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Underwater Scenes

Author: Alex Barrie
Web: Alex's 3d Skill House

There are several small things you can do, that when added together, give the imrpression of an underwater scene.

First, create your scene as though it was above ground. Don't bother with sky settings, because they will just get changed around later.

Go into the sky & fog editor. Change the fog, haze, and ambient colors to various shades of the color of your water, in this case green. The fog color should generally be darker than the haze color, but feel free to experiment with all three. They should all be different, however, to simulate more of a color shift. Raise the haze setting all the way to 100. This will create the actual appearence of water. Raising the fog will create a "murky" feeling along the bottom of your scene. The settings I used for the fog were (72 86.) The first number is density and the second number is height, but it is best just to move them around and see what looks best in each case. The shadow level should be set fairly high in order to cause the colors to have more of a shift.

The cloud cover and height should both be fairly high. This lets less sun through and and the sun that does get through is in varied intensities and places. Both colors should be fairly dark for the same reason. I recommend setting the sun color itself, to a color similar to your water color, but a little brighter.

The next thing you need to do is create a volumetric slab. Do this by Alt + Clicking the create water plane icon. Give your slab a wavy material and a color similar to that of your water. Next place it right in front of the camera so that the camera looks through it. This slab makes the water look more murky and helps the light look a little better.
Next, Create a very large parallel light and place it behind the camera. Place a material on it that has a wave-like texture to give the illusion of bent light on various objects in your scene.
Here is an overhead view of my scene to make sure you have everything placed right.
That should do it, but every image with this many elements needs a lot of tweaking....