I started out by making a flat 1 polygon box and subdivided it multiple times wit various fractal % to make it rough and uneven. I stopped when the polygon count was over 8000 to avoid invisible edges and keeping it smooth.
step 2 of 3
To get more reasonable shape I flattened it out down to ~15% with the Stretch tool on the Y axis.
I then used the Magnet tool to lower the part of the lake, raise the surrounding mountain and the grassy lookout point, where I later placed the camera.
I also added a 1 poly flat box to simulate water. I gave the mountain, water and lookout point separate surfaces for texturing.
step 3 of 3
The modeling is usually quickly done when creating landscapes (especially since no stones or trees were permitted in the contest).
The foreground lookout point was the only place I needed closeup details. I simply made it with a Turbulence and Fractal Noise procedural for the color texture, copied and modified to the bump map. For the grass I used a built in plug in - SasLite - to produce hair. I made the hair thin and green and adjusted diffuse and specularity.
The water is non Diffuse and only colored by its reflection of the surrounding textures. It only has Fractal Noise and Crumple textures for Bump Mapping. It's highly Specular and Glossy to get the details, but has no transparency because the viewing angle.
The mountain, grass and stony beach surface was the hard part. First it has a gradient Coloring layer to give it basic colors depending on its distance from the ground. I then added 4 varied procedurals (Crumple, Turbulence, Fractal Noise x2) with different Y-axis position along the object with falloff to limit them to certain areas. The procedurals was copied and modified to Specularity. The same for the Bump, but with a Gradient to make it more rough when the incidence angle is more steep.
The background is simply made with the built in SkyTracer plug in. Lighting is done with a single Area light acting as the off screen sun. Turned off ambient light and ray traced the shadows without Global Illumination.
The scene is rendered with medium anti aliasing, Adaptive Sampling and a Noise reducing filter.