An animated film inspired by the Persian Architecture

This piece has been inspired by different examples of Persian Architecture. It’s a loose interpretation, because I did not set out to reproduce any specific, well-known building. I gleaned ideas and concepts from here and there, mainly from different temples located in the Iranian city of Isfahan. The main dome is modeled on the structure of the “Moder-É Shah”. The pillars and vaults are inspired by the “Mosque of Imam” but the ornamentation is made up. I apologise in advance to any specialists in Islamic Art out there, should they stumble upon any serious conceptual errors!

Making of

The next image is the only photographic material that I had as reference to model the main dome:


It belongs to the Moder-É Shah madrassa in Isfahan, Iran. The first work I did was to identify radial symmetric areas.


Then I can rotate this main section and see how could be the entire dome.


The next step was to draw the main lines of perspective over that photo. The objective for this was to understand the basic structure of each element and the diferent high-levels of sections (identified by colors). This is an analysis study, without direct modelling application.


With the visual help of this structural analysis I proceed to draw each element in 2D (top view). It was very important to trace extremely accurate paths in order to get a perfect register of each element and group after sucesive radial copies. Angular measurements were important as reference for posterior 3D modelling.


Each straight line in the 2D draw was extruded in the vertical direction. These planes become the basis for all 3D nurbs used in the modeling process. All ribs in the domes were generated  from these curves by simple skin operations.


The texturing process for the dome was extremely convoluted, because the tools I managed at that point were not good enough to manage UVs easily.

I began tracing a special checkgrids for each piece in a radial way, using a portion of a circle. This reminds me the 3 edges of the target object (see at bottom). I use these sucesive checkgrids to testing, refining and defining all elements in the textures, specially the lines that are distorted and how I must pre-distort my textures to compensate these effects.

I converted this shape to a 4 edges image using the Polar to Rectangular filter in Photoshop and some strech and expand corrections. Remember that every surface generated using nurbs tools with UV coordinates must have 4 sides. Some objects, like this (and typically those objects generated by revolutions or skin operations with 3 paths) can have one of these edges colapsed into a point. But anyway I must to create a 4-sides img and apply this on a 4-sides object (the UV space). I can not use the initial radial draw directly on my object.

Finally I applied this rectangular texture in the Material Editor, enabling the “Use UV Space” checkbox)

Other texturing process were much more typical, like next ones:


“Thuluth” inscription texturing.


Fountain floor texturing.


Lighting using “old style” multi-lights (no GI at all…)


Camera movement was driven by 9 different nulls. I like to divide each complex task in various simple ones. Each null helps to do only one kind of movement (translation or rotation). This is a great aproach: by this way I can access to fine tuning each component of that complex motion in the F-Curve editor.

The final shot, when the camera goes throught that mirror reflexion was made using a small trick: I build a second “twin mirrored” camera, with all 9 null parents driven by the original nulls, thanks to the Xpressionist plugin.

Cristóbal Vila, January 2005, Zaragoza, Spain