In this post;

Art References, Concept Art, Storyboard

Modelling, Motion Graphics

Final Outcome, Final Reflection



For this assignment we were to re-imagine a city and make it float. To emphasize the conventional iconography of the city in 3D, present our chosen city’s statistical and cultural information using relevant motion graphics that describe the mood/style of our final outcome.

Initially our group contemplated cities such as Cairo (Egypt) and Budapest (Hungary) with striking visuals in mind. Consequently, we chose Moscow with the city’s diverse modern architecture blended into an unmistakable traditional Russian style. Moscow is the foundation of Russia’s complex and unique political history (e.g. The Red Square, The Kremlin) so we could include Moscow’s compelling and unique historical facts in our infographic.

above Moscow Images – Inner City/Residential Outskirts


above Alexander Rodchenko; Russian designer and one of the founders of Constructivism. From 1910-1914 he studied at the Stroganov Art Institute in Moscow.

above A recent take on street art that makes use of similar constructivist elements by Shepard Fairey. The legacy of this movement stays relevant to design today.

Through discussion of including a political background, I recalled Constructivism — a modernist movement based in Russia, focused on depicting the political and social climates of the 20th-Century (Modern Russian history was our focus, 1900 – 2000).

The artwork produced reflects the forced industrialization of the city. Features include  strong blocked shapes, angled lines with forceful movement, repeated patterns,  intimidating red and black (common colours associated with war and revolution), and a sustained focus on political messages and street scenes.

The artwork became a useful vessel to learn about the deep history of Soviet Russia. Offering us an indication into the recognizable elements we can relate to a city like Moscow — the colours, shapes, extreme angles and shadows, and Russian Cyrillic.


above Patrick referenced us to the ‘Welcome to Duloc’ scene from ‘Shrek’ (dir  Andrew Adamson, Vicky Jenson, 2001). The scene is a clockwork toy representation of the Medieval town of Duloc. An energetic technique we could incorporate when animating our models e.g. folding out like a fairytale novel, spinning.


above Above is my graphic concept for the city incorporating the aforementioned elements in my research.

We agreed on the red/orange sunset, the Cyrillic fonts and the snow.

above Kinga imagined placing the floating city within a Matryoshka Doll. We believed this would immediately click with an audience as a Russian symbol. The establishing shot would reproduce the contrast of traditional and modern (modern city within) that appears frequently in Moscow’s architecture.


above We composed storyboards of how we wanted our assigned models to be shot.

The scene depicted in my storyboard would include the Modern History facts and placed in the residential areas of Moscow. The mass systematic housing represents the Soviet era in most Russian artwork and consistently produces a bold image.

After watching a previous year’s floating vision of Belfast, we were inspired to create similar framing; to leave space to place the graphics within the scene for a polished, purposeful appearance.

above The ‘Odessa Steps’ scene from ‘Battleship Potemkin (Бронено́сец «Потёмкин»)’ (dir. Sergei Eisenstein, 1925)

Many of my shots were inspired by Constructivist film. Chiaroscuro, jagged shadows, low angles/high angles implying power and corruption (very similar to German Expressionism, yet held a painful realism for Russian society rather than distortion).


Through modelling, our buildings became semi-realistic or toy-like/cutesy (residential areas, the Matryoshka Doll, the helicopter, St Basils and the sun/clouds).

Again, it reflected the architecture of Moscow, but I do not believe it translated effectively when assembled. The difference in styles became stark in contrast.

above Evolution Tower (Neo-Futuristic Design)

A DNA strand tutorial reminded me of the tower’s form, and introduced me to the Deform tools in Maya. Watch Here.

Added volume to the bottom of the model (Flare and Twist tool), used Phong/Blinn textures to generate a plastic effect suitable for our toy theme. With modern designs, it was a balance between staying true to the main concept of the building (e.g. the twist) whilst morphing it enough to fit in our scene.


above Along with a cute toy Helicopter for the helipad.

above Bagration Bridge

Our composition connected the bridge to the two Business Center buildings (Evolution Tower and Mercury City Tower) as we excluded the Moskva River it extends across.

above Residential Buildings (Constructivist/Brutalist Architecture)

An experiment with red/orange sunset. Using the Physical Sky/Skydome light plus directional yellow light. We did not include this lighting towards the end. I am convinced it would have united our contrasting styles if we incorporated a stylized light instead of high-key, natural lighting.


above Image from Maura Elizabeth Cunningham, and some wires.


above Sun and Clouds.

I green screened my animation into the establishing shot as we forgot to include it before rendering.

I feel this enforced the toy/clockwork theme. Inspiration for the sun came from the ‘Welcome to Duloc’ scene and traditional Russian eggs.


Weather facts were not included. No snow in final render.


Font typeface used is Red October. Similar to the bold Cyrillic used in Soviet posters. Free for personal use Here.

Using Autoscroll – Horizontal and Motion Tile to swap the Cyrillic to English alphabet.

Font colours white, blue and red to express the Russian flag.

With more time after rendering, to time the motion graphics to the “Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy” would have translated as a clockwork piece.

(Soundtrack written by Russian composer, Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky)



The feedback we received after our presentation was good. The toy theme came across, and so did the Russian iconography. We could have played on it more e.g. the Matryoshka doll, within a doll, within a doll.

Our composition inside the doll was sparse. We collectively modelled a lot more that could have been included, but rendering time affected us in that regard.

Noted, in future, finish things a bit earlier.



History of Art. (2018). Constructivism. [online] Available at: https://sophietabonehistory.wordpress.com/2015/11/15/constructivism/ [Accessed 22 Feb. 2018].

hypocritedesign. (2018). Alexander Rodchenko – hypocritedesign. [online] Available at: http://www.hypocritedesign.com/alexander-rodchenko/ [Accessed 18 Mar. 2018].

Obey Giant. (2018). Obey Giant – The Art of Shepard Fairey. [online] Available at: https://obeygiant.com/ [Accessed 18 Mar. 2018].

Visual-arts-cork.com. (2018). Constructivism, Russian Art Movement: History, Characteristics. [online] Available at: http://www.visual-arts-cork.com/history-of-art/constructivism.htm [Accessed 24 Feb. 2018].

Widewalls. (2018). Russian Constructivism – The True Vanguard Movement. [online] Available at: https://www.widewalls.ch/russian-constructivism/ [Accessed 15 Mar. 2018].

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