See How to Create Batman-Style Dark Deco 3D Buildings in Blender

Tomasz Artur Bolek walked us through the series of Batman-style dark deco 3D building concepts and shared in detail his approach to modeling and texturing the buildings in Blender, along with insights into lighting and rendering techniques.


Hi, my name is Tomasz Artur Bolek. I am a 3D Artist from Poland and an alumnus of the National Film School in Łódź. My interest in 3D and CGI began in 2014 when I gradually became more interested in game development and film special effects. Over the years, I've contributed to various projects, including video games such as SUPERHOT, SUPERHOT VR, and SUPERHOT: MIND CONTROL DELETE, and a number of short films.

Journey Through Blender

My experience with Blender started with my entry-level job at SUPERHOT in 2015, where I learned a lot about modeling from Marcin Surma, Art Director of SUPERHOT. Excited by the possibilities of this software, I delved more and more into it, creating my own little projects using primitive buildings and urban structures. I was drawn to learning Blender because of its intuitiveness, speed, and versatility. It also turned out to be a really useful tool during my studies, so it has accompanied me in various environments all these years.

Building Virtual Skyscrapers

I started my series of 3D building concepts in early 2021 by experimenting with a system of modular structures, which later allowed me to create complex skyscrapers. At the time, I felt like I could take it to a new place that I hadn't seen before. From the initial visual tests, I noticed that it resonated strongly with other people on social media, especially urban photographers, so I started investing more time in it. In my approach to 3D architecture, it was important for me to refer to the way I photograph and observe real buildings. Many years ago, I started going for evening walks with my camera and looking for interesting shapes and compositions in my city. At some point, I started using these photographic references to create my 3D projects.

Inspired by Legends

I draw inspiration from various sources. From the city-machine of Metropolis to Dark Deco from Batman: The Animated Series. In terms of individual artists, I have to single out the work of Syd Mead and Hugh Ferriss as massive inspirations for my artistic journey. The vibrant and distinctive future landscapes in Mead's work have influenced the way I use color and contrast. Ferriss's atmospheric architectural drawings have always inspired me with the perfect play of light and shadow, the treatment of building shapes, and the elegant fog that enhanced the mystery of his works.

The Workflow

I create my buildings from simple shapes, using Array and Wireframe modifiers. The more rudimental and fragmented the geometry, the easier they are to control. Especially the wireframe modifier, which gives great opportunities to quickly modify their appearance and create the illusion of technical detail in the geometry or structure of the building itself. I always try to find the right balance between dreamlike and realistic, and I usually gravitate towards almost monochromatic designs to maximize the power of interaction between the light coming on and the rest of the composition.

My system of creating projects is not linear, I usually try to work in a top-down fashion, which involves organizing most of the key elements at the same time. These key elements definitely include camera settings. The building itself, lighting, and fog are very important, but ultimately the frame in which I present it all is of final importance.

My initial projects were limited to orthographic projection, where I crafted all the elements into geometric, compositionally precisely measured spaces. This worked well for unifying the scale of objects and creating the impression of a very long camera lens. At some point, I got tired of it for a while and started creating more standard photographic compositions using wider lenses.

In the next stage, I was looking for other, more transformative methods that would allow me to manipulate the space in the frame more using perspective and camera positioning. By default, Blender has one more tab in camera types: Panoramic. There are many different types of panoramas you can experiment with. For me, the best and most unique results are provided by Fisheye Lens Polynomial, which allows for truly surreal outcomes.


For rendering, I use Cycles with Open Image Denoise usually enabled to speed up the process. Remembering to set all volume objects to Homogeneous allows me to save a lot of time in more complex scenes because I use the base volume scatter shader without any texture to create fog.

When my rendering is finished I proceed to Affinity Photo or Photoshop and start by duplicating the main image layer multiple times to create a unique glow effect, which I control with Gaussian and Motion Blur, using various blending styles. Then I adjust the exposure of the image, reduce the amount of black, enhance the colors in a more or less transformative way, and add brightening or darkening gradients to increase the depth.

From time to time I render animations in a standard way, where I have to go through hundreds of frames, but in most cases, I prefer simpler, more time-saving solutions. I mainly work with single-rendered frames in After Effects. I animate keyframe opacity and move image elements in layers to bring static shots to life.


For me, the combination of light, dense fog, and angular, monochromatic elements is always a recipe for imagination-stimulating imagery.

In my workflow, I prefer to use light that is not the default lighting object. Instead, I use emission planes that I modify in terms of shape and visibility settings for each part of the scene. This approach allows me for more personalized control and makes it easier to create complex lighting conditions. I depend on intuition when choosing the intensity, direction, and color of light to achieve my desired atmosphere. I create fog based on ordinary shapes with Volume Scatter and Volume Absorption shaders. I place and modify them using the same principle as in the case of emission planes to precisely define the area of fog and its impact on the structure of the building.


I usually try to start and finish projects on the same day, although, obviously, some take much longer. For many years, I tried to maintain a work system in which the main factor was to limit many elements to a very short iteration time.

As for the whole series of my individual projects, I am combining them into one world, which I called Third Fog War. I have big plans for its development, and in the future, I intend to go beyond the framework of individual skyscrapers and sections of urban structures. At the moment, I can't reveal anything yet, but this is certainly just the beginning of a bigger adventure.

When it comes to challenges and difficulties, consistency is by far the biggest one, especially when it comes to a long-term commitment to a project and a vision that emerged many years ago and is starting to become a reality.

As for advice to other artists: remain steadfast in your approach to self-development and cultivate your craft with patience. Dream big, chase those dreams, and don't let anything stand in your way.

Here are some more works on Instagram: the first one, the second one, and the last one.

Tomasz Artur Bolek, 3D Artist

Interview conducted by Theodore McKenzie

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