Virtual gallery #4: Going deeper…

Discover a virtual Parisian gallery made entirely in CG!

This article is also available on Medium.

Today, here’s a new peek at the virtual gallery I am currently building with Cali Rezo to showcase her artwork! In the last episodes of this series, I described the project and showed various videos that let us gradually explore this CG space.

For this render, Cali and I focused on the room in the back of the gallery. In this new 12″-movie, we’re exhibiting not one, not two but 6 of Cali’s paintings! Make sure to watch until the end 🙂

About this render…

In preparing this render, we dedicated quite a bit of time to improving the “lifelikeness” of Cali’s paintings. In particular, we added speculars and roughness to the objects (using a specular map) to reproduce some of the shininess that you can see in Cali’s oils on canvas.

I already had the chance to detail this process in a previous article about the “Nid/Nest” video we made with Cali last June. By adding various texture maps to 3d models, you can simulate physical properties like the glossiness of an object, its bumpiness, its creases and ridges, etc. This is called “physical-based rendering”, or PBR.

There are 3 kinds of texture maps I can add to my 3d objects:

  • the colour map: it’s what “draws” an actual painting on the canvas! Otherwise, if I didn’t have this image, the paintings would actually just be one-coloured stretched cubes.
  • the specular map: it’s how the object interacts with light. That second texture defines which parts of the painting are more reflective and which parts are more satin-like. The specular is why the spot shines in the black shape and also why the stairs is reflected in the paintings throughout the video.
  • the normal map: it “simulates” additional geometry on the object so that, instead of actually modelling ridges and valleys, you instead use a greyscale map to have the render engine compute them automatically — it allows you to get more precise bumps and to make it lighter in the scene

To better understand the effect of each, take a look at this line-up where maps are added gradually to improve the render – only the colour map, then the colour and specular maps, and finally the three maps all together:

Now, this time, we didn’t want to go into normal and bump maps because the point was not to “overload” the picture with displacement information. We stopped at the specular map level. But it’s already quite efficient at making the scene more realistic!

See how the lights “move” in the paintings as the camera’s looking around? That’s specular 🙂

Of course, we once again used depth of field on the camera to get a nicer animation and help focus the viewer’s eye on the right target: first, the paintings in the foreground; then, the stairs that take us deeper in the gallery; and in the end, the paintings on the walls.

Finally, as usual, we prepared the animation and framing for the camera using Blender’s previsualisation feature – here is the previz version (with no lights but textures):

Conclusion

Once again, this render was a great away of improving my skills in 3d! For this episode, I had to work on specular maps, on the modelling of some “background props” (like the door or the baseboard) and, of course, on camera animation…

I hope you’re still liking our virtual gallery renders and that you’re excited to discover more!

Feel free to react in the comments and, if you want to keep updated with our projects, you can follow Cali on her Instagram or me on the various social networks 😉

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