Italian Villa

Over the next month and so I will be working on creating a mostly traditional style Italian Villa. This is a project that im doing as a final assignment for this terms environmental modeling. So far I have had about a half day to plan and have created a mirage of reference photos, as well as a simple blocked in environment which I have drawn over with some additional conceptuals. Each part of this ongoing project will require quite a bit of speed as I have 1 week for each modeling portion (Starting with the house) and then later on after props and such will be aiming to give it an aged look with texturing and lighting.

Some of the goals for this project is to not exceed a budget of 100k tris (Not including the roof so there will be modeled tiles). To maintain a model that can produce efficient UV’s. And be suitable for a game engine, however being in an engine is not part of marking, but I may throw it in Cry or try something else with it in the end.

At the moment I believe I have found a decent design but am looking for your own thoughts and opinions of the overall structure/composition. Although not directly part of the assignment, as someone with a number of years prior experience i still feel obligated to give the best I can in the time to make this professional.

Also to give a better idea of what im doing here is a prop I made last week on the same theme

Some of you who have traveled amongst software my recognize the screenshot as Maya, I will be switching between both Maya\MentalRay and Blender\Cycles through the process.

Today double posts have been a problem for me :stuck_out_tongue:



Continuing with the planing I have been finding more reference images online and importing some of them as planes to better visualize the idea. The majority of the detail work that will be done will focus on the fixed perspective of the camera, however I do still need to decide on other sides of the buildings. I believe there is still lots of room for making the architecture more interesting.

btw: How do you remove images in a post? I edited it out but it pasted another images in the end anyways :spin:

Chopped out the circular area, decided it was too large and not important enough for its expense. Did an overall redesign based off the previous post.

I was dissapointed to find out Blender doesn’t have nurbs or bezier modeling functions. My memory was trolling myself since I remembered having done a project during 2.5x using mainly curves. However the curve bevel came in handy for quickly making a mold for the arches. Kind of the same way I couldn’t make trees as conveniently after 2.4x series tree from curve script :frowning:

it’s a very nice concept
umm have u by any chance played assassins creed II (or brotherhood or revelations)? there’s a nice italian villa and it may help just to take a look at the design and decorations. too bad google doesnt have too many nice pictures of the “assassin’s creed monteriggioni villa” :frowning:
but i found this on youtube

Ah yes I have played that, as Iv been searching for reference I have found some photos that look identical to some of the in game buildings. I wouldn’t be surprised if its the photos they designed off of.

Unfortunatly I have only untill wendsday to get the bulk of the structure made so I need to start modeling hopefully tomorrow.

Along with some more design variations I have been finding lots of interesting things online, reading about history, geographical surveys, culture, etc and have been expanding on reference. Here are a few of them.

i see u really did ur homework :slight_smile:

after looking at the references i couldnt help but be curious, r u going for a modern look with all polished walls or sort of a medieval look with stone walls?
whichever way, the modeling should be interesting. i’d like to see how u’ll model those curvy little decorations. hopefully, i’ll pick up a thing or two

after looking at the references i couldnt help but be curious, r u going for a modern look with all polished walls or sort of a medieval look with stone walls?
whichever way, the modeling should be interesting. i’d like to see how u’ll model those curvy little decorations. hopefully, i’ll pick up a thing or two

The building needs too look about 100 years old, but the scene itself will be modern day. Even today you will see that alot of the buildings are quite old and made of stone or some type of cement.

Also for the modelling I will be doing all the final stuff in Maya, however everything should still be applicable in Blender. Only thing that’s not in Blender is the nurbs modeling. But if you get 2.5x there is a script which gives you that capability. My images show it all as being Blender for the sake of clarity, after all this is the Blender forum :yes: But there will be some branching out between software’s so there will be a somewhat different Blender version of this happening at the same time.

After fixing some minor scale issues, went into Maya to begin the foundation for the final model. I have to say I wasted a fair bit of time with nurbs, but thankfully I wont need to go back to them again. The instructors haven’t actually shown us how to do most of the things I am doing in this project, but my experience in Blender has transferred over quite well.

Using nurbs in maya hasnt been the greatest, it seems to produce triangles, ngons, and too many subdivisions. I searched through all the tool property’s and went through the object history but I couldn’t find a clean solution and ended up fixing stuff by hand after lofting. Im sure there must be a better way. I think I may have taken out too many polys in the cleaning process for the object in the bottom left of the image, but I have keep the curves around so it can be done again later if it needs to change. But overall I am leaving the poly optimization until later when im closer to budget (Currently at 1.1%).

(The tower looks like a cheese wheel!)

And a few additions to the reference collection last night, cant believe Google took pictures of so many roads :rolleyes:

i’v been googling…trying to find out what exactly is the difference between maya’s nurbs modeling and blender’s
cant blame myself since i’v never made a character so curvy that it needed nurbs :smiley: and i’v never used maya

as for ur tower, that shape is popular with nigerian huts :slight_smile: i’v been seeing those and i just cant believe cheese never came to my mind :smiley:

about ur 100k budget, does it take subsurf and particles into account?
cos if there’s grass in ur garden… … … :smiley:
and i must add, even in ur concepts, u do a nice job with colors…cant wait to see what the final render will be like :yes:

about ur 100k budget, does it take subsurf and particles into account?
cos if there’s grass in ur garden… … … :smiley:

Yes it does, however I do not plan on using subsurf, unless you are doing animals/people it usually results in excessive poly count. I am a bit concerned about the vines that I plan on putting in, will deal with it when I get there.

4.8% Budget

Still thinking about the arches under the tower, got to do something about it.

