"Mind Fields" - Creation Walkthrough

I have just finished my recent project which I call 'Mind Fields' I wanted to make a detailed post outlining the work flow I took to get to the end result. I dedicate this to my sister who complained about my last piece and said I should make something 'pretty'. So I wanted to show her that 'brains and eyeballs' could be pretty too ;)

1 - Initial Modelling

I had already modelled the brain and spine in my last piece using Zbrush, I just needed to create the 'coxic' bone at the end of the spine which I did in 3D Max along with the rest of the scene. I knew I was going for a stylised scene so I didn't need to focus on too much detail.

I modelled wings using boxes and I used the loft object for the flower stem and I created the main flower petals using box modelling as well.

I used the bend modifier to shape the petals, wings and bend the 'butterfly' spines into the correct shape, so they appeared to be flying around the flower.

I used a capsule primitive for the rock then applied a noise modifier to give it an uneven surface.
Wing with base material

Eye ball with eyelid

2 - Modelling Detail and Base Materials
The next part of my work flow involved adding some more detail to the scene and getting some base details into the project.
I used the fantastic free plug in for 3ds max 'Grass-o-matic' I'll add a download link soon! With a bit of playing around I add a grass surface to the rock.
I also created a 'sky dome' using a half sphere with the normal modifier applied. I have it a gradient material then I created a bunch of atmospheric gizmo's to create the clouds.
I found a great tutorial on this process here - Creating Volumetric Clouds.
I also added some simple models for additional details, small flowers in the grass and hanging flowers off the rock and of course added my 'eyeball flower' to the centre of the rock.
Base Scene with Sky Dome and Clouds
3 - Materials and Textures
The third part of my work flow was to create materials for all the various parts and get things looking 'pretty' I wanted something bright!
I used UVW Unwrap modifier to get a base texture template for the wings, the took the template into photoshop to create the patterns for the wings.
I also created various textures for the spines and brains, nothing too complex, I just stuck to my idea of bright and colourful.
UVW Template
Wing Photoshop Texture
Brain-Butterfly Material Layout
Textured Butterfly
4 - Particle Effect
The next step was to create some particle trails for the butterflies. I used the max particle system to do this and created some spiral loft objects to act as the paths and particle emitters.
It was a standard flow, with 5-side star shape at about 130 amount with some random rotation.
I applied some mental ray glow materials to the particles to get a bright effect.
 Particle View for the 'star trails'
Particle Test Render
5 - Render, Lighting and Post Production
The final part of my work flow is rendering and lighting. I used a standard 3 point lighting system to light my scene, although I modified the sky dome so it would not receive shadows. Here is a great explanation on 3-point lighting setups
Mental Ray was the render engine used.
I used a final gather at medium, sampling at 16/16 Mitchel and enabled global illumination The final resolution was 2000 x 1500. The render took about 25mins on my beefy laptop.
Here are a few test renders that occurred along the way, that show how the project evolved.
Butterfly Test Render
Flower and Base Scene Test Render
Scene Test Render
Black Background Test Render
Sampling Render
The very last part involved a tiny bit of colour correction on the final render in photoshop, and here is the completed image.

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