The Making of “Sacred Tree” by Mahdi Sharif

Mahdi Sharif is a student from Iran. His entry in Middle East Talents Awards 2017 is called “Sacred Tree” ( Creating an ancient temple with an old tree in the moonlight was the main idea of this project. Let us read the tutorial from the digital artist himself:


“As a personal project, I was looking for something that allows me to learn new software and techniques. Also, I always wanted to create a mysterious place something like an old abandoned temple.”


“I usually start with some quick sketches, in this case, I also used some basic modeling to find the perfect composition. Another important step is gathering references and I usually keep doing that as I move forward.”

“For modeling, I used 3ds Max. Most of the scene modeled completely in 3ds Max but in some cases like columns and floor, I used ZBrush to add more detail. I also used RayFire plug-in to simulate damages and broken stones.”




Working in ZBrush

“One of the most important elements in this work is the tree and for modeling that I used SpeedTree. It’s a really powerful and easy to use software for creating vegetation. For the ivy, I used the 3s max plug-in Ivy from Guruware.”


Working on the tree in SpeedTree

Final model

Final model


“Moonlight was the kind of light that I had in my mind and for simulating that I used a V-Ray sun with a dark blue color. For torches, I used V-Ray sphere light. I added fire flames later in Photoshop and finally, I used some V-Ray plane light for lighting the tree.”




“I had to create multi-layer materials for creating different layers like dust, moss, and dirt to doing that I decided to use V-Ray blend material.”


Some material nodes












Rendering and Compositing:

“I rendered my scene with V-Ray and for postproduction I used Photoshop.”

The render scene before post-processing

The render scene before post-processing

“I brought my photos to Photoshop and composited different render elements together, color correct them then added light rays, fog, blur and some little light sparkles around the tree and finally a little color correction for the final touches.”

Finale image after post-production

Finale image after post-production

Being a digital artist is not that easy but having a whole lot of practice and experience will definitely be a helpful way to improve in this industry. We would like to thank you for joining the competition and sharing your educational tutorial to the digital artist community. Just keep focus and work hard on your personal work because that will help your skills to develop. Good luck to you!

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