Build a City, Data & Visualisation

Using X-Gen

Once we had our assets made we ran into the problem of how we would set the buildings onto the spherical model. I was recommended to check out a plug in called X-Gen. This plug in would allow us to generate an instance of a the model over the surface of a mesh.  For our inner layer we wanted houses organised in a grid like fashion, after trial and error we final got the effect we were looking for.

Here is an occlusion render of the model.


Once we had the positioning right, I applied textures to our model. I did this using the mountain texture plug in. This contrast between orange and blue gives a nice effect to the model, it also resembles the colours of the Barcelona football team.

I used this technique again when working on the middle layer of our city.


Build a City, Data & Visualisation

Light Tests

In today’s lesson with Alec I decided to play with the lighting tools and see how we could capture it’s effects using the Arnold render. My first test was with the Area light, with this I changed the values of the light and set keys through out the timeline. This allowed me to create dynamic lighting over the stage. This technique will prove itself useful for our city’s light under the crust.

I also looked into material attributes again and seeing the affects I could use through Arnold. One effect I found very interesting was the “Emission Tool” This allowed me to make objects emit light themselves. This was also an opportunity to test out the feature of only rendering the object and not the background. This allowed me to bring in a custom background through Photoshop or After Effects.

I tried this again but with our city concept and adding a sky background.


Build a City, Data & Visualisation

City Assets

Once we had finalised our concepts for the city we began to create the assets needed for our scene. I began by making a container with varying colour and testing different placements. This asset will be used on our industrial layer of the city.

Barcelona is known for it’s massive port, being one of the largest in Europe. To represent this on our industry layer I decided to add cranes that are used to move shipment containers. I also changed the colours of the containers to red and yellow, presenting the colours of the Catalan flag.

Build a City, Data & Visualisation

Render Materials

In yesterdays class Alec gave us a brief lecture explaining lightning and textures in Maya. He essentially showed us the tools we can use to create materials and left it up to us to play around with them


Alec then went on to show how we could bring in an image over the skydome light. This could act as a reflection of a material to make the materil more realistic. I decided to mess with this effect by adding a camera that would rotate around a sphere with a maximum reflective quality. It gave a really cool effect of an endless loop of a beach in a sphere.

Build a City, Data & Visualisation

Change of Plan

While designing concepts for our city we felt there was still something missing. We felt a lack of inspiration and creativity when we were making our designs. We realised that instead of trying to rebuild a city structure we should try to build something that is visually appealing  and may not follow normal laws of reality. This allowed us to branch out into sculpture like structures.



‘Grande Disco’ by Arnaldo Pomodoro (1974)

Also know as the “Grand Disc” this piece is placed outside the Bank of America Plaza on ryon Street in Uptown Charlotte. This coined shaped sculpture used to rotate slowly on it’s axis and it was even possible for people to spin it themselves. I thought this feature was rather interesting and we could include it in our designs. city-centre-2


I really like the intricate designs within this sculpture. Our team actually descussed how the squares through out the piece could rememble buildings in a city scape. We played around with this concept and would look more into Arnaldo’s other sculptures.


“Sphere within a sphere”


Build a City, Data & Visualisation

Floating City project

Beginning of a Journey

Beata, Ruxandra, Alistair and I have teamed up to design a floating city for our Image and Data visualisation project. We have decided to base our city on Barcelona. We really like this city as a concept due to it’s beautiful architecture, both old and modern.

One concept that the group really liked was the idea of having three floating islands, on each would be a different aspect to the culture of Barcelona. On the top would be the modern aspects of the city, the middle would be the artistic aspect and the bottom would resemble the park life in the city. We found statistics stating that 10% of the city is park life so we felt this would be a key component to address in our city design.

I put together a mood board to start getting ideas and concepts for what these parts to the city could look like.


Antoni Guadi220px-antoni_gaudi_1878

Antoni Guadi is a Spanish architect from Reus and was well known for his practice in Catalan Modernism. His style was influenced by his passions in life; architecture, nature and religion. This combination would be the foundation for his colour and natural looking structures. Some of the processes that Guadi would love to craft with were ceramics, stained glass and carpentry.

This fact is crucial when we are looking into what materials we could use for our Maya models. I will research further and experiment with the shader tool for Arnold renders.

Here are some early concepts I drew to get some insight into what our city could look like.

barcalona ideas.jpg

After blasting through many concepts we still felt that the different parts to the city were very distant from each other. We decided we would combine the three parts together in a way that would intertwine the themes of Barcelona.

*Insert different ideas*