Stormy Weather


SKU: stormyweather2 Category: Tags: ,


This one started as a simple exercise to see if I could model a lightning bolt using Plant Factory (I’d always used Lightwave in the past). Once modeled I wanted to create a dark scene where the sky is the focus. Growing up in Illinois I’ve always been enamoured with stormy skies. I hope you like the result.
Of course while it was rendering (almost 100 hours at 8K!) we’ve had day after day of actual stormy weather and I questioned whether or not I would even post it when it finished. I’m sure a good number my Midwestern neighbors are growing weary of skies like this.
EDIT: The Plant Factory lightning bolt wasn’t so well received so I created a new one using my old Lightwave technique.

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25 reviews for Stormy Weather

  1. Doug [liferplus]

    I grew up in Illinois, too, and remember this well. Love the render!

  2. Thanasimos [lifer]

    While it’s a beautiful scene, something felt off. I finally realized it: The lightning, while doing a great job of lighting up the clouds, isn’t lighting up much anything else. Lightning, when I notice it tends to cast a light across the earth as well, to a degree, but here, even the closest trees have absolutely no reflection of that light on them, as if the terrain simply isn’t acknowledging the existence of what should be a significant light source. This may explain others’ issues with the quality of the lightning bolt. It simply doesn’t seem as real without the extra lighting. Just as I see it. Otherwise, great work.

  3. Brandon [lifer]

    The lightning bolt finally looks spot on, and that wraps it up as a fantastic thunder storm wallpaper!

  4. Xetal [liferplus]

    …and better for it! 🙂

  5. Kevin [lifer]

    Everything is just great. Nice work.

  6. Kevin [lifer]

    I agree with some of the other comments that while the background looks great, the lightning bolt looks unnatural. I was comparing this image to your “Rite of Spring” images (both the 2002 original and 2014 remake) and I think what makes the bolt here look unnatural is that there aren’t enough “segments” to it. The lightning bolts from the “Rite of Spring” images are comprised of many more smaller segments.

  7. Travis [lifer]

    The rest of the scene is beautiful and perfect, but the lightning bolt itself looks too organic. It looks like a vine that grew in tight curves, rather than a jagged bolt of electricity. Nice experiment, but I think the tools you’ve used to render lightning in the past worked better.

  8. D. C. Sessions [lifer]

    Since the summer monsoon storms are beginning here roughly now.

    I do hope you’ll be adding multiscreen (I gave up on Pali, alas) because I do love your storm scenes. This one gets mixed marks: good framing, good silhouetting on the right-hand foreground clouds, the left-hand foreground lighting seems a bit too direct for a distant source; the landscape is as usual flawless.

    As for the lightning itself, it’s a bit too — deterministic? Lightning is chaotic, and chaos is hard to render. We have a lightning research laboratory here (Langmuir) and there are some wonderful high-speed videos of lightning in progress. It’s MESSY. So best wishes on your efforts to model it, I doubt it will be easy.

  9. Rob [basicmember]

    Love the foreground, trees and upper sky. Lightning feels a bit unnatural though.

  10. Ozaawaagosh [plusmember]

    Love this storm render, a beautiful summer rain storm, perfect,

  11. dobsonunit [nonmonthly]

    I love a summer storm. The power and fury are awe inspiring. This image captures that potent raw strength. I love it!

  12. Keith-E [nonmonthly]

    I lurve these dark blues, not too bright, and with a flash of color. The only thing I’d change at the next visit would be a more realistic lightning bolt. Seems almost an afterthought rather than the central point of interest.

    As always, I look forward to the triscreen.

  13. Brandon McNearney [lifer]

    This is an amazing picture.

  14. Littlemom [liferplus]

    I love everything about this render except the lightning. It just looks like a squiggly line was drawn on an otherwise beautiful render. I really wanted to give this a higher score but I just can’t, it only gets a 7 from me.

  15. David R. [liferplus]

    The foreground with the grass and the two big trees on either side framing the scene is great. Cloud texture and lighting and lack of seeming movement reminds me of those still nights sitting on the front steps and watching lightning race and play across the stormy sky. Not to close, but not too far away either.

    The lightning bolt in this scene, though, just doesn’t seem “real”. The zigs and zags are too rounded and ought to be a bit more “jaggedy”. The edges of the “glow” around the bolt are much too stark and should be a lot more diffused. The reflection of the bolt on the water should start much closer to where the bolt touches down.

    You could do scene after scene of skies filled with lightning, that’s something I could really get into.

    But the lightning has got to be a lot better than this.

    However, having been both a purveyor and supporter of your digital art for many years now, I’m confident that you’ll be able to soon render lightning with a much more realistic look.

  16. Xetal [liferplus]

    Definitely not a good lightning bolt, unlike previous work of yours…

  17. Mason [lifer]

    Being in the storms myself, I think I might be a bit crazy as I can still quite like and enjoy the setting. While it seems to be beating a dead horse at this time, the focus of the piece (the lightning) leaves a bit to be desired, though how its light affects the background (and in the water) is quite excellent. Unfortunately, lightning is hard to capture (in many ways). Not sure how it would turn out, but have you considered doing something similar with it raining?

  18. MEL507 [basicmember]

    The lightning is the weakest aspect.

  19. Aslan [liferplus]

    I have to say I’m with Glenn. I love the glowing sky and the view through the trees but the bolt itself seems blunt and simplistic. For me it lacks that awesome glowing shroud around a darting pencil thin line of white. That said, it must be nearly impossible to recreate this aspect nature and it’s really easy to be a critic.

  20. Jim [basicmember]

    The bolt itself is really bad, rest is very nice.

  21. Sara [liferplus]

    This reminds me of “Before the Storm” which I think is from 2007. I like that one better, but I think that might be because those trees have green leaves on them. This one is a bit more ominous and foreboding, which probably is suited to the current weather in the heartland. I do like this one, Ryan, but I did like the other better.

  22. Ryan

    Lossless available now!

  23. Mark A. [liferplus]

    Ryan, I love it. Do you have a lossless version coming?

  24. Glenn [liferplus]

    The key to the success of this picture is the realism of the lightning bolt. Unfortunately, that particular aspect of the image is lacking. The clouds, darkness, and the rest of the picture are good/very good, but the lightning itself is too simplified and does not look like real lightning. Sorry, Ryan!

  25. Robin [basicmember]

    I love everything about this picture except the lightning bolt. It looks like a scribble in the background.

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