View Full Version : Rise of the Dark Tower

01-15-2009, 06:22 PM
Rise of the Dark Tower
Maya – Zbrush – Phototshop – Nuke - Vue

This is a personal image I have been working on to for my portfolio and hopefully help me get more work. It was inspired after Steven Kings “Gun Slinger” series.
It's more of a 3d environment then a traditional Matte Painting, but I always get such geat comments from the people here I wanted to post here as well. The tower is constructed with simple geometry cubes and cylinders, I used alpha mask to cut out the silhouette of the construction. The cranes and scaffolding are planes with alpha mask. I modeled the terrain in Maya and used Zbrush to sculpted it and to generate normal maps. I render out several pass from Maya (beauty, depth, reflection, lights) the sky is a custom Vue sky with a Phototshop paint over.
Comped using Nuke.

Full res here: http://www.nolinestudios.com/cgtalkimages/darktowerfullres.jpg

I look forward to everyone critiques, I feel that I'm really close to having a great image but I'm missing something still.


01-15-2009, 06:32 PM
Hi Ryan

The structure itself looks pretty good in general. The first thing that strikes me is that the sky is really hurting the image. The quality is awful, and if you painted / used photographic elements to make a new sky that is sharp and has no / less grain it will instantly help. After that, take a look at the lighting. The rocks dont seem to be lit from that sky because you would expect harsh rimlight (particularly on the rocks to the left of the tower), and not a lot of fill.
If you rework the lighting and make sure all your elements are of good quality, you will be on to a winner.


01-17-2009, 03:01 PM
Thanks for the great feedback. I here is an update of the image, the sky has been reworked and has improved the image ten fold. I also added more rim light to the rocks on the left and tweaked the over all silhouette of the terrain. I also rendered out a camera move for the environment and made a small demo reel for the piece that includes breakdowns.

Download small 11.4mb here: http://www.nolinestudios.com/Reels/video/ryanwatkins_rodt_demowebsm.mov

Download large 45.7mb here:


You can view the full res image here:



01-20-2009, 10:44 PM
Very nice work. I tend to work in much the same technique, however I have yet to produce results as good as this... maybe you could give me some pointers?!

01-20-2009, 11:32 PM

Why do you keep making your sky out of focus? It makes your dark tower look like a model.

If the building were real it would be huge, the camera would be far away from it and the resulting depth of field would allow the tower and sky to all be in focus.

See if you can find real clouds that work with your lighting and the perspective of your shot.

Best wishes!