When I started this project my main objective was to model a high poly of a real world object, preferably a sculpture and take full advantage of Zbrush’s materials to render it out. Since I wanted to concentrate on environments, an artistic street lamp seemed the obvious choice. And what better city in the world to look for one than Paris.
The Pont Alexandre III is an arch bridge that spans the Seine, connecting the Champs-Elysees quarter and the Invalides and Tour Eiffel quarter. It is widely regarded as the most ornate, extravagant bridge in Paris and classified as a historic monument. The bridge was built between 1896 and 1900 and it features exuberant Art Nouveau lamps, cherubs, nymphs and winged horses.
I was very quickly able to gather a huge collection of photographs, depicting the lamp of my choice, to use as reference. At first I was considering modeling just the lamp itself, but it quickly felt like it was missing something so I added the three little cherubs.
I opted to make a few changes to the design – got rid of the details at the bottom (i.e. fishes, seashells and seaweed) and covered the cherubs with pieces of cloth (I have no problem modeling characters anatomically correct, but if I can help make one render general audience without loosing the intended style, why not go for it?).
For the lamp I did a base mesh for each section in SoftImage (XSI), which I then exported to ZBrush to add the necessary details. After decimation the lamp was 2.3 mil polys. For modeling the cherubs I relied on ZBrush entirely. As a starting point I used the standard base mesh, adjusted the proportions, sculpted the general appearance, posed each cherub and finally sculpted the finishing details for each pose.
From the very beginning my intention was to render out this sculpt directly from ZBrush, using its wonderful set of MatCap materials. I used the Tri_Shader_Deep_Bronze material by Chris Tackett that I found on the Pixologic website and adjusted the settings to better fit the overall look I was going for.
Here is the turntable. Rendered in ZBrush and post-processed in After Effects. Video resolution 720×480.
As another personal touch, I chose one render to change the location of the lamp/statue to Vancouver by using a photo I took a while ago as background. Somebody once commented that you can’t easily find this art style here, so I figured it would be a fun idea and put everything into Photoshop.
The final high poly version is 2.8 mil polys. Here are a few more detail shots and some wireframes.