My 2D and 3D renderings, photos, and 3D text-and-image animation tutorials, and our vacation blog:

flying camo critter

I made this with the Autodesk Maya sculpting tools on a Wacom 24 inch Cintiq drawing tablet. The materials and render are from Keyshot.

Porto’s Sé Cathedral

Outdoor ceramic tile in Porto, Portugal.

Statue in Porto

The bird is not part of the statue.


Wine country in Douro Valley, Portugal

Camouflaged cat – a feral cat in Greece

Animated particle effect made with Phoenix and rendered with Vray

Scene created with Terragen

scene built with E-On Vue 3D

fawn under tourist placard

This was taken in Montana at the Pictograph Cave State Park near Billings.

This is the church, in Pierce, Colorado, near Ft. Collins, that I pastor.

My ministry webpage is at: Buzz’s Church.

Vue XStream rendering

A dwelling in Costa Rica

A house in Mata De Limon in Costa Rica.

Renewed and old in Panama City

There is a major effort in Panama City to restore older buildings.  The one on the left has been restored.  The one on the right is just an empty facade.

More doors in Panama City

Doorways in Panama City

Bush in Costa Rica

A flower in Costa Rica

Sloths in preserve in Costa Rica

Graffiti in Panama City

Flowers in Panama City

I have not over-saturated the colors here – this is what they look like.

Iguana in Panama

Lizard in Costa Rica

Saw this in Manuel Antonio State Park in Costa Rica.

Capuchin monkey

This is a Capuchin monkey from Manuel Antonio State Park in Costa Rica.

Christmas decorations, Boulder

These are the Christmas decorations for at the downtown walking mall in Boulder, CO.

Walden Ponds, near Boulder

The new Toon shader in VRay

The flamingo was made with the new Toon shader in the VRay for Maya plugin.  The rendering and all materials were done with VRay.

“Tooned” Cow

Made with Maya and rendered with mental ray.

a “tooned” flamingo

made with Maya, rendered with the Maya software renderer.

The Hermitage museum in St. Petersburg

Another version of the pool room

The same scene, with very different materials is in

a seventh closeup

The same closeup as in the previous postings, but this time using Keyshot and Keyshot materials.

a sixth closeup

The same scene as in previous postings, this time using the Vray renderer and Substance materials.

a fifth closeup

Following on from the previous series of postings, here is another closeup, this time using Maxwell and Maxwell materials.

Stockholm, day 2

It’s a record – an entire vacation with only good weather. It drizzled a bit in Amsterdam and a bit today, but that counts as good 🙂 Today we went to Skansen (thanks to Caro for the suggestion!) in the morning. It’s the world’s first open-air museum, founded in 1891, where over 150 buildings from all over Sweden have been dismantled and reassembled so you can “stroll through five centuries of Swedish history.”

In the afternoon we finished our tour of the Royal Palace, seeing the Treasury (no pictures allowed) which holds the royals’ crowns, scepters, etcetera, the Tre Kronos Museum, with the history of the original palace which burned down in 1697, and the church where all the royals are buried, dating from the 13th century.

Finally, we had our first good meal in Sweden, in the old town, where the Royal Palace and many other sites are located. Tomorrow we return to reality…

Here’s a sketch from the Palace museum.

And a detail from one of the gravestones in the church. There are lots of skulls and crossbones, some only barely discernible. Many people have walked on these stones over many centuries.

Skansen has a zoo as well. These are a couple of Sweden’s only remaining type of native pigs. They’re doing their best to keep up the population though.


The capital of Finland was a big change after St. Petersburg. But the weather was lovely again.

Here’s the port with the Evangelical Lutheran Cathedral in the background.

The cathedral was stark in comparison with the ones we’ve seen in the two days we spent in Russia. But the organ pipes were pretty.

Our tour guide told us that Finland was recently named the happiest country in the world. But, she said, we are a serious looking people. There were two more matching guys on the other side of this building. She told us that they represent the four emotions. The first guy is happy, the second sad, the third angry and the fourth fearful. Or, perhaps, the other way around 🙂

St. Petersburg

We have just spent two days in St. Petersburg. If you haven’t been, put it on your bucket list.. We took a two full day tour (back on the boat between days for dinner and the evening/night) with SPB tours, and because most people just take the cruise company tours, our tour had just 4 people on it. We saw Peterhof, Catherine’s palace, St. Isaac’s cathedral, the church of the spilled blood, took a canal ride, visited the Hermitage. Whirlwind – but every site seemed more impressive than the last. I couldn’t possibly tell you much about any one of them, so you will have to Google..

