Hello friends! My name is Özgür. I am a 24-year-old self-taught 3D artist from Eskişehir, Turkey. I am actually a medical student and want to be a cardiologist someday.
Whenever I watched a movie, played a game or read a book, I always made some changes in my mind. Sometimes I changed the environment, the characters or the timeline. I always used my imagination to change it how I wanted it to be. This revisualization is my biggest hobby.
So, two or more years ago, when I discovered Blender, I wanted to learn how to create my own story and my own environment. I didn’t have any experience in 2D traditional drawing or any kind of 3D experience before. I watched the “Donut Tutorial’’ of Blender Guru on YouTube. After that, I watched more tutorials, finished some of the courses on Udemy and started to build my own environments and stories.
I always wanted to create subjective thoughts in my artwork. My goal is to create art which people can alter the timeline, events or environments to their tastes like I do.
Now, let’s talk about this project, “The City of Blackhelm." In the beginning, I had an idea about creating a large environment city but I didn’t have any details about it. It could be a cyberpunk city or a medieval city. It could be a war scene or a peaceful city. So, I started to research about my idea by checking some reference photos on Pinterest.
I learned the city dynamics. I checked house models and a lot of other things. In the end, I decided on the “lovely peaceful medieval city” idea and thought it would be great. Then I started to develop the artwork. So, let’s begin.
First, I found some references about medieval houses and then started to model my houses by blocking them out. When I finished that, I added some cubes to the scene and used Boolean modifier to create holes for windows and door. I modeled some old medieval windows and doors, and placed them into the holes. I added a brick material to the house. This is the brick material:
I added some basic rectangular shapes and gave them a wood material to make them look like wooden columns. This is the wood material:
I added these wooden columns in my house model. Then, I added some roof material and planes to make the roof. In total, I created four different variants of the house.
First, I modeled some rectangular shapes as woods. Then, I gave collision to them. I added a plane to the scene and subdivided it. I gave cloth simulation and a fabric material to it, while uniting it with the woods. Next, I modeled the little details like apples, barrels, crates etc.
First, I blocked-out the blacksmith, added some cubes to the scene and used Boolean modifier to create holes for window and door. I duplicated the doors and windows from the house asset and placed them into these holes. Then I duplicated the wooden columns too and united it with my blacksmith model.
After that, I imported models of swords, spears and shields from Sketchfab. In the end I duplicated the bazaar’s little assets like barrels and crates.
First, I modeled some wooden planks and randomly rotated them to create a realistic stable roof. Then I imported a horse model from Sketchfab. I added a plane to the scene and gave it a straw material. After which, I added some barrels and straw bales.
MAKING THE TERRAIN
For the terrain, first, I added a plane to the scene and set the dimension to 785x465 m. After adding a subdivision modifier, I set the level viewport value to 6 in simple mode and applied the modifier, later subdividing the plane one more time.
Then I selected some vertices in this plane and smoothly created higher and lower areas to give some realism to the scene. I added a dirt material to it and also, a grass path material too.
After that, I opened the vertex paint mode and dyed some areas with a blue color to determine the grass path area. You can see grass paths in the artwork where the carriages stand. In the shading tab I added a color attribute input node and united this node with the dirt and grass path material node system. You can see the terrain node system below:
This terrain material is the first material of the terrain. I added another material to this terrain, which would be the stone road material of the city’s ground area. I placed some noise and voronoi textures to determine the soil and road parts.
After that, I created a procedural stone material. For the soil part, I used the grass path image texture of the first terrain material. In the end I united all of them and got the stone road material. The shader can be seen here below:
MAKING THE WALLS AND THE INNER CASTLE
When I looked at the medieval tower preferences online, I saw some cylindrical towers as well. So, I decided to model these types of towers to catch the realism. After I made these towers, I modeled a basic medieval wall and added an array modifier to it. Later, I corrected the array value, united these walls with the round towers and applied the array modifier of the walls. I then deleted some vertices of the overflow of the wall model. I added some stone columns, a gate and some ornaments to the wall as well.
