Capturing the Essence of Syberia in 3D Art

Capturing the Essence of Syberia in 3D Art

Check out Igor Kulkov talking about some of the cool things he did with the Syberia fan art. What an amazing intricate work!


My name is Igor Kulkov. I am 30 years old. I was born in Kemerovo, Russia and I live there. I have been curious about CG since school, but these years the Internet was slow and there was no possibility to buy 3D software, so an occasion to learn it occurred only a few years later. It was only a dawn of CG in our country and there were hardly any job opportunities. So, I had to find another job and probably lost a lot of time of practice in 3D. We don’t have any CG education in our region, so I did not get a special training but graduated from IT university. In the following 5-7 years, CG industry had been growing and it became possible to deal not only with personal projects but also with commercial ones. Now I try to devote to the graphics all my time. Most of my works published in magazines are the independent projects that I did for pleasure and to influence a viewer’s mood.

My main commercial projects are 3D illustrations for websites and objects for catalogs.

For my personal artworks, I find inspiration in point-and-click adventures, like Syberia, Black Mirror, Nibiru, Broken Sword, Still Life and others. Those worlds and their environments are very atmospheric. I am also creating environments myself, endowing them with a mood and a story. I don’t have a goal to get a job in movie production or game industry, as it requires a bigger technical background. But I have been continuing to conquer the world of CG and perhaps it will lead to something.


As I mentioned before, I was inspired by pleasant memories of classical adventures and their atmosphere. When Syberia 3 (made with Unity3D) was released, a lot of PC fans were disappointed by its technical aspects being shifted away from the canon to consoles, which was obviously done to get more profit. It was then that I got the idea to take a concept art of Benoît Sokal and make a static background in the traditions of the original game. Surely, Syberia is the brightest example of point-and-click adventures. Its unique world combines the beauty of nature, amazing buildings, and machines. As for stylistics, it looks like a mix of Eastern Europe and moving mechanical devices, called automatons.


In fact, there were no complicated modeling techniques. All work was done in 3ds MAX 2017. Few details were added in Mudbox. Yeah, the process takes time, but it is not complex.

My workflow is easy:

  1. Set up walls with proper sizes
  2. Set up a camera, later I will orient all objects to it
  3. Use primitives to arrange main parts of the scene
  4. Fill the space with objects and details (all objects are made in a separate scene)

I will attach some examples below.


1 of 2
1 of 2


When it comes to texturing, I used Substance Painter in exceptional cases only. I did it mostly to study the software, not because I was not able to do it by native tools of 3ds MAX. Indeed, SP is really cool, it allows us to create smart materials relatively easy. However, you’ll get a slightly different result after rendering these materials in V-ray. All in all, I used SP to texture 7 or 8 objects. And now you’ll not find the difference between objects textured in SP or 3ds MAX by eye. As for textures, most of them were taken from including textures for ceiling and wood. Sure enough, I mixed them by masks pretty often to get more interesting artistic effects.


A lighting pipeline is very easy here, I often use the same workflow. Anyway, the final lighting is made by post-processing in Photoshop. I use HDRI environment map for the main light and intensify it by adding V-Ray light without reflection to a window aperture. Also, I add V-Ray Sun to create direct sunlight and set the mood. Mostly, they are default settings, except for light sources intensity. I make a final render a bit darker and adjust color contrast later at the stage of post-processing. As to V-Ray settings themselves, the only parameter that matters here is color mapping. In my artwork, I used an algorithm called Reinhard. From my experience, changing algorithms for primary and secondary lighting does not influence the picture, but probably changes the rendering speed. That is why I often use a pair Irradiance Map and Light Cache.


I can’t define the exact number of working hours because I don’t actually count them. I may spend 8 hours per day or 1-2, sometimes take breaks. Probably, daily work took about 3-4 weeks.

I did not set myself any complicated tasks, may be said that I simplified all tricky places of the concept. For example, according to the concept, the automaton who is opening the door is also removing his hat. But I designed him with an arm down and made the task easier. Also, I skipped a disassembled automaton in the foreground and a big cuckoo clock mechanism.

Igor Kulkov, 3D Artist

Interview conducted by Kirill Tokarev

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Comments 1

  • Krystian

    Well done!



    ·2 years ago·

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