the left made me think of Prince of Persia.

      Really nice work, but I thought that small props like potery would be made by some sort of B-team on the internet. Is this idea still planned?

    10. peeepan Says:

      i think there are too much holes in roofs … the first thing that you will repair on house is roof, no one wants sleep in wet bed πŸ™‚ … use more color variations instead, more saturated shindles looks newer. anyway realy good work!

    11. Christiaan Bakker (AniCator) Says:

      Hello soenke,

      I’ve tried to play a little with the skin texture you have but you’re right about the need for higher resolution skin textures. So I started searching Google. The results were mediocre, I found skin textures but they weren’t having a high resolution or they were procedurally generated. I didn’t expect to find anything good on the internet. You guys need some sort of a texture studio. *wink*
      A studio in which you’ve got a table that is lit by multiple ambient lights and you should have construction above it in which you can place the camera and maybe even a sensor that can help you to generate bump/normal maps. This might sound nuts but it could work. It’s actually insane, but sometimes insane works best.

      It is great to see Durian progressing and becoming more mature. Keep posting blog posts. πŸ˜‰ The updates make people happy. :happyface:

    12. eye208 Says:

      Great, except for the defocus effect, especially in the upper right picture. An actual city shot like that would be taken with the lens set to hyperfocal distance, and the depth of field would extend to infinity, i.e. with a standard 50mm lens anything beyond 8m distance would be in perfect focus. The defocus effect makes the city look like a miniature model shot with a macro lens.

      Textures and colors look very nice in all four versions. Good work!

    13. Daniel Wray Says:

      I’m not sure what camera you took that photo with, but it does look a little bit on the low quality side, What you could try doing (If this is available) is to use a model to take hi-resolution photos of different parts of the body, for example shots of the front/ side/ back in white ambient (No shadows or highlights, use diffused lighting). Then you could alter the textures in photoshop, which would give you very realistic looking textures for the model. If that isn’t available I’ll try to take some high-res photos of skin textures (Where would I send these too?)

      As for the city, it’s looking amazing, I’m torn between the bottom left and top right, both have very good, but different atmospheres. I’m sort of liking the bottom left a little more as it’s quite gloomy, typical of an overcast day and gives the impression that this place isn’t a very nice place to live in (poor etc). I personally think having it rain would just be the icing on the cake, but that may be quite hard to pull of πŸ˜‰

    14. Grafos Says:

      The city looks stunning. If I may crit on something, the roof tiles seem a bit flat and lacking detail\variation., especially on the right side of the picture.

    15. Lasphere Says:


      Ironic that you are talking about sleeping i a wet bed, and your name starts with ‘pee’. πŸ˜›

      The city looks really cool!

    16. nawabz Says:

      wow! cirtainly good things to come
      i noticed the long gate walls need some sort of support.

      wouldnt it be nice to try and get some of the community to try some things out. then the artists can pick their choice. well ill do something and post it soon.

    17. danlei Says:

      Oh crap, my animation project is SO going to get flamed as a Durian-spinoff if you keep using the same designs and ideas that I have written xD

      Of course you guys are doing way better job than I am. Keep it up fellas!

    18. Mal Says:

      You can get a good realistic skin tone, and also possibly some wall textures and flame effect source material, from this…

      The blogging so far on Durian has been great – is everyone blogging at least once a week? ( I remember reading that somewhere ).

    19. Mal Says:

      I of course forgot to mention the most important visual effect above – motion bluuuurrrr!!!!!!

    20. tyrant monkey Says:

      that city is really looking good, I also noticed the regularness of the roofing tiles but than I thought to myself if that city is only seen for a few seconds than wasting time fixing roof tiles could be one of those time sinks that don’t yield any benefits.

      So if the city is seen for quiet a bit that someone may notice the regular roof tiles than its worth fixing but if not and its only on screen for a few seconds why bother.

    21. J Says:

      Love the city! I did think the lighting setups on the right were better though.

