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Studio I Project

This is the official blog for my Studio I project. For 10 weeks, I set out to replicate the Vitebsky Train Station in St. Petersburg, Russia. Modeling and lighting will be done in Maya, and texturing will be done in Substance Painter. It will be rendered with Arnold.

This is the reference image that I will be working from.

Below are a few more reference images that showcase the detail.

Here are closer shots of the trains in my reference image.

Progress Day 2

I have secured the perspective on the scene. Modelling can begin begin now that this is set.

Progress 1/11

My goal was to block out and get more modelling done. As I worked, I eventually realized while the placement of my objects was visually fitting the image, they did not fit in regards to actually realistic space. I had to scrap my progress and start over, which unfortunately resulted in not as much progress as I would have liked.

Progress 1/20

I have decided to use my reference photo purely as a reference instead of an image plan. Constantly starting over is frustrating, but it is better to find the problems now rather than later. As I am now modelling and looking back at the photo, I tried to find the actual measurements of the train station. However, I was not able to find any blueprints, so I went to Google Maps and brought a screenshot of it into Photoshop in order to establish some basic proportions.

The measurements are rough estimates, but they will hopefully aid me in my modelling.

In regards to modelling, I set out to block more of the scene out, and I established the arches, though I will have to tweak the width of them to better fit my proportions.

Progress 1/25

This past weekend I began work on the lighting scenario. I inserted an Arnold skydome and an Arnold area light, and I also created an aiAtmosphereVolume. The light doesn't go as far into the scene as I would like, and the shadows don't look like the reference image. I will continue to work on the modelling and lighting in tandem in order to bring it to it's best effect.

Arnold skydome at 0.090 intensity

Arnold skydome at 0.050 intensity

Arnold skydome at 0.030 intensity

Progress 1/27

The past day I added some of the small metal work that borders the windows. These will help the lighting as it blocks and creates shadows on the ground.

Progress 2/1

Over the weekend, I added more details, such as the lower decorations near the windows and the lamps. I also added walls and a ceiling, however, they are out of frame in the screenshots and in the render camera. I was hoping that adding the walls would help with the lighting, but unfortunately it did not, so that aspect will continue to need attention. I also added the arches that go above the arches. These upper arches hold the bars that hold the ceiling, and there is more metal work in between the arches.

The blue square that you see is a test of glass. It had little effect on the lighting as well, so I will continue to work on the two somewhat in tandem to get my desired result.

Screenshot from the render cam angle

Closer view of a lamp

Closer view of the metal work

Progress 2/3

The past two days I added the bars that rest above the arches and fixed the ceiling to be appropriately placed. I also added the railway planks and the thinner bars in between the windows.


In regards to the lighting, I added an HDRI to the skydome and replaced the area light with a spot light. It still needs work as the inside of the station is too dark, but I believe that it has improved because the shadows are more visible.


Below is a test render with a new camera move.

Progress 2/8

My main focus for this chunk was lighting. The contrast and the god rays are a major aspect of the reference photo, and it's the reason I fell in love with it.


I opened up parts of the ceiling and the walls where the Vitebsky Station has windows, but you cannot see them from my shot camera. With this, I hoped to allow the light from the skydome to enter the interior of the station.

I fixed some setting with my spotlight including it's placement in the scene and increasing it's intensity. I also added a gobo with a fractal attached to it in order to create the illusion of dust, but it currently isn't very apparent, so I will work on increasing that element.

In regards to the aiAtmosphericVolume, I adjusted it's density as I changed the paramenters on the spotlight, as I watched the Arnold renderer, in order to achieve a desired affect.

The left side of the render is blown out by the light, but I am finally achieving the god rays that I love so much.

Progress 2/15

I added the crosses on the upper level of the arches.

Progress 2/17

I finished the modelling on the foundation of the arches. Save for minor details such as simple bolts that I will put on the edges of the arch in order to change the profile, my modelling is complete; I would say that the modelling is 98% done. I also rendered out a few shots testing the intensity of the skydome, and one shot testing the density of the aiAtmosphere; in the first three renders, the aiAtmosphere is at a density of 0.100.

Skydome at 0.050 intensity

Skydome at 0.100 intensity

Skydome at 0.200 intensity

Skydome at 0.200 intensity

aiAtmosphere at 0.700

Progress 2/22

Here is a new render. It includes adjusted lighting and an animated gobo.

Progress 3/1

I have moved onto the final stretch, which is focused on texturing. I have UVed the objects that require it and began work on the dusty glass. I have included screenshots of the ground UV and one panel of glass. All of the glass look the same.

I have made three types of glass textures directly in Maya, but I intend on taking the ground into Substance Painter over the next few days to work on that. The objects in the far background will likely get textured directly in Maya as well. Other objects, such as the wooden planks which aren't seen closely, may also be done in Maya. I will likely test it and see how it looks. If it isn't to my standards than I will bring it into Substance.

Progress 3/3

These past two days I worked on the textures. The texture for the ground was made in Substance Painter, and I made a metal texture within Maya for all of the metal work in the scene. Because of the lighting, the metal isn't very obvious but you can see it on the rails and the through the highlights on the bolts. I still have to make a simple wood texture for the planks and a simple concrete texture for the buildings in the background. With the the material on, the horizon line has become more apparent, so I will work towards fixing that as well.

Progress 3/8

I have finished all of the textures within the scene. I have rendered out three versions: one with the lamps void of light, one with point lights with a consistent intensity of 15 in the lights, and one with the intensity being key framed to create an illusion of the lamps flickering on.

Progress 3/11 - Final

My ten week journey has finally come to an end, and I am happy to present my final product. These past ten weeks were filled with excitement when things went right and sadness when they went bad, but they always ended with pride. These days were packed with sleepless nights and tired eyes, but the joy I felt at seeing my final render was all worth it.

Of course, there are things that I would adjust, but that is standard with nearly every project. It's always hard to step away. Nonetheless, I am happy with my end result.

Please enjoy this final render and breakdown.

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