How to get upstairs?

Work In Progress / 14 November 2018

Last time when I showed some interior of the building, It was all quite empty. For now I worked on a little more detail. Back in the day Dutch people slept in what they called a "Bedstee". If you would describe it, it would be a wardrobe with a bed inside. They did this to have a warmer place to sleep at night in a poorly isolated stone house. Here is a picture of one in an old windmill.

 Our bedstee is connected with the staircase next to it. The staircase itself has a door to keep the warm air from the day to escape to the cold attic. Figuring out how the staircase should turn and how big it should be was quite a challenge. And only after I started checking the scale in VR did I manage to create something that felt believable and useful.

Later on we will give the bedstee some thick woolen curtains. We also have to dress up the fireplace. Some chairs and a table and it will start to feel like a real home.

The old street - Weddesteeg

Work In Progress / 09 November 2018

With the basis of the house done it was now time to focus a little more closely on the environment. From the city archives we found an old map of the whole city from around the time that we are reconstructing. Here you see a little cutout from the street that we are working on. Together with some later more precise maps we were able to figure out all the probable house placements and sizes.

From that position I started creating all the walls and facades. For this I looked to many paintings of similar building styles as well as some still standing houses. This gave us a quite nice view of the skeleton house frames of just brick. No wall had the same size and often the houses were no regular rectangles so this took some extra care.

For each facade I had to make little variations, some a bit wider, some had a more pronounced slant. Different window counts and varying heights. For now we're just going to leave the windows as cutouts from the wall. Later we will fill those with separate pre-made window assets. This is to help with adding variation and to allow the game engine later to handle everything more flexibly.

Using the same photoscanned roof we used for Rembrandt's house we can create all the roofs. Then we fill in the back of the street with house blocks of the rough shape they should be. It's far from realistic at the moment, but for now we can use this to get a good idea and feel of how it would have been.

If you look closely you can see the little house behind Rembrandt's own house, this is where is grandmother would have lived. All the way on the right we have a blacksmith's shop and workplace behind it.

The 17th century house

General / 30 October 2018

The prototype is an important step in the production. To get a good feel for what the final building is going to be, I worked on a relatively quick setup for the house. This was based upon schematics provided by the Construction historian in our team. To get a useful building, I decided to make every wall a separate object. This way we can update the prototypes separately and have a basis for a good nice Level of Detail system. The result looked like a building under construction, which was pretty nice in itself.

I spend little time on the textures, mainly focusing on getting a proper idea. So the current textures I quite standard, taken from texture sites with a quick normal maps. The point was to get the idea across and to look around and get a spatial idea of the building. When we added the windows I mentioned in the previous blog, it really starts to look like something. The doors are for now, just copied shutters. these allowed me to make a dutch door design, with the two parts seperate.

And then the finishing touch with a photo scanned roof gave us this. The final image is rendered in Eevee. I had some struggles with the inside shadows leaking to the outside walls.

Next up i will make some more traditional facades for the neighboring houses. To give is a full street and we will start to get a good impression of the scene.


The basis of a 17th century Dutch house

Work In Progress / 17 October 2018

The project the currently occupies the most of my time, is currently "Rembrandt's Bakermat" which roughly translates to: the birthplace of Rembrandt. The good man grew up as a boy in the city of Leiden, an, at the time, prominent town in the Dutch United Republic.

His home would have been pretty average looking for a normal burgher of a prosperous town. And thanks to the many painters of his age, himself not forgotten, we have a pretty clear idea of what such a home would have looked like.

While we are still in the planning phase of the project, I went ahead and created some detailed pieces in advance, to get an idea of what we are going for.


Windows of the day were made of a strong wooden frame, small glass panels set in lead and wooden shutters. Glass was expensive at the time, so it was not uncommon to only find the top half with glass. If there was enough then openable windows would have been mounted on the bottom inside.

