Internet Ray Tracing Competition Entries

Jan-Feb 2000 - Ruins

Abandoned Farmhouse


The image

After one drought too many, the sheep station on the edge of the Australian desert was abandoned and left to decay. The ruins of the building lie amid the ruins of one man's dream.

How this image was created

At first I despaired for an idea for this topic, because Ruins implies ancient civilisations, and I wanted to do something Australian - and the oldest buildings here are less than 200 years old! Then I remembered the ruined farmhouse photo by Ken Duncan, which Midnight Oil used on the cover of their album Diesel and Dust. Quintessentially Australian ruins! This is basically a reproduction of that photo, but I couldn't resist adding a water pump windmill, which was simply fun to make in CSG. :-)

The scene was all hand-coded in the POV-Ray text editor. The homestead and windmill are CSG primitives. Chris Colefax's Object Bender include file was used to bend the sandstone CSG primitives on the sides of the steps. The basic sandstone base texture was hand-painted in PSP. An extra texture layer gives it a dirty and worn appearance. I tried differencing off some Julia fractals along the edges to show actual chips out of the rock, but I couldn't get it to work well, so gave up on that.

The corrugated iron of the roof was rusted with a layered bozo texture, embeddd in a brick pattern to produce the unrusted areas between the sheets of iron.

The ground is made up of three components. The foreground is a heightfield generated by another POV file which just made a simple texture which I modified slightly in Paint Shop Pro to add the tyre tracks. The mid ground is just a plane with a turbulent onion normal. The hills in the background are heightfields hand-painted in PSP.

The rocks are simply superquadric ellipsoids, rotated, then scaled randomly and positioned randomly. A bozo colour_map and some granite normal texturing makes them look like rocks. The dead grass is just cylinders, placed randomly - a simple modification of the iris macro I used in my Monet entry last round.

I wanted a stark sky to match the stark landscape. It's a simple sky_sphere with a bit of turbulence, rotated by trial and error to get the effect I wanted.

Once again the tyrrany of time prevents an entry from being completed to anything like my original conception. :-( Given the luxury of more time, I'd polish up the textures a bit more (or rather, make them dirtier!) and try to make the walls out of individual stones, rather than just a block with an image map.


Development history

After a bit of puzzling, thinking "Australia isn't old enough to have any ruins!" and despairing that I'd have to something furrin, I thought of an old abandoned sheep station, with the house falling into ruins. Every sheep station needs a windmill to pump water, so here is the beginnings of one, on some nice red soil.

Here is a close-up of the fan blade assembly.

This is the basic structure of the abandoned farmhouse. The texture is going to be the tricky part - I have to make it look run-down and eroded. The sky is also more dramatic now - more like what it is going to be in the final image.

I've added some sandstone wall texture through the use of an imagemap. I painted this imagemap myself by hand in PaintShop Pro. It needs some layers over it to add dirt and decay.

I've settled on a final camera position, with a wider than normal viewing angle for a slightly panoramic feel. I've changed the default texture to bright green to remind me to put in real textures. I've also added some heightfields for the foreground and hills in the background. There are also some rocks scattered around. This is a macro which creates random superllipsoids with random scalings and textures. Works quite nicely, but the rocks need to be a little smaller.


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