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  • Elena V Miller

Micro-apartment in Metropia 2042

Hi guys, here's a quick presentation and partial making-of my project created for nvidia Metropia 2042 competition on Artstation - Interiors of the Future category.


Microapartment Metropia 2042 - Camera1 daytime

For a couple of months (from about end of February to April) I participated at what seemed a very cool competition on Artstation - nvidia Metropia 2042 Interiors of the Future. At the time it started I was very excited about creating a futuristic scene imagined to be not that far in the future considering it's only 23 years from now. I'm saying I thought it was cool at the beginning and I don't think that so much right now because by the end I have noticed quite a plasticity about the rules of the competition and even with respect of the theme. It seemed to me in the end that the winning entries were looking like something really far away in the future and not so grounded on the subject and also with a very (even striking I could say) similar aesthetic resemblance between them in terms of atmosphere and even colour theme (which was a matter of choice and not imposed by any chance). Clearly, I am only referring to the interiors section and not at all at the other categories. This is my personal opinion and I'm only expressing my views here. Also at the beginning I had the impression a sense of realism would be important and tried to visualise a relatively close future technologies that would grow regular in an average apartment in a busy city, including the 3D printer for food, a universal coffee maker that would do all sorts of other drinks, housing appliances hidden in the walls and furniture, discreet interfaces and collapsible furniture to save space.


I enjoyed a lot working on this project even though I didn't win but I had the impression (supported by other people who commented) that I was quite on the right track of depicting the year 2042 and its atmosphere. It seemed very disappointing at the time that I didn't win but I always liked participating at competitions and over the years I participated at quite many of them driven by the passion I have for this profession.

I enjoyed a lot working on this project even though I didn't win but winning was never the reason to participate to a competition, but the joy of doing what I love.

So, from the beginning, I decided to create a micro-apartment in a busy city thinking that many will have to live in confined spaces more and more in the future. A large part of the population is already living like that. This was my final entry but I have to say I rushed it a little especially the post-production and I wasn't entirely happy with the result.


Final entry daytime


Inspiration and idea


When I started this project I still had in mind a mini-series I watched on Netflix called "Maniac" by Cary Joji Fukunaga and Patrick Somerville.

Micro-apartment from the series "Maniac" (2018)

Inspiration board

I absolutely loved the series so I had this urge to recreate that apartment but not exactly how it was but with a twist or more precise I wanted to add my own story and feel to it. The way I would see it or live it. It also gave me the idea of the neon sign from outside the window so I thought to recreate this scene from the perspective of the year 2042. Especially the neon sign gave room to imagination. What sort of commercials could you see from outside your window in 2042?

I gave it some thought and I came up with the "Live on Mars Colony" sign. There were a huge numbers of projects NASA but also other organisations/groups proposing human missions to Mars, so I though maybe one of them could be successful by that time. Also another source of inspiration is the development made in the '70s (space age) in Tokyo - a tower of mini capsules.



Modeling and texturing


Blockout and starting the neon sign idea


For the outdoor scene - what you can see out the window - I created the neon sign as realistic as I could but by the end of the project I decided to show it out of focus as the camera focus was on the details of the mini kitchen in the apartment. Also I decided to create separate scenes for day lighting and night lighting. This is a later stage just to illustrate the idea of separate lighting.




So I will go briefly through the stages of the work I did on this scene. I started with the modeling blockout as soon as I had the overall idea but I added more ideas later on along the working process.


Blockout of the exterior scene

Initial blockout of the interior and night HDRI setup

I started the blockout but in the same time the night lighting set-up and I used an HDRI from hdrihaven that you can find here:

https://hdrihaven.com/hdri/?c=night&h=shanghai_bund



Neon materials for the sign

I continued by adding details for the furniture and I was inspired from the same TV series (Maniac) to create the custom furniture like the desk chair and some details of the interior decorations like the cactus pots, cans and boxes.


