CYBERPUNK CHALLENGE | "Heaven's Hell" - Update 4

General / 16 March 2020

Technically this is the fifth update as I somehow completely missed making a blog post after the last major update. Either way, we're now at about the halfway mark through the challenge and it's been really great and inspiring to see so many wonderful and talented individuals putting up some excellent pieces!

Since my last post, I've set up my master materials, replaced a bunch of blockout pieces with more fleshed out props and reworked the lighting a little. I still wasn't satisfied with the direction I was going with the lighting and kept going back and forth several times between different colour schemes. Finally, I decided that in order to get a better read of things and to focus myself, I had threw some textures, which is how I ended up with this:

This was working a little better than the previous interations but it still didn't feel quite right. After a few more tweaks to the lighting and materials, I ended up with something more like this:

But it still didn't feel quite right either, I realized that the composition wasn't really working and that the main feature piece was not bold enough and needed to be fleshed out some more. A friend of mine suggested something like a globe for the centrepiece. I wasn't completely sold on the idea at first as I still wanted to play with the idea of halo's / rings, but I became inspired by different orrery's and the idea then became to encapsulate an orrery of sorts made up of several different halos, with one larger one looming over the top of them.

I needed to also fill add more form and shapes to the lighting fixtures on the sides and went with a retro-futuristic aesthetic from the reference sheet. I used an IES texture to add some interesting shape and form to the light itself and had two separate lights, one pointing up and the other pointing down. This added verticality to the scene, so I decided to add some horizontal lighting to the wall panellings on the side. The next thing I did was to add some additional floor lighting, pointing upwards to lift the scene a bit more.

The last next big thing I needed to work on was the giant multi-screen array in the background. This had to be kept somewhat subtle so as to not draw too much attention. But I still wanted something interesting.  I knew I wanted some kind of glitch effect interlaced between two different types of images. This glitch effect is partly inspired by the Watch Dogs launch screen. I ended up settling on using two different material instances for the two different type of images that I wanted to  have on the screen and layered several vertical and horizontal gradients as masks attached to a panner that would do a time skip at random intervals. Eventually, I managed to work towards something I was satisfied with.

Things are starting to finally come together and I'm excited to see how everyone else's work progresses! With much of the foreground elements completed or fleshed out, I'll be spending this week concentrating on the main bar area and fleshing that part up a little more. 

CYBERPUNK CHALLENGE | "Heaven's Hell" - Update 3

Work In Progress / 29 February 2020

It's been too long since the last update. Having seen some of the other entries, I'm blown away by some of the other ideas and progress that are out there. I'm still playing a bit with some different compositional ideas and lighting scenarios. I wasn't feeling too satisfied with the direction that I was going with the initial setup. It felt a little flat & monotone. Having received some feedback that the scene was also too dark, I decided to play with the idea of some warmer tones and bump up the exposure on the skylight texture to lift the scene a bit. I've played about with different light intensities for wall fixtures to try and detract a bit from the perimeter and refocus the scene back to the sunken bar a little bit more. Though I think it feels a little unfocused still.

Other inclusion I've made is a verandah to try and break up the space a bit more. There was a lot of empty room and adding it helped to fill in the space a little bit. I've blocked out a couple of teriarty shapes for a carpet, vending machine and kiosk. The one thing I'm pretty happy with though is the multi-screen array in the background

Next thing I'm moving on to is refining the walls and start building up those shapes a little more. This will also be where I start building up textures and trim sheets for the scene. Any feedback or comments will be greatly appreciated. Till then, peace!





CYBERPUNK CHALLENGE | "Heaven's Hell" - Update 2

Work In Progress / 19 February 2020

Back with another update. I'm playing about with a couple of different shape ideas for the dome. I like the idea of the double concentric circles but it may be a little bit too much. I also tried playing with the thickness of some of the beams and tested some verticals. I think those don't work as well as they're creating a lot of visual noise in the scene.








I've also started to refine some of the pillars a little bit as the verticals that I had before were too plain. The idea with these as well is to go with big and chunky. Also, the light fixtures on the pillars have been rotated 90 to help lead the eye in a little bit more. One thing I have started playing about with a bit more is lighting in the scene. I've enabled Distance Fields and Screen Space GI. Although it looks like the two of them don't work hand in hand. With SSGI, the scene looks a little washed out but with out it, I lose that nice bounce I was getting from the emissives. Haven't decided yet which direction I'm going to take it but some kind of middle ground with be nice.

