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 The Florentine Library
The Window Seat Central Light
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I have always loved the sight of old places with their weathered bricks, cracked plaster and wind chewed wood. A picture of something old feels mysterious, like it wants to be explored. Luckily for me I got the chance to wander around Italy taking pictures of crazily detailed frescos and beautifully made marble facades. At the end of the trip I had 60Gb of digital pictures and I knew I wanted to create a new texture set infused with the feeling of the Renaissance.

Need More books Reading Stack
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One of my favourite designs in the new set texture is the blue floor tile from the Piccolomini Library inside of the Siena Cathedral. The diamond tile design is so unique and the crescent moon symbol in the middle is simply the icing on the Cake. With the source of the floor tile being a library it seemed the logical choice to create a scene with tall ceilings, large column and lots of books.

While in Rome I had the chance to visit the Santa Maria Dell'Anima which is a tiny church off the beaten tourist track, but it has one amazing feature, an unusual roof support design. The large columns inside of the church are extremely tall like tree trunks and the beautifully decorated vaulted ceiling is sprouting from the top like a golden canopy sheltering the congregation far below. I really liked the idea of the organic roof, so I used a Greek cross shaped column instead, with the top flared outwards to create the impression of the vaulted ceiling growing from the centre.

Title Room with a View
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Initially I split the room into several height elevations so that the different floor tile designs could have well defined borders. Next I added the supporting columns as boundary poles between the different areas of the room and connected the sides with angled staircases. With the beautiful floor tiles taking up much of the colour palette the rest of room did not need to be so detailed and large blocks of white marble and stone were used on the walls to counter balance.

Luckily one of my previous maps The Edge of Forever featured an over abundance of bookshelves which were easy to re-arrange and adapt to the new room layout. Some objects had to be created from scratch (chairs and tables) and google image search helped with the reference of medieval designs. The final touch was a full decal pass with dirt around most of the column / wall borders and large amounts of dusty cobwebs covering most of the nooks and crannies.

The lighting of the room was designed to be contrasting temperatures, with a cool sky blue by the side windows and hot orange torch light in the middle. The initial setup did not have enough of an impact and all of the torch lights had to be increased to create a stronger glow effect. This worked really well with the white marble because it was easier to over bright the surface.

Watching Eyes Quiet Reflection
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The concept map was finished, several screenshots were released and I moved on to my next project The Bridge Crane. The new scene used higher density textures and external light maps, which really made a big impact on the visuals. With these new tricks under my belt I decided to go back and upgrade the library scene to have more bling.

Luckily all of the new textures were designed at a higher resolution, so it was a simple case of re-saving the images. The map object (bookcases and torches) textures were old and had to be rebuilt from new sources, because not all of the originals were available anymore. This created a domino effect, the objects were designed to work with old textures and the higher resolutions exposed cracks in their design. This was especially bad with the torches which had to be rebuilt from scratch.

What surprised me the most was the trouble with the external light maps, they did not support the hot glow effect and the marble behind all of the torches was dull. This led to some parts of the map needing different lighting models to cope with the visual effects and some weird problems with light across seams. For some reason the external maps had strange jagged lines and had to be manually fixed in Photoshop which took a while because of several compiles.

After much Photoshop editing of the light map (which is a cool feature) and all of the texture upgrades the new library scene is finally complete again. The jagged lines are gone, the torch glow is back and the textures look crisp and sexy in super dooper high resolution.


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