Desk chair modeling


Stage 2 - modeling imperfections

Overall apartment plan

Start modeling of collapsible bed, table and chair

Models for dressing (less visible to the camera)

Overall modeling for table/kitchen dressing


During the modeling stage I also started on the texturing trying to keep it simple as I only focused only on a few features that were more important, like the glass separator between kitchen and shower (with water leaking traces), the cactus, the glass objects and especially the light neon materials for the floor (an idea that came later on).






As always when I try to create or add realism to a scene, I am adding dirt maps for all the obvious places that decay would be visible.




Using splatter textures I created one map plus the nomal map for the leaking


The facade problem


Also a very important feature was the outside facade of the building, visible from the inside. The most important fact was that the facade would shape the light pattern that would come from outside especially in the daylight conditions. Another point for me was to give some function to the facade in regard to the energy saving and green energy generation that would be likely to increase in importance further and further we go in the future. I had several ideas that I basically researched on the internet about this and I tried a few different versions of geometry that could work. These are a few of the attempts that didn't make it in the final image:










So, I wasn't happy with none of the above and instead I tried to mirror the ceiling geometry I just randomly generated and actually made more sense. I also wanted to create the illusion that this is something that works and has a functionality. The texture I used for the glazing was also important in creating more interesting shadows.


Colour variation tests with the sun light casting shadows filtered by the facade material


Wire render without the facade glazing texture

As the scene progressed I added more details including labels and other features like the cloth simulation for the washing machine in Marvelous Designer and also the shirt hanging on the hook at the window- details I thought it would give a more casual and natural look to the room.

Marvelous Designer cloth simulation

Marvelous Designer simulation



Details and story


After I had the idea of the 3D printer, I also needed an idea of what to print, so that was a bit tricky because it was hard to imagine what exactly you would use this technology for and what was more likely to be commonly 3D printed in 2042. I wasn't necessarily thinking of a very ordinary individual living in this apartment but there are common features are used all across the human city habitation and I wanted to picture that.

The story beyond this place is probably less obvious and maybe this space doesn't exactly say what sort of person lives here but there are hints. For example the labels of the products and the book the character reads also some pictures, etc.




Book cover I made-up using one of the photos I took in Paris at night

Book cover I made-up using one of the photos I took in Paris at night

Eventually after asking around other people's opinion, I came up with the idea of the food printer (3D printed burger).




Rendering and finalising


Also by the end of the modeling process for the scene I decided I want to show a picture projected in 3D on the screen. I chose a projector being a more "green" and less space consuming solution. So for the night scene I played with an image from Maniac just for a test because the image source is IMDB.com and I wasn't not sure if I could use it for the competition.


Night light test render

It took a long time to render this scene because of the lighting complexity and also because I have a relatively old machine (still use an i7 -4770K CPU @ 3.50GHz, 3501 Mhz and AMD Radeon R9, 32GB memory). So usually for testing this scene I left it overnight to render and there were quite a few tests. Also I think I might have focused more on the night scene but I did lots of tests with the daylight as well.


I used Corona scatter for the spikes of the cactus

Alternative render (very noisy) just for the overall details

The daylight render was my main scene so I did several post-production filtering in Photoshop using photolooks filters from Red Giant.


The image rendered at 4k resolution


I also did some alternative views but not as much as I wanted because of the long render times.



A night scene with different aspect ratio


Final night scene rendered at 4k resolution

In the end for the projected image I used one of my personal photographs made by my dear friend Andreea Aron. I hope you found this useful or at least entertaining. If you're further interested to know details about the technical stuff or anything you can think of, please email me or post here or on my facebook page - evnvis.


Another thing I want to mention is the fact that the WIP for this scene is only published here and doesn't appear on artstation anymore because I no longer considered necessary to keep my artstation account. Lately I was preoccupied (amongst other things) with cleaning up my so called "internet print" as I had many online portfolios over the years and things changed a lot for me lately so I don't resonate anymore with past work.


Thank you!


Thank you so much for reading/following and happy rendering!



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