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3D

lighthouse001Lighthouses are plentiful on the east coast, but few could boast the immediate charm of Happisburgh. The oldest of its kind left in East Anglia, construction in 1790 came in response to a dire winter the year previous, in which hundreds of sailors were lost for the lack of warning lights. Two towers were originally built, but the second structure, under threat of collapse due to erosion, was demolished in the late nineteenth century, granting the taller twin undivided attention.

lighthouse003After almost two hundred years, it seemed it was lights out for Happisburgh in 1988 when service was decommissioned, shunned for more sophisticated navigational technology. Thanks to a tireless local campaign and parliamentary action, it was saved and entrusted to a small group as an independent facility. Upkeep is entirely dependent on volunteers and tourists, thousands of whom visit each year.

The light still operates and has a range of eighteen miles.

lighthouse002It was nice to be able to work a bit more liberally with trees thanks to what was learnt in the Huizermolen build.

It seemed ludicrous and chicken to go so far constructing the lighthouse without due consideration for the light bit. Within the lamp room, I modelled a basic lens for beaming with a spotlight behind it, and it seemed to work, giving the small source a wider, tinted glow. I actually think I fiddled a bit too much, especially with turbulence, and started to lose some of the early promise. It’s something to look at on the next attempt.

I want to marry a lighthouse keeper, won’t that be okay?

 

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.

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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:

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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!

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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.

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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.

gasometer1_0007aGreat Yarmouth is full of relics, and that’s before we’ve even come to my parents. Thank goodness, too, for these sights bring a touch of inspiration and character that’s very much needed.

Perhaps nowhere calls for it more than the dockland of the South Denes; once host to a thriving holiday park, the resort now gives way to a joyless maze of warehouses and oil tanks until, somewhere amid the heightening grime, Nelson’s Monument pops up – Britannia standing proudly out of sync.

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Perhaps, then, this nineteenth century gasometer frame is a fitting reminder of the town’s legacy in energy, harking back to when the town was a burgeoning powerhouse. The fluctuating drum would have stored a tremendous amount of coal gas ready for distribution – the masses connected.

A toxic monster of its day, but in retirement it possesses a period ornateness that has it sticking out as prominently as the Monument. The most charming thing of the structure is surely the elaborate finials; a stepped-out spire beneath flowing volutes. I thought this might make for an interesting construction. I was wrong, but still am glad to have completed it. It’s something that’s been in my eye-line forever, and, as it’s a listed structure, I presume it’ll be there for a while yet. It could do with a lick of paint, mind you!

Not having a clue of its application and just seeing an empty, looming frame, I used to call it a giant’s fireguard. Hmm. Still, I think that’s probably more romantic than the reality!

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