Image Courtesy of Andrey Plaksin

Exploring the Tomb of Nefertari: A 3D Walkthrough

Ancient history brought to life using 3ds Max

10 mins

Have you ever wondered what the inside of an Egyptian pyramid is like? We got the chance to talk with Andrey Plaksin, founder and curator of “The Tomb of Nefertari” project, to learn all about ancient times brought to life using modern technology.

Using 3ds Max, the walls of the once-forgotten tomb are explored in a 3D walk-through model, showcasing hieroglyphs, highlighting artifacts and examining history. 
Andrey discusses how he started his career in 3D modeling and what inspired him to create this marvelous and life-like piece.

Join us as we walk like an Egyptian into the depths of The Tomb of Nefertari.  



A look in the artist's history 

Hi, my name is Andrey Plaksin. I was born on May 3, 1984 in Frunze (now called Bishkek,) a city in Kyrgyzstan, a small and not-so-wealthy country. Professionally, I work in architectural visualization, and my hobby is Egyptology. When I moved to Moscow in March 2008, I was looking for a job and tried a few options.

I started working at Casino-Design Studio in 2009; after a few years, there were a few internal moves and the studio changed its location and name to Circus Delight Studio. I’ve worked with this wonderful team for 10 years, starting out as an Assistant Designer and then moved up to 3D Visualization Team Lead. I worked hard to develop my knowledge in architectural visualization, and my main job was visualizing interiors of public entertainment facilities, casinos, and restaurants. I also became a member of the Autodesk User Community in Russia during this time, which lead to being invited to speak at several Autodesk events such as SAPRyazhenie and Autodesk University Russia. After many years of learning and achieving the success I envisioned in architectural visualization, I decided to make a move and try Egyptology in 2015.

A boy, a videogame and a passion 

As a child, I loved playing video games on Sega and PlayStation consoles. During 1996-1997, the cult games Tomb Raider and Resident Evil were released; these games impacted me so much, that I dreamed of becoming a 3D modeler for games. In 2001, I became acquainted with 3d Studio Max, now known as 3ds Max, and since then, I have had a long “romance” with this software.

During my 3ds Max studies, I recreated interiors from the Resident Evil game, which lead me to become a specialist in architectural visualization focusing mainly on interiors. I wasn’t particularly good at the game Tomb Raider and its Egyptian locations, though it did inspire me to create 3D art. It was just a fantasy at that time since I didn't have a solid background in Ancient Egyptian history.

"The games impacted me so much that I dreamed of becoming a 3D modeler, so I could make levels for these games."

Meet 3ds Max - a relationship for life 

As I mentioned earlier, 3ds Max is the primary tool I have been using throughout my career. 3ds Max has all the tools for integrated work on (but not limited to) architectural projects. I especially like how this software is developed. For example, a seemingly simple and small tool called Project Folder is something I have used from its very first integration. The recent update of the tool saves a lot of time on projects, eliminating confusion between project elements (for example textures, IES-files, and many more aspects). For everyday tasks, the built-in tools in 3ds Max for modeling and texturing are enough for me to work with. I use my personal Egyptian-themed projects to experiment with the basics of these new release updates. 

"I draw a lot of inspiration from various sites on architectural visualization. I also improve my knowledge of 3ds Max every time there is a release of updates."

I consider my main challenge to be the speed at which I work and the production of high-quality visualization. For me, the stability and performance of the software is a top priority. I often use interactive rendering, and considering that Corona Renderer has practically no settings, I don't need to spend a lot of time adjusting the speed and quality parameters of the final image. I spend this time on creativity, selecting the angle of view for the scene, the intensity, and color of light sources, and the parameters of materials. 

An educational and fun experience, all rolled into one

I love the creative component of my work, although I used to like the technical aspects more. Most importantly, I like that any idea I have, I know I'll be able to develop it on-screen and share it with others. Combining the power of 3ds Max and Photoshop has given me the ability to reconstruct ancient architectural monuments, particularly Egyptian tombs. Modern technologies allow us to see what's lost in history, and give us the opportunity to relive it not only on monitors but also in printed form and in virtual reality experiences.

More recently, I restored the Egyptian tomb of Queen Nefertari with my friends. While I was working on this project, I studied new tools for implementation, with the goal to improve my skills in 3D. After 3 years of working on the project, when it was nearing completion, National Geographic found it on my website and are using it as part of the Queens of Egypt exhibition in Washington.


The Tomb of Nefertari: Challenges, goals and adversity 

When it comes to my 3ds Max workflow, there were almost no problems due to the extensive set of tools available for modeling and texturing. The main difficulty was the restoration of images and hieroglyphic texts. To understand all this, I began to study Egyptology, art, and religion of ancient Egypt, as well as ancient Egyptian hieroglyphic writing. It was difficult, and sometimes I really thought about quitting it all to focus on work and earning money. But my interest persevered in favor of continuing the study of Egyptology, thereby overcoming the difficulties step by step.

Of course, this wouldn’t be possible without the help of friends. For example, my friend Alex draws well in Photoshop, and he helped me by teaching me which tools and techniques were best to use, specifically in the Queen of Nefertari project. Another example would be on the part of Egyptology: a colleague in my study group of the ancient Egyptian language was gifted in the language more so than I was. They helped with the restoration of the lost texts, showed me alternate sources, and how to work with them. All the work took a total of 3.5 years to complete, although there were periods when I did not open the project for about half a year. Looking back and looking at my current knowledge and skills today, I could have very well restored the tomb in roughly 6 months.

Currently, my most difficult task is to make an interactive 3D model of the tomb using Unity. The project will continue to evolve, but unfortunately, I can’t reveal more details just yet!

"It was difficult, and sometimes I really thought about quitting it all to focus on work and earning money. But my interest persevered in favor of continuing the study of Egyptology, thereby overcoming the difficulties step by step."

One of the more unusual tasks regarding architectural visualization that was very necessary for this project was adding flickering light and natural lighting at the same time, making all reliefs of the tomb visible. In 3ds Max, there are a lot of ways to go about achieving this. To animate the flame of the lamp, I used a geometric model with various modifiers where the parameters were animated. For lighting, I also used parametric animation and controllers for the intensity and temperature of the light, which gave the impression of realistic lighting.


To learn more about the 3D reconstruction of the Tomb of Nefertari, please visit 

Posted By
  • 3ds Max
  • Design Visualization
  • Architectural Visualization
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