Blue Christmas


SKU: bluexmas2k111 Category: Tags: , , ,


Happy Holidays! This is, of course, an update to my “Blue Christmas” which I rendered first using World Builder in 1999, then again using Lightwave in 2002. This is my first version using Vue d’Esprit.

It would be an understatement to say that this was a difficult render to produce. Without getting too technical I will just say that you can really get yourself into trouble by cranking up the quality settings in Vue. Also, I’ve found the new version of Vue doesn’t even begin to accurately estimate the render time remaining.

Fortunately I was able to finish the render (though I had to restart it a few times) and I think it turned out pretty well. I do see a few things I would like to tweak but I might wait until after the Holidays to do any re-renders. The sad thing is that even after all this time, this render is really only my first hi-res draft. Better to post what I have though and fix it later..

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91 reviews for Blue Christmas

  1. Phil Erwin [lifer]

    If you could make that a broken down wooden covered bridge that looks like it hasn’t been used for a long time and put the lit tree on the other side of the river bank that would look awesome. I love this pic

  2. Dennis [lifer]

    I have been a member for years but I must have been asleep at the wheel. This is an amazing wallpaper and rendering, every thing just looks so real. I may keep this as my desktop for many months after Christmas as it will take me a long time to get tired of this one…..will just have to be Christmas in February, May and July…….Thanks.

  3. kelton

    Any shot at this one in a Galaxy S4 or S5 resolution?

  4. Jeremy

    Love it! My favorite Christmas background. Need a 1080×1920 for my S4 though.

  5. Michael

    I really really love this version. I love the blue and how it lights everything up. I have it as my background on my laptop and can’t get enough of it. GREAT JOB!

  6. MicMichael

    This image looks truly 3D on my iPad’s Retina Display. Freaky.

  7. Klikevil

    The red background makes for a great touch as others have stated. It really makes the details on the tree stand out nicely.

  8. John

    This new version is wonderful with the red sunrise/sunset in the background.

    On a side note, did you know that all of your images that are listed as 480×320 are coming out as 480×450?

  9. Ruth

    Blue tone pictures are very easy on my eyes, and I think both versions are just amazingly beautiful. Thanks for the Pickle Jar!

  10. Trifid

    I much preferred the red sunset as well (there has been too many blue tones in the recent work imho).

    Any chance of a render like the original, but with a green tree???? I think that would look really nice.

  11. Lidia

    The new version is much better.

  12. wayne

    Ryan, I have the blue and red variants transitioning as backgrounds, and the effect is superb. Thanks of all of your hard work! Merry Christmas!

  13. Logan

    I actually don’t have a problem with the red sky but I like the blue equally. Now I can’t decide which one to put on my desktop.

    It does appear, though, that on the night one there is a bit of leftover red underneath the ledge below the tree, I think it was red light reflected off the water that didn’t get replaced.

  14. RC Davison

    Thanks for a year filled with wonderful images! Happy Holidays and best wishes for a great 2012!

  15. Jenanne

    I still like the original render, but I much prefer this “Blue Christmas” version; the reddish clouds and sky just didn’t seem to go with the blue trees. Thank you and Merry Christmas, Ryan, to you and your family!

  16. Betsey

    found it–thanks–

  17. Kana

    personally, I like both versions. They each have a bit of surrealism to them as well as realistic touches.

    May I request a third with a bright star in the black background (Christ’s star), up and to the right of the lit tree? Similar to your magi scene from a year or two ago. That would probably end up being the favorite for me. 🙂

  18. Tor

    I like the red sky but it does feel a little unnatural. Maybe if there were more oranges and yellows it would help relieve some of that feeling.

  19. Littlemom

    I really like this version of this render very nice you really have captured Christmas in it.

  20. Brian

    I really like the red in the sky. With all of the fear of wildfires that I’ve experienced in Texas this year, the tree represents Hope in the face of adversity. I think this is a great image and you definitely need to keep it this way. By the way, It really looks fantastic on my Galaxy Nexus. I have gotten several comments on it.

  21. suab

    please don’t change it to blue/black – it makes it different and special (in a good way)

  22. Cougz

    It may true for those of you in North America that you don’t see red sky this time of year and that it doesn’t fit Christmas, but here in Australia, this picture fits perfectly. It is hot and sticky down here and the red captures a southern hemisphere Christmas perfectly. Thanks Ryan for thinking of us that are so far away…..

