I want to make an ocean stretching to the horizon. Here's what it looks like currently:

Ocean with not-flat horizon

Blender file here: ocean-test.blend

IMO this looks more like I'm looking up a wave and less like an ocean stretching to the horizon (which is what I would want). Shouldn't the horizon be a flat line?

Here's an actual photo, how can I make my water look more like this?

Real-world photo with flat horizon

  • 2
    $\begingroup$ No idea if that may need a big amount of geometry, but should take into account earth curvature. What about using a simple deform/bend modifier? $\endgroup$
    – lemon
    Aug 28, 2019 at 16:54
  • $\begingroup$ I have problems with this all the time, It's difficult to make a terrain seem endless without killing your computer, especially if your making an animation. I hope someone will come along who can answer this. $\endgroup$
    – Millard
    Aug 28, 2019 at 18:36
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ A guy called Dylan Neill has made a tutorial for a large ocean that looks quite good: youtube.com/watch?v=CwJrb3vjAaA& $\endgroup$
    – moonboots
    Aug 28, 2019 at 19:57
  • $\begingroup$ Nice work! It looks like a great start! One thing I'm noticing is the clouds. In the photograph, note how they are smaller, almost perspectively going back to the horizon, and not touching the horizon. There's also a color/haze shift where the horizon touches the water. Additionally, the photo above is shot higher up (like from the deck of a cruise liner) whereas your render looks like someone in a dingy. I also agree with everything @mcc's answer below (focal length, etc.). $\endgroup$
    – mhulse
    Aug 29, 2019 at 18:42
  • $\begingroup$ @mhulse, I'm more worried about the water here, never mind the sky for now. I do agree the sky isn't super :) $\endgroup$ Sep 3, 2019 at 15:37

4 Answers 4


You need to reduce the focal length of your camera drastically, increase the size of the ocean, make the ripples more and smaller and flatten the angle of the camera in relation to sea level.

EDIT (added): Take a close look at the original picture how imperfect it is! :) Why is your picture so perfect? :) :) The human perception is trained to interpret subtle things like those imperfections. Often "perfect" renders are looking "sterilized" and "unnatural" (NO critism implied!!!). Play with the depth of field of the camera and make it a little blurry in the distance. Then add some haze - just a little bit to obfuscate the "end of the horizon". Infinity and long distances are often obfuscated and blocked for example in movies and the human brain is tricked into thinking "oh yeah...I can't what's there in the disctance...it must VERY FAR FAR away, because I can't see it!"


Here's one approach which I think is an improvement:

Ocean with flat horizon

What I did here was, inspired by parts of @moonboots' link to https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CwJrb3vjAaA& (where they do a much nicer ocean, but one that is also a lot more computation heavy):

  • Ditch the Ocean Modifier
  • Create a circle of 4km radius, fill type Triangle Fan
  • Bump map the water material, input from a Noise node

Blender file here: ocean-test-bumpmap.blend

Bump map can probably be tuned, suggestions welcome. It's basically a Noise bump map with a Fresnel node controlling Glossy vs Diffuse Black.

Posting answer so that people can vote / comment, please do :)

  • $\begingroup$ Why did you ditch the ocean modifier? I think it's a really good way to make an ocean without killing your computer. $\endgroup$
    – Millard
    Sep 3, 2019 at 16:35
  • $\begingroup$ Because it generates geometry. And if I want an infinite ocean that would require lots of geometry. $\endgroup$ Sep 3, 2019 at 17:58
  • $\begingroup$ I guess if you're not making an animation that that's a smart thing to do. :) $\endgroup$
    – Millard
    Sep 3, 2019 at 18:45
  • $\begingroup$ I think the material could use a little work (not criticizing, just trying to give helpful feedback) To me, the sky and the ocean look like they don't quite belong together, maybe there's something you can adjust on the ocean material for that? :) $\endgroup$
    – Millard
    Sep 3, 2019 at 19:25
  • $\begingroup$ Found this regarding how to bump map somewhat more convincingly: blender.stackexchange.com/a/3229/20467 And I think the sky looks out of place because it looks a lot less convincing than the water. But I'll try to keep this conversation about the water and nothing else. $\endgroup$ Sep 4, 2019 at 18:51

The clouds in the sky should become smaller the further away they are. Currently it look a little like the direction of the sky is perpendicular to the surface of the water.

Additionally you need more haze in the distance (see picture of original ocean).

  • $\begingroup$ I agree the sky is ugly, and in retrospect I should just have used an HDRI. $\endgroup$ Oct 25, 2020 at 15:00

There's a very simple way to solve this. Just set the x:y:z ratio of the waves to be 1:2:1 or 2:1:1. It should look somewhat like the real ocean in shape.

  • $\begingroup$ I think the horizon would still look wavy that way. Post a picture of the result and prove me wrong! The .blend file is linked in the question. $\endgroup$ Oct 17, 2021 at 7:16

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