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Subsurface Butterfly by darkMyke Subsurface Butterfly by darkMyke
Made for a rendering contest for this year's rendering contest at the Technical University Vienna.

This piece is quite unusual for me. Made on a tight deadline (for me at least), one of the few pieces I did for a contest, the very first I did for as a lecture exercise at the university and a topic I don't really like that much - Subsurface Scattering (SSS). In addition, it had to be rendered in Luxrender.

Yeah, SSS, awesome...wait, what is this SSS thing actually?
The effect called SSS is best visible for thin objects, with light shining through them. The butterfly's wings or the flower's petals demonstrate it clearly - they are not transparent, yet enough light "scatters" through the object so that you can discern lighter and darker areas. You can clearly see veins and structures below the surface. Another real life example is your hand, when you raise it to protect your eyes from harsh sunlight - the reddish glare which shines through your skin between your finges...yeah, that's it. SSS is just the term the technical guys use to describe it ;)

Done with Blender and Luxrender.
No postprocessing at all. Therefore, nice flashy effects, no clouds (they would increase rendertime way too much...) nothing which was not done in Blender and Luxrender. Textures mostly from Wikipedia. And to all the biologists - no, that butterfly does not exist in this form. The wings are from a Morpho menelaus (Blue Morpho) but its body looks completely different in reality...

As always - let me know what you think. I'd love to hear your thoughts and critiques :)
Add a Comment:
LadyNoiraile Featured By Owner Nov 21, 2013
Cool thing, I love all the detail you added.
Especially that leaf beneath the butterfly's lovely, hairy feet looks super-realistic! :clap:
darkMyke Featured By Owner Nov 25, 2013  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Thanks! Yeah, sometimes it's the tiny things that make something beautiful - I'm sooo glad people actually notice the hairs >>>XD (these little things are actually the most work...especially to get them look right, even if they are not "correct" at all).
LadyNoiraile Featured By Owner Nov 25, 2013
On a positive note, I doubt that the majority of people has very established knowledge about the anatomically correct alignment of butterfly leg hair. :D
But I do believe they were a lot of work. Also, as mentioned, the leaf's absolutely incredible. If I only had that detail of the picture, I couldn't tell it from a photograph!

How'd the contest go, by the way? Got any results yet? If the big winner's still to be chosen, I of course wish you the best of luck!
darkMyke Featured By Owner Nov 28, 2013  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Ah, thank you. The contest was actually finished already when I posted the pic. I won, but I have to admit, I was the only one with some kind of experience with actually making something in 3D. Most of the others are students of computer graphics - they work on the algorithms behind the programmes, but do not work WITH them.
I try to do both (but fail at mastering either) ;)
LadyNoiraile Featured By Owner Nov 30, 2013
Oh well, winning the contest isn't what I'd call "failing"... congratulations, anyway! Cool to see your work paid off, even if it wasn't the toughest competition ever. The nice outcome of your contest entry is still something to be proud of. :clap:
prokaryont Featured By Owner Nov 21, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
The wings look a bit like glass wings (created with fusion technique). I like it though!
I love the colours (rawwrrrr, turquoise!! XD) and nice contrast with the warm flowers. The leaf on which the butterfly is sitting...whoah...nice details here! Good job!

The only thing that seems odd to me is the flower on the left. The perspective seems unnatural o_O
darkMyke Featured By Owner Nov 25, 2013  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Thank you! You point out some details which are indeed quite...exaggerated. It was all for a good cause, though, to make a plain and quickly made scene look at least a bit...ehm...interesting. And to really bring out that effect in the butterfly's wings. But sometimes I overdo it, I admit that :)
(Yeah, that turquoise...when I made the model I immediately made its wings blue, I didn't even know the butterfly species but I knew exactly what color I wanted!)
PiriPaints Featured By Owner Nov 6, 2013
Ich habe keine Ahnung von der Technik und wie du das gemacht hast, aber: Super :)!
Die Flügel sehen aus wie gemalt und diese Haare and den Beinen <3
darkMyke Featured By Owner Nov 8, 2013  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Schön, wenn diese Details auffallen. Gerade die Haare sind eine Menge Arbeit und im Grunde merkt man sie kaum...danke! (Die Technik ist ja auch wurscht für den Betrachter, gut ausschaun solls. Nur eben für diesen Kurs wars wichtig - und da ich mich ja dafür interessier, muss ich auch immer davon erzählen und mich mitteilen ;) )
EveryBurn Featured By Owner Oct 12, 2013  Hobbyist Digital Artist
This is absolutely stunning.  Great use of Lux.
Ludo38 Featured By Owner Oct 8, 2013  Professional General Artist
That is very impressive ! Few Blender artists have that level of details into their work. Congratulations!

