Yale Center for British Art
This one has been a long time coming. I’ve always been fascinated by Louis Kahn and eager to do one of his buildings in 3D. But so have many CG artists, starting with the legendary Alex Roman, and it’s been a struggle to find a motive that wasn’t already overused.
Recently, however, I read about the renovation of Kahn’s Yale Center for British Art, his last building, which reopened in May this year. I decided to go for it, and here’s the result. I went for the building’s post-renovation look, though I’m not sure if I’ve been completely consistent given that a lot of my reference material couldn’t be precisely dated.
On the technical side, this was built in 3ds Max and rendered in Corona, which I find performs well in confined spaces with a lot of indirect light. I took advantage of the denoiser added in 1.4 to speed up the rendering and increase the final resolution. Most images rendered in just a couple of hours on a single machine. The whole project took about three months, on-and-off.
The paintings are mostly actual pieces from the Center’s collection, but the sculptures aren’t. They’re a mix of self-modeled, self-scanned pieces and free assets-including quite a few from the Lincoln collection repository, which thankfully includes a lot of British art.
For this project, I modeled only the interior, but I wanted to have a bit of an exterior environment to appear through the windows. My first attempt to build an accurate environment consisted in feeding screenshots from Google Earth into Photoscan and rebuild the 3D model (what you could call the poor man’s Google Earth asset ripping). This wasn’t particularly successful, yielding a blobby, poorly textured model. So instead, I grabbed shots from Streetview manually and mapped them onto cards outside the building.
The concrete textures marked the first time I used Photoscan to build textures instead of scanned models. I basically shot many pictures of a large concrete wall and fed them into Photoscan, which rebuilt the entire wall and extracted one, super-high-res texture for it. Then came some patient cleaning-up work in Photoshop.
I used a Corona fog, which I found to work very well and didn’t slow down the rendering too much, to add some atmosphere to the shots. These atmospherics were fine-tuned in post using a separate element. For post, I used mainly ArionFX and a few tweaks in PS.
I wanted to use a movie aspect ratio for the shots, for a more cinematic look, which made it hard to shoot vertical compositions, hence there being only one in the series.
One word about the characters you can see in some of the shots. I started using assets from Axyz Design, which I’ve always found to work well when seen from a distance. However, towards the end of the project, I was contacted by the good folks at Humanalloy and asked if I wanted to try their brand new 3D people. It was too late for me to populate the whole scene with these (the sitting lady in the big hall is a Humanalloy character), but if you haven’t yet tried their free sample, make sure you do. Not only are these 3D people plausible even in close-up shots, but the Humanalloy team has actually managed to solve the vexing issue of hair.
One limitation is that the characters are only available shaded for V-Ray right now and converting them for Corona was complicated and lengthy since Corona doesn’t like the blending of SSS and non-SSS materials.
I think this is all there is to say about this for now. Below a few more images. Hope you like them and let me know if you have questions. As always, it may take a while, but I try to answer all questions (As I wrote before, I cannot answer questions left on Facebook since I don’t have an account).