Imaging and Data Visualisation – Reflection

Imaging and Data Visualisation has been a brilliant module, ranging from the projects to our tutor who was always there to give us a hand and to explain things to us individually. The projects set were creative and allowed us to experiment within Maya and also within Zbrush/Mudbox. It was nice to be given the chance to work on a project individually with the 3D head portrait. Taking some individual time to focus on one skill was very beneficial as there was no feeling of having to please someone else.

Throughout the module I have learnt quite a bit in Maya. One of the most useful skills I’ve learnt is how to adjust the render settings in preparation for rendering. During the floating city project we had difficulties setting up various parts, some things were just not working out. But since we had to sit and go through everything to discover what the problems were, we learnt a lot about the process and when it came to rendering the next time, things were much simpler. During class we were set various tasks within Maya, even though they seemed simple, I found them very difficult. It is challenging trying to keep up within class as it moves quite fast although if more time was spent in Maya self-learning during my free time, it would be easier. Hopefully next year I will be more organised in that way so as not to fall behind in class.

My modelling in general has developed although I still need more practise as I haven’t modelled anything I am proud of. After having spent some time in Zbrush I do prefer it over Maya. Hopefully during the rest of the course I can use Maya and Zbrush together to create intricate sculpts that can be animated whist learning more about their interfaces and the workflow used between the two programmes.


Final Compositing of Belfast City Model

Once I had all my modelled components ready to put together in a modern city scene I made a few test renders without any materials, but added two arnold area lights on either side. My section has used a few assets from Erinn, Michael and Jack, this including a crane at the rear view, a smaller tower, the waterfront model at the front and power lines by Jack. I had modelled a watermill which is visible in the 1800’s section.

I am happy with the outcome as I feel I have achieved the low poly look we were going for, and to a certain point successfully depicted a modern Belfast, which in reality isn’t as clustered as I would have liked to depict.


Jack’s section, the base (see image below) was influenced heavily by Belfast’s role in the industrial revolution. The cogs are working hard to keep the propellors of the city spinning, thus keeping it floating. The propellors were an idea as they resinate with those on the famous Titanic ship.


4Image Courtesy – coolvibe

The steampunk image above was the kind of feel we were going for when it came to the overall look of the city, especially with the mechanical/base section.

Erinn’s victorian section was also based off these kind of vibes. Sticking to the muted colour scheme with plenty of housing whilst showcasing some older buildings/elements of Belfast I feel this section turned out very successful also. Michael’s 1960’s section depicting the troubled time in Belfast also turned out brilliant, you can see parts which are crumbling. This section also shows building/construction thus showing that at the end of these times Belfast started to renew itself and grow again, despite the damage. (Images below)

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After putting the model together I started to texture the top section. We had agreed on making this section more colourful and vibrant to contrast with the other eras in time.


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I didn’t include any lights in this section as I thought it would be bright enough after rendering took place. I am fairly happy with how it turned out, although I do feel maybe it looks a little out of place in comparison with the other sections but nevertheless, this was intended.

Below shows some final renders of our scene along with the final video, one without the statistics and one with. As our rendering ended up taking 3 extra days than intended, we never got the time to produce good quality motion graphics as we had hoped for.



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Without statistics below

With statistics below – this version isn’t the quality we had intended, the music seems to have warped a little after converting the video to a mov. file. The video above has the clear audio intent without the statistics and had also been darkened down a bit to increase contrast with statistical values popping up on the sides.

Floating City Maya Assets

Group Members : Jack Ellison, Erin Morrow, Michael Lilley (Links to blogs below)

Once we had decided to divide our city model into four sections, including the bottom mechanical part which will work to keep the city afloat, we began to model some small assets in maya which could be used in each area, such as windows, building blocks, tower blocks, trees and lamps etc.

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We decided upon which sections each of us would start building for, I was assigned the top section which is the modern part of Belfast, (mainly 2000’s onwards).

As we have decided to model the city in a low poly style, I tried keeping my assets low in detail/tried maintaining lower divisions. We took inspiration from the images below.

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Group member blog links

Erin Morrow –

Jack Ellison –

Michael Lilley –


Floating City-Conceptual Development

As our floating city will be floating mid-air we had to think about how it’s surroundings would look. We thought of a few ideas which might fit our ideas of the city colour scheme, but in the end decided that to keep it quite dull and ‘foggy’ was the best route to go due to the weather here, low visibility at times and the ‘dirty’ atmosphere in general.

Whilst painting some variations of backdrops, we had thought that a dark background would bring out the lights of the city better. After learning that less lights would quicken the rendering time, we could no longer include the lights we had originally planned, so therefore our overall finished look had to be altered.

I painted some variations of backdrops but we decided to stick with the dull brownish hints.

Trying for more realistic
Darker Blue

Our final choice felt more natural with the floating city model we had in mind. You can see some Irish fields below the clouds with the sunny horizon in the middle. As a group we felt this would work best with the industrial feel of our city.


I have been making some rough sketches of possible floating city shapes in my sketchbook, images shown below.


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Some initial ideas we jotted down as a group for the overall structure of the city. (above)

Below are a few very quick colour concepts I did in photoshop.



The photo-mash above was a quick concept I did in photoshop to convey our idea of how the model might look.

Colour palettes

As a team we looked a bit into colour palettes for the main textures of Belfast’s building. There is an online site name CSS drive (link here) which generates colour palettes from an uploaded image or url. Although the colour we used were not directly taken from this palette it did give 1800s and 1960’s sections of our floating city something to go by.

citybelfastImage Courtesy – Belfast City

From the image aScreen Shot 2017-03-15 at 18.52.46bove the colour palette below was generated, thus giving Erinn and Michael the idea of keeping the 1800’s and 1960’s sections with neutral tones such as muted oranges, blues and creams.

For the base, Jack had decided to go for a steampunk vibe, mainly using golds and rustic colours.

The top section I am working on will have a little more variation in colour to show Belfast’s growth, excitement and change. I will have more vibrant blues, creams and browns. I haven’t taken colour from an image for this section.

I came across an amazing sculptor, Jeroen Van Kesteren, who creates cardboard airships which are packed full of detail and originality. I originally thought that this level of detail would be amazing to have at the top section of the city as we could have power cables linking the buildings together to show better communication, have plenty of buildings tall and small clustered together with motorways below this. But time and low poly styling were an issue so the more minimalistic approach was the way forward.

airship1airship2airship4airship3Image Courtesy – kesteren