NOTE: I've turned off the visibility of the particle systems because leaving them on slows down navigating the models. Turn them back on if you wish.
This file only has two image textures: the sky and the bump image I used for the beach. Everything else are procedural materials and textures. The bump image for the beach I made from a small selection from an actual photograph of a New England beach. I used Photoshop to increase the resolution and then I used Pattern Studio software to create a seamless tile and the bump image. This scene builds on and improves some of my earlier uploads to BlendSwap. Specifically, it improves on the Sand Landscape, which was a Staff Pick. I adjusted the settings and color of the materials and textures in that file to get the look of beach sand. I also used the same stalk of grass that was in the Sand Landscape blend file, but changed the materials. And I used the same Mist technique.
I think the improvements give the Beach Scene file a much more realisitic look and feel. I created the water using the Ocean Sim modifier. It took considerable experimentation to get the color of the water right and to create a scale that fit the perspective of the rendered image. It turned out much better than I expected--at least in my opinion. If you look closely, you'll notice that the ocean changes color slightly as it gets closer to shore. This is typical as the water becomes more shallow, the water will look somewhat brighter. I achieved the look using a texture color ramp overlayed on a basic material for the Ocean and adjusting the alpha channels in the ramp blend the colors with the basic material. I also used a cloud texture for the Ocean to give it some additional texture and to make the small waves more visible. I made many attempts to get the Foam option in Ocean Sim to give me a realistic look, but the foam option seems to be more appropriate for close ups of the deep ocean. The cloud texture technique worked much better for the results I wanted. I live near the Ocean and just about every day, you will notice that the spray kicked up by the wind creates a haze or mist as you look out toward the horizon. I could have created this effect using the Compositor, but I wanted to see if the Mist option in the World tab could do as well or better. Besides, the mist controls give me a lot of flexibility and it has more of a 3D effect. I think it turned out quite well. The subtle mist you see in the background that begins about half way between the beach and the sky looks exactly like the haze/mist I see on my beach in the late afternoon. Additionally, the Mist option picks up the subtle colors of the sun and sky giving it a good match for the scene.
I modeled three types of Sea Oats in the scene: large and small with seeds and one that has a stalk but no seeds. If you've ever walked a beach with Sea Oats, you'll notice that they grow in isolated groups and that there is always a mix of Sea Oats with and without seeds. While not too evident, the small stalks of grass can be seen growing in between the Sea Oats.
The driftwood is just a quick model that took less than five minutes to create and texture. But I think it balances the scene. It seemed too stark without an object of interest between the foreground and background.
My goal with this model was to create a realistic ocean as seen from a typical New England beach. The scene is rendered with the Blender Internal engine and there are no compositing enhancements.
I'm not opposed to compositing as it can add a lot to a rendered scene. However, I like to see how well I can do with just the models, texturing, and lighting. That, and I'm still a novice and so it forces me to focus on getting the scene as close as possible to what I want and relying less on the compositing enhancements.
I'm very satisfied with the way the scene turned out. I could have made the Sea Oats a little more realistic, but I think they are OK for this particular scene.
The two images are copyright free. You are free to use the models however you like. It's just one of my many hobbies and I don't feel the need for recognition for anything I create. If you can use anything in the Beach Scene, then embrace them as your own and enjoy.
NOTE: I wanted to make realistic waves as the ocean rolls into the beach. I just couldn't make it happen. If you find a way to do that, I would appreciate it if you would post a comment with a detailed descriptions of how you did it. Thanks.