Monthly Archives: September 2016

In quite the change of scenery, we move away from the sedateness Norfolk Broads and look at structures of a rather larger architectural scale.

I initially wanted to have a go at the Empire State Building, but sadly Cinema 4D was insistent in this not happening, slowing to a crawl if not grinding to a complete standstill when trying to build. Hmm! It’s never got quite that bad before, and what’s perplexing is that it’s far from the most complex model… I’m expecting it to be something to do with the sheer number of windows and the ineptitude of my ageing machine…

Of course, with this as it is, the model is nowhere near complete. I did salvage a couple of shots to show how it was looking:

So, in trying to go even simpler, I headed south to the twin towers of the original World Trade Center. This time, I did not ‘impress’ the windows, instead creating the facades predominantly with horizontal and vertical beams, cloned to glory and framing a huge semi-transparent pane. I was pleased with how quickly the structure started to echo the real thing.


wtc0061aWith C4D not playing silly buggers quite so much this time, I was free to start adding smaller details – the observation deck and antennae on the roof…

wtc0054a…and the gothic ‘forked’ foundation and peak of the structures, made with a little help from the LoftNURBS tool. The transition from Loft to beam is a little choppy in places, but it was on the whole a pleasingly happy process.

wtc0002awtc0052-aThere was a definite sense of harmony in ‘rebuilding’ the towers – I hope I did them justice.

The inspiration for these models – and the title of this post – came from some high-definition footage of New York, shot in 1993, long before such technology had found (and shrunk) its way into our pockets. I found it fascinating for this; with such sharpness, it rather blurs the lines of a near quarter-century.


My series of mill models over the spring explored several structures, each with a full set of sails and apparently all necessary gear to go to work. I neglected to focus on their derelict colleagues, who in their way are just as charming, perhaps more so inasmuch as stimulating the imagination and exuding their own haunting embrace.

I’ve not based my model on any particular mill this time; I just harked back to the days when I would go round the Broads on Sundays and then come back, inspired, and create my own landscape drawings. Never was there not a windmill in view! I have essentially circled back round to that with these exercises, which is probably why they’re so enjoyable.

What these offer over a Biro sketch, of course, is a real command of dimension and exploration. The approach to such a mill can be fun, cutting through the askew and unkempt veil of these artefacts. Overgrown pathways and sheltered streams, everywhere but nowhere to go, giving a true sense of discovery (and triumph, despite the nettle stings!) upon actually reaching the destination…

…and then of course you realise there was a clear footpath if only you’d approached from the other way. Still, though.

This twirling time machine may have long since ground to a halt, but its impact… wait, was it me, or did you just see a man at the door…?

Flashback to former glories, or resplendent restoration? You decide.

new11The show is back on the road! After being thoroughly counted out in recent weeks, it seems felicitous to return to the digestive biscuit embrace of Countdown. As much a joy as a convenience –  I shan’t lie! – it has spurred just about the only thing I’ve created since my last post approximately ten years ago. I know, I know… it’s not good enough!

With typical over-excitement, Richard Whiteley spent the last Countdowns of 2002 banging on about the new set coming the following year. This would have been the first real cosmetic change in a near decade of viewing, so it did pique my curiosity – I had visions of the show being completely changed: all computerised and shiny, a charmlessly futuristic number done on the clock and everyone wearing spacesuits to fit in.

I was, of course, drastically overestimating the Countdown budget, never mind the appeal of spacesuits. What we did ultimately get didn’t do much for me, frankly, though I suppose your summation will depend on how you rate an assault of bright pink and magenta. Perhaps it was all an attempt to make Richard’s jackets appear less garish? Maybe they were the inspiration to begin with – I can appreciate it that way!

Designer Andy Walmsley is also credited with Who Wants To Be A Millionaire? – a masterful design that has travelled the globe. A valiant fist of Countdown was made; well-meant and surely unique, but just a bit over the top and ill-fitting for me. Thank goodness the game’s simple beauty shone brighter than any set piece!

Now that I’m done slagging off the set, I’d best talk about the process. This was a redressing job, working with my original graphics and essentially sticking cuboids around the carryover elements. While perhaps not easy on the eye in reality, it was fun to play with intense colours and semi-transparent material in 3D – though, as I whinge about every encounter, these features did heavily impact on render times, on this occasion even creating some issues in animation, with nasty strobing on the stripes… hmm! I think I really have generated something resembling the real deal!

Maybe my indifference toward this whole look is compelled by the fact that Countdown was sprawled on the ropes, reeling for much of this period. Feeling bloated after the extension to forty-five minutes, it was then thrown back an hour to 3pm, immediately robbed of its sizable student audience (including me!) and raising doubts about its future. Of course the most monumental blow came in 2005, with the very sad passing of Richard; this beckoned two lacklustre runs with Des I (Lynam) and II (O’Connor) as chair – both were presenting while apparently scanning the studio for the quickest exit. Thank goodness Jeff Stelling and Rachel Riley came along in 2009, waking the thing up and restoring Countdown to the integrity and modest vigour of the good old days.

There’s only one more ‘era’ of Countdown to cover, really – the nineties, the era I remember most warmly – so I mightaswell give that a go. One day, when I’m thrown a conundrum.


I thought something like this would be a a neat and sufficiently retro way of showing my wrestlers all together. Can YOU collect all ten WWF Superstars, including the ultra-rare wild card? It’s the cereal box treat that packs a punch!

I redid André the Giant to fit in with the adopted style of the series. I think ten seems an adequate point to call for the bell. Though, I’ve really not submitted – these outrageous characters have been such fun and I’m chuffed with them all, such that I can quite see me producing a second series of cards before long. I was keeping a list of potential portraits as I went along, and there are still many notable characters left over.

It has been nice to dust off another corner of my youth, coming to remember why I enjoyed it, likewise why I quite hastily fell out with it. A valuable exercise, and one which I do hope you enjoyed! Maybe more soon!