View Full Version : Atlantis : Alex Popescu : The Forbidden City

07 July 2006, 12:26 AM

OK, so this is my first mood setting sketch for the challenge. Trying to get a good underwater feel, to set up the environment. Haven't made up my mind on the way the city will look like yet, but we'll see :) (

07 July 2006, 01:06 AM
that sure is nice! :bounce:

07 July 2006, 03:42 AM
You may want to change that image it looks way to close to this one...

07 July 2006, 08:05 AM
That is not how the final image will look like... it's just a underwater test. I know that artwork, very nice image, and I have no intention of making something similar.. it wouldn't be fun would it? :D

07 July 2006, 09:02 AM
the lighting n the mood is very nice....
gud luck aksu...

07 July 2006, 11:07 AM
At this stage it looks so similar, good luck with it though.

07 July 2006, 12:44 PM
Ok, so a small update. Working on environment elements.

07 July 2006, 02:37 PM
hey alex, welcome to the challenge! im liking your concept , keep it up!

07 July 2006, 03:54 PM
aksu: I like the idea of those pikes but how are you manage the city ? what will the concept be? I 'm looking forward

07 July 2006, 08:34 PM
Well, James, I still don't have a very strong city concept in mind, but I do have an idea. So you will probably see some updates tomorrow.

07 July 2006, 11:58 AM
OK, time for an update... this is only the right part of the image... but this is the style of the environment.

I also started working on the city , but it's in early stages, so I will show an update later tonight or tommorow...

PLease tell me what you think :)

07 July 2006, 01:13 PM
Fantastic work :applause:
I like that point of view and the illumination.

good luck!

07 July 2006, 02:15 PM
good start alex, keep going..[bafta :) ]

07 July 2006, 03:04 PM
looking good.

imho, tone down the highlights a wee lil bit. looks darn good.

07 July 2006, 03:53 PM
hey alex this is turning out great, keep it up!

07 July 2006, 09:10 PM
I'm glad you gus like where this is going.

Yes, probably the highlights on the stone wall are too intense, i'll see to that ;)

07 July 2006, 10:06 PM
Very good luck to you man. IŽll watch to your progress:thumbsup:

07 July 2006, 12:48 PM
neat overwiev of the atmosphere, waiting for som more citydesigns :thumbsup:

07 July 2006, 03:48 PM
This is turning out great man one of my favorite concepts.

07 July 2006, 07:02 PM
Thanks for the replies.

@GonzaloGolpe : Thanks for keeping an eye on this ;)

@SamsonsReaper : I keep promissing the city design, but the truth is thati've
been working more on the terrain. The city will be very terrain dependant so it has to be done first. But I did start working on the city too, so the next update will have the city as the main interest.

@Reikon : Glad you like the project so far. It's starting to take shape and I hope I'll keep you interested :)

Ok.. and now the UPDATES :

This will be the main environment. Of course not 100% done, but you will get the idea of the composition. I've focused on the foregorund as you can see, so I can start working on the city too.

On the 2 front cliffs you will see some main buidings,, temples and such. This part will have larger empty spaces, not very crowded with big and beautiful buidings.

On the other side of the rift I will exapand the main city, over the entire valley. It will be alot more crowded, with smaller houses, the part where the people work and live. But you'll see this in the future updates.

So here it is :


THE IMPROVED EVIRONMENT - added the elements to give it the Atlantis style. ( or a least my Atlantis style )

07 July 2006, 11:20 PM
This is looking very nice! I can't explain how much I want to see this develop! I am looking forward to your next update and the first buildings :)

07 July 2006, 05:52 PM
it is looking really good, I like the idea, but what kind of structure will be your focal point? so far I don't see a center of interest try working on that , judges surely will take a look on that

07 July 2006, 07:22 PM
theres a very nice depth in this one, but the green parts look like "above water" to me.

07 July 2006, 07:01 PM
Hi! Great compositing!
I like your work!! KEEP IT UP!!!

07 July 2006, 04:25 PM
Hello everyone!

I've been on a small vacation so I couldn't reply. So, lets' do that :D

@Trunks : Glad you like this and i hope you'll be pleased with the updates too :)

@jamesvfx : Yeah james, I am perfectly aware I have no center fo interest yet. Working on that but it's not ready for the forums :) But I do have some interesting updates. this time parts of the city . Waiting to see what you think.

