Making of Roldal Pilgrim Center by Plankton Group

Planktongroup published the Røldal Pilgrim Center visual back in March this year, and it made a big impact on me. It reminded me a lot of MIR’s style, being located at Norway helped with that too… But this is a great piece of work standing alone, and relying so heavily on the use of Photoshop in achieving the final result form what proves to be a very simple raw render (from a super simple SketchUP model) makes the following read very interesting. Enjoy!

Author: Plankton Group

Plankton Group are a visualization firm based in Warszawa, Poland. Visit there online portfolio at –


The rendering was made for a Norwegian / Polish duo Thomas Tysseland & Micha? Bekas for a competition they did back in November in the small town of Røldal, Norway.

The competition site is located near a small river in a beautiful valley next to the Røldal stave church (Røldal stavkyrkje) which is a part of The Norwegian Cultural Heritage Site.

We were given a fairly accurate Google SketchUP 3d model. Considering the short amount of time we had for making the image it was really comfortable. We could focus on the atmosphere of the building straight away.

The image had to show the relation between the existing church and the Pilgrim Center. You could say the camera location was given by the architects, although we could slightly move the camera getting a better final composition.

Here are some screenshots of the model…





The research process was very quick. Since we first saw the project and looked at the area in which it was to be located, we almost exactly knew what kind of mood we wanted to achieve.

We heard lots of stories from our friends visiting Scandinavia, so the atmosphere we were trying to create was mostly based on our vision of Norway – a cold, moody, foggy, peaceful, quiet place 🙂


From the beginning we knew we wanted to do the majority of work in Photoshop so we really didn’t spend to much time refining the materials and lighting, as seen on the raw render below…


We used basic Image Based Lighting with some cloudy HDRI we had in our texture library.

The materials were also very basic – nothing spectacular here. There was much to be done in the post-production process.

One more thing. We always use Wire Color channel to easily select parts of the image when working in Photoshop:


Photoshop (The Fun Part)

We don’t like to call this process the ”post-production” process, since in this case (as well as many others) we spent almost all the time we are given in Photoshop so we think of this as the main production process.


We instantly knew we wanted the image to have a cold moody feel to it. We stared to lay out the main elements on separate layers: the church, the mountains, the grass, the trees.

Over the years we have collected a fairly big amount of textures in our library so we had lots to choose from. We used many photos of nature to recreate the existing surroundings.

We wanted to get a neutral composition so we could easily manipulate it with color and contrast correction later on. Using various adjustment layers (curves, hue/saturation) we got the elements of the image to work together.

Below you can see the various breakdowns… (click the images to enlarge them and see the sequences).

The Church Breakdown


The Mountains Breakdown


The Grass Breakdown


The Fog Breakdown


Color correction and Final Touches

After completing this process we were able to easily take advantage of the adjustment layers creating the final atmosphere of the image.

(click the images to enlarge them and see the sequences).


And here’s the final image…


We hope we shed some light on how this image was made.

Best of luck.