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The Making Of "Brooklyn City"

This post is part of a series called Productivity and Building a Better Workflow.
Session: Productivity and Building a Better Workflow
The Making Of "Yuki Machi"

This tutorial is intend for anyone who wants a better understanding of what and why they're doing what they're doing. A higher level view of my personal workflow towards creating large scale environments. This is not a “How to snap boxes onto a grid” type of tutorial, there's nothing wrong with those types of tutorials, but I want to really provide a different perspective on a ‘making of’ tutorial.

This tutorial is intended to continue the learning from my first tutorial called "Making of Yuki Machi" I'll be referencing it from time to time in this tutorial, so I suggest reading that first before reading this tutorial, you can find it here "Making Of Yuki Machi".

Hiten Mistry Ubisoft Toronto Making Of Brooklyn City

Software Used:
Autodesk 3D Studio Max
Adobe Photoshop


Why? Because I want to. Why? because it's due on Friday at 11:00 AM. Why? Cause I need a job in the industry. This should be the first question you ask your self when starting any of your art projects. You might have more then one reason which is totally fine, just be sure to write all of them down on a blank sheet of paper. Yes pen and paper works the best for note taking. Asking yourself this “Why?” question might actually be the hardest part of your entire project.

You might find out you wanted to make a cool environment because you want a job in the Arch-Viz industry, but then realize that's only a stepping stone to get into another job. They're all connected in a way, but these ideas might not come to you in sequential order. Just be sure to at least write then down, and then organize your thoughts later. The “Why?” factor always used to help me move forward on my art work, its not so much as motivation, but understanding the purpose behind why I’m doing what I’m doing.

On this environment my “Why’s” were:

  • To push my creating thinking
  • To increase the quality of art in my portfolio
  • To expand the variety of themes in my portfolio


These were my goals for this Brooklyn City project, well I had a few of them:

  • Get interviewed at 3dtotal
  • Win Game Artisans Award
  • Get on to the cover of 3D World mag
  • Get on the cover of 2D World mag
  • Win CGTalk Choice Award

So now write down all the goals you would like to achieve when your project is done. Of course I'm not gonna win every award or get ever goal on my list, but its the successful outcome thinking that I envision that matters. You might have other goals that are as extreme as mine, yours might be as simple as improving your high poly modeling skills. But write down anything that comes to mind, little or big. At the end of this tutorial I'll tell you what goals I achieved, I certainly didn't get all of them, but I do review and reflect on what goals I set out and see if I really wanted to achieve that goal and why.

Short Terms Goals:

Now when I was building my portfolio a few years ago, I had a lot more short term goals then I did long term. In the short term 3 to 6 months out I wanted to achieve making one new environment / scene every eight weeks. I thought I would be do able to at that time. Also aiming for a well rounded skill set as a 3D Artist. That would mean everything from modeling to rendering, to a bit of max scripting.

Long Term Goals:

My long term goals back then were a bit more extreme then my short terms one, one to two years range. I wanted to "start" a job as soon as I finished college. I wanted every piece of art in my portfolio to be better then my next. I wanted to win awards from all the CG online galleries.

Reviewing Past Success:

In the last tutorial I wrote "Making of Yuki Machi" it went on to talk about reviewing your past work and creating a chart of pros and cons. Now an interesting thing to do is create a new PSD doc and place all your final renders of all your past art work in order of completion. This is merely to help you visually see your past progression. Looking back at your past success can be a huge motivation booster for you.

Making of tutorial Brooklyn City Hiten Misty Ubisoft Toronto

Mind Mapping

When I was in college I used to always draw tons of sketches in my notebook. Brainstorming ideas, outlining tasks, writing quick notes down. I ran into a problem where I really needed all the information for my art work in a clear layout. A excel sheet seems to the right choice. Right? For me I honestly prefer using mind mapping software. Basically a mind map is everything your thinking of in a radial map.

It has connecting branches which helps link ideas and topics. It's more then just an organization tool, it also helps me brainstorming ideas for anything. I now start everything with mind maps. It's very easy to show anyone my ideas about anything. It’s also easier for anyone else looking at your outlines to better understand whats going on. I’m not gonna list my favorite or best mind mapping software, but do a quick Google search and test a couple of them out for yourself. If your interested in knowing exactly which software I use, send me a email :)

Making of tutorial Brooklyn City Hiten Misty Ubisoft Toronto


When I first started creating ideas for Brooklyn City, it was to make a small closed off street corner. I went onto Google to search for more images of areas of Brooklyn that I thought were interesting and I would like to explore. After collecting some new images, I started blocking out a simple scene.