Its been a while so here is an update, I havent been able to get as much done as I would have liked due to varius unexpected events, however it is still coming along. I am a little behind schedule but hope to be back on track by the end of today.

First off the the current camera shot, added some landscape and trees, as well as having fun sculpting rocks for the walls in Blender which the teacher seems ok with as Maya does not have sculpting tools (Haven’t tried Mudbox yet), and of course retopo after thats done to stay in the budget. On top of that there are also roof tiles, have had some problems getting them to work perfectly in Maya due to the curved roof surfaces and I seem to be the only person using curved roofs in the class. Then for the floors I would like to try some different shapes and sizes of tile and fracture some of them to help with the aged look. But I have a feeling most of the detail there will be done via texture/Normal map.

Secondly are these tileable patterns I made, haven’t implemented them yet but was thinking I could use curves to deform them into some objects like furniture or hanging planting pots. But I will have to be carfull about the Tri count with these.

Lastly for now I wanted to show this object. I was working on this earlier on thinking it would be in shot but Im not so sure it will be in now, however I didnt like the old design so this is the new modular piece which in my opinion is far superior from the last.

it’s been a while since i’v come here myself…malaria’s doing a pretty good job of keeping me away from blender :slight_smile:

i’m not so sure about using normal maps on the floor…i’v experimented with them for a while…and they don’t look good on floors. especially when the camera is adjacent and close to the floor. but then again, maybe i’m not doing something right

and about the tileable patterns, if they r going to be far away from the camera, u might wanna consider just converting them to a 2D alpha mask. it’ll save u a lot of tris

i like ur camera angle and focal length…it makes the viewer feel tiny in comparison to the building

This maybe early since you are still putting the model together, but could you share some insight on the lighting arangement you are going to be using? For example the relationship between the sky color and the emission planes (or objects) than you will use?

The perspective views so far create an easy to imagine atmosphere, so I’m assuming you are already in the planning stages for the surrounding environment.


It depends allot on scale, the limitation is that it will always look flat when viewed parallel to the camera since it is 2D. You are right that it may not look good on floors but if the floor was small the viewer wouldn’t have the opportunity to see it parallel and it would be fine.

I cant use 2d planes for this unfortunately because of back face culling and the assumption that this would be viewable be someone in all directions, however i have found my tri limit is actually stretching much further than i anticipated. Ironically im only at 50% budget at this point and I appear to have quite a bit more content than most other people doing this project.


I will not be setting up rendering for Blender a few more weeks, atm setup in Mental ray is my priority since it is the part that will be graded. But yes i will be using emission planes when that time comes.


With only a few official weeks left on this project im on the final crunch to get the lighting texturing portions done. I have already unwrapped everything and have at least the base Diffuse set on 90% of the objects. About half of this was done via Photoshop, the other half I made using Mari 2.0v1. I taught myself Mari just a few days ago and I have to say it has been very easy and fun to get started, its basically Photoshop in 3D. Being able to view Phong and Blin materials realtime as im texturing has been wonderful, especially where making specular and bump maps are concerned. The only downside for me atm is there does not seem to be a PSD exporter which leaves me to manually rebuild the layer structure when Im done. Also Mari does not appear to have a normals Chanel either, leaving me to produce normals with either CrazyBump or nDo after the fact (I don’t have enough time to follow up on my original plan of baking sculptures for normals)

I wont be providing additional renders on Blender due to the complexity of the import/export process now that i will have about 100 textures in the project using Maya’s native .iff format which Blender does not support (I will batch render the textures when they are done for use in Blender). But for the meantime here is some random crappy screens from Mayas “high quality” view port, as well as some other stuff.

Screenshot from Mari

Samples of some Diffuse maps

It seems to me it is very good idea. Completely with you I will agree.

This looks great. For me as a beginner it is really instructive to see the development and the different stages.
I hope you’ll post some more (even if its not in Blender) and good luck with finishing the project.

Alright, yesterday was the final hand-in for the assignment. After a little over a month I wish we had another 2 months to work on it at the least, lol it can never really be done. So here is one of the renders from MentalRay

The three main concerns I have about this image is this…

-Most obvious is some missing geometry under the arch, it mostly had to do with this not being the camera angle i designed it to be rendered with, however it is still bad on my part for having overlooked it.
-Second is the orange roof on the wall, although it does have a diffuse map that looks nice in Photoshop it really lost its contrast in the render and ended up looking like a solid colour.
-Third of all is the sky, it needs more clouds or something to have more visual interest.

Now that its been submitted the Maya portion is officially over and next week I will begin the porting process to Blender/Cycles to do renders as well as a material study which i hope will contain usfull information for people reading this thread who are looking to achieve results at or around the realistic realm. These studies will include any of the surface types you see in the final render image from MentalRay. And don’t forget, even though there hasn’t been much critique this is posted in the critiques section so please don’t be shy in pointing out flaws :yes:

Thanks for posting. As said I am a beginner and would not really know what to critique in this render since I am not even close at making something half as good :slight_smile: If I would mention something that IMHO could need more attentions: maybe the texture of the (inside of the) arch in the foreground. It looks to blurry, not from being out of focus, but from having to little detail.
But overall I like the atmosphere a lot. Also the blue of the sky and the general lighting, have a feel as if… well I don’t know… even if there are no clouds, we might have some rain tonight :wink:

You are right about the arch texture, it should have been tiled. Almost all the diffuse maps in this image are 512x512 so they do not lend themselves well for detailed closeups if they are not. It looked better in the original camera angle due to distance which is why i left it as is. I don’t have the original angle rendered right now because it crashed during rendering and my home computer doesn’t have enough ram to do it outside of the studio :(, but i will get it from Cycles soon enough.