Exterior Walls, lighting, and waterspouts…

Exterior Walls

Over the past two weeks I’ve been texturing walls…lots of walls.  I’m trying to stay away from repeating texture tiles typically used in video games.  These are relatively quick to implement, but they have “that look”.

Here’s an example that uses tileable textures on repeating geometry. The effect adds complexity quickly, but the repetition is very obvious.


I’ve opted to paint each wall,  I feel this will preserve more of a hand crafted nature of the temple and allows me to stay true to the original block placement (at least those documented).  The downside to this approach, is that it’s some what tedious, and a little more time consuming.   File size could become an issue when dealing with larger 4k textures.  The largest file sizes I have so far are around 14 mb for a 4K exterior wall. Because the dimensions are quite large, I’ve tested converting the original png to a mid range jpeg without noticeable loss in quality, and the file size is significantly smaller….around 2 mb.  Once all the textures are finished I’ll do a batch conversion on the main texture folder.

Entrance to the first pillar hall.
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North exterior wall.
The rear outer wall.
South exterior wall.




Lighting still poses some questions.   Ranke suggested several ways of allowing natural light into the space.  In the 1st pillar hall the main door would allow light to stream in.  He believed there was a 13cm gap in the ceiling slabs at the back of the room to allow the darker areas to be illuminated.  I added in a row of celestial windows to the 2nd pillar hall.

Celestial windows at Karnak.  Source from the website: https://arsartisticadventureofmankind.wordpress.com/2013/03/11/art-of-ancient-egypt-during-middle-and-new-kingdom-periods-the-egyptian-temple/

These could only be placed on the north side of this hall, the south side needed allowances for the stairs to the roof.  The 4 storage rooms in the sanctuary had narrow vertical slits in the exterior wall that allowed light to enter.  I’m having trouble finding additional means of illumination.  Were there oil lamps or some kind?

Roof lighting sources
Exterior placement of the windows.
Interior placement of celestial windows in the second pillar hall.



I’ve added two waterspouts to the upper north and south corners of the temple.  These are based on the spouts found at Dendera. The roofs had small openings at the rear of the temple to allow excessive water to drain off.  I wonder if the roof was slightly slanted to direct the water towards the back of the the temple?

Arnold, D., Bell, L., Finnestad, R. B., Haery, C., & Shafer, B. E. (1997). Temples of Ancient Egypt. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press. p223

I noticed that there are some hieroglyphs on the bottom portion of the spout at Dendera, but they’re a little hard to make out because of the resolution of the various images I’ve sourced.  If anyone has higher resolution images of this, it would be of great help.


The above is a time-lapse of the sculpt I did for the lion portion of the spot. Hopefully there will be time to go back and update the a few of the proportions of the lion. The lion and base were brought into Substance Painter for detailing.




May the floors be with you…

Just to preface this post,  over the next two days I’m going to be a blog posting machine. I’ve been sitting on a few unfinished postings that need to go out before I get to far along in the process.  I was debating whether or not I should combine them into one giant omnibus blog posting, but I think I’ll keep them separated for easier viewing.

Now on to the floors…….

……which I needed to rethink.  The more I looked at the them the more I realized they were a little too rounded….almost puffy, and I wasn’t loving the direction the textures had taken.  Seen below, the floor slabs are much tighter than my original attempt.

Anscient Temple of Karnak in Luxor - Ruined Thebes Egypt
Anscient Temple of Karnak in Luxor – Ruined Thebes Egypt. Licensed through stock.adobe.com
Columns In Dendera Temple
Columns In Dendera Temple. Licensed through stock.adobe.com


I ended up combining the floors in each room, added a lattice to each section and flattened the top quarter to get rid of the puffiness.

Three of the four floor sections: The Column Hall, 1st Pillar Hall, and 2nd Pillar Hall

After that, I went around sharpening some of the corners.  The UV’s were reapplied to each area as a whole, which would make future updates an easier task to accomplish.



The stairs leading from the column hall to the first pillar hall.


The floors for the sanctuary and adjacent storage rooms.


Robes and Priests….

I’m investigating populating the temple with a few Priests.  I think this will help establish a true sense of scale during the VR experience.  Given existing time constraints, these will be non-animated characters.  But, I am hoping to have them posed (similar to the dioramas at the Museum of Natural History in New York).  I’m not sure if they’ll be doing their daily rituals or if it would be a slice of time during some kind of narrative.

