Art Spotlight: Low Poly San Francisco

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I’m Mohamed Chahin, a 3D artist/art director, based in Alexandria, Egypt. Though I’m known more for my 3D art, I do all kinds of visuals; in my free time I do some character illustrations, UI, branding, and animations, as well.

I started doing 3D stuff in college back in 2015. I had no idea what I was doing but with each new project I started learning new tricks and even simple terminologies like what topology is, what’s the difference between modelling techniques, render time, etc.

And I started posting my work online, which led me to my first freelancing project, and I’ve been doing freelancing projects ever since. Most of the stuff I learned I have learned from YouTube tutorials.


I was in San Francisco for a week doing some interviews and other meetings, and since I take pictures of random stuff whilst traveling, I took tons of pictures of the architecture there.

I watched Big Hero 6 and I’ve read in the art book how they managed to combine the Japanese architecture with the San Francisco and California ones to create San Fransokyo.

So once I got back I decided to make a quick scene using the photos as reference. Though the scene I created is super simple I kinda kept looking at the photos I took during my trip.


I used Blender for the whole process, even the compositing and simple color correction was all done there.


It’s a simple scene, really. I started with modeling the platform since one of the main features is the steep streets.

Then I created one of the buildings.

After that I placed the building on the platform and duplicated it.

Then I added some shaders to add colors to the scene, as well as some clouds and sun for the scene.

One of my flaws is that my workflow is all over the place; even though the scene wasn’t completed yet, I couldn’t help but tweak the post processing stuff, and add some gloom to the sun.

Then I added some random vehicles.

Then I added the electric poles.

And whenever I finish one of my scenes I do some small experiments with the shaders or different lighting setups.

I tried different colors but that didn’t work and I think I liked this one the most, trying out the lights from different angles, and I tried rendering the whole scene in this subsurface scattering material (image below).


When it comes to Sketchfab it was a bit tricky at first. Since most of my scenes are pre-rendered I don’t usually texture them the usual way, I just use the shaders in the software. So when it came to importing my scenes to Sketchfab I unwrapped all the models, joined some of the objects together so they share one huge texture, and baked the lighting and shaders I had in Blender to the textures.

So it’s mainly importing the model, importing the textures and applying them in the emission part of the materials tab, oh and also some really minor post processing stuff like adding some bloom, tone mapping and a tiny bit of vignette.

Dribble / Behance / ArtStation


About the author

Mohamed Chahin

An Egyptian artist and a freelance knight. Currently going on an adventure with Gandalf and Bilbo.

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