PROJECT: Re-Visualising pre-1539 St Mary’s Abbey, York- Part 6

St Mary's Abbey YorkA small update on my abbey project. I am currently in the process of modelling some of the more detailed gothic decoration of the abbey’s exterior. This is quite difficult as the abbey’s decorative plan is only speculative at this point, with hardly any archaeological evidence. As a result I am referring to the schemes of other local ecclesiastic buildings  such as the York Minster and other Benedictine abbeys. 

Another part of the model I have been working on is the River Ouse created from real grass and dirt textures and a water photo. I intend to eventually blend the edge of the riverbank model with the grass model.

river

I am also beginning to model portals and their doors and add stained glass texturing to the windows. After that I will start to model some of the other buildings in the complex, such as King’s Manor (Abbott’s house), the Hospitium and St Mary’s Lodge, and also make a start on populating the grounds with trees and foliage.

*screenshot author’s own.

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PROJECT: Re-Visualising pre-1539 St Mary’s Abbey, York- Part 5

abbey 3 july

Some more progress on my MSc dissertation project.! After trialling out some textures, taken from texturer.com, I visited York Museum Gardens to obtain photographs of the abbey which I can then use for the final texturing of the model. The above screenshot is the beginnings of my UV mapping the abbey with the real abbey textures.

When it comes to texturing the stained glass I may have to continue using the generic glass I used in my trial texturing, see previous post. Most of the content and design of the glass is unknown from archaeological excavation, therefore looking at other Benedictine abbeys may be useful for this.

cloister

Another feature I have been working on was adding the arcade in the cloister (above) and started some bump and specular mapping. Aspects to alter next would be the scale of some of the texture mapping and I also need to start thinking about adding doorways and looking at the design of 16th century kings manor!

*all screenshots author’s own.

PROJECT: Re-Visualising pre-1539 St Mary’s Abbey, York- Part 4

abbey 19 may

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.

TREE

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.

*all screenshots author’s own.

PROJECT: Re-Visualising pre-1539 St Mary’s Abbey, York- Part 3

5 elevation heights amended2

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.

PROJECT: Re-Visualising pre-1539 St Mary’s Abbey, York- Part 2

Okay…so I have now hit the 12 hour mark (I am tracking this as I go along) and I have made some (a little) progress since my previous post on my dissertation project.

I have now modelled the plan of the abbey and it’s surrounding architectural complex. I may add the precinct walls after I have finished the main structure, but here is a screenshot of where I am up to regarding the abbey plan:

3b plan complete

My plan of the abbey is modelled to scale based on a reference image that is formed from archaeological record, as most of the abbey is not standing for us to see today.

My next steps are getting the elevation proportions correct. This will be very difficult as the only images I am relying on are artist’s impressions such as this one below by Edwin Ridsdale Tate (1929) Image source: Mee, F and Wilson, B (2009) ”St Mary’s Abbey and the King’s Manor, York: The Pictorial Evidence”).

Edwin Ridsdale Tate 1929 impression- Mee and Wilson p23

For the other buildings in the complex, such as the chapter house and cloisters I will have to use my architectural knowledge of proportion alongside a close examination of Ridsdale’s elevation to work out how high I should elevate the walls, or what architectonic decoration they should have (particularly with St Mary’s being a Benedictine abbey, it will be very ornate).

I have started using Ridsdale’s elevation impression for modelling the tower, spire and roof, and I will also lower the heights of the abbey’s surrounding buildings. The screenshot below is is where I am at the moment of this project.

Overall, I am aiming for accuracy in my visualisation, both archaeological and architectural. This project is certainly bringing to light issues in visualising the uncertain. How will I represent the uncertain in my model? Also, to what extent can I rely on Ridsdale’s artist impression? What research did he base his drawing on? Whilst I model the abbey I have to think about these types of issues.

4 elevation beginnings and tower

PROJECT: Re-visualising pre-1539 St Mary’s Abbey, York- Part I

St Mary's Abbey(above, St Mary’s Abbey ruins, York. Photo author’s own)

My MSc dissertation for my Digital Heritage degree is due in just over a year, a huge benefit to me as a part-time PG student, which means I have plenty of time (hopefully!) to actually model what I plan to discuss in the main paper.

Through my dissertation, I hope to explore the benefits and limitations of using gaming technologies for educating and experiencing the pre-dissolution architecture of St Mary’s Abbey in the Museum Gardens, York (see my above photo). Gaming and architecture are my specialist topics so why not bring them together for my dissertation!

I chose St Mary’s Abbey as it’s one of my personal favourite locations in York, it’s very picturesque as it’s now in ruins, yet it’s history is overshadowed by other monumental heritage sites in York, such as the Minster. It was one of the richest Benedictine abbeys in England at it’s height in the 13th and 14th centuries, and was thought to be entirely constructed in the 13th century gothic style. To be able to create an application to allow other people to interact with and visualise the reconstructed ruins is a much needed-app for the heritage of York as a lot of museums are turning to digital methods of public engagement.

To coincide with the discussion in the paper, I am creating a 3D model of the Gothic (not Romanesque) St Mary’s Abbey pre-1539 to demonstrate some of the benefits and limitations in the creation stage, and if I finish it, to pilot it out with some users as part of a heritage gaming application. Ideally I would like it to be interactive, and perhaps to contain a narrative that leads to an end-game goal. I will create the abbey in Blender 3D then import the model into Unity gaming software.

I have just worked for three hours in Blender 3d software and this is what I have at the moment, still in the extreme basic polygon meshing and manipulating stage but it’s all to scale and based on a reference image of an architectural plan of the abbey (plan source Mee, F and Wilson, B (2009) “St Mary’s Abbey and the King’s Manor, York: The Pictorial Evidence”). I still have to mesh the other buildings in the abbey complex, but here’s a couple of screenshots of my progress so far:

2- manipulating polygons

2b- manipulating polygons

I intend to post a lot more developments on this dissertation project, so watch this space!