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The Making of

Denoria
By: Deanna Crisbacher

Introduction
What If? Metropolis

What If? Metropolis is the second project of year one at Computer Animation
Arts. For this project each student selected a random artist from a box who had
no relation to lm or animation. This artist could have been a sculptor, fashion
designer, ceramics artist, and so on. Using this artist as a creative partner each
student was tasked to create their own unique What If? Metropolis - an
imaginary city inspired by the work of the artist or designer the student
randomly selected. My randomly selected creative partner was sculptor and
Turner Prize winner, Richard Deacon. After researching my artist I generated
thumbnails and wrote a Travelogue to describe my city. From the thumbnails
and travelogue I created one nal digital concept painting which I then
translated into production art and orthographic design sheets. Using the
production art and design sheets I began to build my city as a CG set using
Autodesk Maya. Once the models were built I constantly referred back to my
nal digital painting as a guide for the camera position, lighting and textures
within my scene in order to keep the art style in sync with the concept and
production art. By following this pipeline and listening to the advice given to me
by my tutors and peers, I aimed to create my own unique What If? Metropolis
inspired by Richard Deacon.

Influences
As my city is meant to be inspired by Richard Deacons work, I did a lot of
research into his work and life. Richard Deacon said he was slightly anorexic as a
child, which is why he doesnt like his sculptures to be heavy. He also seems to
express a slight anxiety that his sculptures will fall apart, but feels satisfaction
when things fall into place. His sculptures are composed of organic shapes and
forms, so I wanted everything to feel rounded, hollow, and uid. Deacon prefers
using wood, metal, glass and ceramics, focusing on the materials used and the
method of construction. I found After, Laocoon, Empirical Jungle, and What
Could Make Me Feel This Way the most interesting and inspiring out of the
pieces I found. Because of this, I researched forests and wood, hoping to place
my city in a forest since it was going to be made of wooden planks. Richard
Deacon is an intellectual, he enjoys reading, writing, learning and teaching. I
decided to make the center of my city a massive library, since learning is so
important to Deacon. This also helped me consider the lighting and colours. To
me, when I think of learning I think of warm Autumn colours. This is because
in America, September is when kids go back to school, when the leaves are
bright reds, oranges and yellows. To me an Autumn forest felt perfect to set the
cozy and shy atmosphere I was aiming for. I also drew inspiration from architect
Zaha Hadid, artists Bastien Grivet and Florian Aupetit, imagery from games and
lms such as Lord of the Rings and Star Wars, and from photographs my sister
took in Vermont (USA) in October this year.

The City of Denoria


Travelogue
The city of Denoria is often considered to be nothing more than a myth, just a story very similar to Atlantis. However, this city is very much real and it thrives in secrecy. Denoria is like a little bubble that is
immune to what occurs outside of its borders, the Denorians attempt to keep to themselves to prevent the outside world from ruining their way of life. This does not mean that they believe they are superior; in
fact they are concerned that people will point out the aws in the construction of their city and label it as a failure. While they recognize the faults in their designs, they cannot help but obsess over it and attempt
to make it perfect.
!

The buildings are shaped to be organic and lyrical, with uid twists that make strangers wonder if the structure will fail and collapse. It is difficult to determine how these were constructed, but it is obvious that
the Denorians method of fabrication is sacred to them. Their technique of construction requires a high level of skill to ensure that the correct forms are pleasing to them, which has taken many years to perfect.
This obsession with manipulating materials to create their unique metropolis does not come without drawbacks. Denorians have a bad habit of overworking their constructions, creating beautiful work only to
nearly turn it into ruins. They fear the judgement of others and struggle to see the completion of their designs, sometimes causing it to be worked until it is ruined and collapses.
!

On windy days the buildings seem to whistle and sing. It is unclear if these whispered songs are cheerful because of the citys beauty or mournful due to its hollowness and isolation. The city and its people are very
introverted, streets usually appear to be deserted. The Denorians often hide in fear they will be rejected and judged due to how they live. This, however, does not mean that they are not proud of their unique city.
All of the materials used to create their structures are extracted, collected, and rened themselves with great care and attention. The buildings themselves are crafted out of wood that has been manipulated into
uid shapes using secret, complex techniques. Large, reective bubble-like windows just out of the buildings wooden planks. It is likely that they gather wood from the surrounding forest. Denorians can be seen
leaving the city with axes and other curious tools. They always leave with the same number of saplings as logs they return with. Their city is a representation of the mind, it is beautiful yet fragile, joyful and
melancholy, and striving for unrealistic perfection. The exact designs and blueprints for construction and records describing the preparation of materials are kept in secret documents in the citys library.
!

The center of Denoria is home to the monumental library, the most treasured structure in the city. The library holds boundless amounts of knowledge, from silly children books to the secretive texts that contain
the information of the citys creation and culture can be found there. The city values knowledge above all else, despite the fact that they fear informing the outside world of their ways. Inside the library, the endless
halls of bookshelves stretch high to the ceiling keeping certain books out of reach unless a ladder can be found. This knowledge is valuable to the citys inhabitants as they attempt to stay informed about what is
going on in the world around them without having to actively participate and invite people in. This curiousness makes it unclear if the people would one day like to reconnect to the outside or remain to
themselves.
!

The city and its inhabitants need space, the Denorians do not want their creation to be in the way of anything else and they dont want outsiders disturbing their peaceful way of life. Denoria is surrounded by
emptiness and nature, no other human civilization can be found for miles. The city often appears to be vacant; there is a higher chance of seeing an animal wandering the streets, while catching a glimpse of
another person is like seeing a ghost.

Thumbnails
Silhouettes

Thumbnails
Silhouettes

Thumbnails
Silhouettes

Thumbnails
Digital

Thumbnails
Digital

Thumbnails
Digital

Thumbnails
Traditional

Thumbnails
Traditional

Incorporating the Forest

Tree Thumbnails

Designing the Buildings


Thumbnails

Designing the Buildings


Shape and Colour Experiments

Designing the Buildings


Shape and Colour Experiments

Designing the Library


Silhouettes

Designing the Library


Silhouettes

Designing the Library


Refinement

Composition Tests
Using Rough Maya Models

Composition Test

Concept Development

Final Concept Painting

Digital Set Break-down

Matte Painting

Production Art

Production Art

Production Art

Orthographic Design Sheets


Library

Orthographic Design Sheets


Right Building

Orthographic Design Sheets


Left Building #1

Orthographic Design Sheets


Left Building #2

Orthographic Design Sheets


Left Building #3

Orthographic Design Sheets


Left Building #4

Digital Set Build-up

Wireframe Model

Untextured Model

Model with UV Maps

Model with Shaders

Lighting

Textured Model

Ambient Occlusion Pass

Final Render