Have you heard of 0 A.D. ? It's a beautiful open-source strategy game, made by volunteers from all over the world. I am among the contributors, for more than a year now, and I have great time working with the very creative and passionate team, who mostly work with Blender! People who do great at modelizing animals and all kinds of organic shapes are quite rare, so if ever you'd like to join the forum and give a try on that, you would be really welcome! :) (Smile)
Here is the page to get started :…
To get a fresh overview on the game's project, check the crowdfunding page :…
KJ-Illustration Featured By Owner Sep 30, 2013  Professional Digital Artist
Looks pretty unusual for you indeed (: But a nice end-effect nevertheless; I really like the banked camera-angle and the softness in the butterfly wings - makes me want to reach out and touch!
mosaicked Featured By Owner Sep 27, 2013
Nymphalidae :3
darkMyke Featured By Owner Sep 30, 2013  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Technically, only the wings. The rest is rather based on a monarch ^^ But you know, I was cheating a bit. Still, I'm amazed the butterfly was the least amount of work in this image!

(I do think it's kind of cute, with its little legs folded under its head - which you told me about. :) )
mosaicked Featured By Owner Oct 2, 2013
Danaus plexippus is a nymphalidae. :P
darkMyke Featured By Owner Oct 5, 2013  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Oh. It's...complicated. >XD
mosaicked Featured By Owner Jan 5, 2014
geeenau ;)
Votaris Featured By Owner Sep 25, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
Woho! It's been quite a while since you've uploaded something ;) 

Okay... where should I start (I don't know much about rendering btw...) ? As you said, it's an unusual motive for you, you focused on SSS and you had a tight deadline. The wings of the butterfly look magnificent to me (colors, veins, shades), but one thing is missing in my opinion: the structures of the scales, somehow the wings look too smooth. But I think this would have required a bunch of time. :)

Kudos to the blades of grass and the leaf (where the butterfly is sitting)! I go along with Skogflickan that the leaf looks really great! I can really imagine how it would feel like in my hand. ;) The body is also well done (haaaairy *g*)!

Then there's something that looks a little bit odd to me, and it's hard to explain ^^;. The butterfly in the background.... somehow the angle of view is like a little bit from a fisheye, whereas the front looks normal? Hope you understand what I mean and you explain it - if I just have a wrong expression or something...

Well... the sky without clouds looks a little bit creepy to me (like there's something gonna to explode in the next few seconds *lol*), but as you said, time was running out ...

Do we see more artwork in the next time, Myke ;) ?
darkMyke Featured By Owner Sep 26, 2013  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Yeah, definitely. And well...I do have a lot of unfinished stuff lying around. Maybe I'm going to finish some of them in the time to come :)

I agree with all of your concerns! Indeed, a butterfly wing looks different, the scales make it look iridiscent. I even asked the instructors from the rendering course how you would achieve that effect - but apparently, there are no consistent rendering methods to do that, yet. They said, I should look into the phenomenon and do something about it :D Anyway, it's all about faking and I didn't want to spend too much time on that...The hair is also not quite finished but these little details take most of the time!
Also, as I've written below, I had to make the scene interesting somehow, so I tried quite an extreme perspective. Not quite satisfied with it, but once you work with such extreme (simulated) camera lenses it's hard to make the whole scene look "correct". It's damn physics, no cheating allowed ;)

I'd also have loved to add dew drops, btw ;)

Thanks for the comment, I really appreciate it!
Skogflickan Featured By Owner Sep 24, 2013

I wish I could give you a proper technical critique on this, but as I just don't know one thing about rendering (I wish I would!), I can only share my general thoughts :D:

First of all, that perspective and the composition are really interesting! Even as a thumb in my inbox your picture caught me eye.

I also think you did a good job conveying the SSS topic by through the butterfly's wings. The little veins and shades look great.

But the element I like best is definitely the leaf the butterfly in the front is resting on. It looks so real with that structures, the form, and how the edges are waving a little.

darkMyke Featured By Owner Sep 26, 2013  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Don't worry - your general thoughts are very welcome! I do believe CG is just as much about general principles of art than any other graphical form of art. So, that's perfect!

And thank you for your encouraging words. Actually, the things you mention were my main concerns. I knew, I would not have time to make an impressive scene by itself (ie. by modeling and texturing...). The lighting and composition had to make it interesting. I'm glad I suceeded somewhat. And yeah, now that you mention it, that leaf took me a while (definitely the element I worked the most on) >XD
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Submitted on
September 23, 2013
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