By starting off with a sketch I immediately knew I wanted to create something old, dirty, grimy, urban and somewhat "sci-fi-esque" that was vast in size and scale. This led me to the Kowloon Walled City in Hong Kong. This is a well know place, so finding references was quite easy. I immediately fell in love with its size, scale, weathering and the amount of detail.
The modeling process for this piece was simple. Low res building facades were poly modeled in Maya in a modular way. Once the model was complete the UVs were laid out, one per object. External pieces such as window frames, hanging deck pieces (over and under), air conditioning units and pipes were also modeled in low res. I knew I would be relying heavily on textures and the paint-over so I did not get too involved when modeling the details (Fig.01 - 02).
Textures and Shaders
For this piece I used around 20 different 1k and 2k texture maps. Each texture has its own Specular and Bump map, so around 60 maps were created for the entire piece. With this number of different shaders and texture maps, it is critical to keep everything properly named and organized (Fig.03).
The shaders were set up with the basic V-Ray power shader. The Diffuse component was made from painted and color corrected photo-based maps, primarily collected from CGTextures.com. The Reflection component utilized a grayscale Specular map piped into the Reflection and Rglossiness slots. Reflection was used with the glossiness turned down (around .95), Fresnel reflections turned on, IOR based on the material properties and the subdivisions around 24-36 (always in powers of 12). The Bump component was also a grayscale, high frequency image used on all the shaders (Fig.04 - 05).