Making of tutorial Brooklyn City Hiten Misty Ubisoft Toronto

New Ideas

At this point I look back at my render and do a few paint overs to get a better overall feel of the environment. Then I look at my Photoshop doc that had my previous art work in it, and realize what I was currently working on wasn’t really building on my past success. It wasn't pushing my skills further, it’s not really challenging me to create better art. Sure, there are a few small things that are helping me improve, but my end product didn't have any "WOW / cool" factor to it.

So I go searching on my favorite art blog ffffound.com. I love looking at crazy new ideas that other artists have. Some are just over the top, and then I saw something that I really liked. It was a photograph of a surreal city that was vertical. It had its streets connecting from the bottom to the top. It was just simple paper cut-outs of all the objects, but it gave me the inspiration to create something more grand for my artwork.


So the scale of the entire environment exploded. It was a small environment and quickly grew into the largest environment I’ve created. A good challenge I guess :) So back to brainstorming ideas. I really liked the idea of having a city on top of a city. So I began finding possible areas of Brooklyn that would be interesting to see.

City in the Sky:

Next was defining what the sky should look and feel like. I had recently seen the movie Inception. I remembered one part of the movie when the city folds on top of it's self, it looked really cool. I wanted to do something similar to this, but not the same. So the basic idea was to have a city upside down in the sky and have the Brooklyn bridge connecting the ground to the sky. The city in the sky would be whatever city was across from the Brooklyn bridge.

Making of tutorial Brooklyn City Hiten Misty Ubisoft Toronto

Block Out

After making the adjust from my smaller closed off environment, to the larger scale city on city idea. I went though each section of the image to see where I could improve my use of the elements and principles of design. I do a ton of paint overs on the render itself. After this step I do take the time to define what changes I need to make in a word doc.

Adding a detailed description and what the next actions are in order to complete it. It's more then a "to-do", it's more of a project list. It allows me to see everything I can do within the 3d Max program, Photoshop or the web. For example if I need to gather more references photos of the Brooklyn bridge, I don't need to be at my home pc to do that, I could be at any computer to gather the images. Capturing and collecting all open loops can be a huge help in your productivity.

Making of tutorial Brooklyn City Hiten Misty Ubisoft Toronto


When first starting this scene out I found some cool reference of abandoned warehouse and run down alleyways. The images I liked most were the ones that had a lot of post processing in them. The ones which made the colors almost surreal, adding purples and reds, instead of having very desaturated browns and blues. I took a few simple color swatches and added them to my Photoshop file.

I started doing quick paint overs of my simple renders to ensure the goals I had for my post processes had some legs to them. I personally always try to "look into" something rather then "finalize" something early on in my art work. It allows me to still brainstorm and experiment with my ideas without completely committing to them. I also wanted to really push the depth in my scene with my z-depth pass, both in the sky (up side down city) and on the ground.

Making of tutorial Brooklyn City Hiten Misty Ubisoft Toronto


Earlier I shared with you my goals for the project, let's do a quick review:

  • Get interviewed at 3DTotal
  • Win Game Artisans Award
  • Get on to the cover of 3D World mag
  • Get on the cover of 2D World mag
  • Win CGTalk Choice Award

After submitting my art work to these online galleries, and waiting for a few weeks I finally got the results back ! I had only succeeded in one of my goals. Just one, but I was still happy with that because I knew my latest piece of art had clearly improved and scored me a game artisans choice award. But I still had a four goals that I didn't reach. In my making of Yuki Machi Tut I talked about listing the positive and negatives. I did that again here below. So now I'll take this chart and compare my art work to ones in the art galleries that I didn't get my art work in.


  • Use of scale
  • Use of surrealism
  • Lighting


  • Lack of sense of history
  • No figure/human scale in scene


As you can see, this isn't your normal “making of” tutorial. It was intended to show you the very big picture. It shows that you will face tons of mistakes, and a ton of success. It's never easy to make good art, but making art can become a lot simpler. By knowing where you're going. Creating any scene is always a learning experience. If you have any questions about this tutorial or my workflow please email at Hiten@hitenmistry.com

Making of tutorial Brooklyn City Hiten Misty Ubisoft Toronto

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