B y o d o  -  I n
Modeling / Texturing / Lighting / Rendering
Photo reference. Byōdō-in (平等院) is a Buddhist temple in the city of Uji in Kyoto Prefecture, Japan. This temple was originally built in 998 in the Heian period as a rural villa of Fujiwara no Michinaga, one of the most powerful members of the Fujiwara clan. This villa was changed to a Buddhist temple later in 1052. 
The following is my first attempt at creating a complete 3D environment. It initially started as a simple reconstruction of the beautiful Byodo-In temple, but it slowly evolved into much more as I started envisioning a certain composition for it. To complete this I had to delve into terrain generation, scattering vegetation and even character creation, which proved to be both fun and challenging as I had to acquire new concepts and workflows to help me reach my goal. 

Things weren't always smooth as rendering the final scene became a strain for my system's resources. Beside the optimizations which had to be done for big scenes as such, investment into a RAM upgrade was worthwhile.

The synopsis of my visual concept is that of a renegade warrior, part of a forgotten order, which travels towards the temple in search for blessing and wisdom, much needed for his ongoing quest - sounds cheesy, but it worked for me.
The Byodo-In is built to represent the mythical phoenix, its wings upheld by pillars of stone. Folklore tells of the phoenix arising from the ashes to reflect the promises of hope and renewal. The Magnificent Byodo-In Temple translate “Temple of Equally – not to discriminate” and is home to Amida, a golden Buddha unique to the entire world.
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Sorin Golumbeanu