Hugh Ferris chiaroscuro


Like the previous illustration, this one is also inspired by the work of Hugh Ferriss. The term chiaroscuro is used to describe the use of strong contrast between light and dark on important parts of the composition. It is a technique that finds its origin in the Renaissance. Ferriss uses this effect with great success on his buildings.

Chiaroscuro works so well because of several reasons. First it makes the image simpler for the eye to dissect because the author has already made some decisions about what is important and what is not. The important parts are highlighted and the things in the periphery are darkened and often merely visible.

Secondly our old human brain experiences a strongly reduced visibility as threatening, in a similar way you would be scared when you would be walking in a dark forest with only the help of a flash light. A dangerous predator could be looming in every corner. Times have changed and our society has become much safer, but our brain is roughly still the same brain as it was 100.000 years ago.


Drawings by Hugh Ferriss

Drawings by Hugh Ferriss – “The Metropolis of Tomorrow”


Hugh Ferriss - Chiaruscuro 2

Drawing by Hugh Ferris – The use of chiaruscuro on buildings.


I created a plane with holes in it to simulate a pack of clouds that are letting only a part of the sunlight to come through. It took me some experimenting to get the sunbeams I wanted. For this purpose I set the viewport in 3ds Max in “realistic” mode. Below you can also see the top view of one building.


Hugh Ferriss chiaroscuro viewport


hugh ferriss chiaroscuro top view



Isolated Building 001


This is another exercise in designing a building from scratch and in placing it in a landscape.

I learned that for the creation of a realistic looking landscape it is very important to mix different kinds of terrain and colours.

For the lighting I first chose the height and direction of the sun with only the Vray Sun and the use of Vray RT for fast feedback. After that I added an HDRi with the source of the light pointed in the same direction as the sun. I also added a little bit of chiaroscuro by letting the sun shine through round holes in a plane above the scene.

Adding floors to the building was a good idea. It makes the building more believable and it adds a subtle layer of complexity.


Isolated Building 002


Isolated Building 005


Isolated Building 007


Isolated Building 008


Isolated Building 003




how to make a lava stream 001


This piece started as a further exploration of the possibilities of World Machine. Along the way, I decided to make a river with lava streaming from it and to let it shine it’s light upwards onto the building.


tutorial lava stream 002


how to make a lava stream 003