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    Create without Borders: How John Yim Recreated the Dolmabahce Palace in C4D with His Unique Style


    Recently, Hum3D just ended their Without Borders 3D Visualization Challenge with the winners announced! Hum3D, as a devoted 3D models provider who has helped 3D artists from more than 80 countries to save time on 3D modeling, initiated the challenge to remind us not to set borders and restrictions to our imagination, and travel without borders by creating 3D renderings in this special period of time.


    Fox Renderfarm, as the world’s leading render farm, spares no efforts spurring creation and realizing imagination. As the challenge’s sponsor, we are happy to find that our beloved old friend John Yim has won third place in the amazing challenge.

    John Yim

    John recreated the Dolmabahce Palace with Cinema 4D, Redshift, Rhino, Speedtree and ZBrush. Its sophisticated composition, well-made models and John’s unique lighting style earned him praises and compliments from the jury.

    Ottoman Legacy - Dolmabahce Palace

    Comments from the Jury:

    Yurii Lebediev: “I adore pictures with soul. And this is the case. Not just hyper-realistic render but great attention to the mood and vibe of the moment”. Martin Krasemann: “Love the poetic atmosphere that is getting out of this image”. Alessandro Maniscalco: “We love the happiness and colors of this picture. The beautiful atmosphere is everywhere and the compositing is very good. Great compositing and environment objects…”.

    Agnieszka Klich: “The image of the palace drew my attention instantly. It tells a story about the place – thanks to this the author added extra value to the visualization. The building not only has a monumental look but the composition of the image also gives an impression of some mystery behind it (by giving us – the viewers – the possibility to be unseen observers) which we are willing to uncover. The soft color palette gives the place the ‘inviting to visit’ look. Great framing, nice color balance, and story included… all the aspects that make the image successful”.

    Fabio Allamandri: “This image is a little bit over exposed for my tastes but I like the easter feeling very much. Lots of details! Very good job!”.

    Maciej Ptaszynski: “Great mood and very nice composition. Beautiful render!” Jacob Norris: “Fantastic work on the architecture and atmosphere in this piece. The flower petals floating in the air and the strong glow from the lighting help to make the artwork feel magical”.

    Emanuele Serra: “This work immediately caught my eye, I did not know Dolmabahce Palace, but as soon as you look at this work, you can feel the history and magic of that place. I like how the author reinterprets that place, using a very poetic light, increasing this feeling even more by using petals that rest on the water, while a sailing ship plows the sea towards the palace”.

    Arseniy Korablev: “Festive and solemn artwork. And besides, beautiful and very detailed!”

    Nicolas Wirrmann: “The amount of modelling work is impressive”.

    Stephanie Schenck: “This render is more like a painting, effectively capturing the feel of visiting the space, with all of the dreams, immersion, swept-away-ness of the scene”.

    Ralph Huchtemann: “This one has a very special composition with the boat at the bottom and the tree branches coming from above, which give the palace a frame. Another special thing about this one are all the falling leaves. Very unique composition”.

    Ottoman Legacy - Dolmabahce Palace

    John was so kind that he accepted our interview again. He not only shared his inspiration for the art creation also elaborated on how he modeled the palace in Rhino, how he created the surroundings and his symbolic lighting, and so forth. Please check out our interview and enjoy your journey to the Dolmabahce Palace with John.

    Fox Renderfarm: Hi John! Thank you for accepting our interview again. Congratulations on winning third place in the Without Borders Challenge, how do you feel about it?

    John: Thank you very much for having me again, I feel really honored to win third place in the Without Borders Challenge!

    Fox Renderfarm: Speaking of the theme of the challenge, why did you choose Dolmabahce Palace as your inspiration?

    John: I started the project “Ottoman Legacy: Dolmabahce Palace” as a challenge to myself - to recreate the most ostentatious and most ornamental facade within the timescale of the “Without Borders” Challenge.

    Dolmabahce Palace is one of my personal architectural favorites and undoubtedly one of the most vivid legacies of the Ottoman history, but the existing palace as it stands now has aged over time, and its extravagance undoubtedly carries a stigma. As such my concept was to portray the palace in a photorealistic yet poetic manner, with a monumental yet welcoming atmosphere.

    Fox Renderfarm: The Dolmabahce Palace you created is very detailed, could you share with us the modeling process?

    John: I initially searched and downloaded as many architectural drawings and photos as I possibly could online, placed them all within a PUREREF canvas, and referenced them at all times while modeling. I also researched for historical drawings of the palace, which gave me the idea of adding in Ottoman trade ships and the array of water-front trees - both of which no longer exist.