When I finished modelling, I gave a stone material to the wall and inserted a leaking image texture to create some dirty areas on it. I used that leaking image texture on the houses too. After I finished shading, I placed this wall to the terrain.
For the Inner Castle, I made the block out with cubes and cylinders. Then I duplicated the tower and placed them at the edges of the block out. I modeled some rectangle towers and placed them too.
Afterwards. I started to give some details to this block out by creating areas where the ballista would stand. When I finished the modelling, I started to add materials to them. I added the same wall material to the walls and towers.
After I set the material, I added a plane to the scene and subdivided it while giving it cloth simulation. I selected the short edges in edit mode and made a vertex group to this edge called PIN. This PIN group allows to create an area which isn't effected by anything so I could get a constant edge to create a flag. Adding a force field to the scene with animation, got me the wind effect on the flag.
In the end I added little details to the inner castle by scattering barrels, tents, weapons etc.
I modeled a wooden crane from scratch. The process of the crane is shared on my YouTube channel. After I finished the inner castle, I scattered the wooden cranes and barrels on the wall.
MAKING THE SCENE
In the beginning I added a camera to the scene, then placed the walls to fortify the ground area. After that, I placed the inner castle and all the other buildings inside the city.
Then I selected the faces of the terrain within the walls and gave them the road material to create a realistic medieval city ground. When I finished placing all the assets, I duplicated the terrain to the left to cover the empty areas in the camera's perspective while adding another plane to cover the background.
I modeled the background plane like the terrain but with little bumps. I gave this plane a water material and displacement.
After seeing the pre-renders I saw that the water material didn’t seem correct, it needed a bottom. So I duplicated the water plane and placed it at the bottom while giving it a dirt material.
After I set this scene, I wanted to model a nice sea port on the water in background. I modeled a simple dock with barrels, tents and wooden cranes. In the end, I imported some ships from Sketchfab.
NATURE AND FOG
To begin with, I modeled some nature assets (grass, plants, nettles, reeds, dead leaves). After that, I used the sapling tool to model the trees without twigs and leaves. I modeled the leaves and twigs by myself to make the trees look more realistic. Then I gave these trees a weight paint and a particle system to add the twigs and leaves. In the particle setting system, I opened the vertex groups tab and selected the weight paint as density.
When I finished creating nature assets, I added a particle system setting to the terrain as well. I created separate particle systems and vertex groups, using weight painting for each nature asset (grasses, plants, dead leaves). Then I took pre-renders to decide on the number and density of the foliage.
At last, I duplicated my tree assets and placed them into the scene to get a lovely look from camera perspective. For viewport display, I kept the grass density to 2%.
In the end, I added a cylinder and gave it a volume scatter shader to make fog for increased realism.
Here is the fog shader, fog material (Density 0.0001).
HORSE CARRIAGEs, FENCES, ANIMALS AND HUMANS
For this part, I imported some low poly birds, a horse carriage, a well and some cows from Sketchfab. I also imported some walking/standing archer and knight models from Mixamo and low poly villagers from Sketchfab. I positioned them all in the scene. I modeled some low poly fences and gave them the wood material as well.
These are the horse carriage, knight, bird and well models from Sketchfab.
RENDERING AND COMPOSITING
I added a simple sun light to the scene and rotated it for some shadows. For a nice camera perspective, I got an HDRI from Polyhaven, and rotated my sun light to the place of the light source in the HDRI to get a correct relation between the shadows and the light.
Here is the sun and HDRI settings.
In the end I added a simple composition to the scene with a denoiser connected to a RGB curve shader via a color balancing shader.
THE CITY OF BLACKHELM
That's all, thank you for reading my article!
I hope you have a great day!
About the Artist
Özgür Ermiş, a self-taught 3D artist from Eskişehir, Turkey. He is currently working as a freelancer.