Last but not least, I'm starting to lock down the cameras and try to find some nice compositions. I'm playing about with different lenses and fov's. So far, I think the ultra-wides seem to work fairly decently but they are oepning up a lot of empty space. Might play about with them a bit more.


I'm happy with this direction and will probably stick with this. Till next time. Peace!

CYBERPUNK CHALLENGE | "Heaven's Hell" - Update 1

Work In Progress / 16 February 2020

Continuing to refine the blockout. I decided to open up the ceiling a bit as I think it allows some more flexibility with my lighting choices. Speaking of which, I'm starting to figure out light placements and how I want to direct the viewer. Right now I think some elements are starting to feel a little busy and there's no clear focal point just yet. That said, I've got a pretty good feeling about this direction. Will likely spend a few more days to solidify this piece before moving on to theactual grunt work.

Till next time! Peace!




CYBERPUNK CHALLENGE | "Heaven's Hell" - Bar

Work In Progress / 15 February 2020


Heaven's Hell


The year is 2045. Rampant growth in global expansionisim by two of worlds biggest megacorporations, Antel & Farrow Industries has seen the world pushed to a new level of societal upheavel. To the West, the streets are alight with rampant fires and clouds of acid. Diseases spread, with the common folk left to fend themselves, against an enemy whose sole purpose is to limit the flow of resources and supplies to those who can afford the bill. But the higher ups in Farrow go a step further, and flood the black market with illicit drugs and weapons. For those who lack the will, a state of limbo, constantly teetering on the edge of death, unable to escape their hellish prison. Some resist, most fail. To those who fight, a fate worse than death, where limbs are ripped from their bodies. Their parts, stored in cryogenic containers to be sold on the black market.

To the East, where Antel controls the largest weapons & bio-engineering facilities. The citizens are in a constant state of surveillance. Through biometrics and implants, Antel's security division, keep a close eye on those who seek to undermine them. Take one step over the line and a microchip sends a shockwave to the brain. The results are not pleasant. And if somehow, AnSec's nanobots don't get you, their elite squadron of knights known as the Orions, will be sent to finish the job.

In the midst of all this, a refuge, or safe house rather, where the rich and powerful continue to look on with pride and self-admiration. To the patrons of Heaven's Hell, the place serves as a means to shy away from the responsibilities and the chaos they have created. Instead, toasting to the end of civilization. A few appear uneased at what the establishment represent but most shrug off any notion of guilt or shame. Yet amongst the glitz and lavish cocktails, a dark undertone, that even the elites themselves, may not be aware of.


I thought it might be interesting to explore the idea of duplicity with this environment. In this world, the elites believe that they have control and a firm grasp on society. But hidden away, lies some clues that indicate that their rich and "safe" lifestyle may all just be a simulation. Security cameras dorn the walls and ceilings of this establishment, recording their every move. A giant screen in the background that shows an abstract piece, interlaced with flashes of fire and a malicious presence. I'm drawing a lot of inspiration from titles such as System Shock, Deus Ex, Blade Runner and Appleseed Ex Machina. Other sources of inspiration include VA-11Hall-A: Cyberpunk Bartender Action, Arknights and a trove of anime and novels that are way too many to list.


I've been captivated by Liam Wong's work and his use of colours in his shots to achieve the cyberpunk neon aesthetic. But I'm kinda intrigued to explore how some of those colours may work within an interior setting. Other sources of reference/inspiration comes from teamLab's Borderless exhibit in Tokyo. I was really taken by their use of space to make it feel like an endless world, where one could get lost in there.

Some of the preliminary reference gathered for various props & set dressing elements:


These are the goals/objectives which I hope to achieve with this environment. As time will be a critical factor in this challenge, speed, effeciency and proper planning will be the main driving force that I hope will allow me to achieve them.

  • Take an environment from start to finish
  • Mood & storytelling through composition & atmospherics
  • Efficient texturing & material workflow
  • Idenfity areas that can be automated.
  • Modularity & Instancing
  • Improve lighting proficiency
  • Improve hard surface modelling


Aside from collecting references, I've spent the last couple of days creating the initial blockout and try and get a feel for the space. For the challenge, I want to keep the scope relatively small but yet play with the sense of scale.

To all taking part in this challenge, good luck and have fun! Let's rock it!