Abandoned Church

After assembling the scene, we were finally finished our environment and now just had to figure out the best ways to show it off! We decided to have a series of stills to show off the models as well as our composition and each created a few.

As well as this, we had time to do the video we had been planning on from the beginning. For this, we took a lot of inspiration from Caitlín’s gorgeous experimental video she had put together earlier in the project. Lorna and I spent a while discussing what sort of shots we should have and then Lorna set up the cameras to render from!

I put these renders through FCheck to make short shots from different perspectives and then sent these on to Caitlín t o edit together as editing is something she is really passionate about and both Lorna and I felt that she would be able to approach editing them in a more creative and interesting way than us.

Honestly, I don’t think I’ve ever been this proud of a project. Working with my team was an absolute pleasure, every member was so supportive and understanding throughout the project and because of this there has been so little stress and I have enjoyed this project so much.


Building the Church

After getting all of our assets modelled and UV mapped we came together to finalise the layout of our scene and begin to assemble it.

In Lorna’s original church research she found that most churches are cross shaped, with a main body of  the church and a section off to each side. Jonny was in charge of modelling the floorboards so made a basic layout based on that fact. He showed us all this layout as well as a few church blue prints he had found during his research and we all agreed that this layout would be best for our scene.

From here we came together to create a basic blue print of where we wanted our props (minus the books/boxes of stuff/ivy, they would be added in later!) Lorna drew this out and made a key for each object, so it would be easier to place everything in the one scene.

We decided the best way to put together the scene would be to put all of our models on Dropbox and work from there, using a mac in our room to set up the scene. Lorna, Caitlín and Jonny worked together to add in all of the main things to the scene. I then added in the models which I had made for the scene.

There were however some problems when it came to putting together our final scene:

  • Caitlín and Jonny found it difficult to create a shell that would fit around the rafters as well as fitting the stain glass windows. We didn’t want to make the rafters too big, but also wanted to make sure that the windows were large enough to show off all of the amazing detail which Jonny had put in to them
  • When putting in the organ, we realised that with it on the altar where we had originally planned to put it, the scene began to look cluttered, so we needed to find somewhere else to put it. Caitlín came up with the great idea to make a balcony and have the organ up there, like an area where the choir would have been  during services. Lorna then made one using Jonny’s arches and my frames, the result of this is something gorgeous which I think really adds an extra dimension to our scene, and draws more focus to both Jonny’s windows and John’s organ.
  • As well as having to make a balcony for John’s organ, we realised we also needed a seat, and so we resized one of the kneelers which I had modelled
  • However, when it came to rendering our videos, Lorna and I noticed that at some point along the way, the walls had either been made bigger or the balcony smaller as the edges no longer reached the walls. Even though we had increment saved throughout the project, this had happened too far back for us to find a save to work from efficiently
  • We also had to re-import my pews and kneelers, as when originally added to the scene, the kneelers had been mistaken by the other members of my scene as the pews and the pews were nowhere to be seen.
  • When we imported in the boxes full of stuff, the books didn’t import in with them correctly and so we had to reimport these as well.
  • When adding my candle racks, we realished that the confession boxes and coffins were almost the same size as the arches, and so we had to resize these so that the scale was more realistic.
  • The fancy door Caitlín had modelled for the entrance to the church also needed to be fixed as there were faces on top of eachother, which created an unholy light on the door when we tried to render
  • The outliner was an absolute disaster throughout the process of setting up our scene and as such I took time to clean it up.. Some items within our scene were made up of geometry which hadn’t been combined, while other things.. such as ivy leaves.. had been added individually to the scene and in no way grouped. It was a tedious process but in the end I think was worth it.
  • We also realised that the side sections of the church seemed kind of dull as they didn’t have any windows or such, and so I did a very simple stain glass window model which you can see in some of the stills.

Modelling and UV Mapping

Pews & Kneelers

The first of my models I approached was the pews and kneelers. I looked at photos of these from different churches to try and get an idea of what designs were like. Researching this was when I first realised.. we hadn’t discussed what kind of church we were going for. I think we all just presumed Catholic, so we went with that..



