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Brrr! Or not so brrr to be accurate, as it’s relatively mild here, the thick fog not really creating much of a marshmallow world or winter wonderland. There’s certainly not much of a chill placed in my heart; indeed, there’s something special about these days as we count down to the main event. A cosiness sets in at some indeterminate point. Possibly when all the shopping is done.

As the time to put together a Christmas card drew ever closer, I kept telling myself that, this time, I was going to try something more traditional; slower. A nice landscape drawing, maybe, or an intricate voxel model. Well, that turned out didn’t it? It’s always the way. There must be an angel, quite a mischievous one, playing tricks on me, but far from being a thorn in my side, they guided me to something different. I enjoyed it, and I guess that’s all that matters.

A peaceful, safe and happy holiday season to you all. Fill the bowl, roll out the barrel, and sweet dreams of your perfect winter wonderland.

How tasteful, no?

I was just experimenting with an old Christmas tree model, adjusting the lights to see if I could spin it into something worth posting again. I took the branches and baubles out completely, leaving only those lights. It was quite fun playing with the lens flare and reflexes, and experimenting with the resulting effects. It’s not quite time to get the tree out yet, but it’s drawing ever closer. How exciting! Until that day comes, this will do.

Here are some impressive lights flashing in sync with one of my favourite festive songs. Thank you, YouTube recommendations.

Yes, it’s that time of the year again, which means it’s that time to post a card again. Originally I was going to try something completely different, but I thought I should really continue the trend of pixel and voxel for this year’s Christmas card, so here we have a star created in Magicavoxel. In fact, only a quarter of the star is physically present; the rest is merely a reflection in an isometric view. Interesting, huh?

2020: what is there to say?

Thank you to all of the key workers who have looked after us this year, and everyone who has just done the right thing. You are stars.

It does seem harder than ever to get into the festivities this year, but I hope everyone has as happy and as peaceful a Christmas as possible. Let’s hope things are different next time around.

Merry Christmas.

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Readers of recent posts here will hopefully get the title. For those who missed them: no need to be alarmed! I’m referring to projection of 3D textures which I covered in a post earlier this month. I’ve dialled it down, gone all minimalist and thrown in a circular gradient for a subtle slice of variety. I’m quite liking it.

Christmas is no time for restraint, so here are some alternatives; it’s the same design, just different colours. The choice for header was actually the last one made – that might seem natural and obvious, but it’s rarely the case for me, actually. With digital art and the array of enticing buttons and tools, it can sometimes have you going further than you really need to.

I hope everyone has a peaceful holiday, whether you’re celebrating or not. There’s not long to wait, now! To wrap things up, here’s a gorgeously elegant (and criminally underplayed) take on a classic Christmas song. Yes, of course it’s the Carpenters. I’m nothing if not predictable, but then, Christmas is all about familiarity. It really doesn’t get much better than this, well, not for me anyway; I bet even the Lindt Master Chocolatier wishes he knew Karen’s secret.

Merry Christmas.

abstract-pinecone-004cWell, it’s time to jolly things up a little bit. In truth, I feel a lot less dumfungled than I did at the beginning of the weekend. In fact, I feel a weight has been lifted, and now I’m even kind of looking forward to Christmas.

I could make a quip about such a boost leaving me pining for some artsy times but, honestly, these have been sitting around for a fortnight or so. I mentioned in a previous post that I wasn’t sure of how much time I’d have this month, so this was a Christmas card scramble, just so that I’d have something to deliver. As it turned out, I’ve actually had an awful lot of free time thus far (at least, as much as one can have juggling everything at this time of year) and these have been pushed into second place, with hopefully something nicer coming a bit closer to the event. Well, now you have a choice of two!

As you can hopefully gather, I attempted to abstract some pine cones. It’s simply an arrowhead shape cloned, there really isn’t much else to say about that. I did, however, have quite a play around with compositions, and even more so colour; even the glitch effect wormed its way in, as you can see above. Perhaps a bit dark and too cold, even for Crimbo, but I do rather like it nonetheless!

abstract-pinecone-006abstract-pinecone-005

I think my favourite is the five cone star, as seen above, with the extra points thrown in. This would have been the e-card of 2019, but I think what I have is a little nicer (if equally unoriginal). You’ll have to wait and see on that score. But, again, this is fun and, as Mr. Literal, it’s nice to be breaking away from that slightly and thinking design for the first time in a while.

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Ho Ho Ho.

Having come to a few dead-ends, I was starting to panic about the annual Christmas card. Friends began sending their own, heightening the pressure. It was then when I stumbled upon a photograph of a windmill in America, all glammed up with fairy lights to celebrate the holiday. The deal was done, and one lucky model of mine got its own set. What a sight this would be for real – well, for me, anyway! I’m not convinced the wildlife would be too happy – our chickens refused to sleep when my parents strung some blinking blue lights along the garden fence – but it would look quite magical on the skyline. Two or three would be even more so, of course.

Thankfully, with that, the greeting cards have all been sent, and the Christmas rush is through. Or so I think. I’m going to collapse into a comfy chair, listen to the radio (hey, the Carpenters are on!!!) and do as little as possible – at least until I remember the other dozen or so things that currently escape me. That’s the Christmas spirit.

