Old Tugboat in the desert


In case you wondered what the deal with the old tugboat in the header is, here is its story. I made this render in a personal project some time ago. Since I’ve always wanted to do a scene with a boat in it, I researched old tugboats. There I came across the old New York harbor tugs and instantly fell in love with their design.

Having chosen the protagonist of the render all I needed now was an environment. Of course, I could have just put the model in the ocean and call it a day, but I wanted the image to be something different. So when I found photos of old, rusty ships sitting in the desert where the Aral Sea once used to be I had all the inspiration I needed.

Thanks to an abundance of reference material on New York harbor tugs, modelling the boat was no problem at all. For texturing I grabbed all the rusty metal textures I could find on textures.com and also painted some maps by hand. In the GIF you can see below I arranged some of my test renders to illustrate the creation of the tug.

old tugboat animation
The old tugboat rises

Next up I had to build a desert from scratch. Thankfully I had already done a sand beach scene before. Using the technique from the beach scene it was easy to create some detailed small sand dunes in the foreground. For the dunes in the background I once again went to textures.com and grabbed a desert photo back plate.

sand beach
Sand beach render

With everything arranged into a compelling scene, all that was left to do is rendering it and applying some post-processing. The final of this result can be seen at the top of this post.

As a small bonus here is an OpenGL render of the scene. Note that I didn’t just paint the barnacles on the hull but actually used a particle system for them:

old tugboat opengl render
OpenGL render of old tugboat