EMAIL: (now )
NAME: Michael Shevlin
TOPIC: Mythology
TITLE: The Lair of the Demilich
TOOLS USED: sPatch, Gimp
RENDER TIME: 6 hours, 14 minutes
HARDWARE USED: AMD Athlon XP 1700+, 512 MB RAM


Throughout the land, tales spread of evil rising; people were disappearing and turning up dead and mutilated days later.  Livestock died, crops withered, and the very daylight itself appeared to dim.  The town council called a meeting, and I volunteered to go along with the expedition to put an end to this evil.  We journeyed to the nearby mountains, the center of the darkness, and into the ancient ruins there.  Legend spoke of a powerful spellcaster that used to inhabit this once-great castle; now it appeared as though nothing but dust and rats reigned.  In the center of the tunnels beneath the ruins was an ancient burial chamber.

We pried open the chamber door and were confronted with a terrible skeletal visage, its empty eye sockets burning crimson with malice.  It was a demi-lich, a creature of absolute evil and unspeakable power.  Sustained by eternal undeath, it had been waiting here for millennia, gathering power for its dark schemes.  It turned its gaze toward us, and we knew no more.


Most of the small objects in the scene are bicubic patch objects created with sPatch.  The skull was a mesh that I found online about a year ago, but the site hosting it has since evaporated.  To the best of my knowledge, it was public domain.

I created a stone block through the creative use of CSG with height fields.  Since a single block, randomly rotated has 24 different possible orientations ( 6 faces * 4 rotations each ), I figured that I could get away with only a single block, which is duplicated somewhere on the order of 2000 times.  The advantage of using CSG and height fields over isosurfaces is evident in the render time.

The fires are accomplished with multiple media with multiple densities each.  The flame structure comes from the marble pattern while the overall structure of the fire is constrained with a stretched spherical pattern (in the case of singular fires) or gradient and wood (in the case of the ring of fire over the runes).

The pile of sulfur on the front right table was a trick to make.  While I didn't need it to avoid intersecting grains (at this detail level, you can't make out a single grain, let alone see if it's in the middle of another), I did need to figure out how to pile all of them up in a reasonable manner.  I found that working with cylindrical coordinates ( r, theta, and y ) in this case was really helpful.  The nature of the coordinates makes it easy to make circular shapes.  I came up with an algorithm that placed cubes (for simplicity) in round layers where the radius of the layer was dependant on its height; a square root type of function gave a nice pile shape.

The sparklies were placed in a similar manner to get them to swirl around the skull.  The sparklies are media objects; I tried playing around with various methods of generating lens flare but found that they tended to bog down with that many of them in the scene; the render time is much, much better using a bunch of tiny media-filled objects.

The texture used on the shroud in the sarcophagus and the texture on the tapestries in the background came from Paul Bourke's texture library at

The bunch of herbs on the rear right pedestal were generated with Gilles Tran's excellent maketree macro.  The runes are text objects of the freeware Angerthas Moria font by Morten Bek, individually rotated to fit the circle.

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Last modified 6 May 2007
Copyright © 2007 Michael Shevlin