Making Of Fantasy Mosque by Gurmukh Bhasin

Making Of Fantasy Mosque by Gurmukh Bhasin




Software used : Maya, Rhino, Mental Ray, Photoshop Time taken for final render : 100 hours In creating the Fantasy Mosque, I wanted to create surreal religious structure that blurred the boundary between reality and fantasy. To me, religious structures always have a magical presence to them, despite the religion it represents and this magical presence was something I hoped to create in my art work. To create the dream like feeling I always get from places of worship, I wanted to create something realistic in architectural detail, yet hint at the unbelievable with the use of exaggerated overall scale to the design of the entire Mosque.




I started this project by finding reference images of different temples from the Middle East and India, as well as reference images from different artists who have covered similar topics in their art work. While researching Indian and Middle Eastern temples I came across an image of the Sheikh Zayed Mosque in Abu Dhabi and I instantly became inspired. You can find more about this building here During the creation of this piece, architectural reference images were very important. I wasn’t trying to reinvent historical architectural elements such as the arch, dome or patterns, instead I borrowed the design of these iconic architectural elements from different structures and built myself a kit of 3D parts in Maya that I could arrange to build my own religious structure.

I made a list of parts, most of which I could repeat and change in scale, and began to model. My list included a dome, a tower, a large arch, a small arch, a switchback staircase, windows, balcony’s, a bridge, a handrail, floor tiles, two different types of meditation rooms, doorways, and ornamental details.



Once all the assets were modeled, I started putting things together in different formations till I found something I liked. I finally decided on two large arches perpendicular to each other. I knew that these arches would be the most important parts to grounding the project and influencing where the other architectural pieces would go. Next I setup my final camera angle based on these two arches before designing the overall building. I placed 3 large domes that varied in size over the arches that fit in the scene how I liked them, I added 4 towers in the back and I started to build up the front stairs and spaces in the foreground.

Originally, I wanted to use a realistic scale and amount of these architectural parts but once I got to this point in the project I felt like something was missing. It was lacking the magical feel I was aiming to create in the project. I then started to play around with the 3D model by adding more towers and domes to the back. By adding an over exaggerated amount of towers and domes, I felt I was able to portray the dream like magical feel I set out to create from the very beginning.



Once I was satisfied with the overall structure of the building, I started to focus on the details you would see closer to the camera. I used repeatable floor tiles to add some detail on the ground plane, and I manually distorted a few of the tiles to break up the perfect hard lines that 3D modeling gives you.



I used a displacement map to model cracks to specific tiles to show natural wear and tear to the environment. I created two flower beds and a river in the courtyard to add a splash of color to the overall image. I added a bridge over the river as a fun way to connect the different spaces in the courtyard. I placed windows, doorways and balconies into the switchback stairs and arch walls to soften up the building and give it a more human scale. I then finished the design by adding all the rails and architectural ornaments to add details on a smaller level.

At this point, the model was complete. Soon after, I was able to show a work in progress render to a few friends and the feedback I received was the fact that I was using too many domes and towers. I decided to do a basic paint over on my render to play with depth and atmosphere and to get an idea on how the image would look for the final. I also wanted to make sure that I was happy with the overall massing of the building elements before I went onto texturing and created the final render.




For this project I used one simple texture of marble brick.



with a bump map for variation for the majority of the building.


Since the final output of the project was going to be a still image, I knew I was going to paint in dirt and variation to the materials, and I didn’t want to do the UV’s for this project. I decided early on to texture the assets after I had modeled the entire building, because I wanted to make sure that the parts I had scaled larger or smaller had possessed the same brick size, so everything could relate to the human scale. I used simple projection mapping to apply the brick texture to the geometry, while making sure all projections had the same base point 0,0,0, and scale. This would ensure that all the textures would line up seamlessly, and wherever there were problems I could just paint over it in photoshop.


I used Mental Ray’s physical sun and sky lighting setup. When setting up the lighting, the most important part for me was how the domes were to be lit. I wanted the sun position to be from behind on the top left. I liked how this lighting setup enhanced the curvature of the domes with a bright highlight and a nice curved gradient that had subtle variation due to the bump map. I had the lighting setup very early in the project and only moved it around slightly for the final image. I usually keep my lighting setups rather simple in Maya because it’s so much easier to adjust the mood and exact look in Photoshop, especially if the final output is going to be a still image.


I used Mental Ray to render and only used a few passes for the final. I rendered out a base beauty pass.





Some material ID passes for easy selection in Photoshop. Once all the render passes were done, I composited them in Photoshop, while adjusting hue and saturation, curves, brightness contrast and photo filters to figure out the overall mood I wanted for the final image



Next I started to paint in dirt, destruction and texture in Photoshop to break up the repetitiveness of the brick texture, while adding some life to the piece. I added some grass to the cracks in the floor tile and some water to the river. The painted details softened up the stiff 3D render and added a slight painterly feeling to the overall piece


At this point, I was done with the image and went along to post it in numerous places on the Internet. I received some great feedback. An experienced individual told me that I should increase the max smaple leves in my Anti Alias render settings in order to get a crisper and clearer final output. At first I wasn’t going to re-render the project because my old computer could barely handle the file since it had close to 3 million polys in the entire scene


However, I had just built a new PC and decided that I could use this piece to test out the strength of my new workstation. I increased the sample levels and rendered out the new image in 2 hours. I noticed the difference in quality right away and decided to rework the final image. The old render was muddy, overly yellow and the sky was too plain. I adjusted the overall color with hue and saturation, a photo filter, added some clouds and more birds to the background. And after all that, the image was finally finally done

Final Output



I always strive to learn something new when creating new portfolio pieces. For this image, I learned a lot about render settings, pushing my computer to its limits (which required me to buy a completely new one), and figuring out how to cut corners. Ultimately I wish I would have spent more time texturing in 3D as I feel the piece would have turned out even better, but that is something I will save for another project.

I hope you enjoyed this making of. This project was a lot of fun to make and definitely inspired me to create plenty of new works. Looking back on it I know I can do a lot better now, but it will always have a special place in my heart as a bench mark in my artistic development. If you want to see more of my art please feel free to check out my website at Find me on facebook and message me if you have any questions.





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