A reconstruction of University of Pennsylvania’s College Hall, in a magical, atmospheric winter setting. Done for the SIG lab’s Holiday Card.
More WIP renders on my ArtStation
The most fun aspect of this project was modeling it: I took my learnings from my previous Deconstruction render and focused on modeling each wall brick and each roof tile.
Personally, I think that a huge aspect of believability comes from irregularities. In general, traditional texturing techniques can usually feel either too repetitive, or might fall into the classic procedural uncanny valley. Modeling everything by hand might be sometimes tedious, but it allows me to be slightly incorrect and to actually think of the architectural details necessary for realism.
With that in mind, I think a winning strategy for these kinds of environments is to model as much as possible, and to have procedural materials that can react to their context – for example, using curvature or occlusion signals. This also allows me to completely ignore UVs, which is a huge productivity win.
For Halloween, I made an alternative scene where I explored with procedural volume shaders to create a spooky whispy atmosphere. It was slightly inspired by LOTR’s Minas Morgul concept art.