Making a Gothic Castle With Strong Silhouettes in Cinema 4D
On November 4th, CG Boost announced the winners of its 19th 3D challenge, Moving Castle Challenge, which was sponsored by the TPN-Accredited cloud render farm, Fox Renderfarm.
We are so proud to have an interview with the champion of the Moving Castle Challenge, Kay John Yim, a Chartered Architect based in London, specializing in Architectural Visualization/CGI. His artwork, The Mirage Castle: a Fantasy War Tale, received unanimous praise from the judges as its beautiful composition and strong silhouettes.
- Kay John Yim
- Chartered Architect based in London
- From: Hong Kong
- Artwork Caption: Set in the medieval times, "The Mirage Castle" was a mysterious city built on top of a gigantic rhinoceros, bringing both war and civilization to all the cities it conquered. Its every movement exerted immense force to the earth and the atmosphere, creating haze and sandstorms that covered its trace.
The Mirage Castle: a Fantasy War Tale © Kay John Yim
Clay render © Kay John Yim
Fox Renderfarm: Hi John, thank you so much for accepting our interview again! How do you feel about winning 1st place in the CGBoost’s Moving Castle Challenge?
John: Thank you so much for having me again! It was truly my honor to take the 1st place in the Moving Castle Challenge!
Fox Renderfarm: What software did you use throughout your pipeline?
John: I used primarily ZBrush, Cinema 4D and Redshift to create this image, however I am gradually transitioning to Houdini at the moment, as its fully procedural workflow allows me to iterate much faster.
Fox Renderfarm: What’s the inspiration behind your award-winning work? Any references?
John: I was inspired by the compositions and color palettes of Napoleonic romanticised war paintings for my entry. Unlike most works that I have done (which are mostly set in present) – my entry was set in ancient times, and I intentionally reference war paintings to create a painterly look as opposed to a photorealistic aesthetic.
Fox Renderfarm: The silhouettes are really excellent. How did you make it?
John: For the Moving Castle itself, I picked Gothic Architecture intentionally for its iconic silhouette - Gothic pointed arches and flying buttresses are easily recognizable from a distance, so I could iterate without worrying too much about camera positioning.
I then experimented with more and less foreground characters for optimal composition, and tested various camera positioning and cropping to best convey the Moving Castle’s colossal size.
Fox Renderfarm: A depth pass with color makes the image great and readable even from a very far distance, which is well received by the judges . How did you design it?
John: The final scene consisted of 3 primary levels of layering - the Moving Castle, the army marching on the sunflower field, and the protagonist knights - all embedded within a large fog VDB.
The challenge brief gave me an opportunity to experiment with fog VDBs extensively, which I believe was essential to add depth to a scene of drastically varying sizes.
Fox Renderfarm: Which is the most challenging part of this work? How did you overcome it?
John: As the Moving Castle was completely fictional, setting the scale and proportions between the rhino and the castle was the most challenging part. Ultimately the scale was primarily based on the camera positioning more so than realistic (gothic) architecture to arrive at a clear silhouette.
Fox Renderfarm: How did you finish the texturing?
John: Most of the textures are from Megascans with added noises and amplified AO (Ambient Occlusion).
I kept most of the shaders and textures fairly simple, with the exception of the sunflowers - which have exaggerated SSS (Subsurface Scattering) to create a painterly aesthetic under sunlight.
Fox Renderfarm: Lighting is also a vital part, how did you control it?
John: I used the sun as a hard backlight, to create separation among the layers of subjects and the background.
The fog VDB scattering color is slightly tinted to add interest and intrigue to the Moving Castle and the army. Though not physically accurate, I think it complemented the sunflower field well.
Fox Renderfarm: In terms of the rendering part, did you meet any difficulties?
John: My rendering time skyrocketed when I first added VDBs to the scene, so I stayed away from VDBs until I had finalised the general scene layout.
If you wanna know more about John, there’s another interview we’ve done with John Creating an Amazing CGI Project Staged at Hagia Sophia in ZBrush.
Please hit the link to know more!
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