The other couple chose to visit a different room of the Hermitage, so Lana, our guide, seeing that we didn’t mind walking very fast, took us to twice the usual number of highlights in this vast museum. Buzz shot this racing through one gorgeous room after another:

One of the Tsars collected tapestries, displayed in a darkish corridor so they would fade as little as possible.

Beautiful details in every possible place – these are just doors between two of the hundreds of rooms in the Hermitage.

The Church of the Spilled Blood. In one corner, the stones on which the murdered Tsar fell are preserved exactly where he fell (no, I couldn’t see any blood). The entire interior is covered in mosaics. And I mean every square inch.

Tallinn, Estonia

Tallinn is the lovely small capital of the former Soviet republic of Estonia. This is the house and office of the president – except that the first female president decided she’d rather live in her house in town with her family. So now it’s just the office of the president. Personally, I wouldn’t turn down an invitation to live here.

The town hall boasts this clock, which even has the correct time.

We visited the oldest continually operating pharmacy in Europe (or in the whole Milky Way, says Buzz). The outside of the building says 1422, but that’s just the first known reference to the business. Nowadays they sell modern products, but there still seemed to be many vials of eye of newt and the like. Hopefully just for show…

At sea

Great view last night:

We had dinner at the reservations-only venue, Candles. No complaints about the food here! Our day at sea was relaxing and fairly uneventful. Nothing to see but the sea…

Sunset over Baltic Sea

Off the bridge of a yatch.


Eight miles (that’s 22000 steps) walked to see five hours  worth of Copenhagen today! It’s a city of only a million. The day was clear, and the crowds not bad. Our tour guide walked us around at a rapid pace, so I won’t try to remember what each of these pics is – they can speak for themselves today 🙂

(Thanks to Buzz for his skill as the family photographer.)

This is from a tee house we were in.  Like a lot of the buildings here, it was once a royal something-or-other.

This is an inlet a few blocks from the ocean.

There are a lot of bizarre statues around town.  This is in a park.

This was once a royal garden; now it is a public park.

This is from a Catholic Church, above the altar.

Kiel Canal

Heard of the Kiel Canal? We hadn’t… It was constructed in the late 19th century and cuts east-west through northern Germany, so ships can avoid going all the way north around Denmark to travel between the North Sea and the Baltic Sea. Large cruise ships can’t go through it, as there are several bridges over the canal and the ships are too tall to pass under them. Our little Star Breeze (438 feet, 212 passengers) fit just fine. We spent the entire day cruising through the canal.

Old Dutch windmills are good tourist draws, but the modern ones are more useful.

The Star Breeze entering the lock, preparing to go through the 98 km canal. The canal is fresh water, fed by rivers. So the water in the lock is kept slightly higher than the seas. That way the downward pressure when the lock is opened keeps the salt water out of the canal.

A container ship in the lock next to ours. We didn’t see any other pleasure boats in the canal.

A pretty German smokestack.

This little guy joined us for quite a while as we waited in the outgoing lock.

Exiting the canal on our way to Copenhagen.

Harlingen, Netherlands

Harlingen is in the north of the Netherlands. It’s a very pretty, large town. We are here on Sunday, when most businesses are closed, and it’s a nice change after bustling, noisy, dirty Amsterdam. We visited the only remaining factory where Delft tiles are hand made and hand painted. The gentleman painting the tile above has been doing this for 45 years.

Our tour also included a trip along the dike, built to separate fresh water from salt and provide protection from flooding to a large part of the country, which is 1/4 below sea level.

Originally City Hall, now just another pretty building.

There were several old warehouses which were labeled with the countries the goods came from. This one is Poland, next door was Russia, across the street Java and Sumatra.

After WWII, the residents of Harlingen placed metal plates in the sidewalk outside the houses of residents who were sent off to concentration camps and who never returned…

Someone in Harlingen had beautiful flowers outside their house.

Doei Amsterdam, hallo Star Breeze

We spent our last morning doing a little shopping. This mall must have at one point been something much more impressive. Buzz took a few pictures of it, planning to use them to model a scene.

There are reputedly 900,000 bicycles in Amsterdam. It certainly looked like there must be 100,000 just parked at the Central Station.

One could spend days just wandering around looking at the architecture. But we are out of time and have boarded our ship and set sail!

Note from Buzz: we were shopping for pj’s, because Buzz forgot his pajamas…

Artists and Canals

We took a canal tour. These are “dancing houses”. Since the ground is rather unstable, the houses were built on posts, which have settled. In some cases the wooden posts have started to rot over the centuries.  Many houses are leaning into each other. These have been shored up so they won’t topple into the canal. We think…

Here’s a detail on a piling for a bridge crossing a canal. So much ornate artistry!

