Sculpt & compose the Garden of Damocles in 3ds Max

Introduction

I’m going to show you around behind the “curtains.” However there’s no special trick in this making of, it is more about the story and how I conveyed that message through this image.

statues in church

Garden of Damocles

Modeling

The modeling itself again was really simple box modeling. Pushing and pulling the vertices until I got the result I wanted. Also the site itself was heavily based on the references, so it didn’t require much extra thinking.

I used a few pre-made models for the “filler” objects or the ones with less importance. I spent most of my modeling time on the bomb and the plastic covers since I knew that they will play the main role here. Covers were done in Marvelous Designer.

box modelling

Final scene and bomb model

courtyard model

Empty courtyard model

cover models

Final iteration of cover model

Every man, woman and child lives under a nuclear sword of Damocles, hanging by the slenderest of threads, capable of being cut at any moment by accident, or miscalculation, or by madness.

John F. Kennedy

Idea & references

So bear with me! The whole concept came from a super simple feeling that I wanted to understand. I’ve come across some images of courtyards on the internet and had a strange feeling about it. Wanted to see why I reacted this way. Then I started to work on it and ideas came fast during the process.

reference photos of settings

Courtyard references that evoke a specific feeling in me

Composition

I had a very strong vision of what I wanted to have at the end. So I didn’t spend much time on finding good angles. I wanted a frontal shot and foreground elements for depth. The placement of the bomb was a bit tricky. To find the perfect size and spot to make it clear and understandable. Also to find a believable way to hang the bomb, which also supports my story.

material blocking and perspective

Iteration of the camera angle

Lighting

I like to play with the lights as early as possible, especially when I don’t draw a sketch to follow. In this case also, I started to play with it way before I had any materials. This way I can ensure that I hit the right mood before I go into details. I used a general dome light, a key light on the bomb, and a fill light from behind. Nothing fancy.

lighting rigging

Simple setup

Materials

Usually my materials are super simple. I don’t create complex blend materials. Just basic diffuse, glossiness, reflection, bump. That’s all. Then I play with the values until I get what I want. This time it was a bit different with some materials because I didn’t want to unwrap some of the models but still achieve a good enough look. So I did a few procedural materials too. In general I start off by creating something more realistic but then I adjust it to my needs. I am more concerned about expressing myself and conveying feelings than realism.

material editing

For the bomb and wall I used blend material to add dirt and rust where it was needed. The plastic material is super simple but mixed two types of bump. One is for the bigger creases and the other one was for the smaller ones

Post-production

As you can see it changed quite a lot during this phase. I wanted to add a strong punch to the image to match my story. Also attempted to give a bit of cinematic feeling to it. Something a bit more analogue, even if it means that I’m losing details. The final color tweak went through a few iterations until I was satisfied. I didn’t add extra elements to the image except some glow and flare.

statues in church colour value

Iterations

statues in church

Final image

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