• Olivier Charles creates his vision
    of the Stockholm Public Library,
    a virtual world of Architecture and CG Art.
    The result is an EXPOSÉ 7
    Master Award winning image
    for Interior Architecture.

    CGSociety :: Tutorial
    28 May 2009, by Olivier Charles
    Ballistic Publishing is proud to release the digital Art Annual EXPOSÉ 7

    To celebrate, we continue the series of EXPOSÉ 7 Master Tutorials of 'Stockholm Library interior' from the spread on pages 50-51

    This concept was made for an International Competition of Architecture, for the Stockholm Public Library. The project was conceived by Armel Neouze, Jacques Gelez and myself, and we entered the image into the competition after creating more than 1,000 renders. We started our project with some quick drawings and some deep discussion.

    Two worlds, Architecture and Digital Art. From Peter Zumthor to Pascal Blanche, there's a variety of influences in my mind.
    I try to connect Architecture and Digital Art in my work. I hope you can feel it on this image.
    A project like this can quickly move and change without warning or restraint. Some ideas just didn't have traction, whereas other brainwaves were instantly set upon.

    When everyone agreed on the main visual, we created some 2D drawing and some fast 3D modeling to visualize and confirm the brainstorming.

    In this case, we started our discussion with the idea of a recessed library, backed by the hill, which rebounds on the idea of 'the archivist' of Schuiten.

    Finally, we decided to create an infinite wall of books, with a concrete wave access, with this particular shape. The double hyperbola, looking like a widening rock face was originally thought up by Armel. We considered changing the image name to the 'Mind Shaft!'
    After validation of the concept, Armel and Jacques detailed the 2D drawing (first plans and sections). I could then detail the modeling.

    In this case, the concrete shape was the main "specific" point. I started from splines and NURBs and quickly converted it into poly for better flexibility.

    The idea can move in parallel with the 3D model: shapes of the ground, bridges, stairs and walkways.

    3D permits the artist to explore many ways, and can highlight some specifics that can't be seen in 2D.

    We started with the idea in sections, so we had to translate it into 3D and then attempt to reinforce the concept for a good impact.
    I started from a map. I attempted to make the modeling with a displaced map, but the result was not terribly good. I only have 2Gb of memory at this moment, it's not enough to subdivide all of the wall.

    So on Stephane Brenier's recommendation, I made a low poly of a sequence of the wall (including the shelf, in multi sub-object), converted it into mrProxy and duplicated it.

    It's really fast, and more than enough for my little computer. Unless you are lucky, there is always a compromise between details and computer's capacity.
    For the rest of the modeling, it's quite simple. I used Spline with sweep modifier for the bridge structure, poly modeling for the stairs, and I finished with the mirror down the end of the shaft, to keep safe the idea of an infinite shaft continuing into the Earth. We had to create a realist concept, to show that it can be constructed in the real world. Here too, the 3D realm permits visualizing this problem, thus finding the solution.
    Go to page 2
    The UV's are simple, just an 'unwrap' for the concrete. In fact, the concrete is the scene's main material.

    I made a custom diffuse map, started from pictures in Photoshop, and after, from the diffuse, the reflection map, and the normal bump with some handmade joint (a grayscale image converted in normal bump with the NVIDIA Plug).

    I used the mrarchi&design material, for easy control of the glossy reflections. I like this material because it's really complete.

    I use mental ray for this rendering, because I've a good control of the color balance and levels adjustment with this engine (in my opinion, better than V-Ray, there's less color aberration with mental ray, and I'm not in a hurry for this image).
    So I can make quick tests to set up the fresnel glossy reflexion of the concrete, with interpolation (I'm not in a hurry but I'm not a masochist).

    I made the glass bridges with glossy refraction, always interpolated. Be careful though, it can be noisy if you don't set up correctly.
    At the same time, I set up the scene's lighting, with one skylight, and three Mr Skyportal (two for the external light, one for the ‘stair light’).

    I add a little blue color for the skylight, and yellow for the stair light. By coincidence, the background color is a basic plane with a picture of the site.
    There is no GI for this rendering.

    I only use Final Gather and Ambient Occlusion. Final Gather settings are simples: one diffuse bounce and a radius interpolation in the pixels.

    That's it... No revolution. The Ambient Occlusion completes the low quality of the Final Gather if I want a faster rendering.

    In Photoshop, I add just a little Ambient Occlusion pass and a little chromatic aberration and it's finished!

    I just reduce some settings for better rendering times (I don't have a render farm!): bigger interpolation on glossy reflections (no high level details), I disable reflections on the glass bridges (with glossy refraction, it's enough).

    I had some motion blur (the 2D motion blur of mental ray), and used the FG map. I always calculate the AO pass separately, and compose the result in After Effects.

    Olivier Charles graduated from the Architecture School of Paris La Seine. He started to work with 3ds Max 11 years ago.

    He switches between his two jobs: architect (with Armel Neouze and Jacques Gelez) and graphic artist and now he teaches 3ds Max at his old school.

    EXPOSÉ 7

    Olivier Charles

    Architecture School of Paris La Seine

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