Diorama from Museum of Natural History Licensed through stock.adobe.com

Besides establishing height, I’d like to focus on the model’s clothing.  I’m having a bit of a challenging time finding specifics on what priests would wear during that time period. Looking over statues, and hieroglyphs of priests, it appeared that the main priest wore a leopard skin slung around their left shoulder.

Standing Priest Wearing Leopard Skin, from the Walter’s Art Museum
Berlin, Neues Museum


After doing an initial sketch (trying to make sense of how the clothing is draped) I discovered that that’s not the type of priest I was looking for…..which as it turns out is the UAB (or Wab) priest.

From the Turin Egyptian Museum.


I did a few sketches based off of the images I found.



I wasn’t sure how the sleeves were attached.  At first I thought they were float somehow….which didn’t really make sense.  I then read that they were sleeves of a shirt (obviously), so I updated the illustration below.


I noticed that the priest seem to wear some kind of necklace.  I’m trying to track down some reference, and found this (see below)…..however I’m not sure if this was just for the pharaoh or also worn by priests.

Cairo Egyptian Museum The Treasure of the Royal Tombs of Tanis

Now that I’m getting close to the final stretch, I’m bringing on some additional hands to help with some of the outstanding elements.  Sean Zhang, an excellent character modeler from Ubisoft,  is going to help build the priests.  My initial idea would be to treat the human element more stylized and representational, so that the focus would be the clothing.  But, it would be cool to have a little more details, maybe the skin could be colourless and have a different texture, like that of a mannequin?

Here are a few of pics of Sean’s initial sculpts.


We’re looking into Marvelous Designer for the clothes creation.  Have a look at their impressive showreel.


I’m finally at a stage where I can begin to texture the various components.  It has become a slower process than I initially thought, largely due to the amount of existing information in the lower quarter of the temple.  I’ve been hand painting/sculpting each section before I can then go back and apply the hieroglyphs.  I haven’t had a chance to really use Allegorithmic’s Substance Painter before this project, so I thought I would brush up on some new software.  It definitely seems to be allowing me to pick up the pace somewhat.

Below are some of the elements I’ve begun to address.



My first attempt at a limestone ended being a little too pink, and had some odd ridging when scrutinized up close.

Screen Shot 2017-06-25 at 10.24.00 PM

I’ve decided to have exterior surfaces more weathered as they would be constantly exposed to the environmental conditions.

I should point out that I was way off with how I originally though the screen components between the columns were constructed.  I had built the cornice encircling the entire top of the component, not realizing (at the time) how these elements were almost fused with the columns.

column_for_blog copy

Above are the textures I created for the relief on the columns.


I revisited the criosphinx.  Hard to believe it started as this:


I forgot to include this in an earlier posting.  It’s a time-lapse construction of the criosphinx (captured in Zbrush).


I found the front and rear paws to be a little too rounded, so I went through and added more definition.


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The North Criosphinx base.  I might go back (time permitting) and add a small cornice around the top of the pedestals (similar to the ones found at Karnak).

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Using Autodesk Sketchbook (which has some fantastic line creation tools), I created a winged sundisk that can be used throughout the temple.  Variation of this can be made after it’s stencilled onto the geometry.


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Below are the alpha’s used for the Torus Moulding.

So, the cartouche I used was completely off the mark.  I found it during an initial search (this is from a was at Karnak).


Below is the new cartouche relief (thanks to Jean for pointing me in the right direction) that will be stencilled around the cornice on the outside of the the temple.


The entrance to the first pillar hall.


The covetto cornice at the Royal Ontario Museum is the initial inspiration for the entrance to the first pillar hall.


I’ve been working through the interior temple this past week.


Trying to figure out which pillars go where.



It has become the proverbial two steps forward, one step back as I find I’m constantly rebuilding elements from where I started.

For example, the entire model was built as one continuous shell.

Screen Shot 2017-06-25 at 11.18.57 PM

I thought that this would make it easy to texture.  This approach ended up making modifications a time consuming and tedious task.

Instead, I have been dividing up the various components archetecturally.  Which is also taking a little more time than I thought, but the end result will be more structurally accurate.

I’ve separated out the ceiling into individual slaps.  I’ll need to adjust the size slightly (they might be a little too small at the moment).