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Monthly Archives: January 2017

broads-3-1Yet more of this old timey Broads stuff. I’m really rather engrossed at the moment, even more than usual, so I sat myself down with some Jelly Babies, turned the music up and got going, once again aiming for brisk.

I didn’t think too much of my river on Black Beauty, so began with a view to tackling that. The water of the above image was created with the same brush, but below I took a thinner, tapered brush also used for grasses and reeds, but with its ‘head’ rotated. The rather more agitated, turbulent look is I think fitting what I’m going for; it even compelled me to add a spot or two of drizzle…

broads-3-2…which promptly escalated to full-on storm! Curses. But – excuse my fanboy screams – look what’s peering over those thrashing reeds…

broads-3-3…that’s made it all worthwhile! And we got there, eventually, the filthy weather proving decidedly brief. Hmm, maybe it looked prettier in the stormy dark?

broads-3-4aIt’s a skeleton mill; furthermore, a specimen heavily inspired by Boardman’s Mill, which I tried to build in 3D last spring. After a number of bloodbaths trying to briskly draw sails, I instead opted for creating them with Photoshop’s Lasso Tool and erasing sections. A little conspicuous, but vastly better than what came before it.

These weren’t initially intended to be sequential – it rather took its own course as progress was made. It’s nice when that happens. Success or not, rivers are definitely flowing from the overarching theme and archival sources. What fun!

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burghcastlechurch-0These two churches actually bookend my previous post within my latest pursuit of old Norfolk material, with the last above and the first below. So, really, I’ve posted the three of them in entirely the wrong order. Oh well!

I didn’t have much time to draw, but really wanted to get something out today, so took that as the push to go stark raving mad. Above is a drawing of the church of St Peter and St Paul, of Burgh Castle, replete with its round tower. While much of the building’s fabric is of medieval age, it most likely originated in the late Anglo-Saxon period. Small wonder, then, that it has such a presence; while I’ve always adored Burgh Castle and the ruins of the Roman fort, the church unsettled me as a youngster. Besides summer visits, we would go annually on the Sunday before Christmas for a carol concert, and naturally it would be pitch dark and freezing, the winds howling around you. Scary. Thankfully, I can say that, on revisiting in 2013 for my sister’s wedding, I’ve got over this apprehension and was just able to enjoy it for the evocative wonder that it is. I’m even tempted to go back out there at night to see what’s going on!

Coming in at under thirty minutes, it was chaotic by my standards, putting me in mind of the Wheel of Time (one for the long-standing readers, there!) It’s really pretty mediocre, but at least the restrictions produced a different outcome, and there’s semblance of energy there. Above all else, it was fun.

St Mary’s of Somerleyton is a treasure for me – mostly, I confess because it was on that Norfolk episode of Interceptor, which I’ve probably referenced more on this blog alone than anybody else has the entire series in the past twenty-five years. Oh well! I don’t think I’ve ever been inside, but it’s a most pleasant little church, and dates back to the 1400s. It sits not too far away from the splendid Somerleyton Hall.

somerleytonchurch-1I think the above a bit stolid for the structure. Uninspiring. I enjoy working quite meticulously, as you’ve probably gathered, but I got to feeling that churches demand far greater atmosphere than is tendered here with or without the Photoshop trickery, so took the opportunity today, with the results you’ve now seen. While not completely convinced, I feel there is perhaps a happy medium in lurking in there somewhere – it’s not like there aren’t a wealth of other churches with which to practice. I suppose I’ll have to try some more and see where it goes!

wherry-3I’ve been spending a lot of time recently viewing various old clips of life on the Norfolk Broads. My noseying into these broadcast and personal films isn’t uncharacteristic, as you’ll probably have summed up by now; each choppy, flickering and often silent clip is gripping in atmosphere and thought-provoking in narrative, a total joy when you’re a Broads boy like I am. Explorations did lead me to the above drawing, subsequent Photoshop adjustment, and the prominent subject.

You won’t have to go through many historic snippets to catch sight of a classic Norfolk wherry, for these were just as prolific as the windpumps they sailed past on every cut. The tough jet black sail waving some sixty feet into the sky, busier routes would be teeming with these boats, and indeed it wasn’t uncommon to be circled by several, each transporting vast amounts of goods with far greater storage space and maneuverability than other, earlier options. Dating as far back as the seventeenth century, trading vessels were produced in the county right through to the early 1900s, by which time they had generally fallen out of favour for the quickness that rail distribution offered. On this lull, and noting the potential of the area, they were revamped for recreational means, adopting the name ‘pleasure wherry’, with some swapping the black sail for a white one to give greater distinction. Nowadays there are only six surviving wherries on the Broads, the oldest being two trading wherries, Albion and Maud, who are both approaching two-hundred-and-twenty-years; along with a couple of her pleasure wherry peers, Albion is in fine fettle for her age, still available for charter.

Learning those stats, it’s less of a surprise that I’ve rarely seen them save for some fortunate glances in the distance, and it’s mostly been restricted to old photographs and that Norfolk episode of Interceptor. I hope to see some more, for they are quite the hypnotic sight!

I had to throw in a windmill, too – of course I did. It’s the law.

crystalmoss-00How thrilled I was to hear that Richard Ayoade has landed the Crystal Maze gig, with a new series coming later this year. There are many qualities of Richard that I think give him great potential as Mazemaster – a fresh one, too, and not a pale imitation of Richard I (O’Brien). They’ve also recruited James Dillon, designer of the original Maze, to work his magic once more, which is equally exciting. My hopes are high!

mill-test9cAs we bid Father Christmas farewell for another year, I do hope all of you had fun seeing in the new year. With new year comes a perceived push to refresh and explore new things – exciting new software being among those things… well, for me at least!

Beneath virtually every C4D piece last year came a tiresome complaint from yours truly that my machine was struggling with such intense pressure. This was particularly the case with my windmill scenes, and those beautifully pesky trees. Completely by accident, I stumbled across a program whose forté is atmospheric and environmental scene-setting: Vue. The Personal Learning Edition which I’m using is completely free, requiring only a sign up and apparently comes with all capabilities of the paid software ( though there are some restrictions with regards rendering resolution, and you do get that logo in the corner). Some of the results people have come up with are incredible.

It’s most fun to eschew tutorial and just wade into a whole new package flicking switches, pressing buttons to seeing what goes wrong. I went in like this today, and produced what you see – well, the windmill itself is a C4D model, actually one which I’ve not previously shown in all its glory, but hopefully will one day. It does seem to be dealing with large scenes much better than C4D – look! Proper vegetation! The scene above has almost a thousand trees and grasses in it, which I wouldn’t fancy trying in Cinema – and renders briskly, in that it doesn’t cripple my computer for half an hour.

My pining for a dark sunset is most convenient, as I’ve not actually worked out how to apply textures yet!

But yes, it looks to me as if Vue knows its realm, sticks to it and does it very well. Hopefully, this is just the beginning; I can see me transferring mills or other architecture into scenes here once I get to grips with it a little better. If my dalliances with C4D are anything to go by, that’ll be some time around 2021… hmm! Maybe I should look up some tutorials after all!