We went to the Rijksmuseum and the Van Gogh museum, both well worth a visit. Here’s “The Book Shop…” by Johannes Jelgerhuis, 1820. Speaking of detail, it’s quite amazing how much there is to see in one painting.

And this is Buzz’s favorite piece of art in the whole world!

Welcome to Amsterdam

We arrived at noon in Amsterdam, after a 6 hour layover in Chicago, found our hotel and crashed for a few hours. Suitably refreshed, we went out for dinner and a stroll. In a ~50 meter ped/bike tunnel we found an astonishing mural made up of six inch fired tiles. Here’s one small section.

a fourth closeup

Following on from the previous series of postings, here is another closeup, this time using V-Ray and V-Ray materials.

Test post

this is a test post

a third closeup

This is another closeup of the scene from the previous three postings.  This one was done with the Radeon ProRender renderer, with ProRender materials.

a second closeup

This is another close-up – see the two previous postings.  This one was done with Renderman using all Renderman materials.

close up of hotel lobby internal wall

This is a close up of the scene from the previous posting.  Again, it was rendered with Redshift.


lobby of hotel

This was modeled with Maya, rendered with Redshift, with all Redshift materials.  Redshift is a GPU renderer and the render time was somewhat shorter than my experience with Arnold, but perhaps only roughly 1/2 as long.  However, I was using a consumer grade graphics card (Nvidia 1080 founders edition).

pool room

This was modeled with Maya, rendered with Arnold.

glass table rendered with Octane

This is the glass table from previous postings.  Here I have replaced the materials with Octane materials and rendered it with the GPU renderer Octane.  It is about the speed of Redshift.  See other GPU renderers for comparison.

glass table rendered with Furry Ball

This is the glass table from previous renders.  This was done with Furry Ball, using Furry Ball materials and lights.  It is another GPU renderer and it was faster than Redshift and Iray (see Iray table).

glass table rendered with Iray

This is the glass table from previous renders.  This was done with Iray, using Iray materials and lights.  It is another GPU renderer and it took about the same amount of time as Redshift (see Redshift table).

glass table rendered with Redshift

This is a redo of the materials and lights for the table previously rendered with Arnold.  I remade everything with Redshift.  It rendered in a tiny fraction of the time it took with Arnold, since Redshift is a GPU renderer and Arnold is a CPU renderer.

Look at arnold glass table (and the previous 3 renderings) for comparisons with Arnold.

Natural suburban habitat

Who says that suburban development has no respect for natural habitats?


Here is a modern cathedral, made with Maya, rendered with Arnold.

TIbetin Monastery in India

The Namdroling monastery is in southern India, not far from Mysore.

Pink and blue sky

In front of our house:

The Library of Hadrian

This was taken in Athens.

chicken coop: Caribou Ranch, Colorado

This is circa 1900.

fall colors: Caribou Ranch, Colorado

This was taken at about 8,300 feet.

Glass table, #2 HDR

Here is a different tabletop design for the glass table from previous postings, using beams that meet in the center, rather than having the glass held up by a rim around the perimeter of the table; the image has been rendered with Arnold in Maya.

Turkey: The Ruins of Ephesus

A feral camouflaged cat…

Turkey: Ortaköy Mosque

On the Bosphorus Strait

Maya: bottle and glass – HDR

Here is an HDR intensified version of a previous rendering…

Maya: glass table, gold 2 – HDR

Here is an HDR version of a previously posted rendering…

Behind our house in Boulder, Colorado – HDR

Here is an HDR doctored version of a previous posting…

Maya: A Moai

This is a Moai-like statue similar to those made roughly seven hundred to a thousand years ago on Rapi Nui.  The island was renamed Easter Island by Europeans when James Cook stumbled upon it on Easter Sunday.  The statues represented the ancestors of the indigenous people.  The statues were carved from sandstone in the face of a hillside quarry (thus they are flat-backed).  Then the Moais were cut out of the hillside, rolled on logs across the island, and mounted on altars, often on the coast of the island, facing inland.  The statues could be as high as 20 feet.

This was made in Maya with Arnold materials, rendered with Arnold.

Maya: bottle and glass

These are mental ray materials, rendered with mental ray.

Maya: glass table, gold 2

This is a yellower, less pink gold, compared to the previous posting.

Maya: glass table gold

This is the same table as the previous 2 posts, but with an Arnold material that I tried to get looking like gold.

Maya: glass table 2

Made with Arnold materials, a single Arnold light – a sky dome light – and rendered with Arnold.

Maya: glass table 1

Made with Arnold materials, a single Arnold light – an area light – and rendered with Arnold.

