The intention of this exploration was to create a satisfactory level of detail in a close up scenario, while using minimal geometry.
In fact, this scene consists of fewer than one-hundred thousand polygons, and instead makes used of textures to generate detail.
LuxRender 1.3.1 & Blender 2.69
At left is a wireframe view of the scene. Areas which appear darker or black tend to have more polygons, and appear darker because more edges are displayed in a finite space.
Although detail is not present in geometry, LuxRender creates much of the detail apparent in the final rendered image through Bump Mapping and Normal Mapping. These techniques allow for manipulation of surface normals of geometry, defined by a texture called a Bump Map or Normal Map.
This and the Sinc pixel filtering function allow for the appearance of high detail.
At right are the two textures used to define the surface of the gargoyle model in the lower right corner of the scene. The left-most image is the bump map, which essentially contains height data. The lighter the shade of grey, the higher that pixel is relative to darker pixels. This image closely follows the crevices present on the actual object.
Since the bulk of the scene's detail is derived from the textures assigned to surfaces, a simple OpenGL preview render exhibits nearly as much detail as the final frame.
The image at left is an OpenGL render of the scene, with lighting, BRDF shader functions, and effects such as light bloom notably missing. This leads to all materials appearing matte, like a sheet of paper, or slightly glossy.
Below are two animations which make use of this scene, neither of which were completed.