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Am Greifentor

By darkMyke
72 Favourites
At that moment, she turned her head and looked back. I thought I saw a faint smile on her lips but it might just have been my imagination...

A small practice in composition turned out to be much more. The past three months I have been working on this image on and off, and while it may still be summer yet, I'm much more of an autumnal guy ;)
The initial goal was simply to make a compelling composition (which I only partly succeeded with), but more and more I found it drawn towards other aspects - I wanted to capture that moment when you look back, when you still haven't left yet but you are already gone. That one instance, when you stand on the threshold, ready to step through the gate, and things start and have already started to change. Or maybe, you are the one who is witnessing the scene - maybe you are the one, she looks back to, before she heads on through the gate, the very symbol of threshold. The moment, when your recent history becomes memory. To be cherished or forgotten is entirely up to you...
If that sounds weird to you - well, I was just as surprised to find out that this concept of "Liminality" even has a wikipedia entry. I tried to incorporate that element of "change" into many elements of the image.

Architecturally I went for a wild mix of various styles and elements, trying to evoke a mildly exotic look and just letting my mind wander to place everything by itself. I chose a german title since it seemed more compact to me (it would translate as "At the Griffin's gate").

In the end, I learned a lot by creating this picture, there are many things that I find very hard to do in 3D in here - hair, characters, cloth, the combination of architecture and nature...while not everything is as I wanted it to be, I will continue to work on these things.

As always, I'd love to hear your thoughts. Let me know what you think and how you would tell the story of that single moment :)

Some details on the making of for the CGI nerds (like me):
Modeling done in Blender (using the customized build for Vray), rendering in Vray. Rendertime was around 22 hours at full resolution of 4000x5600. Materials mostly made in Substance Designer, others based on textures from
The girl is based on a mesh from MakeHuman. Hair is done multiple particle systems, all of the clothing done using cloth simulation and some sculpting. Ivy generated using the Ivy generator script in Blender. The walls and bricks are all placed using the awesome Random Object Array script and are real geometry - no displacement used anywhere.
Post processing done in Photoshop and the GIMP (film emulation using G'MIC).
The griffon mesh is based on scanned data and available on sketchfab:…
Some of the architectural frescos and ornaments come from
Image details
Image size
1429x2000px 3.21 MB
anonymous's avatar
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SuspiciousTeacup's avatar
Up to now I think that I like this picture the most when it comes to your work - the results of your technique itself as well as the thought-process behind this picture! You again paid a lot of attention to detail, especially when it comes to the golden workings of the gate itself and the warm color composition of the trees and leaves (which could also explain why I like this picture so much, because I like autumn as well). I think it is very fitting that you chose autumn for this picture, as it fits the theme of "change" very well: The essence that was fostered in spring and that bloomed in summer dies away and leaves the "gate of time" - but before that, it looks back to us by coloring the leaves in warm colours. So for me the protagonist of this picture looks back to me. But in this case, it is not the end: Something old ends, something new begins, a result of the everlasting change in nature and life itself. To cut things short: Goodbyes can lead to something new (and sometimes to something bigger, in the case of humans carried by the memories). That's what I got out of your picture :)
darkMyke's avatar
...I'm sorry for being so late. But still: thank you very, very much for your thoughtful comment. In fact, when I wrote my thoughts about this image I was not sure anyone would appreciate them - but I'm lucky to know some quite interesting people here on dA ;)

I really like your interpretation! Always interesting to hear the opinion of an expert in the field of psychology ;)
awesome43's avatar
Wow !!!! This is amazing :clap::clap::clap:
Vysselle's avatar
Dude, the thumbnail looked like a painting. This is amazing. I love this.
darkMyke's avatar
Thank you! I have to admit it was part of my intention to make it feel a bit...less cg-ish. Glad it worked out :)
xmas-kitty's avatar
Fantastisches Bild!!!
DeepBlueDesign's avatar
Wow! Fantastic! It's really good to see some "grown-up" work done in Blender. Thank you for showing us. :)
darkMyke's avatar
Why, thank you for your kind words :)