    22. D Says:

      Well done, Soenke! I love how well the look of the city came through from the concept art. πŸ™‚

      Here’s my ill-informed critique:

      I think the major thing that doesn’t look quite right (for a final look candidate) is that you’re overexposing!
      I’d understand if you wanted the details in the city to be apparent, but that would also cause some of the problems as well, including white sky (with too small a radius of gaussian bloom to accompany it), and impossibly too much shadow detail.
      When it comes time for the final look, I hope you won’t be afraid to pratically clip the blacks. πŸ˜‰ Especially in the high contrast situation of a blaring sun. I think there need to be proper shadows even beneath the AO world of shadow that lights the rest of the city.
      You know what I mean…? πŸ˜€
      I’m terrible at explaining things, I know.
      I couldn’t help but try to speedily GIMP a picture to see if I could demonstrate what I was thinking.
      It’s badly executed; I just wanted to make a general look that looks more realistic to my eyes (from 10 feet away).

      I highly doubt you don’t already know this in your head, this is just my reaction to what I saw of the city shadows. πŸ™‚
      Love your work. Keep at it!

    23. D Says:

      By the way, another thing that caught my attention was the size of those city gate wood block things. They look big enough to stop King Kong (1933)! I think you should scale them down to a less conspicuous size since the association might be… distracting. πŸ˜›

      Okay, there’s my 2 cents.

    24. Domy_Graphy Says:

      In my work , I have the dirty Metal Texture only this time
      in my Blog

      if you want, you can to contact me with Shout mix , The right of page blog

    25. maroLui Says:

      Love the city so far… Just not very enthusiastic of the “greenish” style of the left-bottom example, any of the other three would look great.

    26. soenke Says:

      Big thanks for all the quick input. I agree with everyone on the shingle issue!


      A skin model would be nice, so if a woman with beautiful skin, who lives in Amsterdam, would like to share her skin with the world reads this, feel free o come over to the Blender Institute.


      no dupliverts, but we’ll need to use them for sure


      atm the detail department isn’t off the table


      You’re probably right, at least the planks should cover more of the holes.


      We have access to three very good 650W spots (including diffuser and gray filters), camera is a Canon 310da with a bottle glass 18-55mm zoom. We have to see if that’s enough. But I’m pretty enthusiastic about it πŸ˜‰


      Thanks for your input, though Photoshop is on the blacklist over here, I get what you mean. You can send as much as you want to soenkem[at] But please understand that sending us textures doesn’t mean that we’ll use them.


      A competitor?!? YAARR, role out the canons, we ha’e to make some booty! πŸ˜€


      Oooh, that is perfect. I can stop searching for textures, you just presented me the answer to everything. Now Durian will be truly epic. πŸ˜€


      Thanks again for your input. You are right about everything, but I have to disagree with you about those gate blocks. King Kong is close but they are build to hold back flying dragons and.. oh wait… graarrr…. you are right again :p

    27. ChicOrtiz Says:

      Is it going to snow in this city?

    28. Lamoot Says:

      For skin texture, you could go back to the upper floor of De Balie and try to get some inspiration from the hairy wallpapers πŸ™‚

    29. panzi Says:

      I just love the city! πŸ™‚

    30. AniCator Says:

      Hahaha. That was the grossest wallpaper I’ve ever seen!

    31. wo262 Says:

    32. wo262 Says:

    33. Waitstate Says:

      About skin textures, I have no experience myself but this reminded me of a talk given by Paul Debevec at a TED conference on creating a photoreal face. I doubt you would want (or be able to afford) to implement his company’s methodology exactly, but feeding this knowledge to the collected creativity here may lead to applicable processes or ideas. His talk is located:

    34. Guybrush Threepwood Says:

      I think you have not seen poor city areas (slums). Holes in the roofs are not unusual. Roof construction is not easy and cheap. Perhaps you should not place the holes n the large buildings, but more for the small and poor buildings. I think it gives some “realistic” touch. Having only “perfect” roofs is too clean – but of course using the blur filter will make this obsolate too πŸ™‚

      Funny with the KingKong gate πŸ˜‰ – would be a funny line, seeing two guards talking how save they are against “any” enemy and then hearing some noise coming out of the air and then looking into these scared faces of the guards starring into the midnight sky seeing fire and smoke. Or one of the guards could ask for some fire for his cigarette (After cigarettes are now allowed in the Sintel movie, or? πŸ˜‰

    35. Melo Says:

      Maybe you can do photo-realistic skin with no textures of skin..
      Check out this thread:


    36. seed Says:

      Panoramic Skies:
      licensed as CC Attribution 3.0

    37. ROUBAL Says:

      Hi, just a fun idea, but it works : a long time ago, I needed a skin texture for the face of one of the rare characters I modelled. I took a photo of my belly (the largest available skin place I was able to shot !o) and I made the image tilable !

