A photorealistic recreation of Norwegian architecture firm Snohetta’s Bjellandsbu.
Modeled in Maya & Houdini.
The photographs in the slideshow below are for reference.

Final Renders:



I changed the grass from particle instances to hand-painted paint effects with ramp shader groups. The instances were too fickle in Maya. Looking back, I would have collaborated on the terrain and foliage or used a program design to output heavy landscape meshes like Houdini or Lumion. I did learn quite a bit about how to control the grass geometry parameters from a Gnomon Workshop on Paint Effects. 


You have to create your own shaders when using Paint Effects, but the geometry creation is actually pretty good. 

The key parameters I used were:

Brush Profile > Brush Width: This accounts for the width of the entire footprint of the brush stoke.
Global Scale: Controls the overall scale of the blades; Be careful because if you want to adjust the scale too drastically, the grass will rise/lower according to the painted plane.
Tubes > Creation > Length Min/Max: This parm adjusts the tallest and shortest requirements for each blade of grass.
Tubes > Creation >Tube Rand: Randomization of tube orientation + scale at the point of creation. I set mine to 100 for most of my strokes.
Tubes > Creation > Tubes Per Step: This accounts for the number of tubes per creation point.
Tubes > Creation > Segment Width Bias: This parm controld the ratio of the bend of all blades.
Tubes > Width Scale > Position + Value: This is one of the most importants settings. It controls the shape of tip of each blade. No one wants rectangular grass.
Tubes > Width Scale > Elevation Min/Max
: This controls the height of the blades in between the Length Min/Max heights.

Another key asset in my project was the rock wall:

rockWall 1 from Annie Burke on Vimeo.


Renders at Midterm:



The next phase I’ll be working on is terrain texturing (Maya, ZBrush) and foliage (XGen, Paint Effects).

Reference Imagery