Category: Alaska

Light from the sun setting reflected from water and melting sea ice just offshore from snowy coastal mountains.

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An orange sun is low on the horizon, last light at sunset, or the first light of sunrise, reflecting off snow-covered peaks. This image produced in Dogwaffle Howler’s 3D landscape renderer.

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Current progress: Roughing out of the hull sections has been completed. That was both much easier and quicker than I had anticipated. I need to do a bit of tweaking where the geometry is rough, primarily on prow and stern, both of which, as opposed to the rest of the hull, were somewhat more difficult shapes to model than expected. I also reworked the gunnels resulting in a much better fit. It would probably be more correct to refer to these as frame stringers. Almost identical parts will sit atop of them; these additional parts will be the gunnels.

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Anyway; the hardest parts of the project, the basic frame and hull are complete. Everything else will be relatively easy, but time consuming. Joining the hull sections into a unified whole, and then thickening the surface so that “bump”, a 3D texture or roughness, can be assigned to it. While inner birch bark is fairly smooth, there is always natural variation in thickness and bumpiness resulting from the lenticels (slit-like pores).

A second instance of the hull will be necessary for the texture of the inside of the canoe. The last task will be to make the ribs, thwarts (cross pieces), and a few odds and ends.

Here’s a test render in DAZ Bryce to see what the model in its current state looks like in the wild. It floats!

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Next time: more tweaking of the geometry and birch bark and wood textures.

A Snowy Owl (Bubo scandiacus) on a wintery, gray day

female snowy owl (bubo scandiacus)

A Female Snowy Owl

The Snowy Owl is endemic to the Arctic regions of North America and Eurasia. Males are almost pure white, while females, as in this image, have more dark flecks and bars in their plumage. The feathers of juveniles are heavily barred and may be primarily dark.

Snowy Owls are ground nesters. Unlike most owls which are most active at night, the Snowy Owl hunts during the day, especially during the summer. They subsist of rodents ad waterfowl; and will eat carrion when available.

Puppy Ray is a ray tracing filter included in recent versions of Project Dogwaffle. It can run in the graphics processing unit (GPU) of a computer. I have recently acquired a new machine which allows me to better utilize the GPU. Here are my first two experiments running Puppy Ray in the GPU.

The first is a night scene. I have a particular liking for such images perhaps because I have spent so much time living in northern latitudes where winter nights are so long. I also like the bluish cast common to snowy scenes and the contrast between dark and light. And the lack of illumination can make successfully putting together a pleasing image can be a challenge.

Then one when the sun is up, fjords. Water planes processed in Puppy Ray are semi-transparent, allowing for more realistic rendering; i.e. you can see down into the water. The refraction index of the water as well as wave height and frequency can also be fine-tuned.

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Another new toy! Twisted Brush Tree Studio from Pixarra. More thanks to Philip Staiger at for telling me about it. With Tree Studio you can quickly create 2D trees of several deciduous and conifer species.

A few trees made in Tree Studio added to the recently-posted image of a de Havilland Otter flying over snow-covered mountains gives it an entirely different look and feel. With a bit of work you would have a very nice forest at feet of the mountains. Tree Studio allows you to adjust the colors of the leaves as I have done here so that the birch trees can be in their autumn colors.

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For added realism a few of the png tree images generated by Tree Studio have been warped with another application.

Here is a screen shot of Tree Studio. The leaf color had been changed from the standard green to yellow. Tree Studios works with layers. A layer for the background, a layer for ground cover if, a layer for the trunk, a layer for the leaves. So that trees in the foreground will appear more realistic I suggest deleting the ground cover layer and adding another leaf layer behind the trunk as in this screen shot.

screenshot of Pixarra twisted brush tree studio

Twisted Brush Tree Studio

Further exploring Howler’s capabilities I rendered the very same landscape in Puppy Ray GPU as was shown in the last post, having been rendered in 3D Designer. Oh my! Taiga forest, I lived there.