    38. Sean Says:

      There were some really awesome interviews on creating realistic skin for Gollum in Lord of the Rings on the extended edition Dvds. ( are a really good watch if you can find the time – but I think it’s like a 17 hour documentary series. Good for inspiration and movie making tips though!

    39. wikio Says:

      miren lo que encontre:

    40. tmcthree Says:

      Looks very nice. If I was being picky (really picky)…

      I’m not all that keen on the arch on top of the structure in the middle of the shot. It just looks too thin (in terms of its depth) and unstable. I know absolutely nothing about architecture, so I’m probably wrong, but it looks to me as if one good gust of wind would blow it over. Could you add some support at the back, or give it a more substantial footprint?

    41. wikio Says:

      The current style reminds me of the character design from Torchlight.

      πŸ™‚ It’s a game that has been developped with Ogre by ancients developpers

      from Blizzard North (diablo !)…

      From the last Durian blog entries, it seems the Sintel movie universe is very close in spirit (toonish, colorful, with sword and guns… renaissance fantasy instead of medieval).

      The character called “The Vanquisher” could look like a grown up version (or a big sister) of Sintel.

    42. silveryarr Says:

      Printer paper makes a great reflector. Find a cardboard box, remove top and front, and cover its inside with white paper. Paper is also bendable, so easy to adjust light bouncing. Shave your arms, legs and snap away. Try to make sure all your lights you use are same color. trim box to fit your body parts inside the “studio area”.

    43. Sean Says:

      pdf on good skin:

    44. Klaus Says:

      The city looks so nice, i’m no sure about where it is, so i can’t say which one of the setting is “correct” but personally i love the two on the left.
      For the sky…it’s the same problem, i can’t really say if overexposing it is correct or not, it just depend on where you are…if you’re near the equator, with very hot temperature, the sky should be more dull, the more you go north/south the more the sky has vibrant colors, and it also depends on humidity and such…even for the equator situations you’ll never have pure white skyes, you should still have some details, but it could be very bright..

      About the skin…I think that using a DSLR with a macro lens with a narrow angle should be the best (for example a 100/105/150/200 mm macro), you can go very close for details and the texture won’t be distorted and light has to be as diffused as possible

    45. rogper Says:

      Humm! I didn’t read all the tread, so sorry if someone mentioned this, but why don’t paint the skin!?

      For this one: (the first thumbnail shows it more or less)
      I’ve used 4 blender procedurals mixed to make a clean skin and painted all the rest in Gimp :/ it’s slowish, but works and allows unlimited texture resolution.

    46. Anabela Faria Says:

      hi guys.
      I don’t no if you missed that, but i think someone have made some pottery yet.
      read the last comment from dawidh :


      dawidh Says:
      November 3rd, 2009 at 14:52
      Hello to everybody,
      I don’t know if there will be a start for the detail department..
      anyway, I’m making a lot of pottery even if I can work to it only in the night and in the weekend..
      What do you say?

    47. rogper Says:

      …Ho! And btw awesome city! πŸ˜€

    48. tmr232 Says:

      The city looks great!!!
      I especially like the glow on the high gate in the top-left image. But other than that the lower-right is also fantastic. Can’t wait to see more!

      Good luck with the skin textures πŸ™‚

    49. kram1032 Says:

      very nice sky πŸ˜€

      Yet again, despite the lost details, I really like D’s version better xD
      Though, maybe that was a tad too destructive.
      I’d actually like to see a propper HDR-node in blender.
      The current Tonemap-node does strange stuff and often results in very dull pictures…
      At least that’s what I got as result^^

      I really like the scene, though. Great details and it certainly allows for a nice, rough, busy market-life… πŸ™‚

    50. Bao2 Says:

      To take skin photos take the photos in a clouded day or similar lighting where the power of the light is distributed for all the sky so there are not highlights. Then paint project on your mesh but only the non highlighted parts.

