3D Models


The Vatican City, Stowe, and others

The Vatican City, Stowe, and others
The Vatican City, Stowe, and others
On this Page:
St. Peter's Basilica
Vatican City and Environs
Making the Vatican Buildings and Texture Maps
Stowe House
Poser, Houdini, and Octane Experiments
Ancient Greece
(Click the images for a lightbox slideshow)

St. Peter's Basilica

Created: June 22, 2021
Modified: June 22, 2021
First draft

I made this model of St. Peter's Basilica by assembling its various parts from models in Google's 3D warehouse (now run by Trimble). I imported the models from Sketchup Pro into Carrara Pro 8.5. I optimized the texture maps by consolidating duplicates to reduce load on the graphics card cache. These are some quick renderings of the base model for the Basilica of St. Peter.


St. Peter’s Basilica
St. Peter’s Basilica
Vatican
Vatican

The base model is available for free download under GPL3 license. The following zipfile contains the Carrara model with the consolidated texture files and low-resolution images of the statues to illustrate the model construction. The statues are photographs positioned on the model that are rigged to rotate so they face the camera, with bump maps and alpha layers created from the photo shading to enhance their 3D appearance.

The statue photos are public domain, and available in a high-resolution collection. In the following zipfile, the statue pictures have the same names as the low-res versions in the above download, so the contents of its directory can simply overwrite files of the same name in the above file's textures subdirectory for better quality.

These statue images already have an alpha applied outside to create the statue outlines. Carrara imports each statue image file as a texture map into a custom shader three times. I adjusted the diffusion color by adjusting one texture map with a diffusion gradient, then multiplying the second texture map with the result, to adjust the amount that the color gradient affected the final diffusion color. Then I imported the texture map a third time to add a bump map for each file. In Carrara's Shader Room, the top-level shader for the statues appears as in the first picture below. Each statue also has a "Point At" modifier attached to it in Carrara's Assembly Room, which rotates the pictures to face the camera, as illustrated in the second picture below. I found from a distance, the 3D appearance of the statue was more important, and it was not obvious that the statues were rotating to face the camera in animations. The third picture below is just a quick, 30-second render of the scene, without adjusting the lighting or shaders for the particular view.

Carrara Shader for Statues
Carrara Shader for Statues
The Vatican City, Stowe, and others
Illustrative Render of Statues
Illustrative Render of Statues

The first rendering below shows how the hi-res statues look from the ground--Hollywood quality, it transpired, even though I applied the same shader for the bump texturing to all of them, and some of them did need tweaking from the above distribution, as shown in the second picture below.

Basilica Statues from the Ground
Basilica Statues from the Ground
Basilica Statues, Close Up
Basilica Statues, Close Up

To reduce polygon count, the pillar arcades and balustrades are built with replicators. The first of the following pictures shows the four pillars masters that are replicated all the way around the arcade. The second picture shows the replicator settings for one of the main four arcade sections. After making one replicator that fit properly, I made four copies, swapped round the XYZ numbers for the other three, the moved them to the right place in the model. I got kind of tired by this point, so some of the extra pillars I had to add in addition to the replicated ones are not perfectly set on the ground, so if you have a close-up you may need to do a little manual tweaking. The good news is, I upgraded to a 4GHz i7 and GTX1650, so I might be able to get back to fix some issues now I don't have to wait so long for screen redraws. As far as I know, though, what issues there are with the basilica model are relatively minor.

The third picture shows the vertex model for the balustrade spindles. I modeled the pillars and balustrades by lathing a vertex model from a 2D plane in the the Carrara modeling room. The vertex models made a huge difference to performance. While I learned Hexagon for modeling, I actually really like Carrara's modeling room, and after I got used to it, learning another tool is really a pain, because I keep banging the wrong accelerator keys instinctively.

Colonnade pillar masters
Colonnade pillar masters
Pillar replicator settings
Pillar replicator settings
Ballustrade spindle
Ballustrade spindle

A number of CGI artists have shared images they made with the model. I'll put you in touch with them if you like them. :

Vatican City Skyline view
Vatican City Skyline view
Crowd in St. Peter
Crowd in St. Peter

Vatican City and Environs

Created: June 23, 2021
Modified: June 23, 2021
First draft

The base model is part of a larger scene containing Vatican city buildings, walls, and surrounding buildings. Some buildings are textured, some buildings are mass modeled, and some are replicated. I added trees and streetlamps, with dials to control the lamplight color and intensity in different zones of the model, This render took just under 48 hours on a 3.1Ghz i7, due to volumetric lighting, 3D fog scatter, and the size of the model:

Vatican City Skyline view
Vatican City Skyline view

Building the Vatican City model took me two months, after a prior two months modeling St. Peter's Basilica. Here is a view of the model environment in Carrara 8.5 Pro, with an Octane real-time render window on the right:

St. Peter
St. Peter

The model's bridge also has photos of its statues rigged to face the camera. The full scene also has mass models of the buildings on the other side of the Ponte Sant'Angelo, initially created by extrusion from satellite photographs. Showing the full scene with all buildings is too big a load on my humble graphics card, so most the following pictures have the visibility of various parts turned off. The first one is of Pigna courtyard. I cheat, and move the status on the roof for the best ground views.

View of Vatican Model
View of Vatican Model
View of Vatican Model
View of Vatican Model
View of Vatican Model
View of Vatican Model
View of Vatican Model
View of Vatican Model

Making the Vatican Buildings and Texture Maps

Created: June 23, 2021
Modified: June 23, 2021
First draft

To make the buildings, I exported a 3D model from Google Earth Pro, which is free, and can be installed fromhere. Google Earth Pro has 'layers' which include 3D data of the buildings with texture maps, which may be exported in GIS format. Additional layers of satellite land and ocean data may be imported as described here. The first picture below shows the default view as displayed in the Web version of Google Earth. The other picture shows the 3D layer with 'photorealistic' texture maps of the buildings only.

