When the Blender World Cup contest opened for 2008, I couldn't resist challenging myself by entering. The basic idea was to create a big tower with an Asian feel to it, so after gathering many references of Asian-style buildings and towers, like the famous paintings of the Tower of Babel created by Pieter Brueghel the Elder, I started modelling.
After some development, I created prototype houses, mini towers and a palace and assembled them into a city (Fig.01).
Slowly my idea materialised (Fig.02), but I was still missing a concept for the front scene. I thought about an architect tearing his hair out while staring at a broken miniature model of the tower or a scene on a street with lots of people. But none of those felt right for a monumental tower - everything seemed too concrete. The end of the contest was still more than a month away, so I took a break to seek inspiration.
While doing so, the city grew and grew (Fig.03) and so did the performance issues. I had to split the scene into four different parts to get rid of the lags: the city, the tower, the foreground scene and later the sea. It turned out that this wasn't bad at all! It gave me the kind of freedom over the different elements of the scene which I needed. Moreover, the wonderful side effect of reduced render times made work on this project even more fun.
While modelling, to get the level of detail necessary, to make it interesting, I started to arrange the different image elements in relation to each other (Fig.04). After some struggle, I finally found the right format and composition for the lowest frequencies of the image.
With all the fundamentals were laid, the detail work could begin. Luckily, I came up with enough new ideas to make the rest of the process run smoothly. The only thing that still gave me a headache was the dress, but after some good advice from the community, the path for the final touches was clear.
Some sky bleeding, blooming here and there, colour gradients and little details like the moon or the whale fin - and viola! The work was complete (Fig.05).