  23. Tina

    I love this one. Freaking fantastic. The sky seems as if the sun’s just about to come up, nothing freaky or weird.

  24. Liggs

    I think the contrast between the red and the blue is just too stark. It just doesn’t say “Christmas” to me. Hard to put my finger on it, but there is just something going on here that gives me an uneasy feeling. Just my two cents.

    Love your work, Ryan! Keep it up and Happy Holidays!

  25. Afya

    I adore the light in the tree on this one, it’s beautiful. But the red sky just feels threatening to me, contrasting with the blue in a jarring way that makes me imagine a disaster film set at Christmas. o.o Maybe you could make it less scary by toning the clouds down to pale pink, or angling the scene so that the sky is not directly behind the trees?

  26. HolyGrail

    This by far is one of my fav wallpapers….10 out of 10….Awesome man…thanks!

  27. Lidia

    Being different is not what I don’t like about this scene; I’m all for trying new things; I just don’t think that this particular new thing (the red sunset sky) works for this particular scene, at least not for me. I do think that adding red could potentially be a good thing, but is there any other way that you could add it (on the trees, or maybe even on the stars or a few clouds or an aurora borealis instead of changing the color of the sky itself)?

  28. Seraphim

    I really like the red sky. It adds a sense of mystery to the Christmas spirit. Christmas should not just be about warmth and family and presents (though all of those are vital and highly important) but should also be about the mysticism of tradition, the story of Jesus’ birth and/or the celebration of the re-awakening sun after the longest night of the year. The red sky includes that in my opinion.

  29. Terry

    I think I was a little negative on this at first I didn’t like the red before but now its grown on me a little. Keep trying new things Ryan you’ll never please everyone.

    I hope you and your family have an awesome Christmas!

  30. nickaix

    Been using Gotham Garden Autumn for a while now. I’ve wanted to switch over to something wintery, but just did not feel like giving into the black /white/ grey palate yet. Red sky at night, desktop delight.

  31. Granpuff

    I love the color in the Sky!

  32. Travis

    My favorite dual screen of all time. Great use of perspective and I love how the right screen ends up dark, but with details. I wish we could rate the images separately at the different resolutions (single vs dual vs triple) because I don’t think it is fair to rate them all in one category since the different resolutions changes the image.

  33. JK

    I meant to say it looks AWESOME in the dual and triple versions.

  34. JK

    I love the red sky. I mentioned in the single screen I hated the bright tree because it looked flat and 2D. It looks different in the multiscreen versions, perhaps it was tweaked or maybe something happened to the 2560×1600 lossless?

    Here’s a quickie comparison I whipped up in

    Looks much better in the dual and triple versions.

  35. ArchAngel2

    I happen to be a fan of the red sky. I like the effect of the red/blue contrast and that it has a different look than most Christmas wallpapers. I put this one up right when I saw it.

  36. Rob

    I like it, but it doesn’t say “Christmas”. The red sky is ominous. I would be interested in seeing a different approach.

  37. David

    Completely understand the desire to get this out before Christmas, but if you are going to do a re-render, the right screen in all the dual-screen renders is exceedingly boring 🙂

  38. Alex H

    I love it. Next to “Magi” this is the best Christmas wallpaper you’ve done yet. The red sky gives it that extra push above the rest.

  39. Chris Sper

    I like the red sky, as it adds a nice contrasting color to the scene. the main tree, the forest behind it and the water are all very, VERY blue. The red sky makes the foreground tree pop.

    I think what everyone may be attempting to speak to is that every other variation to this, including the ones with both white as well as colored Christmas lights, the foreground tree was the focal point to the picture.

    Here the focal point is the sky; and you don’t want it to be the sky, you want it to be the tree. Your eyes are drawn away from the tree, and the brain don’t like that.

  40. wilf

    This one really doesnt do it for me. The Christmas tree in the foreground doesnt have any feel of reality for me. However, take that out and I rather like the rest of it and the red/blue contrast is good

  41. Chris

    This is just flat out gorgeous!!!

    As a friend of mine likes to say – Strong Work!

  42. PauXX

    I really like the contrast between the photo-realistic sky and the fantasy tree. It has a lovely surreal feel.

    Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to all!!!!!

  43. celmendo

    I love it. It’s a very nice scene and the colors are great. I’m sure you can improve it but the only things I wish were better are the clouds. Merry Christmas and thanks for the great year of art!

