The Secret Passage

 Winner of Editor’s Choice Image of the week for 3d Artist Magazine.

Library Render

This image was done for the Unknown places comeptition held by It was later submitted to 3d Artist Online where it won image of the week, June 14, 2010.
The concept of the contest was to create an image of an unknown or secret place. The story (below) is a variaiton of a very vivid dream I used to have as a kid. The dream always seemed nightmarish but my curiosty always won out over any fear.
For the image I started out much like I always do, by drawing several concepts in ink until I got one I was happy with. From there I built all the environment in 3ds Max. I then made a base mesh for the kid in 3ds Max which I took to ZBrush to scultp and pose. Once posed I brought back into 3ds Max and placed him accordingly.
Once modeling was done I started on the lighting and all the textures. The books took the longest to texture because of how many individual and groups of books I had.
Final image was rendered in Mental Ray. The spiderwebs, dirt, and the volume light were all done in post-production in Photoshop.

Software Used: 3ds Max – Mental Ray Rendering, Zbrush, Photoshop

Total time: 5 weeks


One day 8 year old Adam was in the library, as he sometimes was, and he saw a book up on the high shelf that looked intriguing. So he looked around cautiously and seeing that no one was around he climbed up the shelf to get the book. As he stepped in the first shelf , he stumbled a bit and knocked a book out, but he kept climbing. He reached the book he was after and tried to pull it out but it only came half way out and wouldn’t come any further. Yanking on it, in an effort to free it, Adam lost his footing and fell dislodging several other books on the way down. One of those book was the final trigger that released a latch on the passage way. Several screeching clanks are heard and then the whole book case moves outward slightly. Seeing the book case and hearing the noise certainly peaked Adam’s interest. Looking around one last time to see no one around, he began to pull the book case open…