I then looked at other artists work for references of how they had approached modelling pews. There wasn’t much to be found but I liked the simplicity of Koivi Tasker‘s photorealistic, low-poly models, but thought that if I were to do something as simplistic as this I would need something to add to it in order to make it more interesting without textures.

When it came to modelling my assets I knew I wanted to keep them as low poly as possible, but also wanted them  to be interesting. I think that the pews turned out surprisingly well, but UV mapping them was definitely a challenge.


When I first approached this asset, I began to look at reference photos of candlesticks from churches. I found there was a lot of variation between them and personally preferred the more simplistic, blocky style of candlesticks.

I then looked at ArtStation and SketchFab for reference models to see how other people had approached their candlestick models. I thought that the one by Laith Ahmad was most fitting for our scene. I loved the simplicity of Katherina Walpuski’s model and think that something similar

When it came to modelling the candlestick for myself I knew I wanted a model which was more angular rather than smooth and cylindrical. I had found these designs more interesting during my research and so I began to model from a cube,

Baptism Font

I began by looking at reference photos (and drawings) of baptism fonts. I love the variation in designs for baptism fonts,  from the complex, stunning designs found in cathedrals to the more simplistic and humble designs of those found in local churches.


I then looked on SketchFab to find similar models by other artists so that I could see how they approached it. These models are much more detailed than I felt that I personally would be capable of and so when it came to modelling I relied much more heavily on the photo references which I had found.

I then modelled my own baptism font. Unfortunately I don’t have any process photos of this but because of problems in the mesh which you can see above and realising how much of a nightmare it would be to UV map this from an octagonal base, I restarted.

This time I started from a cuboid base and modelled the main shape I wanted for the font. Once I was happy with this, I mapped it and then bevelled the edges to achieve the final result you see above.

Stations of the Cross

Again, I looked at pictures for reference before beginning to model. The range of styles for these frames was incredibly, from incredibly simple like in the last image to ridiculously grand like those below, I found this interesting but thought that more simplistic designs would work for our church, especially as I didn’t want to draw focus away from the other more detailed assets within our scene.

This site was particularly helpful when researching different types of frames for the tations of the cross. These frames are particularly elaborate and I think that something more simplistic for our scene.

Even though I decided to keep it simple with the frames, I struggled a surprising amount when it came to UV mapping them as I was unsure where to begin with it. However I am happy with the end result I achieved.

Votive Candle Racks

For this I mainly used photo references as there was an extreme lack of any sort of 3D models similar to what I was planning on doing.

The last of my models was the votive candle racks, which I felt were an important part of the scene. Considering the simplicity of my other models I wanted these to be relatively simple too, especially as I had to remodel these after a file got corrupted. I think that they turned out okay, but UV mapping this was exhausting.

Division of Labour

Today we made a list of all the props we’ll need to model for our scene. Thankfully there is way fewer than the one we had had for the diner so I’m still really optimistic about this project. I think it is definitely more realistic.


by Caitlín Collins

After figuring out what all would need to be modelled we decided to divide it between us, each taking either 4 or 5 of the props. We made sure that everyone had a chance to look at aspects of the church that they found interesting, this way it’ll hopefully be slightly more entertaining.


  • Foilage
  • Cross
  • Tabernacle
  • Holy Water Font
  • Doors


  • Candles
  • Stained Glass Windows
  • Arches
  • Exterior/Floor
  • Rafters


  • Confession Box
  • Organ
  • Statues
  • Priest’s Chair


  • Chandelier
  • Altar
  • Lecturn
  • Books/ Clutter


  • Pews
  • Baptism Font
  • Candle sticks
  • Votive Candle Rack
  • Stations of the Cross

Church Research

After deciding that we were definitely going to model an abandoned church Caitlín went to St Peter’s Cathedral and captured these stunning photos of the church (note: this is only a fraction of  her photos! She  really is a gift!) These photos are not only really inspiring but will also be really helpful as references when it comes to modelling and creating the layout we want for the church.