  44. jlpilkin

    As a Christmas scene, this doesn’t quite do it for me. I love the contrast of the Red and Blue, but it doesn’t feel like the holidays in its current presentation.

    I would either lose the red sky or make it a much less prominent color, and perhaps add some subtile halos to the lights on the main tree. Some subtle green would also add depth to the scene (as that color is completely absent from the image).

  45. Wolfgang

    Blue-tiful! Absolutely bluetiful.

  46. caleb

    I think the red sky really adds to the scene. This is a great update. The one thing I am not a big fan off, in the multiscreen version there is almost no color outside of the center scene. It makes the side monitors too dark.

  47. Lidia

    I’m sad that Vue gave you such trouble for this render; it sounds very frustrating even with the few details you mention.

    This makes me sad to have to confess, that I don’t really like this update. The tree is ok, but I really don’t like the sky. I don’t think a sunset is a good sky for this particular scene (dark with stars as in previous versions is definitely best). I also really miss the snowier feel of the previous versions.

  48. Brian

    The previous two Blue Christmas’s are favorites of mine. But this one, not so much. Generally speaking it’s too claustrophobic. Too many happy little trees. I think we need to be able to see through the trees a little more and into the distance.

    On the other hand it looks like I am one of the few yes votes on the red sky. Love the color. I think the problem here is the clouds. Too puffy or not natural, not sure.

    I did not like the blue tree at first. But since you mentioned your son’s reaction I am now on board with the “magic” tree too.

    Merry Christmas!

  49. Djkojent

    I love the way this looks, the contrast with the tree and the sky, everything. Looks amazing!

  50. ChrisSpera

    This is awesome and can’t wait to see the variations you come up with for the Pickle Jar!

    Merry Christmas to you and your wonderful family.

    Chris Spera

    Managing Editor, BYTE

  51. ChrisSpera

    This is awesome and can’t wait to see the variations you come up with for the Pickle Jar!

    Merry Christmas to you and your wonderful family.

    Chris Spera

    Managing Editor, BYTE

  52. Hunter

    …and a happy new year!

    Awesome wallpaper Ryan!

  53. Akimitsu

    After seeing so many reviews dishing this, I just had to comment. I love the red sky, and think the tree looks amazing. I have to agree with your son, the tree does looks magical. I’ve been a lifetime member for years, and must thank you for years of enjoyment you have brought to my desktop and mobile devices. Merry Christmas to you and your lovely family.

  54. anna_writr

    The central tree, as noted elsewhere looks very 2D. It is also way too blue. The red sky in the background really detracts from the whole image, as well. Somehow it’s just not very Christmassy at all.

    I love your stuff, so I’m kinda sorry to pan this image.

  55. JK

    This is awesome except the bright tree somehow looks two dimensional compared to previous versions where the tree looked more “3D”. The lighting the tree gives off to the surroundings is what makes this great, I just don’t happen to like the look of the tree.

  56. Hoverwolf1

    I like this one, especially since the sunset provides such a lovely contrast to the rest. I have both this and the 2002 render open side by side, and the difference the sunset makes is remarkable. I also love the idea of making the entire tree luminece; that gives the tree a quality of being special. As for the detractors of the red, perhaps you could replace the sunset with a moonset, if you feel you must. That might make a nice silver color. (Personally, I’d keep the sunset and add the comet from Red Harbinger” along with the moon from “Dracul” just because I’m like that… AND 2012 is coming. (I’d make that my new year’s render; after all, the end of the myan calender only comes around once.))

  57. Deanna

    This is gorgeous and is staying on my desktop. Instant *Gasp!* as soon as I saw it.

    Thank you for a beautiful image. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you and your family, Ryan!

  58. Duncan


    No doubt this took a lot of time and effort and trying to please everyone is a difficult, of not an impossible challenge. But I’m impressed. I’m okay with the sky as it adds some warmth to a cold, crisp Christmas night. This is the season to relax, enjoy family and if you’re not able to make any pickle jar versions before Santa hitches up his sleigh, no worries.

    Merry Christmas & Happy Holidays!

  59. Tyler

    LOVE the concept but not the execution. As almost all would agree the sky needs revision. Historically Ryan (and please don’t take offense) doesn’t nail images on the first try. I believe it will turn out amazing as usual.

