3D modelling tips: creating a blur effect

In one of my recent personal works (above), I wanted to use the negative space of the blue velvet background of the scene
to create an effect reminiscent of the stars against the night sky.

In general, I tend not to leave anything to the post-processing stage. I take pride in making sure that everything I want the viewer to see is physically present in the scene. This is one luxury that using an unbiased renderer offers: if I don't want to fake it, then I don't have to. I can simply model it. In this specific case, I decided to fill the volume of the scene with dust.

Dust specks floating in the scene create a bokeh effect against the background

Dust specks floating in the scene create a bokeh effect against the background

Starting from a cylinder that I then deformed and sculpted, I created a dust speck with convoluted shapes offering more surface area for the light to hit. It is modelled to scale, which is less than a millimetre in diameter.

The material created for the speck has soap-bubble characteristics: firstly it is very specular to reflect as much light as possible; and secondly it is finished with a thin film in order to create mild colour variations, dependent on the viewing angle of the surface.

In Maya, I used a simple emitter and filled the scene with particles that were then used as input co-ordinates to generate the thousands of instances it takes to create a convincing effect in the final render. Once out of focus, the specks that catch the light will bloom into a fairly convincing bokeh effect.

Words: Hugues Giboire

A 3D artist with more than 20 years' experience in the CG industry,
Hugues Giboire is a BAFTA nominee for artistic achievement in video games. This article originally appeared in 3D World issue 180.

Thank you for reading 5 articles this month* Join now for unlimited access

Enjoy your first month for just £1 / $1 / €1

*Read 5 free articles per month without a subscription

Join now for unlimited access

Try first month for just £1 / $1 / €1

The Creative Bloq team is made up of a group of design fans, and has changed and evolved since Creative Bloq began back in 2012. The current website team consists of seven full-time members of staff: Editor Georgia Coggan, Deputy Editor Rosie Hilder, Deals Editor Beren Neale, Senior News Editor Daniel Piper, Digital Arts and Design Editor Ian Dean, Tech Reviews Editor Erlingur Einarsson and Ecommerce Writer Abi Le Guilcher, as well as a roster of freelancers from around the world. The 3D World and ImagineFX magazine teams also pitch in, ensuring that content from 3D World and ImagineFX is represented on Creative Bloq.