I don't want to sound pretentious but I guess Blender as a free software gets all kinds of users - I guess the userbase is overall "less professional" (me included) than for other software packages. But I'm really happy about the ongoing development, it really makes the software better and better.
DeepBlueDesign's avatar
I have used 3DS Max and Cinema 4D, to name a couple, but I've never been happier since I discovered Blender. The community is great, and the Blender Institute is transparent and cares about their user base. They don't subscribe to the nefarious money-sucking employed by companies such as Autodesk. "Industry standard" is a pretentious term and an illusion. It's invented by some clever marketing person. Software packages are just tools. It's what you do with them, not how much you paid for them that makes an artist a professional.
I think it's great that youngsters are able to cut their creative teeth on something like Blender. It's just that most of them don't seem to be able to move on from the very beginning stages of what's possible. Have you seen the amount of "beginner tutorials"? It's quite ridiculous and it stops people from moving on and exploring what you can do with Blender if you put your mind to it. They keep doing the same thing over and over again.  I've been delving deep and have discovered that the multiverse is the only the beginning of the limit. If there even is a limit, I haven't found it yet. :)
darkMyke's avatar
Wow, I really like your last words :)
I agree mostly and I also stand by Blender as my software of choice. I learned it back in a time when it was really kind of an effort to learn it - not many tutorials, a somewhat unintuitive user interface and of course, nothing like video support. In a sense, I'm glad about that - I really had to invest a lot in learning it and it sticks with me to this day (despite me taking long breaks and creative pauses since then).
However, I have been more stubborn about my choice of software in my early days. Sticking to Open Source and not looking anywhere else. I have changed a bit regarding that - especially since there is a plethora of specialized tools that focus on certain tasks that do work really well and get results quickly while being fun to work with. As a Hobbyist, I discovered this means a great deal to me. Examples are the software I used in this image: Substance Designer and Vray. I actually bought both of them since they offer good prices for what they are capable of and have active communities and "nice" developers behind them - they do make you feel at home, just as Blender's community does. You could say they are often associated with the buzzword "Industry standard" - but essentially, as you say, they are tools and as tools they do their job well, regardless of whatever other people say.
...but that they don't make me a better artist, you are right. Even though I use the same software as real professionals everyone can clearly see I'm nowhere near their level. I never expected that to happen, it's just fun to use them ;)
DeepBlueDesign's avatar
I really think that you are selling yourself short when you say that you are "nowhere near their level". This work is really very good. Not only does it look professional, there is also a sense of "epic story" and "history", which makes it a joy to look at.

I have seen work by so-called professionals where I thought: "really?", and "they pay you for this?". Professionalism is a state of mind, an attitude if you like which you have achieved when you are standing 100% behind your work and strive to make it better every time. It has nothing to do with monetary rewards, although they do come in handy from time to time. :)
darkMyke's avatar
Again, thank you for your kind words. I might be sceptical of my own work but hey, if you enjoy it - I honestly can't ask for more. I'm really, really happy to hear that :)

I also like your opinion regarding professionalism - I will remember that ;) Next time I have similar thoughts about certain "professional" artists I know that I'm not the only one.
Nikola3D's avatar
Awesome work man!
Poses17's avatar
Rally lovely work. the fall colors are captured so well, the perspective is perfect for showing off your work and giving a sense of wonder.
darkMyke's avatar
Thank you, I'm really glad I could pull off that "fantastic" look that invokes some certain sense of wonder - that's what I was hoping for :)
RobChmielak's avatar
Icesturm's avatar
The detail you modeled is amazing! The stone material doesn't look completely realistic yet, though.
darkMyke's avatar
Thank you! Can you maybe think of why it doesn't look convincing? I'm happy about any hints. I agree it looks somewhat flat and I'm not completely happy with the stone tiles but in the end I wanted to finish it and didn't spend more time on the material.
Icesturm's avatar
It's usually the lighting that makes scenes look realistic or not, so maybe that and the stone material is the reason. Are you using an hdri?
darkMyke's avatar
I see what you mean, I do appreciate your insightful feedback. No, it's a simple sun + sky setup with some special color settings to achieve the colors that I wanted - which may be a bit over the top. I could not find an hdri that would have suited my means (and some of them are quite expensive anyway...).
Spiritdefied's avatar
Oh my gosh this looks like a painting. Love the autumn colors and the fine little details on the building! Imagine seeing this animated..
darkMyke's avatar
Thank you! Well, I'd love to see it animated too (with the wind rushing through the leaves) but...well, that would take me another two years :D
Skogflickan's avatar
Wow, this looks amaaaazin! I'm sorry I don't have to say anything more substantial than this right now, but I'm kinda blown away. :D
I also really liked your text to it, I must go read that wikipedia entry now. ;) the concept of liminality really speaks to me - and so does your artwork!
darkMyke's avatar
Thank you very much, really. I was actually unsure wether or not to post my thoughts behind the picture since they might just be weird. But then I thought, I do know some people who appreciate such thoughts so I just went with it and shared them :)
anonymous's avatar
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