Wherever you are, and whatever you’re celebrating, I wish you a very cosy and happy holiday.

snowglobe-snowmanWell, when the weather just doesn’t want to play ball insofar as white stuff, what else can you do but pick up a miniature world, shake it vigorously, and give them the gift of a blizzard? I don’t actually recall many of the things in our decorations box, though I do vividly remember one year receiving one as a present; predictably, it was a windmill, covered in pastel colours, battery-powered and sharing the space with what appeared to be polystyrene balls. Its base was inscribed with the words, “Marry Christmas”. I enjoyed it, despite the demands!

Anyway, here are a few I’ve tentatively put together; with time short, they’re not quite as extravagantly populated or decorative as I originally planned – not even a windmill found its way inside! – but ultimately I think simplicity works in their favour. Glass is always a pain (ha ha… except it’s not a pane) for me, but this actually turned out relatively well. You can see through it.

The snowman, who seems to have found his way from Mill Cottage to inside that particular globe, was sourced from here.

snowglobe-treeAnd, a bonus for a laugh… will you start the snow, please! It’s time to go tooooo the Crystal Snowme! If I’d seen one of these in the shops, I’d have pestered and pestered my mother to buy one – just as I would today. Someone, do a better job and make it happen.

snowglobe-crysIt looks like things are going to be rather busy – to say the least – as we count down to the big day, so I’m not sure if there will be any real time to make stuff until afterwards. In that case, I am going to take this opportunity to say that, if you are celebrating this holiday season, I hope you have a wonderful, peaceful time of it. Merry Christmas!

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It is now acceptable to talk about Christmas. November departed with snow – just a dusting, but it doesn’t take much for me to get overexcited!

What with that and the mounting urgency to get some Christmas cards sorted, I found my way to this. There isn’t much more in the way of rationale, but who needs one at this time of year? The main attraction for me was the sky, and in fact I didn’t really intend for the landscape to even be there, or at least not one so populated – it rather pushed its way in. I find churches difficult and often frustrating from reference, so dreaming one up was perhaps both ludicrous and inspired (aha spire). The snowy conifers more than make up for any torment the tower caused.

After Thursday’s tease, I’m hoping that, just one day this winter, I’ll have an excuse to get the scarf and gloves out.

cottage0020It’s only a week until Father Christmas comes! Is there any better time to experiment?

In perhaps the height of my festivity so far this year, I got hold of a free snow plugin for Cinema 4D, MagicSnow. On being pleasantly surprised at its ease of configuration, I got bullish and went about subjecting dear Mill Cottage to a generous helping of white stuff.

It soon became clear that it was not designed for use on such impossibly complex/poorly-constructed models, and indeed so much snow had fallen that my computer froze for about fifteen minutes. Undeterred, I repeated the process of snowfall but with the various elements – floor, trees, house etc. – in separate files and then brought them together in the ensemble you see. Some parts are questionable, but in general it seems the plugin works really well and definitely warrants further experimentation. Hopefully, before next year!

In a fit of unforgivable laziness, I decided not to cast my own snowman but ship one in. The snowman model you see is available here.

How I love the snow – it’s been so long since we’ve had any. Could we have just a little bit this year, do you think? It’s not too much to ask, shirley?

christmastree0005Yes, it’s that time of year again. The C word. I can’t believe it, does it seem five minutes since the last…?

It probably feels that way because, while Christmas is a wonderfully static holiday, Chri$tmas starts flinging itself at you earlier every year. I try to remain blind to it until December. Even as a child, the festivity only truly struck once school was done with, the tree had gone up – normally about a week before the big day – and the lights started blinking. As such, it’s that cosy window where it strikes me as an adult.

It was always great to decorate the family tree, for the box of ornaments is more a time machine than anything else. Faded and jaded Santas of decades ago sit alongside shinier, younger but less charming counterparts. Little knitted stockings for my four siblings and I, courtesy of our grandmother and dating back to our first Christmases. Snazzy glitterball baubles emblematic of the millennium excitement. It certainly takes you back, ongoing though it is, the story furthered each year before its return to hibernation.

On these musings and it now being December, I set about putting up a Christmas tree. In Cinema 4D, of course! I’d been wanting to meddle with trees for a little while actually, so this seemed potentially useful in virtue of finally sorting out my troublesome Norfolk landscape scenery, so I can stop whingeing about it!

christmastree0004I can’t claim to have built the (evidently artificial!) tree from scratch. That is largely the handiwork of the MagicXTree plugin – very handy indeed, and far gentler on my machine than C4D’s Hair renderer utilized by their preset trees. There are lots of configurations for this regarding branches and leaves – density, length and so on – so it’s possible to generate quite a variety of Christmas trees.

christmastree0003Baubles were relatively simple, mostly a fun texturing challenge. The lights are locked to a spline, meaning that it can follow any route you want. Fun for decorating trees, or creating seasonably flashy messages:

christmastree0006Great fun, but it’ll still be a while before I’ve erected the real deal. Perhaps, in 2017 and beyond, I’ll return to this with similar reflection to the actual Christmas tree – hopefully I’ll be able to build a snazzier one by then!

Whatever your stance, I hope you enjoy the season!