Last year I was very fortunate to be invited to The National Archives (TNA) in Kew to feature in their Archives Inspire video (above), filmed by the wonderful Magneto Films.
It was a privilege to be filmed alongside the other cast who are all brilliant professionals and it was lovely to revisit TNA after spending a year as one of their Transforming Archives Trainee‘s. The Magneto team were very professional, especially as it was my 1st attempt at being in front of a rather large camera!
Archives Inspire is a four year campaign looking at new ways audiences can experience and use archives- have a look at TNA’s Chief Executive Jeff James’ blog post and the Archives Inspire pages on TNA’s website for more.
Digital is an interesting challenge for the archives sector, where records being produced are increasingly in the digital format (think from large organisation’s records to personal photographs). Over the past decade Archivists have been thinking about how to preserve digital media for accountability, evidential, cultural and research purposes. At present, digital is now becoming central to the archival profession as we hope to preserve these records and facilitate access.
I am particularly interested in the creative uses of archives, especially heritage engagement using 3D models, websites, online exhibitions and videogames. I was very honoured to be able to showcase some of my 3D work in TNA’s Archives Inspire video- you can see my North Bar (Beverley) model in the video showcased using the software Blender 3D. Very grateful that something I’ve been doing for over 5 years is being featured in such an important video.
After months of browsing other artist’s portfolios with admiration I have finally created my own ArtStation account as a platform to showcase my heritage visualisations. Since ArtStation now facilitates the embedding of 3D models from SketchFab I decided to give it a try: https://www.artstation.com/artist/archivisth 🙂
The stately home of Burton Agnes Hall and its grounds are one of the favourite places from my childhood, particularly with myself having ancestors from the village, Burton Agnes. The gatehouse is particularly striking as a work of architecture so I had a go at interpreting my own photographs of the gatehouse to create a 3D model in Blender.
The building was constructed in c.1610 by the English architect Robert Smythson, well known for his work during the Elizabethan era such as Hardwick Hall and Wollaton Hall. It features many architectural forms which are typical of this period, including the battlements and ogee-shaped roofing. Have a look at Historic England’s entry in the National Heritage List for England for this gatehouse.
I intentionally omitted the walls which extend from the gatehouse as I wanted to focus on the gatehouse structure itself, and similarly I also removed visitor signage. The model did not take as long to model as expected due to the symmetrical nature of the architecture-the mirror modifier tool was very useful!
As the Hotham house in Beverley, East Yorkshire was demolished over 200 years ago I thought I would carry out some 3D visualisation work on what the building may have looked like in the 18th Century based on the 1715 architectural design.
You may have heard of Sir John Hotham (1st Baronet), who in 1642 refused Charles I of England entry to Kingston Upon Hull, and as a result, contributing to the beginnings of the English Civil War. Over half a century later a member of his extended family, Charles Hotham (4th Baronet), built a grand classical house down Eastgate in the nearby town of Beverley. It was designed by the renowned Georgian architect Colen Campbell who is credited as the founder of the style.
Hotham purchased and demolished several properties down the East side of Eastgate to build his new home (East Riding Archives DDBC/16/67). Built between 1716-1721, the neo-Palladian house was intended to be a family home yet the house remained empty after Charles’ death in January 1723 and was demolished after 50 years.
Creating the Model in Blender: I modelled the front facade of the Hotham house with as much accuracy to Colen Campbell’s elevation drawing in his published work Vitruvius Britannicus (1715). As with most visualisation works, some interpretation had to be made when thinking about the window styles, doorway and material colour.
Campbell does not make clear which building materials were used. Records show that Hotham purchased local red bricks for the building (Hull University Archives, DDHO/15/4) yet Campbell’s design is absent of brickwork. I decided to texture the facade with a stucco-material as this possibly would have been applied on top of the brick surface. Stucco is also a key characteristic of classical architecture.
The symmetrical nature of neo-Palladian architecture meant that Blender’s mirror modifier tool came in handy, saving a lot of modelling time! It would have been useful if Campbell had drawn side elevations, so to interpret the scale of the side facades I used the accompanying ground plan to model an appropriate measurement based on proportions.
William Burrow’s 1747 map of Beverley shows the Eastgate location of the house fronted by a possible semicircular courtyard. Modelling the surrounding gardens and wider environment would be the next challenge to progress this model. This brings to light new questions relating to what the surrounding 18th-century Beverley landscape looked like, research into the garden design of the house and whether to populate the visualisation with people.
Just an update on my pre-dissolution visualisation of St Mary’s Abbey (York)! I have not posted in a while as I have been spending a lot of my time on this project, but from the screenshot you can see I have made a lot more progress since my last post, and I have started trialling out textures and adding some of the more intricate gothic features.
I’m currently using free textures from texturer.com but will later take some photos of the abbey ruins itself in the York Museum Gardens as to use the actual stone as the abbey stonework for the final model render. The current background photo was taken in Swanland, East Yorkshire, as a basic representation of countryside. This will be useful for when rendering a natural light on the scene.
One aspect of modelling the abbey I found particularly difficult was the tracery windows. I originally began modelling the windows by subdividing edges and translating vertices across a window plan (taken from Ridsdale’s artist impression) however I decided that this was a problematic long route around something that could be done in a few clicks. I then tried a quicker different method, the boolean modifier tool, which turned out very well as it “cookie-cut” geometry from the window mesh. This saved me half the time and made the quatrefoils and lancets much neater shapes than had I been creating the curves myself.
I am currently also in the progress of modelling some general natural scenery, such as trees using the sapling add-on, which will decorate the abbey grounds. I will make these as random as possible, and will use a variety of leaf textures.
I still have a long way to go whilst keeping an eye on the polygon count! Features still to model on the abbey buildings are rose windows, windows for the other buildings in the complex, alcoves, buttresses and portal decoration. I will also need to find a suitable grass texture for the grounds, and will look into how I’m going to represent the River Ouse.
Just a quick update on the modelling of St Mary’s Abbey, York, in Blender…
After around 14 hours, I have now altered the wall elevation heights to match the plan drawings I am working from (see previous posts 1 and 2 for more info on these). It now looks a lot more like the very basics of a Benedictine Abbey!
I am finding that the Ridsdale artist impression is a little inaccurate to the plan drawing of the abbey which was based on archaeological excavations at the site. This is an issue, who do I trust more? I’m leaning more to the newer plan based on excavation evidence carried out after Ridsdale’s drawing, and just using Ridsdale’s impression as a secondary reference.
Next steps: completing the roofs of the other buildings in the complex, and beginning to “sculpt” the micro-architecture on the exterior facades before creating the windows.