    51. zeauro Says:

      Buildings are well done but I think that they are at the wrong place.
      Deevad’s image which is focusing on the giant door produce a totally different feeling.
      We are stuck in a little street waiting the event that would open the door. But we could imagine that we are in a street driving to the main street placed in front of the door.
      We can not feel the same watching your image.

      The field of view is not the same and reveals a large area, too large and too close to city’s entrance to be a crossroads. If it is a market place, faΓ§ades and details should be oriented to this center. I miss row houses and climbing streets to feel in a city and not in an artificial hollywood medieval town.
      I mean, in real life, most of time, towns with remparts are overhanging surroundings.Even ports have relief.
      I don’t know if you plan to make something pass the door but it could be great if it should follow a climbing street.

    52. dahray Says:

      Just thinking! spacing the buildings closer together and making the streets narrower could also give it a more “lowerclass” look.

    53. tonurs Says:

      I’m a total amateur at faces but Waitstate’s link is fascinating. Great realism with no SSS, just a diffuse and specular layer. It also shows that a general skin texture is very lacking for a face.

    54. Bert Says:

      Look at photos of a lot of old european cities. Especially Rothenburg Germany. There are different levels to the city. I would suggest creating a non flat terrain and then adjusting the buildings and streets to it. It looks like a good start though.

    55. Jeff Ollie Says:

      Why not include a Utah Teapot in with the pottery?

    56. angbor Says:

      For the Skintextures you guys really need to roll out the Canons… or some other serious cameras (Nikon for example). Try to shoot them with a ringflashlight and a macrolens. I guess this would do the best job for textures, if available. The best thing about using a DSLR is you have a 16bit base to work with instead putting all together in 8 bit, plus you will get some very sharp images because of the specialized lense.

      mail me if there are some further questions

    57. steffen Says:

      i hope so. at least as an C4D user, i would πŸ˜›

    58. angbor Says:

      @Steffen: Ah common deep in my heart IΒ΄m an blenderuser… very deep (looking forward to 2.5) and at least… it`s not Autodesk πŸ˜€

    59. steffen Says:

      @anbor: might the userkaymap be with you ;D

    60. JoS Says:

      Great to see such progress already!
      if you want some tips on the city i have a few recommendations.

      1. add some dust (fog, mist). this will give the scene both scale and depth! if you can afford the extra render time i would love to see some volumetric sunbeams from the rooftops (volumetric fog)

      2. more color variation! even though the images should have an overall atmospheric color tint, some of these images are almost monochromatic. maybe add some vegetation, a tree?

      3. more contrast in “shadow areas” – the walls could for example have a diffuse fresnel reflection, so that the walls which are almost perpendicular to the camera reflects more light than those facing us.

      4. add more variation. – a building built from other materials, or maybe make the lower part of the buildings with bricks?

      also, find some nice inspirational images. These pictures made me think of concept art for assassins creed. maybe you can find some good references there.

      maybe you are way ahead of me, but hopefully you’ll find some of these tips useful πŸ˜‰ And here is a quick paintover to illustrate some of the effects:

      keep it up!

    61. Max Puliero Says:

      awesome work!

      I know that make a entire city is very hard and when you finally finish..everybody want to say opinions about it… I think that the level is pretty high and just some more details will help the image.

      I really like the JoS version πŸ˜‰

    62. Nixon Says:

      this must be the most elaborate way to lure a girl with a super nice skin into the blender institute…very clever move;):D
      the city scene is cool!! i like the lower right pic the best ..the first is very warm in color but somehow the houses seem not to fit in such a warm very sunny place (the yellow/orange tint suggests to me it was more of an arabic desert style scene on the 1st one)…
      anyway does sintel take place on earth or is it a fictional planet?
      ..anyhow everybody knows that dragons died out a while ago on earth but it could be some alternate reality in wich they survived…but thats redundant for the movie anyway..i just wondered!
      #thx for sharing all the works in progress and best regards to the team!

