From Blender to Affinity with Dimitrios Sakkas

Dimitrios always wows us with his atmospheric scenes. In this article we explore his recent series of cinematic forest landscapes and understand how he adds Affinity magic to his 3D renders…
What was the idea behind these artworks?

The concept for these artworks was to create an animated two minute video with misty and atmospheric scenes. My main inspiration for the video was the movies ‘The Mist’ (we would’ve linked to the trailer but it’s a bit scary!) and ‘Blade Runner’. These artworks are the first key visuals I did for the video. The next part of the project is to create some misty city streets and abandoned places.

Why do you choose Blender to create your 3D scenes?

Blender was the first application that got me into 3D creations. It’s free and it’s always there for everyone who wants to enter the 3D world. Blender is a powerful 3D application and you can create anything you want. Alongside some very helpful add-ons, you can create outstanding scenes.

The image made in Blender, before edits were made in Affinity.
What tricks do you use to create a realistic forest in Blender?

Due to the fact that these scenes are studies for an upcoming video, I tried to finish them as fast as possible and have some quick results. The trees, the grass and the car are models and 3D scans from the Blender market, textures.com, Blend Swap and the BlenderKit plugin for Blender. I modelled the terrains and the lake in these scenes and I also developed the look and feel.

A small trick I used to make the forest look realistic, is to add lots of big trees in the front rows and some more trees behind them to fill the gaps of the front row. Combined with the lighting and the effects on the top, it looks like a scene full of trees.

Where do you source your textures from?

For the trees and grass, the textures come along with the models. For the car, I used a dirty texture mixed with some car paint materials in Blender. For the water, I used a voronoi texture (build-in Blender texture). For the terrain, I used some simply mossy textures from BlenderKit and Quixel.

Generally when I use textures, the process is to transform and render every time, until I am happy with the results.

Why do you choose Affinity Photo for your post processing?

Affinity Photo to me is a powerful application with some very good post processing tools. I love the live filters and live effects, and along with the Tone Mapping and Develop Persona is the main reason I use Affinity Photo every time with my renders. The live effects in Affinity Photo work like very powerful video processing applications and is very easy to change them every time you want, until you achieve the final image.

When I render a scene, I always take as many passes as possible to control it. For these scenes, the basic passes among others are: Ambient Occlusion (AO), Shadow, Mist, Environment and the Beauty pass.

The AO and Shadow pass allow me to further control the lighting and the shadows in the scenes. Usually, I use the Multiply or Overlay blend modes. The ‘Mist’ pass allows me to control the levels of mist and the depth of the scene. Sometimes, it helps with the lighting when the light source comes from behind. Furthermore, the Mist pass can help when masking the extra smoke and the fog that I usually add afterwards using brushes.

Generally, the tools I use to combine the different passes are Blend Modes in the Layers Panel and some colour adjustments.

After this, to add more character to the scene, I use the Vignette filter and the Depth of Field alongside some pixel layers with additional colouring and extra effects created with brushes.

For the final look and feel of the image, I use the Tone Mapping Persona, where I usually make some adjustment to the colouring (saturation/vibrance), some tone compression along with detail extraction to add some extract details from the smoke and the atmospherics.

Dramatic lighting starts to be added.
Extra mist goes in.
The rays of light and some colour adjustments are added.
The vignette is added.
The colours are adjusted, taking out some of the warm tones to give a more haunting feel.
Curves are adjusted to get the right tone.
The final image is born.
Our favourite piece is the cabin in the woods, how did you create the rays of light?

Many thanks! There are two ways I normally use to create the rays of light. The first one is with Blender. I set up the scene with the rays I want to render and the passes I use and then combine them in the post process. The second way is to use some ray brushes I find on the internet, alongside some images with ray overlays.

Usually, one of the above works fine for my artworks. But if not, there is a third way by drawing directly in a new layer the ray light (usually with a soft edge brush) that is suitable for the artwork I want to create.

The scene prior to having light rays added in.
The scene after having light rays added in.
How well do you find Affinity Photo works alongside Blender?

Affinity Photo works very well with any application that one may use. I found it very helpful and very handy to post process 3D renders and come up with great results.

I advise other 3D artists to try Affinity Photo to create the final look and feel to their renders and experience the differences in speed and functionality between other software and applications.


You can see more of Dimitrios’ work at dimitrissakkas.com, Instagram and Vimeo.


Artist relations
Charlotte is an illustrator and arts lecturer who is passionate about the creative industries and is now part of our artist relations team. Her interests include mid 20th century inspired design, comic books, board games, movie memorabilia, baking cakes, feminism and yoga. She shares her 1960’s home with her graphic designer husband and her toddler son who likes to hide her iPad. Get in touch with Charlotte if you have work you have made in Affinity apps to share with us, or tag your work with #madeinaffinity in the usual places.
Credits & Footnotes

All artwork copyright © of Dimitrios Sakkas and used with permission.