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Following on from the snowy conifers, we have a rather different take on the snappy winter weather, and a subject making its welcome return. Rejoice, the first windmill in over a year! And even that one was just an animation of a model made in 2017. The last one before that was a drawing back in March 2020.

Well, I must confess this isn’t entirely new, either. In fact, it’s a repurposing of several elements. It’s my Post Mill model from way back in 2016 (which was very much inspired by Stanton Mill in Suffolk) decked out with new sails and a coat of paint. I then added some grids, randomly distributing squares and rectangles which use textures I created years ago but still really enjoy playing with. While I have applied them to the mill model, using the favoured frontal projection, I really like creating bumpy, displaced 3D textures and sending them to a two-dimensional plane. That might sound counter-productive or plain silly, but the results are quite exciting to me. I’m a sucker for that harsh, icy aesthetic, and this method creates it in such a way that I probably couldn’t draw or paint, even if I tried. It’s possible that the end result is a little heavy-handed with the squares, but I do enjoy the frosty vibe. It’s not often I “frame” work, either, but I felt like it added a little something in this instance.

How nice to spin a few old bits and bobs into something new.

Here’s a curious little programme about windmills from more than half a century ago:

On an unseasonably warm winter afternoon, here’s a quick sketch of some snow-capped conifers. I would say it’s like a half-finished Christmas card, but that would be an obscene suggestion to make in January so I shan’t do it. There’s really not much more to say in terms of rationale, but I will say that trees are good. I like trees. Hopefully, you’ll appreciate this little wintry blast. I’m off to change into shorts and T-shirt.

Whilst looking through some old school exercise books recently, I found a set of haikus about the seasons. Here’s what I came up with for winter:

Winter time, snow, ice
Evergreen trees standing strong
High above the rest

That’s better than I could do now.

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I’m sure everyone knows what the weather is like and you certainly won’t need me to repeat every weatherperson on TV. But I shall. It’s four degrees below freezing, the wind is howling. The night sky is lit up with that otherworldly orange as there’s so much snow. It must be the heaviest we’ve had here in five years, perhaps more, and it’s clearly not over yet. I expect kids are going to be off school for a while – happy times for them, perhaps not so much for slightly bigger commuters. I have to admit, when we first got the stuff, I did squeal a little. That first crunch of the snow benath my foot, and I’m restored to happy-four year old, itching to lob a snowball at someone.

And yet, I found myself indoors and playing on the computer. No real surprise there, I hear you all tut back at me. I started fiddling with textures with no hard aim, but soon began toying with transparency, looking for glass, and then it hit me.

Ice Ice Baby.

Here are the fruits of my experimentation in trying to create something from scratch that resembles icicles, ice blocks or something in between. It’s a bit of a mixed bag. There are probably hundreds of tutorials on the subject which would result in something far better, but I thought it would be interesting practise, and well, I’ve always been difficult.

Cones masqueraded as icicles to begin with, forming a crown for some cool ice prince. It might be a few years before I’m skilled enough to sculpt him.

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Continuing to experiment, I just began placing the texture on flat surfaces but using different wrap procedures and alpha patterns. I haven’t really used flat wrap before, but it seemed to give a really nice stretched aesthetic:

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The letters were a much quicker job than the texture itself; with so many options in there, it’s easy to plunge into a ‘kid in candy store’ situation and completely forget what you’re trying to achieve. In aiming for a more spontaneous result, they were one-and-done jobs with splines, nothing too methodical. I actually rather like how the texture has come out with inverted colour; a crumbly, lunar landscape to it. Perhaps it could be used for something totally different.

It’s been a while since I’ve got this carried away with anything creative, so thank goodness for the Beast From the East, I guess. I cannot let this post pass without mentioning the glorious Ice Cap Zone from Sonic 3 – truly, it was love at first sight for me. Not the most challenging part of the game, but visually stunning. Even the enemies, little robot penguins, are adorable. And just when you’ve thought you’d seen it all, you happen across someone singing the music a-capella. Marvellous!

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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.

Just a few odds and ends in my apparently unending obsession with bygone Broadland landscapes. The scope for this is broad – if you will – and I feel far from over. I could do these all day. As it is, these were all very quick; probably no more than a quarter-hour for any one of them.

It’s been a tad chilly lately – and you know it’s cold if I’m noting the drop in temperature, for I can usually go around in next to nothing (a treat of an image for you, there) of a winter without complaint. I think snow was forecast for earlier in the week, but I don’t think it came; if it did, I was in bed, like when it actually did arrive last month. What woe.

Still, that prospect appears to have eked through to my landscapes, as the urge came over me to blow a blizzard upon my unsuspecting broadland.

The first attempt was pretty unspectacular, a little rigid but on the right lines.

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I much prefer the second, even quicker attack, and the different aesthetic that came of such improvised quickness. Hmm, perhaps an old, wintry capture of Mill Cottage in its heyday?

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On a different note entirely, and a swerve backward to my previous postmy previous post, I had another look at pathways. In becoming a bit more clued up on their uses, Photoshop’s blurring tools have become increasingly useful for creating mist, haze and general atmosphere. What’s more, a motion blur achieves quite a nice look for water:

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And, to conclude a rather denser forest walk than in the previous, this time forming a creepy arch. Again, we’re very much dependent on those blurs. At least there’s light at the end, I suppose!

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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?