    63. Dim Says:

      Would love to see the city roofs (or any other non-structural elements) reinforced or re-created with “found” materials. Strips of canvas, old boards, the hull of a rowboat, old military shields, thatch, slate, etc. If I recall, David had said that this part of the city once enjoyed great prosperity, but it has since been reduced. Using the “patching” together of buildings to display that could be really effective. In all honesty, given the amount of stylization of the character, a lot of those elements could be pushed very far, and it might look great. I can imagine buildings propped up with long planks, or a collapsed structure being re-inhabited, even though it’s now laying on it’s side. Things like that could make the production really stand out.

      Also, I live in a poor rural area that has a lot of buildings from about 1-200 years back that are in bad shape, and I have an extensive high resloution photo-library of them, and they may be very helpful for reference (though likely less so for texturing). I would be willing to let you guys use them under a license we could discuss. If you are interested, e-mail me at ktbluear at yahoo dot com. Here’s a sample:

      Forgot to mention in there, but really love the work so far.

    64. D Says:

      That’s really creative, Dim! πŸ˜€ I’d love to see one of those ideas for houses in the movie.

    65. Dim Says:

      Had a little fun with this:

      I’ll probably do a couple of variations just for fun. This was primarily about mood, but it was based on only one of the 4, so I was going to try the other 3.

    66. soenke Says:

      Big thanks for all the great input, ideas and links. I’ll go through everything and after seeing the ted video I had to buy a polarisation filter this morning. Now I only have to wait for a perfectly clouded day, shouldn’t take too long in Amsterdam πŸ˜€

    67. Chad Says:

      I really like Dim’s ideas for making the city look like it’s seen better days. I think this could be a great way to visually enhance the story.

    68. karamelo Says:

      Great city scene.
      But if its an eastern town, v shaped roofs seems unrealistic. This roof type is rarely used in arid climates.

    69. Gwilwileth Says:

      The city is absolutely awesome !!!! I like that =D

      keep it up !

    70. Victoride Says:

      About the skin: Have you ever been to Second Life?
      Good skins are very important for the avatars there and there are several people/companies selling really lovely skins. Maybe you could ask some of them (either if they would create a skin for you or tell you how they made theirs)? The big advantage would be that they already know how to fit a skin to a body.

      P.S.: The city is beautiful

    71. Milad Says:

      The top-left one looks like a capture from Assassin’s Creed; great work!

    72. Aaron Says:

      i suggest that you start with a blank image. and manually paint a good skin texture. that way you can eliminate variables such as camera vibration, lighting and exposure, by the way, what camera are you using for these?

      I <3 the city shots though. hope to see moreawesome work.

    73. Kreon Says:

      Well, i use this technique for creating skin textures:

      Its more time consuming then using real photo textures but the result is often better. Also you can use this technique also for cartoony characters, just do not paint to much details.

      Btw. i heard that Blur Studios, (the guys who did these many many great video game intros) use manny layers of concrete textures for their skin.
      I THINK i heard it here:

    74. Dim Says:

      Another shot:

      Two more to go…

    75. D Says:

      I don’t know what you’re up to by now, Soenke, but just in case you haven’t found out yet, you can’t really filter out the specular layer without polarizing the light source first. So the cloudy day technique will likely not be strong enough.

    76. D Says:

      I had fun switching off my own specular layer by holding a pair of 3D glasses I accidentally took home from the movies in front of my eyes backwards whilst looking at my hand under the light of my laptop’s LCD screen.
      Maybe you could try lighting with LCD screens to get polarized light? πŸ˜€

    77. Robert Says:

      Check out this link for skin photography. You can get some excellent results with no diffuse light variation and nearly no spec with this method.

    78. Viralata Says:

      The city looks nice but I have a few crits:
      It’s not realistic to have very sloppy roofs and flat roofs in the same place. In rainy weather you have high slopes, in dry weather, you have flat roofs. Only the use of “modern” technics allowed builders to forget those rules. This one disturbed me a lot.
      And the houses are too identical but I think it’s just a wip.
      Often the second floor in this tipe of building is made of wood structure filled with masonry (stone or brick or earth). It would be nice to see some of it. like here: