The Ice – Capturing The Elusive Feeling


Can you imagine it? Chilling air makes your nose tingle; shades of cool mix with shades of warm, seen in refraction. And you hurry to make a photo, only to discover later on that it (oh, dear) didn’t capture subtle color nuances of the ice.

Click to read the tutorial: How to create realistic ice and seriously awesome refraction



Apparently, what happened is that the digital camera clamped the highs and destroyed the lows of the color range. It’s not a secret that the eye is acting differently from the camera. It sees the slightest difference in hue, and adapts very well to high dynamic range.

But how can we capture this freaking piece of ice, if camera just doesn’t always help?

Paint it. Or if you can’t – simulate it in 3d, just like I did with that attic (I don’t have one nearby). Build the world around, breathe the life into it and capture its beauty in refraction. Or in shadow play. Use whatever works.

Chances are, you won’t stay true to nature and will pour too much of your vision into this frozen thing.

In the end, I don’t care whether it is physically correct, I want it to be aesthetically correct.

Or as Pixar formulated, physically plausible.


Some lighting scenarios are more difficult than the others. I bet you have set up three point lighting at least a couple times, to make some model appear appealing and Hollywood-like.

But what about object, that defies the form principle and bends the light in a weird fashion?

The lots of interesting stuff happens insight of that piece of ice. The part of the rays get refracted, the other part is reflected (based on Fresnel reflectance value). And – oh dear – some parts are even dispersed in the frozen depths.

ice render blender

Apparently, the world is not made of plaster.

Luckily, today we have the ability to throw thousands of rays in Blender (I obviously mean Cycles render engine) and get as much light bounces inside the object, as our computer can handle.

Tutorial is on its way, so stay tuned.


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