Using Tessellation 3 – Alhambra

Using Tessellation 3 – Alhambra

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Drawing by M. C. Escher

A drawing made by M. C. Escher at the Alhambra in Spain


For this piece, I was inspired by one of the drawings Maurits Cornelius Escher did at the Alhambra in Spain (above). I tried to remake this pattern in three dimensions, I didn’t fully succeed, but I made my own version (below). Once I got the pattern down I defined the lines as roads and I started to construct the buildings in the empty spaces.

It is surprising how this method influenced the final result. The whole city becomes much more harmonious. Everything seems to fit together. When I was looking for interesting camera positions, I was under the impression that much more was possible than with other complex scenes. An interesting composition seems to be possible wherever I place my camera. This could be interesting when I want to make an animation of some sort.

One word of caution: in the world of three dimensions, it is always important to design everything from the angle and height you want to finally position your camera(s). In this case, I designed everything from a fair distance above the ground. As a result, the camera at eye-level won’t deliver a very interesting picture. This is because the proportions won’t look as good any more.


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Using Tessellation 2 – White

Using Tessellation 2 – White

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Because I wasn’t entirely happy with the result of this work I decided to do a complete makeover. I ended up making a white version with a different light source. The technique I used is very similar to the one I used on the white version of project Nueba I posted earlier.


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Using Tessellation 1 – Black

Using Tessellation 1 – Black

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I started this project as an experiment in repetitive patterns. In some sense this is a cheap way to create complexity. As a way to break the repetitiveness, I added a layer of roads on top of the buildings.

By also designing the interior of the buildings, they become much more interesting objects. Needless to say it adds a lot to the realism. Applying a little bit of decay to the concrete texture also makes it a lot more real.


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I took the photo above in the city of Meknes, Morocco. This is a detail from a wall in the Bou Inania Madrasa, a religious school from the 14th century. The madrasa is considered one of the best monuments from the Marinids. It is a marvel of Islamic architecture. I was so fascinated and mesmerized by it I spent a couple of hours to take photographs from all the details.

The geometric patterns inspired me to make repetitive patterns myself and use them for my designs. In the images below you can see how I first drew a pattern from a top view and then converted it to a three-dimensional form.

This method of working resulted in some interesting forms, but it has one important drawback: the result will probably only look good from a birds-eye view. This is because the original shapes are designed from above. If you position the camera somewhere at eye level then everything will look pretty distorted and not in proportion.


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To determine the direction of the moon, I moved it bit by bit along different angles, first horizontal and then vertical. Above you see a gif-animation showing the process.

Once I decided the direction of the moon, I wanted to only light the middle part of the scene. This way I created some focus. In the image below, I explain how I did this.

I did a lot of work in post-production and from top to bottom; I used the black and white gradient that I explained how to create in the previous post. Below you see how I transformed this gradient to use it as a mask by playing with the levels in Photoshop. The bottom part of the scene is almost completely white in this mask. This allows me to apply certain colours only on the lower parts of the architecture.

Below I posted a gif-animation showing the image before and after post-production.


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Above you can see a mask I created and used for colour correction. Below you see a gif-animation showing the image before and after post-production.


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