@Inlakechh : Yes i know, but I am concentrating on the composition right now. I'm leaving the underwater feel for the last touches.

@mauropat : Thanks I will try to " keep it up !" ;)

07 July 2006, 04:32 PM
OK, now let's get to tha interesting part,


These are some wips of the city. Older and newer and on diffrent sizes. Nothing is final and everything is subject to change :)

Please tell me what you think.

07 July 2006, 04:36 PM
And some panoramas.

I know there's some "dirt" here and there but these are wips .

07 July 2006, 05:19 PM
wow, the lights in distance looks very good

07 July 2006, 05:36 PM
wow.. i think its very nice but i still cant feel it at underwater..

but is very nice ... keep it up!!!

07 July 2006, 05:38 PM
man the architecture is amazing, even tough I think the grass on the top of the mountains make it look like a landscape inestead of a underwater scene Im not sure if grass would grow in the top of rock in an underwater scenario other than that this is a great entry ,congratulations

07 July 2006, 03:33 PM
Ok, I can see there is a problem with the underwater feel , I will start looking for solutions.

Glad you guys like the structures and the style.

07 July 2006, 05:43 PM
I'm literally stunned by your last WIP update, the structure looks spectacular, that and the city lights... they are all very well-done!

As for above ground feel, I think that toning down the color of the sea much darker at the upper portion of the painting would help. (or perhaps very dark blue but with some faint hints of light from the surface for i do believe most of the light sources are coming out from the structure themselves, eh)

07 July 2006, 05:49 PM
it looks amazing! Loved the both ancient and scifi atmosphere you've created. Agreed with the comments above.I think if you darker the upper levels and a bit playing with color tones it would be a great underwater scene:thumbsup:

07 July 2006, 12:43 AM
Hey alex this is looking great! I would say that maybe you should have some of the bigger architecture not all pointing towards the camera , because right they have the copy and paste look , maybe go in and make each one its own :)

Looking amazing so far , really cant wait to see the final :D


07 July 2006, 07:17 AM
Wow its looking cool with the structures in. :thumbsup:

07 July 2006, 06:06 PM
Lookin great. Agree with the underwater feeling, you should work this area. IŽm sure youŽll do:thumbsup:

07 July 2006, 07:21 PM
Thanks guys for the replies and all the suggstions. I good to hear what you think.

I have a very interesting update for later tonight ;)

07 July 2006, 08:37 PM
OK, here it is.

I'm not happy with the city, but the main focus right now was changing the background. The city will be improved in the next stage.

Really curious to hear what you think.

07 July 2006, 08:54 PM
Woohoo really awesome. A great piece. The only thing: the background seems to be underwater, the foreground not. But youŽre working on it, but youŽre getting a great work. Go for it!:applause:

07 July 2006, 09:03 PM
Where is my jaw? Absolutly incredible!

07 July 2006, 09:10 PM
That's looking really good... maybe a little more haze on the foreground, especially around the bright lights, could benefit the overall underwater feeling.

07 July 2006, 10:26 PM
he hey.. very good job alex:thumbsup: ..take care with the water look in front.:buttrock:

07 July 2006, 11:29 PM
wow!!! massive improvement and when you work on the foreground underwater feel, they will come together very well.


07 July 2006, 11:59 PM
Fantastic depth Alex ... but whats more important: the background or the city ? In my opinion, the background is taking too much space ... all the life is on the lower half ... It doesnt feel balanced to me. You're almost there ...

07 July 2006, 12:21 AM
Awesome working on this one! Love it, very monumental :thumbsup:

07 July 2006, 08:48 PM
Thank you all for the very interesting replies and all the advices. I see the cave idea works fine.

Stay tuned for updates ;)

07 July 2006, 04:15 PM
Holy crap, that's breath taking. It constantly amazes me how people can come up with such unique and original ideas.

My only comment is that the background structures seem a little too small in relation to the forground buildings the whole scene doesn't appear to be underwater, though i'm not sure it has to be, it could be in a cave that's underwater, like a giant air pocket. You could stick a few fish here and there to give the watery impression perhaps?

