Virtual gallery #6: In the morning…

Discover a virtual Parisian gallery made entirely in CG lit by a sweet sunrise!

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 previous episodes of this series, we showed various shots of the gallery and discovered the space.

This time, let’s just sit on a bench and contemplate Cali’s paintings upstairs… Just like with this previous CG painting showcase, we wanted to see how a little space evolves as the sun dances around.

This 10-seconds movie exhibits 3 paintings by Cali (100x100cm) in a nice sunrise light – make sure to watch until the end! 🙂

About this render…

Compared to the last renders that were made to explore the gallery and build a mental map of the place, this new video focuses solely on meditation and reverie when faced with Cali’s paintings.

She had this idea of a completely still shot where only the light would move. This of course moves away from the much more speedy videos we did before – and it was really nice to have this change of pace!

Lighting up the scene

In the previous episodes, we had a night-time scene where the focus point was the gallery itself; and most of the lighting was done by artificial lights like spots or wall lamps. Here, we wanted the sun outside to be the primary source of light instead of this artificial lighting.

So for this render, the trick I used was to have a strong sunrise HDRI for global illumination (downloaded from the CC0 free HDRI resource platform that I gradually rotated to simulate the sun movement.

This is obviously not physically accurate because the colour stays the same and the overall trajectory is just an approximation of the real curve of the sun in the sky; but I think it does convey the soothing feeling we were aiming for pretty well 🙂

Choosing a camera angle

The next step was to pick a nice point of view. Since the entire movie was to be shot from that angle, it better be good!

Again, the point was to draw the attention to the paintings – so we settled for a slight bottom view, and we only framed a few paintings to have them fully occupy the screen.

We kept the colour and specular maps I mentioned in previous articles to have some texture and reflection in the oil, and to make it more realistic.

Also, the “H” shadow of the front wall of the gallery immediately struck us as the ideal anchor point for the viewer; so we framed the shot and adapted the length of the movie to have this shadow move in a smooth and pleasant way.

Adding plants to animate the render

When we first did our little previz shots, we quickly saw that something was missing. The shadow of the gallery front window that runs on the wall was nice, but all in all the image felt too still, too rigid.

To fix this issue, Cali suggested we add some plants, just like in our “Coffee Time” painting showcase. The point was not so much to add colours to the image with a vibrant green but more so to balance out the movement at the bottom with some little animation at the top.

A calm colour scheme

Finally, the very monochromatic colour set was a way of blending everything together nicely and keeping the focus on the paintings at the center of the screen, because they are the only one with such harsh contrast.

It reminded Cali and I of our painting showcases that usually used yellow, brown or orange tones to create calm ambiances.


As always, this render was an amazing way of improving my CG skills! I’m still getting used to HDRI maps and global illumination, and thinking about the lighting of a scene is very interesting because it requires you to understand the space you’re working on completely to best make it shine…

I hope you’re enjoying this series of renders! 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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