Google Earth
Google Earth
Google Earth
Google Earth

Then I converted Google Earth Pro's 3D data into .OBJ format and imported into a modeling program. Any 3D modeling program is suitable for import, given that it understands the 3D format conversion program you use. There are a number of ways to do it, and none of them are easy.

The full model, including textures and rigging, shipped in 3DS format. If you are interested in using it, please let me know on FaceBook or LinkedIn (links at end of page), and I will check if a license can be made for you, and how much it would be, but I would have to get it from Google, so it could be quite difficult.

Stowe House

Created: June 22, 2021
Modified: June 25, 2021
Second draft

I'm now working with Stowe on a 3D model ofStowe House, as it is one of the most beautiful Ducal estates in England, and, Stowe doesn't even have a mass model in 3D warehouse. I'm starting with Chatham House, the first image below. The main buildings are a real challenge, center. They have beautiful interiors and temples too, including one of the few Palladian bridges in the world (last image), which I think was in 'Discovery of Witches' on TV recently, although it might have been another one.

Stowe House, Chatham
Stowe House, Chatham
Stowe House, Aerial View
Stowe House, Aerial View
Stowe House, Marble Room
Stowe House, Marble Room
Palladian Bridge
Palladian Bridge

Stowe has being kind enough to share some scans of Chatham's original elevation drawings by Clough Williams Ellis, which are in their visitor center at Stowe, if you wish to see them.

Besides Stowe's own photos and architectural drawings, the most comprehensive asset source currently is Google Earth Pro, which constructs 3D models with texture maps that can be transmigrated into a 3D rendering program. However, the assets belong to Google, and when I sold the Vatican City project below, they had to replace all the objects with their own vertex models as a guide. To my knowledge, that is not illegal. Besides that, Google Earth draws 3D models with a single vector line, so everything is connected, and it’s almost impossible to edit. So I may use Google Earth's 3D models as a guide, but it's difficult to do, as they have to be ripped from the browser cache. For the amount of work it takes, it might be easier just to build vertex models from scratch. However the 'terrain' (the ground elevation data from the satellites on which Google draws its 3D models) is public domain, so my first step will be to build .3DS and .DAE models of the Stowe grounds from the elevation data and fill in the lakes and so on.

For the results from my last project using Google Earth, see the subsectionMaking the Buldings and Texture Maps for the Vatican City, below. A screenshot of the satellite view of Stowe in Google Earth Pro follows.

Stowe House In Google Earth
Stowe House In Google Earth

The most difficult part (for me personally) might be modeling the lions on the South Front. I've tried modeling lions before from DAZ and Poser models, and they look like Disney animals. There’re also ornaments on the roof palisades, and other statues in the grounds; but for those I can probably use the same technique of 'stereoscoping' a flat picture as in Vatican City, in the next section.

Stowe School, South Front
Stowe School, South Front
Stowe School, South Front
Stowe School, South Front

Poser, Houdini, and Octane Experiments

The left render is of the Daz3D Victoria 4 figure with HDR skin maps and hair grown in Poser 11, with an ear ring I modeled myself, imported into Carrara for rendering. Despite improvements to Poser, I still prefer the Carrara renderer. It only took a week to make the model and render Vicky, not including the extensive learning curve on Poser. The right render is of the spaceship in the Andromeda TV series, drawn in the Houdini 18.5 modeling environment with Octane. I really liked Houdini's methodological concepts, but I kept running into a lot of bugs, so I dropped it.

Andromeda
Andromeda
Ear ring
Ear ring

The Andromeda model, in Collada interchange format, is available for free download and without license at the following link:

Ancient Greece

Created: June 22, 2021
Modified: June 22, 2021
First draft

I had also started on a large model of ancient Athens, replacing the pillars with replicators as per the Vatican City model, above. But I dropped the project when someone wanted me to work on the Vatican City and the surrounding buildings instead. They had to tell me, hahaha, not to waste my time on modeling the deer running through the Vatican City grounds, because they were in a rush. Anyway, the first picture in this Athens set is of the roads around Athens as they were two thousand years ago, made by combining layers of satellite pictures in Google Earth. I was using the ground contours from the Satellite data to build the model upon.

Satellite view of roads around Athens
Satellite view of roads around Athens
The fire in the Acropolis
The fire in the Acropolis
Primitive Athens mass model
Primitive Athens mass model
Athens mass model
Athens mass model

The following picture is of the Minoan palace of Knossos on Crete. Again, I put far too much effort into making the interior perfect. I would have had to visit Crete to finish it, and for various reasons I ended up going to Rhodes, Patmos, and Ephesus instead. So I still have the model for it. It is 98MB in a single zipped Carrara file containing all assets, but the figure and oxcart are commercial, so I can't share it. If you're interested in this model please let me know and we can work something out.

Knossus 2.jpg
Knossus 2.jpg

The first image below is from the Knossos scene as far as I got. The right pictures were my attempt to make something more romantic. Most of their components are commercial too, so I can't easily share them either. But the trireme and temples, I did do some work on them that is totally invisible in the view I finally chose, which really did teach me quite a bit about how easy it is to waste time in 3D modeling!

Knossos 1
Knossos 1
athens 5
athens 5
Strider 2
Strider 2
Strider
Strider