Still looks very amazing :-)

Is that a shopping mall to the centre right?

- Dave.

07 July 2006, 05:53 PM
Stunning! :eek:

07 July 2006, 09:17 PM
don't know what to say,it looks amazing:thumbsup:

07 July 2006, 11:12 PM
Well, Dave, I don't think the far city is the problem , the closer, front city, is. To give it a bigger scale i'm gonna leave the background buildings very small, but I will work on the transition between the foreground and the background more. You will see changes in this direction in the next update.

07 July 2006, 11:39 PM
To be honest when i just focus on the lower half of the image (the whole cityscape) and not the cave background it looks fine, i don't think the city is the problem, i think it might be the cave structure in the background. Well technical sound and looks great, it doesn't seem to sit well with the city. Perhaps if you could place some small settlements, building and temples up the background wall, around the base. (hard to explain :-) also given the distant, (with relation to the city) i think the wall would have less contrast with itself and less detail.

Hard one to explain i guess.

How did you do all the buildings, are these taken from photographic references? I just love all the detail, it's still very interesting to scan up and down looking at all the little streets, you really imagine this as a working city with schools, malls, homes etc ..

Yeah, one other thing that springs to mind while reading a previous comment is the grass, this kinda makes it look above sea level, i'm not sure, would you have grass below the sea? or anything that could look similar? not sure.

It already looks very good. Don't overkill it with too much thought :-)

Nice one - Dave.

07 July 2006, 11:55 PM
I understand what yo mean now, and I have to agree, I noticed that too. Thanks for all the advices, I will work on it, and we'll see ;)

The city is almost entirely made out of photographic elements, mostly images of Paris I think. That was really my idea. To show Atlatis as a real, living city. One of the top things on my list is organising the city a little bit beter though, it's very messy right now.

07 July 2006, 08:47 PM
And here's the update... I'm getting there, but still a lot of things to be fixed.

07 July 2006, 09:21 PM
wow!!! that's really coming together very well!

07 July 2006, 10:35 PM
yeah thats much better, Alex. The tower is balancing the image.
Very good.

08 August 2006, 08:57 PM
Here is where I am after some detail tweaking.

I do have some improvment ideas, but I'm not sure if I'm gonna go for it. This may be my final image . If you have any strong comments about it, now it's the time to say it, so please tell me what you think :)

08 August 2006, 09:18 PM
Well... it looks really nice, but I think the ligthting is a bit too harsh now. I liked the feel of the previous stage better.

08 August 2006, 09:25 PM
Looks great, a little burnt out down the bottom and i might have stuck a few distant lights up the back wall, small villages etc, but other than that, first class work :-)

- Dave.

08 August 2006, 06:12 PM
that is a really nice image, very tranquill


08 August 2006, 07:06 PM
Ok, here is the FINAL IMAGE.

This is my entry for the challenge.

08 August 2006, 08:03 PM
Just incredible! BUT.. there is a huge BUT (( The scene is NOT underwater, i don`t believe it`s there :sad:

08 August 2006, 08:39 PM
hey looks really nice. Maybe too much blacks.. somehow kills the underwater effect.. easier said than done to achieve real underwater environment, as you can see in my entry :P

08 August 2006, 09:41 PM
Then what would you suggest Mpavel? for me i think a few schools of fish or something close to the camera, like a stingray or something, just something we all associate with been underwater, that's all we need is association. Also, as great as it looks it still looks like grass around the paths to the bottom right. Try saturating this or giving it a tint of blue.

Good luck :-)

- Dave.

08 August 2006, 09:44 PM
I agree with you everlite, alhough alex tried to solve it with little bubbles.

good luck for the voting Alex, you have a great image there.

08 August 2006, 08:12 AM
Thank you all for the replies.

Ok, the underwater feel seems to have been a problem always. This is the thing:
As everlite said , the problem could have been easily solved with a school of fish close to the camera,but i didn't want to do that. The fish could be added later in the production, because they would have to be animated. Even the small bubbles I added should be animated. So I think this is enough at this stage, beacause the elements I mentioned before could be easily added and would give the underwater impression.