  60. Thunderbol

    sorry, but it looks a bit weird and too artificial to me

  61. John

    I know Vue crashed a lot on you but the render quality looks amazing in this image. It is so sharp and clear and makes the textures that much better. I would say it was definitely worth the extra time.

  62. Jase

    I think this image would also be a great stand alone landscape piece with out the Christmas tree.

    I like the sky, but I am partial to sunsets.

  63. Terry

    Love it except for the sky – I think it would look better with a star filled sky with the North Star above the tree as someone else pointed out.

  64. Ryan

    Perhaps I could add a version with a black night sky in the Pickle Jar later.

  65. 3.14

    Sky kills it for me though – would have expected the north star or something. The trees, rock, water setting is great.

  66. Ryan

    My son Ian, upon seeing this wallpaper for the first time, remarked that it looked like a magic tree. I’m fine with that…

  67. Karl

    I think there needs to be color variance in the lights around the tree. If there were some green, yellow and red ones it would feel more like a Christmas image. As is when I see it I dont immediately think of Christmas. Other than that it looks really good.

  68. Chris B

    Red sky at night, Sailor’s delight, Red sky in the morning Sailor’s warning. So we’re good, now look at the sky, now look at me, I’m on a boat…

    Reminds me of a lot of fantasy books like LoTR where there are pockets forests/lands protected by ancient magics from the evil that is spreading through the lands.

    I like it a lot, great setting & composition. The stark contrasts in colors really make the tree POP.

  69. Dan

    I love it Ryan! Can’t say anything else other than I like the contrast between the red sky and blue tree! Plus I love how you put it on that rock that hangs out over the water. It’s all perfect!

  70. Gary

    Really like the blue and red contrast… actually wish I could see more sky, and also maybe a frozen lake with just a little snow on the edges of the lake to blend in with the shore snow… maybe even some snow on the trees.

  71. Brian

    I don’t know if it just me, but my first thought with the red sky was forest fire. Not a bad thing, just my impression. I like the image and this definitely is on par with what I expect from your work. Great Job!

  72. Scott

    The textures on the trees and rocks look amazing!

  73. Greg

    With such a red sky you’d think the trees would look at least slightly red in the darker parts. No need to re render though I think, perhaps just a bit of colour balance?

    Up to you sir 🙂

  74. Somerlot

    I will say though that a red sky at night is actually considered a good thing =)

  75. Anastasia

    I agree with John and I’m not reading The Way of Kings. It just put me off. It was too strong a color and took away from the tree.

  76. Walo

    Another nice one(as always), my only nitpick would be the sky. Not the color but the clouds, I think the clouds should be a little more subdued to match the trees.

  77. John

    This is a beautiful image. I’m not sure about the red sky though, instead of feeling Christmasy it seems more nefarious. Although in all honesty this could be because I’m reading The Way of Kings and it often speaks of a red sky looking like blood at sunset.

  78. Trav

    reading about all those technical difficulties made me cringe for you. I can’t imagine having to restart a render, as i know how long that process takes. I think your wallpaper, even though it wasn’t quite what you wanted, turned out great!

  79. sylar

    One of your best Christmas wallpaper!

    Not that good on my PC (too dark), but looks great on my XOOM.

  80. David

    Any chance for a Green Christmas? 🙂

  81. JCDU

    Looks nice, been waiting for your Christmas release. 😛 I pretty much just change my wallpaper according to the seasons and holidays.

  82. Maddie

    The fine detail is truly spectacular! Well worth the wait!

  83. Littlemom

    Very pretty, Very blue.

  84. Josh

    sky-line reminds me of a sunset…maybe try for that in the sky? Trees look amazing though, and i do like the faint sparkles throughout.

  85. Greg in CA

    I totally take back that ‘in the end’ comment, lol…

  86. Glenn

    WOW! This is stunning. I’ve seen morning skies that wanted to look like this…

  87. Iislsdum

    The link to the 2002 version points back to this page. I like the sparkles in the sky, but I think the scene could be lit up better (so one could see more than just the tree in the middle. Also, there seems to be an ominous, hidden face above the tall tree on the far right. Can’t wait to see some re-renders!

  88. Ryan

    I wanted to try something a little different with the sky this time around.

  89. Wraith

    Brightened my day! Not sure about the colour of the sky but I like it!

  90. Scarr

    It just seems too dark for Christmas…

  91. JTGrace

    For serious.

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