These glass panels are actually too big, I over estimated the size since my original reference didn't show the correct ones. I will correct this later.


The floor would have been made from terracotta stone. The same material as used for the orange rooftops. These tiles were backed from clay and sometimes glaced for more durability. Richer homes might have other colors or even marble floors, but for the average citizen was this not doable.


This texture doubled for me as practice for Substance Designer. I haven't had a chance to play around with the program before. But I got the hang of it pretty quickly. Stone tiles are not the hardest texture to make.

For those of you who worried that I dropped the last project of the castle. I did not, but this project asks for the priority right now.

The castle valleys of Luxembourg

Work In Progress / 21 August 2018

So this week I finally made a beginning on reconstructing the castle that is most dear to my heart. This castle is Bourschent (English: Boursheid), a large castle that stands on a hill near the similar named village. Standing proudly in central Luxembourg (West Europe), The castle currently is a ruin with several buildings reconstructed to open for tourism.

Ever since I visited this castle years ago, I knew I wanted to rebuild this castle in it's former glory. Back then my skills weren't up to the task, and so my tries didn't result in anything worth showing. After years the castle always had a place in my heart, and after a recent revisit, I decided to restart this old project.

Photo is property of VisitLuxembourg.com and is only shown with educational purpose.


The first challenge was the environment. If you ever get the chance to visit the castle, one of the most fascinated things its it's location. If there was ever a place to build a castle this is it. The large pointed rock that forms it's foundation seems to be destined to be build upon. And the view is breath taking, a clear view over the valley in the south and north, and massive hills behind it.

I tried extraction height information from satellite data first. But I was unsatisfied with the sample density (30+ meters).  After some more digging I stumbled upon a free to public LIDAR scan of the entire country of Luxembourg, thanks to the Luxembourgian government at data.public.lu.

I used the blender displacement modifier to rebuild the terrain from the, roughly 5,5 by 6,5 km, cut-out height map of the region. the quad density is higher in the nearby surroundings of the castle, to not overload the scene with polygons. The horizontal scaling was easy due to the 5x5 meter to one pixel scan data. Vertical scaling required me to do some height measurement in online apps.

From aerial photographs and the schematic map from the tourist folder (which is pretty accurate, even had a distance scale on it) I quickly created a low poly block out model of the castle and placed it on the right spot on the hill. As you can see, the castle and the rock below seem to belong together. (they share a history of at least thousand years)

Next blog I will talk about the first steps of basic texturing the of the environment. As a little tease, here is a sneak peak of how the project looks as of now:


  

Overdoing a Simple Contest

Work In Progress / 02 July 2018

So finally I crossed the barrier that was holding me back in posting my thoughts online. Let's go:

For this first blog I'm going to tell you about a little contest I'm joining. The premise is simple. Download the supplied energy drink can and give it a fancy texture.

Of course my mind doesn't allow myself to think simple and before I know it, some weird designs start to assemble themselves in my brain. The main question being: what would this can look like if it was from a magical world that stuck in the 17th century.

At this time I figured I wanted to try my hand at baroque. I've made some curls before, but never actually went all the way into all the little intricate details. I found out that one of the common elements in Baroque ornaments is the Acanthus leaf. After a little practice and drawing examples, I figured it out. I used curves to layout the shapes, and then filled in the surface as mesh.

So now for the can. The result idea is simple enough, decorate the can with these leafs and make it look pretty. There was another idea though. I wanted the can to have Crystalline  windows, this will be useful for a purpose I will keep a secret for a little while more. After building some frames, this is what I ended up with.

Of course, this is far from the finished result. But so far it starts to take the shape that we want it. The acanthus leaves, sadly, couldn't be as curved and curly as I'd like them. They will have to be baked onto the surface, and curling them too much won't give a satisfying result.

The next post is going to show you more of the ideas that I have and how I implemented them.

For now, farewell.

The contest is hosted by Sketchfab and is called "Texturing Challenge: Beverage Can"