While at St. Peters, Caitlín also got some gorgeous footage which she edited to make this stunning experimental piece. Not only is this gorgeous piece great for us to have for modelling references, it also shows ways we could potentially show off our final scene if we have the time.

The first place I thought of when researching churches was my local church, St Patrick’s in Lisburn. I found some gorgeous photos by John McDonald on Flickr.

Something we all thought would be interesting to look at was the Sept from Game of Thrones as it has a very unusual octagonal shape, the stained glass windows and the humongous statues which look over the room. This also gave us the idea of including a coffin to the scene to make it more sinister.

Marmoset released their trailer for Toolbag 3 and in it was this gorgeous church scene by Joe Wilson. I thought that the simplicity and gorgeous windows really added to the scene, especially how they were lit. Joe Wilson also created this altar which is equally stunning.


When looking in to other people’s 3D environments Becca Blair found this gorgeous scene by Aurélien Martel on Sketchfab. I got her to send me the link as I thought that the lighting and larout were really interesting and could be a really useful reference for our scene.

Although these are temples rather than churches, I think they are gorgeous! Mohamed Ben Khalifa‘s ornamental environment piece is absolutely stunning. I found Tobias Koepp’s Desert Temple Scene on Ten Thousand Hours really inspiring and thought that the composition in the shots was lovely and something we could maybe replicate within our final shots.

David Edwards‘ concept pieces also inspired me a lot; I loved how overgrown his scenes were, the nature really adds to the atmosphere within the shot.

Eric Wong‘s environment concepts for the Valence Cloister in Dragon Age: Inquisition are really gorgeous and I thought that the layout within these shots were beautiful. Lorna also suggested that John looked at these statues from Dragon Age: Inquisition for inspiration when he was modelling the statues for our scene and I thought that this gave a good insight in to how we were imagining our scene progressing.

I came across this article about St George’s Church in Lukova in the Chzech Republic, also known as ‘The Church of the Nine Ghosts’ which was abandoned after the roof caved in during a funeral in 1968. Seeing this as a bad omen, the people in the town boarded up the church and left it abandoned. This art installation was created by Jakub Hadrava because people wanted to restore the church. The result of this was incredibly creepy, and I think it really shows the unsettling nature we want to convey in our scene.

Researching this has really inspired me for our project and I am so excited to see how it turns out!

Change of Scene

Today after class, we decided to meet and talk about our scene. After a long discussion we decided to reconsider the diner because of the insane amount of props we would have had to model and how reliant it could be on lighting. (As well as the fact Jonny thinks everyone at diners are too happy…)

When we were trying to think of an alternative we considered:

  • An Abandoned Library
  • An Abandoned Church
  • An Abandoned Hospital
  • An Abandoned Waterpark
  • A Basement
  • A Tavern

In the end we decided to take a vote and the church idea that Lorna had suggested at the beginning of the project won! I’m excited about this idea and think that changing now may be for the best as it’s something that everyone is happy  with and which I think is more realistic in the time we have.

Props for Diner

After  having decided on the diner as our scene we made a list of props we would need to model the interior. It is a long list…


I think it may be best to look at this scene from the exterior, possibly with shots looking through the windows of the diner to reduce the amount of assets we need to create and make the project more manageable.

We decided tonight to have a go at some of the props. I focused on the diners till.

I looked at a few photo references as well as a few 3D models made by other artists.

Even though this model isn’t complete and is fairly basic, I am very happy with the progress I’ve made on it.

Something else I really loved and wanted to focus on within our scene was the signs of the diner. I suggested we could name it “Carl’s Diner” or something silly like that as an Easter Egg within our scene and looked at a few tutorials to see how we would be able to do the neon signs that would be a big part of it if we were to do an exterior scene, especially to add in the neo-noir aspect.

I found these tutorials fairly helpful and hope it’s something that I can use if I get a chance to attempt the lighting.

I also found out about the mesh light option that was added to Maya 2017 along with Arnold. This may be particularly helpful in terms of creating the signs for the diner.