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The Gallery - Virtual Art
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The Gallery - Virtual Art

Kayla Cardona
by kaylac on 28 Apr 2022 for Rookie Awards 2022

A series of 3D galleries featuring artwork and photography I personally created; The Gallery - Virtual Art is a unique project blending artistic reality with 3D visualization. Created with Unreal Engine 4 and Blender 3D, this project was an opportunity to display a variety of skills in a series of interconnected rooms.

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Introduction

I began this project thinking about how artists could present their work in the creative freedom offered by 3D visualization. My goal was to take artwork I had created myself and exhibit them in a series of galleries in Unreal Engine 4. When I began teaching myself 3D design, I found I could transfer much of my knowledge of 2D product photography into staging a 3D world. This project became an opportunity to showcase a variety of skills in a series of interconnected rooms.

Each individual gallery embraces one particular lighting technique inspired by extensive research on various gallery lighting methods. 

The paintings, sketches, and photography are my own personal works. All 3D models, props, and furniture were created in Blender 3D.

The Gallery - Virtual Art


Contemporary Gallery - Abstract Acrylic Paintings

For the first gallery, I wanted to display a series of three abstract acrylic paintings.  The room was designed in a contemporary style with fluid lines throughout the decor. The lighting imitates a technique called "wall washing" which brightly lights a room with diffused lighting. This is often used in contemporary galleries and focuses attention on color rather than texture.

The paintings were scanned on a standard home printer/scanner, then the image files were imported into Unreal. A normal texture map I made in GIMP was added to the painting shader for a canvas-like texture. 

Subtle spotlights were added to the paintings to highlight them. The ceilings lights were also inspired by the title for the painting series - Effervescence.

Traditional Gallery - Pencil Sketches

The second gallery features four hummingbird sketches that were scanned and imported into Blender 3D, where I modeled the frames. A dark, traditional styled interior and ceiling mounted accent lights were used to create a high contrast, spotlight effect.

The frame shader was created in Unreal to evoke a vintage aesthetic, while the accent furniture was designed to continue this antique theme throughout the room.

Throughout all three galleries no direct outdoor light source was used. In the traditional gallery I used warmer spotlights placed at 30-degree angles to the sketches and kept ambient lighting at a minimum. The darker nature of this gallery in particular highlights how important the color, direction, and strength of a light source can affect the appearance and longevity of a painting or sketch. 

Modern Gallery - Digital Photography

For a series of digital photographs, the final gallery was designed with a clean, modern theme. Simple, minimalistic frames for the photographs were modeled in Blender 3D, and track lights were designed to illuminate the gallery from various adjustable angles. 

The furniture and accents were designed to mimic the sleek, cubic shapes throughout the modern gallery. 

The goal was to focus the viewer's attention on the photography. This was achieved with a neutral color palate and a relatively simple interior.

Conclusion and Credits

This project became an educational experience in lighting and staging. My goal is to eventually design experiences like these as interactive applications that blend the definition of 3D visualization with artistic creativity. I believe in thinking not only about "what could be possible", but also "what should be experienced".

A selection of the meshes created in Blender 3D.

My series of abstract acrylic paintings - Effervecence.

Hummingbird sketches in watercolor and graphite pencil.

Stock photos used as inspiration for the lighting and design process. Special thanks to the artists who provided these photos on Pexels and Unsplash. Credits (in photograph order) - Pexels.com: Project Atlas. Unsplash.com - Simona Sergi, Ricardo Gomez Angel, Dannie Jing, Artur Matosyan, zero take, and Eric Park.

Some materials are from Quixel Megascans and Epic Games. Made with Unreal Engine 4. All models made in Blender 3D.

I initially created this project on a laptop with 8GB of RAM and an integrated graphics card. I added my custom furniture after transferring it to a higher-powered desktop, but the majority of the light bakes were completed on the original laptop.

Special thanks to The Rookies for providing self-taught artists like myself the opportunity to display our work. I greatly appreciate this opportunity to share my work with you. 

Thank you!


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