Blender used for church rennovation proposal

I used Blender for a rennovation project at a church. Blender enabled me to quickly sketch out concepts and illustrate the desired look.
Background: my niece, complained how her family’s church, (St Simon and Jude), had an industrial, bingo hall look. And while the family loved the parish community and priest, they desired a more reverent, classic look. But a constraint was limited funds for an upgrade. And then she added … “… It should be like the altar image at St john’s Catholic church,” meaning my church. and I’m 500 miles away from my niece. Then she proposed her plan –

THE PLAN – craft a mural to frame the altar, She asked me to assist. Yet there was one more hurdle, a brief time-line to get the work done. Of course. Sure… What major project isn’t rushed?

So, … given the urgency, and limited to a cost effective “upgrade” for the church, Blender naturally came to mind to sketch out and shape concepts. And, although I never modeled interior scenes, it didn’t seem too daunting.

Below is the finalized “Rough” for the proposal…


Initial photos of the church… Overall, complaints were … tired of the plastic wood paneling. And wanted a better centerpiece to the altar. Check, Got it. … a new altar painting Mural.


Recreated front of St Simon and Jude. Although not architecturally accurate, model provides close enough similarity to visualize elements. Meshed everything including candles, chalices, glass vessels, plants, flowers, and monstrance. You know, stuff.

Also, renders are working window captures. Using 100 samples. Which is Plenty good enough to illustrate points…


then used church photo images to build rough texture map …


A working render of the original interior. To establish a baseline for look. As well as a template to import changes. And to show contrast with upgrades.

Made the original crucifix a 2d mesh for simplicity. Note: I didn’t feel it essential to model out entire floor and pews.

Lighting – two area lights from the rear, illuminating front of the church. With added small spotlights in the ceiling, targeting the altar. mimicking actual St Simon and Jude lighting.


Next is the Church of St John altar painting – the goal being incorporate elements of St Johns painting into mural


but … the challenge was three fold.

  • The altar, the monstrance, plants, candles and angels masked much of lower portion of altar image.

  • painting was washed out by glare from sunlight. Moreover, the overall image at the horizon was too regarded as too dark,

  • background mural needed to be wider

  • So, searched for new background skies. More panoramic vistas.

    • Replicated St John’s crucifix image and photochopped image onto sky mural …


imported the mural “image as a plane” to the model. Easy day …


Yeah, not bad. Also added a floor. But … the sky was still too dark. Too stormy. So began searching for a “newer” sky.

Found a more panoramic sky. Which still also lacked point of brightness from above.
Using Gimp, added a “Supernova-filter effect” to create sun rays. Then photochopped in a sunbeam painting image - in sequential layers or increasing opacity.


onto the next post …

  • Initially I experimented with the 2D Christ, which worked. But behind was the very wide panorama sky. Which needed cut down.

  • Created 3D Christ next, using Mike Freeman’s decent base mesh. attempting more dramatic shadowing.

  • modeled a cross, then rigged Mike’s base mesh, The hardest part, by far though, was the hair.
    IMO 3D Christ “generally” looks good. Though loincloth is a place holder, using a Chokfur material.

  • Although the Christ figure was trimmed down, he still is too bulked up. More like “Bucky” from Winter Soldier. (which I liked very much.) In the future, I’ll hollow out the stomach and lean up the limbs. However, Time constraints won’t allow for 3D.

  • Background mural is looking much improved in third image


  • With experiment on 3d Christ shelved. … I returned to the 2D Christ. But instead of a 2d mesh, I resorted to a more simple Alpha billboard.

  • I then added Jesus’ mother, Mary and St John on Alpha billboards as well. Plus alpha plant billboards. The alpha billboards make it a breeze to change spacing and location for test renders. Seconds. without having to resort to photoshop adjustments.

  • And though liking it, IMO I think a user has to go through unnecessary steps to apply an alpha layer in blender scenes

  • That’s a wrap … 80 hours and done. The renders convey the concept clearly …

Thanks, Blender.


Oh … one alibi in the project evolution. Since the original altar painting at St John’s was captured with a cell phone, and the colors in the altar painting were washed out by sunshine, I searched for other alternatives to draw from.
Yet, in the end I returned to St John’s altar painting, though using a texture from “Diego Rodriguez de Silva Velasquez” “CHRIST ON A CROSS” 1630, the original painting which inspired the work at St John,



Been a long time…

Think you did a good job and a good deed. :yes:

Keep us posted on developments.



Yeah. Blender was the tool I needed. Indispensable.
And, of course, cost effective.
Allowed me to sketch out the concept quickly and illustrate the desired end state.

As far as progress, the pitch happens this week. Waiting on the outcome. As there’s a narrow window of time to make the concept realized

Also, just went to my church, Saint johns , to experiment with photogammery to capture the front of Saint johns. It’s an experiment for a project of mine.

Thanks much Shaun

Tried photogammery capture of the altar area at St Johns. Wooww, a dismal failure. Due to my inexperience. Needed to keep camera centered on main object. And tripod needed