How To Create Light Trails in Blender (To Simulate Traffic Trails Effect)

Look.

As a photographer, you already know how to capture time. Time is the light trail, created by a long (slow) shutter. As a digital artist, you bang your head against the keyboard. Painful process.

You can’t capture time so gracefully. Motion blur in Blender doesn’t work in such complex way, to create a long trails of light.

I wish we had a true shutter simulation in CG software. Why not? You already have depth of field, motion blur, lenses and other photographic things at your fingertips in CG software. I’m not even speaking about film simulation (that’s just insane how much it adds to the ‘realism’ of your image).

But you know what? If you can’t make it – fake it. There is a way to bridge this gap and I’m going to show you how.

Discover how to simulate traffic trails in Blender, using emissive splines and procedural textures. 

HIGHLIGHTS FROM THE BLENDER TUTORIAL:

STEP 1. Create a spline with the emissive material. Break up the strength of the emissive shader using Musgrave procedural noise.

blender light trails

STEP 2. Add a road (UV-mapped spline). After that, randomize the traffic trails material.

road traffic trails blender

STEP 3. Add a details, post-process your picture using film emulation. Tweak the color of the splines.

light trails blender

 

FURTHER LEARNING

When you go by car from Amsterdam to Vilnius, tired and sleepy, it’s not easy to notice how captivating is a night highway lighting. Really, I am speaking from my experience of night travels. The last thing that comes to mind is that you see an awesome lighting, created by traffic.

In this tutorial we will talk about the unique lighting scenario of a night highway. For an artist, night highway lighting is a huge discovery. That discovery will help you create your own night and your own highways.

night lighting tutorial