3D modelling and animation

For this project I was required to produce a piece of work on 3Ds Max, which was very new to me. Since rendering times are very long, the only purpose of the short animation was to show the model.
Here is a description of the process I went through.

I chose to design a piece of architecture in a gothic style, which has always been one of my favourites. It is quite common to associate the word “gothic” with dark, creepy and cold scenarios, but the imagery I had in my mind had almost a romantic feeling, with soft lights and pastel colours.
Looking at examples of gothic architecture through the times, I noticed how this style has been reviewed and adapted for contemporary buildings. Since I am often inspired by nature, my aim was to review this style adding some organic elements to it. Hence, in my sketches pointed arches took the shape of maple leaves, and smooth round pebbles replaced the capitals of the column. The walls were not going to be built with stones or bricks, but they were going to have a birch bark texture applied to them. I was not going to design a house, but rather an airier space more suitable for a garden, for instance.


To facilitate the construction of the building I was going to create, at first I considered drawing the most complex shapes and paths in Illustrator and then import the files into 3Ds Max. However, in order to improve my modelling skills, I decided to rely entirely on 3Ds Max and study the various drawing possibilities that this software has to offer more in depth. I started my modelling work with the most intricate elements, such as the iron gate pattern and the windows decorations. During this fiddly process new unpredicted lines were taking form. Surprisingly these “mistakes” happened to look more interesting, therefore I modified my initial drawings accordingly.

While practicing basic alignment functions, I realised how complex shapes could be broken down to simpler ones in order to create the objects I needed. I found that I could also use auxiliary elements, not visible in the final scene, to help the construction and alignment of the objects. I tried to be consistent throughout the process, drawing splines and editing polygons as accurately as I could from the very beginning, otherwise they might have caused errors later. Most of the objects are extruded splines and I used editable polygons only when needed. In the end a good organisation from the very beginning of the modelling process revealed itself to be the key to a seamless workflow.

Almost all the materials that I applied were textures I downloaded from the internet or images I created in Photoshop, such as the floor with maple leaves. During this process I realised that applying and editing materials may require a lot of time and skills. Also we must consider the way they respond to lights. Because my knowledge on the matter is still superficial, I have not been able to reproduce some materials as I really wanted. An example is the roof of the porch, whose gloss of the semi-polished surface is not visible.

Another aspect that requires very much attention and that I want to learn more in depth is lighting, which do not necessarily have to be as realistic as possible. Lighting is a form of art that can enhance the atmosphere of a scene, give an emotional experience and help the designer to achieve his visual goals. However, there needs to be a balance between photorealism and fantasy so that the lighting do not appear out of place to the viewer. Sometimes lighting can also be cleverly used to draw the viewer’s eyes to one particular point in the composition. However, shadows are not less important. Besides giving the image a natural look, shadows are useful to integrate various elements in the scene. Sometimes they may suggest the presence of external objects or characters and convey a particular mood. In my scene the lights inside the house have an aesthetic purpose rather than functional, set to create a mood that is reminiscent of a fantasy world. I used only omni lights, as I found them more appropriate than spotlights to reproduce a soft ambience. Even to light the exterior of the house I opted for a low intensity blue omni rather than mrSky settings.

Looking back at what my ideal image of the house was, I can say I am quite happy with the overall result. What I would improve are the materials and study how lights can enhance architectural features and convey different feelings.

Observing the rendered animation, I realised I could also improve the timing, since some keyframes need to be eased and some parts may need to be time remapped.

Even after completion I consider this assignment an on going project that I would like to develop further. My idea is to convert this house into an interactive gallery where I can show my work, such as videos and still images, in order to make my portfolio stand out more.




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