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Simple Abstract Images with Bryce

Author: Kaedric

Tools Needed

* Bryce

Step 1: Getting Set-up

Each image you create can have a life of its own, and it is influenced by many elements of the composition. I won't try and give you any hard rules about how to make an abstract image, but rather just show you some tips that will lead you in the right direction. For the purpose of this tutorial we'll create just a simple abstract and then you can branch off on your own and add other elements to create something unique and special. We will start with a simple gray background from the presets, and we'll delete the default ground plane to keep it from obscuring our image.

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Step 2: Get your camera ready

First thing you should set-up is the camera. For this step I've switched to Top view and panned the image until the camera and its field of view lines are all visible in the wireframe window. Click on the [A]ttributes button and note the position of your camera. It will probably be in a different position than mine since I've changed my default settings from the standards.

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Once you know where your camera is, create a simple sphere and position it in the same location, scaling it slightly to surround the entire camera. I use a size of 30x30x30 for this sphere. I also name it so that I can easily identify it later if I have more spheres in the scene.

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Step 3: Give the sphere a new material

At this point the sphere that surrounds your camera is probably the default flat gray material, and as such it's not very easy to see through it. So we'll select the sphere and give it the Standard Glass material for now. We will come back to this later for the final magic, but for now this will let us see the objects we will be placing in our scene.

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Once you have the material set, select both the camera and the sphere and click on the [G]roup button. Once grouped, click on the [A]ttributes button and name the group if you like, and check the “Locked” button. This will keep you from selecting the camera group accidentally while you are setting up the other objects in the scene.

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Step 4: Add some Primitives

Switch your view back to Camera for the rest of this tutorial. Next we will add a few objects to the scene to give it some depth and color. I'm going to keep this simple and just work with a few torus primitives. You can use anything you like in your own images, and it's lots of fun to experiment with all sorts of primitives, lattices, and even terrains.

So we'll add a torus to the scene and size it so that it will play a larger role in the final image. Click the [E]dit button and scale down the interior radius to somewhere between 100 and 120.

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Next click the [A]ttributes button and scale the entire torus up to 100x100x5 and adjust its position so that it's in the center of the wireframe window.

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Next we'll give it a bright shiny red color.

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Step 5: Duplication!

Next we will just duplicate the first torus a few times and rotate each copy. For the first copy rotate Y by 60.

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For the second copy rotate Y by -60.

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For the third copy rotate X by 60.

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And for the fourth copy rotate X by -60.

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This will give a nice interlocked pattern and give a nice abstract result when we are done. Give each torus a different color so that they each will stand out when rendered.

Step 6: Let there be light

I suggest adding a few extra lights to give more exposure to the objects and to show off more of the colors. I've placed a simple radial light right in the middle of the torus cluster to light it from inside.

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Next I've added a spotlight and moved it close to the camera, positioning it directly in line with the torus cluster.

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Next I set the tracking of the spotlight to aim at the radial light in the center. This isn't entirely necessary, as you could manually rotate the spotlight so that it points in the right direction. I just find that using the tracking makes things a lot easier if I move stuff around later.

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For larger groups of objects I will usually add a few more radial and spot lights and place them as needed to show off as much of the scene as possible.

Step 7: Test Render (Before the Magic)

A quick test render shows that the torus group is centered in the window, and that the additional lights we placed are really highlighting the vibrant colors we selected. There's nothing very special about the image so far, but we will fix that in the next step.

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Step 8: Making the Magic

Now for the part you've been waiting for. It's time for the magic of making abstracts. Select the camera sphere once again and change its material from Standard Glass to Bumped Glass #5. This glass is almost perfect for what we want, but we'll tweak a few settings to get an even better abstract image.

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First we'll set the Ambience to 0 as this isn't really needed. Next we'll play with the Bump Height, as this is the primary setting for the magic with this technique. I like to use settings between 25 and 75 depending on how many objects I've placed in the scene. For this example I've set it to the midpoint of 50. Play with this setting to find what you like best.

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Step 9: Final Render

Render your image now and check out the results.

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It's almost impossible to tell what the original objects in the scene are at this point. For other effects you can try using one of the colored bumped glass materials or combining a second sphere around the first one. The only limit is your imagination, and I hope that I have given you something to experiment that will help you create some incredible abstract images.