Behind our house in Boulder, Colorado


Rocky Mountain National Park, Front Range, Colorado

On a foggy hike.

Cliff dwellings

Dwellings of the Ancestral Pueblo people, Mesa Verde, CO.

Mesa Verde CO

This is the result of the 2002 wildfire in Mesa Verde National Park, Colorado (photo taken 2017).

Silverton to Durango, Colorado

A restored coal-powered train from the 1800’s, from Silverton to Durango, elevation 10,000 ft.

This is a test of using word…

As a blogging client…


And this is 600 pound elk on a miniature golf course.


Close up of a house

This is a single frame from an animation that was made with Maya and rendered with mental ray.  The little boy in the window is eating Trix while swinging his legs under the table.

You can click on these images to blow them up.

Here are two minor variations, with the wood trim around the window colored differently and with a cement-textured bump map added:

The giant cabana

This is the cover image from my textbook: 3D Animation for the Raw Beginner, which you can find on  The models were made with Maya and rendered with mental ray.

You can click on these to blow them up.

Here is the same structure with stone arches:

More on bump maps

When to use bump maps.

This was made with Maya and rendered with mental ray.

The stone walls have a heavy bump map.  The material was made with a tileable stone texture and the bump map was made from the same seamless texture.

The bed was sculpted with the Maya sculpting tool found in Modeling under Surfaces.  The bedspread material is made from a seamless cloth texture and the bump map for it was made from the same seamless texture.

The cement floor was made from a seamless cement texture and again, the same texture was used to make a bump map.

The sink/toilet combo and the metal bars were made with mental ray “paint” materials.  Since they are smooth and shiny, they are not bump mapped.

This images can be clicked on to blow them up.

Here are two variations:


This was made with Terragen:

Drawing on a Surface 3

This is not a tutorial…  Just something I drew – I was experimenting with pressure sensitivity while drawing with Autodesk Sketchbook on a Surface 3.

More on bump maps

Bump maps on plaster, metal, stone, and mortar.

The image below was made in Maya and rendered with mental ray.  The plants inside the building were made with PlantFactory.

The blue and white plasters were made with two seamless plaster textures used as the color of two mental ray materials.  Each material has a bump map made from the plaster texture used for its color.

The roof of the structure was made with a gold steel seamless texture used as the color of a Blinn.  The reflectivity, eccentricity, and specular rolloff were cranked up to make the material shiny.  The same gold steel texture was used to give the roof a deeper sense of depth.

You can click on this image to blow it up:

Below is a close-up of the front of the structure.  Note the heavy use of bump maps in the stone and mortar on the top of the arches.  This is crucial to making them look realistic.  Again, you can click on this image to blow it up.

Bump maps in Maya & using Photoshop to layer a texture

Bump mapping and layered textures.

The back wall on in this scene is made with a Blinn, with a layered textured made in Photoshop used as its color.  A bump map was added to the Blinn.

The layered texture was made with a yellow paster seamless texture, with a added Darken layer consisting of a damaged plaster seamless texture.

Immediately below is the original yellow plaster texture, followed by the damaged plaster texture.

Below those are the final layered texture output by Photoshop, followed by the final texture’s bump map.

The bottle is a revolved NURBS surface with a mental ray glass material.

The desktop is a wood seamless texture with a bump map made from the same texture.

The original yellow paster, before layering.

The damaged paster texture used as the Darken layer.

The resulting layered texture used in the scene.

The bump map used to give the back wall its gritty look.  You can see how important a bump map is!

Rendering with Octane

This was rendered with the Octane plugin to Maya, using Octane materials.

Using nDynamics for creating 2D effects

The bottle and the glass are made with the mental ray material mia_material_x.  The white fluid is an nDynamics effect.  The ray tracing was cranked up to wash out much of the 3D appearance of the bottle and the glass.

Image converted using ifftoany


This was made with the “toon” setting on Maya.  Go to the Rendering main menu, then go to Toon.  The color setting is 2; i.e., only two colors are allowed on the body of the cow, thus creating the 2D appearance.  The lettering was done within Maya under the Create > Text tool.


Arnold glass and lights

This is not a tutorial, just a preliminary experiment with the new Maya renderer, Arnold.


The coast of Valparaiso.


The banner image for this site is of Santorini, one of the Greek Islands


Emphasis, the city to which Paul wrote one of his letters.


A mosaic in the archaeological museum of Delos.


Isabelle took this one.


Athens is covered with graffiti.  Most of it is just crude vandalism, but there are artists out there, too…


Jared Katzman took this one when we were in Chamundi Hill.


A piece of the ceiling of the Hagia Sophia, the ancient church in Istanbul, which has been used as a mosque.