Jul-Aug-2001, Topic FANTASY & MYSTIC
There is now a bigger version below, as I had to re-render it for a publication. It doesn’t looks so good because I had to adapt it to POV-Ray 3.5 syntax and many things changed suddenly, but I corrected only the most obvious flaws.
This is a classical view of the “Alchemist’s Laboratory”. Is something I wanted to do some time ago, and this round topic was the perfect excuse.
Alchemy is, basically, a research for good and truth. But perhaps it’s the only “mysticism” that uses empirical methods, and that often confuses people about his objectives. Also, the “fantasy” component is clear, because at least officially, home-made transmutation is not posible (any chemist here?:).
Some reference pictures where found on the net: seems that classical painters often chosen that subject. The most prolific in that topic seems to be David Teniers, and I mainly used his paintings as reference, but also looked at others, like Karl Friedrich, Thomas Wyck or Cornelis Pietersz.
The most curious of this “theme” is about composition. All painters seems to have the same fantastic vision of the alchemist laboratory, making very similar compositions. The little window with indirect sunlight is practically “obligatory”, as many of the tools and some of the “apparently” strange or innocent objects, which are many times allegories or hidden messages.
In fact my own composition, sketched roughly before seeing the paintings from Teniers, was exactly as in one of his pictures. So I used this picture as main reference, and thus you can find many similarities. Unfortunately, the image isn’t yet finished… as always, I needed one more week (or perhaps I need to work harder).
For the techniques, as always look at the code at your own risk. I’ve been tempted to write an “hermetic” explanation of the techniques used, but my english is not good enough for that. And, well, as my code is cryptic enough, I really don’t need to hide it with strange symbolism… 😉
Finally, some words about lighting. I wanted the room lighted by the sunlight, but not directly. I assumed as first fact that radiosity will not work. At least not within what I consider a “reasonable time”. So I faked the sunlight using some big area lights in front of the window hole, blocked with a no_image object to not permit it to go backwards. So, exterior and interior lights are independent. The effect is not bad at all, and obviously much faster than the radiosity settings needed for such situation. Anyhow, radiosity was still used, but with default settings, only to help a bit the overall effect.