About the grass... this is because we are association green with grass maybe. I didn't want the image to be monochrome, so I added the green tints. There is alot of green underwater vegetation, and from this distance we wouldn't be able to see more detail.

08 August 2006, 10:23 AM
Yeah well said Aksu, your painting is still really great, it would be nice to take into after effects and add those elements, give it a little camera pan maybe. It's strange why it still doesn't quite seem to be under water, anoying that i can't pin my finger on it, i think it's a sub-concious thing, there's something that make's me think it's above water but i can't quite understand what, well not so much above water but in an environment with air. I think maybe the paths? if this is a functioning world beneath water would they have paths? i think maybe they might get around by swimming or using subs? not quite sure, it boggles the mind :-)

Still very good though.

Not quite sure how or when this voting will happen, any ideas?

- Dave.

Miss Julie
08 August 2006, 03:31 PM
Fantastic cityscape and setting. I'm missing the flotsam and fawna of the underwater world. It is so well composed and executed.

My Atlantis Entry (

08 August 2006, 08:20 AM
All i`ll say here is just my opinion and nothing more )) And no insult at all :)

No, i was talking not about fishes or bubles (for underwater mood creation). And all that you said about it is wrong. In some thread here jamesvfx said that the images gotta be like a shot from the movies with all stuff like it`s took from the movie itself (as far as i remember). So your opinion that this is the contest of simple backgrounds for further postproduction is lil wierd ))

I can tell you for sure that all the close structures (buildings) gotta be detailed models as well so they are added in the post too along with the bubbles and fishes and background. Why did you paint them? They can be added after in post :rolleyes: I hope you get me correct

I wasn`t talking about fishes and bubles (you have them in your image btw :) ). Your "atmosphere" is like a fresh transparent air, but underwater is not so transparent and all objects are not so vivid and sharp (especialy lights)

Again best luck to you!!! YOur work is one of the best here to my opinion :thumbsup:

08 August 2006, 08:48 AM
OK, MPavel, now I see what you mean, though I do not totally agree :)

First of all don't be under the impression that I think "this is the contest of simple backgrounds for further postproduction", because it's as far away from the truth as it could be :). I don't think I gave the impression that I want to creat just a simple background.

Now about the facts. My entry has the camera placed very far away from the city and this is very important in the interpretation of the image.Because of the distance, we couldn't be able to see detailed underwater vegetation, so we cannot be talking about grass or anything, everything is just very far away. The same thing goes regarding the foreground buildings. Camera panning or slight movement wouldn't have a big effect on the view over the buildings, again because of the distance.I mentioned the bubbles and fish because those are very dynamic elements.

Anyway, to keep it simple, I understand what you mean,and I agree to a certain point, but we are just looking at it a bit different. And do not worry about me taking your comments as an insult, I'm always open to discussion and I enjoy it. I respect you and your work, and I'm happy to be able to discuss these matters with you.

08 August 2006, 09:46 AM
gotcha man :thumbsup: Ok, as i said - it`s only my vision and nothing more )) So many pips and so many different opinions! And i`m glad you don`t follow other`s opinions so blindly :applause:

Cheers from Russia!

08 August 2006, 03:55 PM
It's good to listen to everyone and take every idea into consideration.

Cheers from Romania :D

08 August 2006, 04:01 PM
Hehe, my parents will tranzit Romania very soon ))) I`v been to many romanian cities! To tell the truth i like your country very much, dude :thumbsup:

08 August 2006, 06:08 PM
I'm soooo missing something here, did this contest end last friday? I just don't get why there's no judging as yet? Anyone in the know?

- Dave.

08 August 2006, 09:56 PM
good job
i really like your image
plus ca e o mandrie sa vezi un roman castigand un concurs

08 August 2006, 05:58 AM
"good job
i really like your image
plus ca e o mandrie sa vezi un roman castigand un concurs

Agree ;)

08 August 2006, 01:09 PM
Multumesc ;)

08 August 2006, 07:03 PM
Congrats on the first place Alex! you worked very hard and it shows :) Enjoy the books and I hope your in the next challenge. Keep up the great work.


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