    I used primarily Rhino and ZBrush to plan and model the main Palace building.

    I first blocked out the main shape of the building in Rhino referencing architectural plans and elevation drawings. This dictated the primary scale and the proportion of the building in relation to its openings, front-gate and surroundings.

    Recreating the facade ornaments looked like an overwhelming task at first, but they were in fact largely derived from a handful of ornamental modular elements sculpted and retopo-ed in ZBrush. These modular elements were then imported into Rhino to be further developed (cloned in grids or arrays etc.) until they resembled ornaments of the existing palace.

    Ottoman Legacy - Dolmabahce Palace - ZBrush

    I ultimately created 5 unique ornamented facades in Rhino, which were then exported into Cinema4D, proxied and instanced based on the main shape of the building that I originally blocked out.

    Ottoman Legacy - Dolmabahce Palace-c4d

    Ottoman Legacy - Dolmabahce Palace-c4d

    Ottoman Legacy - Dolmabahce Palace-c4d

    As for the surroundings, I took a bit of artistic liberty when setting up the trees and the river - in reality, the trees are scarcely spaced and the existing location where the palace sits no longer serves as a trade port, nor does the historical water-front view of trade ships exist.

    The water-front “tree-array” was essentially a single Cherry tree modeled in Speedtree, instanced along the water-front with randomized scales and rotations. The colors of the cherry tree petals are slightly desaturated so as not to pull too much attention away from the main building, but rather helped frame and compliment the grey marble colors of the facade.

    Ottoman Legacy - Dolmabahce Palace-c4d

    The river was a plane with a slightly-displaced water shader, scattered with fallen cherry tree petals (Cinema4D Matrix) to create a warm and welcoming atmosphere overall.

    Fox Renderfarm: You have chosen a unique perspective to give this work a great composition, could you tell us how you set the composition and layout?

    John: Trained as an architect, I always approach my renderings with a one-point perspective at the beginning and throughout the look-dev process. Once I am happy with the model and the shaders, I would move my camera around virtually in search of a different perspective that is either more informative or conveys a better story of the building.

    In the case of “Ottoman Legacy”, the final composition was taken up largely by the river from an off-shore view perspective. Although the close-up one-point perspective render turns out to be my personal favorite of all WIP renders, I believe the off-shore view perspective tells a more comprehensive story of the palace.

    Ottoman Legacy - Dolmabahce Palace



    Fox Renderfarm: In your personal artworks, lighting is always an important part that makes the picture so poetic in this work, could you introduce how you set the lighting and made the hyper-realistic render?

    John: I used a Redshift Dome Light together with a Sun & Sky Rig to light the scene.

    Ottoman Legacy - Dolmabahce Palace

    Ottoman Legacy - Dolmabahce Palace

    Ottoman Legacy - Dolmabahce Palace

    As in most of my projects, I find my preferred lighting settings by trial and error, for instance, I would rotate the Sun & Sky Rig until I get a sun angle that elevates the atmosphere of the scene without overexposing and negating too many details. The dome light in the scene was linked to a sky HDRI which served as ambient light and the backdrop sky.

    The final rendering came straight out of Cinema4D Redshift without any Photoshop post-production. However, I did spend a considerable amount of time tweaking the Redshift “bloom” & “streak” settings to achieve the final look, in addition to utilizing an “F250” LUT that ships with Redshift, adding a warm tint to the overall image.

    Fox Renderfarm: How long did it take to finish the work? Did you meet any difficulties when creating this work? And how did you solve it?

    John: It took me about 2 months to complete the project. I have faced a lot of challenges – one of which being long rendering times.

    “Ottoman Legacy” was one of the most detailed projects I have ever worked on – the main building alone consisted of over 1 trillion polys. Previously I would have created a low poly version of the scene, but I took the challenge as an opportunity to see how far I could push the boundaries of rendering in Redshift, for the sake of retaining as much detail as possible.

    Serenity II Kiyomizu-dera © John Yim

    Serenity II: Kiyomizu-dera © John Yim

    Fox Renderfarm: Any other things you want to share with the CG enthusiasts?

    John: I learned that in order to work efficiently on detailed scenes like “Ottoman Legacy” one has to utilize as few modular elements as possible to maximize computing power and to minimize rendering times. These could be done by instancing and rearranging small-scale modular elements creatively to create entirely different models, as I have done to most of the ornaments but not to the extent of the entire scene.

    Pioneers into 2021 © John Yim

    Pioneers: into 2021 © John Yim

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