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Here’s a de Havilland DHC-3 Otter (which you have seen before), operated by mythical Flying Moose Aviation of Talkeetna, Alaska, flying over a snow-covered mountain range. While Dogwaffle began as a 2D, raster-based paint program, Howler can model landscapes with multiple ray tracing utilities. This image, of stunning, almost photo-realistic quality, was rendered up in the 3D Designer utility. 3D Designer also has the ability to insert localized cloud formations of several types into your image. In this example you can see the leading edge of an approaching snowstorm just beyond the mountains.

outrunning an approaching blizzard

Running Ahead Of The Storm

Dogwaffle has an amazing array features – 2D, 3D, particles. There is also a large and growing number of video tutorials to help you figure out how to use them. Look here for more examples in the future including landscapes rendered with the Puppy Ray ray tracing utility.

Thin Air


When making images I may use something I draw/paint from scratch, objects and landscape modeled and rendered with 3D software, or photographs I have taken – sometimes I make use of all three in one image – whatever works. I do a lot of experimentation. In this doodle of stark, high mountains I am trying to “automate” the irregular presence of snow rendered in 3D; so that the snow line is not just that, a line. I haven’t perfected the process, but I think I am on the right track.

In this case I applied a terrain image map which I made in the PD Artist version of Project Dogwaffle (which, by the way, has a very useful 3D terrain modeling filter) to mountainous terrain in Daz Bryce. I duplicated the terrain with a snow material. Repeatedly applying a variety of random variations (noise) in the geometry of the two terrains gave the effect I was looking for. A bit of post-processing produced a rather nice result.

thin air - snow on the mountains

Thin Air

A newly-issued, twenty-nugget postage stamp from mythical independent Alaska commemorating the renewal of the service. This is the highest-denominated Alaska issue that I have seen thus far – delivering mail via dog sled to bush communities during the winter can be extremely grueling, even dangerous.  Though a modern, lightweight racing sled is depicted on the stamp, mail would have been carried by larger, more robust, freight sleds.



I have wanted to portray a sled and dog team for some time. I am still letting my ideas percolate and may end up depicting a less-polished looking, native-built sled.

It is believed that the use of dog sleds dates back as far as 3,000 years ago, when some populations migrated northward due to pressure from communities were forced north to Siberia by nomadic herding peoples. Sled dogs have been used in Canada, Samiland (Lapland), Greenland, Siberia/Russian Far East, Norway, Finland and Alaska.

Historical references of the use of dogs sleds in North America predate European contact. The use of dogs for transportation was widespread, both among the Inuit and other peoples farther to the South. The Alaska Gold Rush saw an increase in the use of sled dogs as transportation and for freighting supplies. This, along with the use of dogsleds in polar exploration, led to the late 1800s and early 1900s being called the “Era of the Sled Dog”.  Dog sleds were important for transportation in arctic areas, hauling supplies in areas that were inaccessible by other methods.

Dog teams delivered mail . In Alaska dog sled mail delivery  Dogs were   hauled 500-700 lb loads. By 1901, dog trails had been established along the entirety of the Yukon River.

Regular dog sled mail deliveries to interior communities in both Alaska and northern Canada, which would otherwise have no mail service during the winter season (October to may) was common during the late 1800s and early 1900s.  Dogs were superior to other forms of transport during the winter months. Capable of delivering mail in conditions that would stop boats, trains, and horses, they could cover long distances, work day or night, and traverse both frozen lakes and rivers and pass through trackless forests. The historic 2,300-mile Iditarod Trail was the main dog trail that carried mail from Seward to Nome. In recent years, competitive dogsled races have carried some commemorative mail.

Teams of 6-8 dogs pulled loads of between 500 – 700 pounds of mail. The dogs wore moosehide booties to protect their paws from the ice. Mail delivery by dog sled ended in 1963.

Dog sleds were used to patrol western Alaska during World War II. Sled dogs today are still used by some rural communities, especially in areas of Alaska and Canada and throughout Greenland.

The Danish military  continues to conduct long-range reconnaissance patrols in the wilderness of northern and eastern Greenland. Known as the Sirius Dog Sled Patrol (Danish: Slædepatruljen Sirius), the patrols are usually conducted by two sleds, and may last as long as four months; often without additional human contact.