Archive

Monthly Archives: May 2017

molen1_0002I’ve always looked with curiosity at the plentiful mills of The Netherlands; they take quaint to another level, to the extent that leaves many of our broadland counterparts feeling positively functional. What’s more, they appear so well preserved; countless sails turn across the skyline, a stark contrast to the Broads, bringing so much to the view and capitalising on the tourist pull. While the aesthetic and sheer familiarity of those nearby will always have my heart, the differences of the European models are to behold, and it’s great to see them standing so defiantly in the shadow of their gigantic, cool successor, the wind turbine.

With the temperatures soaring and thoughts of holiday setting in, it seemed time to move in that direction. Resplendent in sumptuous lemon yellow and beaming of summer against the blue sky, Huizermolen stands today as an exhibit in Arnhem’s Netherlands Open Air Museum, and has done since 1919. Originally working as a grinding mill in the village of Huizen, pieces date as far back as the 1660s – clearly, she’s an old girl. Thankfully, in the good hands of the museum, she undergoes regular maintenance and makeover, so there’s never the risk of looking her age.

molen1_0003I’m not certain, but I think I might have unwittingly solved the issue of trees – a love/hate relationship that has been the narrative of these windmill renders! It came in a fit of frustration after having to turn off the computer, thanks to C4D freezing the machine entirely. It seems so obvious now, though – turning off the Alpha channel renders the ‘leaves’ as nothing but solid polygons. This reduces their overall quality rather a lot, as they’re now just clumps of shapes rather than an intricate cut of leaves, but rarely do I show them so close up for it to much matter; I certainly hope the compromise isn’t obvious! After this, rendering went without a hitch, and so much quicker than with the Alpha channel active. This made me very happy. I’ll have to think of something else to complain about from now on!

molen1_0007And, with our going Dutch for this one – perhaps in subsequent builds, too! – the Photoshop work below seemed obvious. When it’s spring again…

They’re not from Amsterdam, though.

molen1_0006

bridge0002Rather than being on the water, we’re traversing it by train this time, as I attempted to model a historic broadland swing bridge. This particularly idyllic example is heavily inspired by that of Reedham, and the near-identical twin at Somerleyton. I’m sure we all recognise it as the backdrop to Annabel Croft on the Norfolk episode of Interceptor.

Built at the turn of the twentieth century, succeeding older, single-track structures, the two were – and still are – instrumental in linking both Great Yarmouth and Lowestoft to the city of Norwich without disruption to wherry trade.

bridge0001There’s a single red flag flying above the signal box, which means swinging will happen on request…

bridge0004Note that the derelict drainage mill appears to have been demolished in all but one of the shots. In reality, I removed it because I thought it jarring, conflicting with the bridge, which really is the star of the show here. As a compromise, I did regenerate the mill and give it a shot of its own:

mill
I had this brainwave in the shower, naturally, and by the time I’d got myself in any condition to make, had convinced myself that this would be too much for both the computer and myself. How happy I am to have, in this instance at least, proven that persistent voice of doubt wrong – even if I was up until after 5AM tending to it. That may sound naughty; it is late even for me! But I rarely sleep anyway, so I think it better to be up and doing stuff. There’s much to be said for having the dawn chorus as soundtrack!

bridge0003bw

beach1_0002Tuesday was a scorcher here on the coast, with temperatures coming it at just over twenty degrees. I don’t know how on earth we’re expected to cope with such inferno; indeed, I didn’t fare that well, and after initial joy was willing a breeze to swoop in. In fact, I still feel as though I’m browning as I write this in the early hours of the morning. All this being said, opening windows felt good and some brightness was very welcome.

The persistent sun took me to the beach – well, in terms of inspiration, anyway. After a number of failed drawings, I thought it’d be easier to draw a beach hut. Then that failed, and I thought it easier to model one. And it came out – well, far better than the drawings! You’ll see these charming little shelters standing out vividly at many Norfolk beaches – elsewhere too, I daresay! – offering a place to change, or just seek refuge from unremitting heat. Perhaps I need one.

The joy of digital modelling means simple duplication and re-texturing, making those rows of colour easy to achieve.

beach1_0006Hmm! Spoilt for choice. I think I’ll take the mint green – even if there is an outside chance of neighbouring Mr Blobby. It’s a risk I’m going to have to take.

stolaves0059It’s National Mills Weekend, don’t you know? That this passed me by until now is, frankly, shameful. So, if you’ve got nothing to do with you Sunday, why not go see a wind or watermill? Many will be open and, weather permitting, working!

To honour the festivities, here are some half-finished models and scenes of St Olaves Mill, a cute little smock pump standing beside the River Waveney, and not the sea as envisioned here. Essentially this is the same structure as Boardman’s Mill; indeed it may have been exactly the same in infancy, and later encased in weatherboarding.

Built on the site of a former mill, it came relatively late to the party, erected in 1915 and working through to the sixties. Following a brief spell on its own, the mill was restored in 1980 and given a thick coat of paint. It’s still in good shape, and in a perfectly reachable spot, so is ready and waiting should you want to capitalise on the occasion.

The main reason these never came sooner is because of experimentation with using hair dynamics for ‘real’ grass. While it performed better than expected, I’m afraid I found myself becoming frustrated with the configurations after a while, sometimes going backwards rather than forwards. There’s potential there, though.

stolaves0033

For extra pertinent fun, here’s a look at all the mills I’ve built so far. Honestly, I was sure I’d made more than this! But it does me good seeing some progress.

interceptor-3BWell, that’s not to get your hopes up – Interceptor isn’t returning. But I’ve been indulging in the show again lately, so the titular villain is back after a double appearance way back in this blog’s early days. I can assure you, he’s still going to track you down by helicopter, he remains very mean and nasty, and his infrared projector continues to work rather like a television remote controller.

I tried to fill this with eighties airbrush zing, opting for standard Photoshop soft brushes, radiance, and a heap of saturation. I actually veered toward this midway through Kate Bush, and since sought out a tutorial on the subject. It’s still not quite there, though; certainly it would have benefited from a stronger sketch (and cut), but I appreciate that it at least looks a little different. Different is good, and it was fun, so it seems worth another bash at a later date. Perhaps the same can be said for Interceptor one day, TV people?

sutton-01Whoa, that’s a big’un.

With the removal of Press’s Mill in 1905, this nine-storey marvel took the mantle of tallest windmill in East Anglia, and one of the largest to remain in the entire country. Sadly it hasn’t had the most fortunate existence, with a number of fires and lightning strikes over the course of its life – the last of which bringing its career to an end in the 1940s – and today it stands rather tatty and derelict and a number of motions to renovate have fallen through. I remember being somewhat disillusioned by its state as a child, feeling that my namesake deserved better. It’s sheer size gives it an undeniable pull, but it seems a bit of a shame when you think how even more magnificent it could look.

So, with all that, I thought I’d have a go at restoring to its former glory. I took a relatively recent reference photato and gave it all the bells and whistles of the heyday. It’s a quicker effort than usual, and the (improvised) sails are hardly my best, but it’s the sentiment that counts. Perhaps one day it’ll once again look like this!