Finished A Game Of Thrones (At Last!)

As Season 7 of HBO’s Game Of Thrones came to its penultimate end, I decided to re-read George R. R. Martin’s epic masterpiece, A Song Of Ice & Fire. Like a lot of things in my life recently, finishing the first novel stalled a bit.

A few nights ago, I pushed through to the end and now I am starting on the second novel. A Clash Of Kings details the War Of The Five Kings (and covers what is essentially Season 2 of the television series).

Some of the best YouTube analysis of the books and the show can be found on the Alt-Shift-X channel. With Thrones in hiatus for another year, he has started looking at other shows too. But there is a great deal of effort put into these videos. Highly recommended!

Newest LEGO Model

LEGO Saturn VI made another bit of a splurge purchase last weekend. After visiting with my grandmother, I walked over to a nearby toy store (Turtle Pond Toys inside University Plaza for those of you who know the town of Dundas).

This is going to be about one meter tall when built.

Here’s the rub though. I now have two rather large models that remain in their boxes. The Elizabeth Tower (aka Big Ben) and this one. I simply do not have suitable room to build them or display them. There are other large models that I’d like to buy (Tower Bridge for one) but that only exacerbates the problem of space.

It is times like this that I miss my house in Texas and the bedroom dedicated solely to LEGO models…

A Bell Tower Setback

I procrastinated writing a blog post about the UV mapping progress last week. Each night after work, I’d spend some time in UV Layout unwrapping parts of the bell tower model. Then on Friday night, I hit a snag.

discontinuous_edgeA snag that would end up stomping on all my work thus far.

UV Layout displays discontinuous edges in blue. What is that? An edge that is part of only one polygon. A two dimensional square would have four discontinuous edges but a three dimensional cube would have none because all edges are shared by two polygon faces. These are not bad things necessarily – a modeler might create them on purpose.

In the picture above, the red arrows point out four polygons. Each of the two pairs on either side of the blue line should be sharing that edge. You can see other blue, discontinuous edges in other parts of the picture.

discontinuous_edge_2The ultimate proof of the problem is in LightWave itself.

On the left, it looks like I have selected a single point. However, the Point Info dialog box clearly shows two points. Each point has the same Z and Y coordinate location; but the X coordinate is off by 0.1192 micrometers.

That is smaller than a lot of bacteria. But it still means that there are two different edges that look like one edge to the naked eye.

I don’t know how this happened. A good thing that LightWave has a super-easy fix with the Merge Points command!

So all is well right?

I thought it would be. But UV Layout refuses to open the new OBJ file that I saved. The error message it displays is not helpful at all.

So I am taking this force-fed opportunity to clean up the model geometry a little bit before re-starting the UV mapping process from scratch. The shape will be unchanged; I am just tweaking areas that will improve the ease of UV mapping.

Hopefully the next major release of LightWave will see some huge improvements to the UV toolset. Otherwise, I might finally abandon LightWave in favour of Modo.

Calling The Bell Tower Modeling Finished

tower_finishedAlthough I could probably take this even further, I really do want to move forward with the work on this project. So I am calling the modeling phase of my bell tower done.

Major props and shout-outs to my friends Cris, Brent, Gene, Dan, Kevin and Wendy for their encouragement, critiques and suggestions. I love you guys! Thanks for everything!

imageThe last phase that I completed was the big windows on the top floor. I’m leaving the smaller eight windows on the lower floors open. The tower custodians will just have to mop up after rainstorms!

I learned a lot while working on this. One of the most important lessons is to plan carefully in advance before adding a single polygon to the model. Think of all the things you want to include up-front and plan around that. Adding them in after the fact will lead to problems.

My model was heavily inspired by the duomo of the Turin cathedral. You can tell that I took several creative liberties. I put stairs into my model and I doubt anything like that is in the original.

The final stats are:

  • 360,983 polygons (mostly quads, some tris and subpatches)
  • 31 surfaces to be shaded

Now I am moving on to UV mapping. Even with UV Layout, that could be daunting. After that, comes the texturing with Substance Painter.

No doubt, this model has much more to teach me…

New Books & Tutorials

Well this mild depression – I hate using a word as strong as that – may have sapped my creative juices temporarily. But I am still reaching for creative inspiration.

On Friday, I returned to High Park for another photowalk. Unfortunately, I did not check my batteries and discovered that both of them were fully drained. Oooops! So I had a bit of a nature walk instead and returned home.

I love physical media, so I have been acquiring new books and tutorial videos. I guess this is like a drug addiction for me. I keep needing hits.

imageOn the atheism/religious front, I replaced Bart Ehrman’s excellent Jesus, Interrupted. I had loaned the original to my former trainer in Texas. But he took it in and sought out more and is now agnostic. So…worth it!

I have also bought Bart Ehrman’s newest book, The Triumph Of Christianity. Seth Andrews interviewed Professor Ehrman about it and this will doubtlessly be an excellent read. I am very much looking forward to it; I will probably take it with me on my trip to Australia later this year.

I’ve said it before and it still stands; Bart Ehrman is one of the best authors on the writings and history of Christianity. His style – in what can be a very dry topic – is always approachable and easy to consume.

imageFor photography, I bought Light: Science & Magic. During one of Glyn Dewis’ YouTube videos, he referred to this book as “the bible of light,” so naturally I was intrigued (on two different fronts!). So far, Dewis has been spot-on in that evaluation. I’ve only just started reading it but I can tell already that I’m going to get a lot out of it.

I’ve continued acquiring downloadable tutorials for 3D and Photoshop as well. In addition to the very worthwhile investment of a membership to KelbyOne, I’ve added the following tutorials:

  • LightWave 2018 – Adam Gibson
  • FibreFX – Adam Gibson
  • MACO Helmet – Liberty 3D / Chilton Webb
  • Adobe Fuse For LightWave Artists – Liberty 3D / Phil Nolan
  • Advanced Techniques With Brushes – CreativeLive
  • Setting Up A Home Studio – CreativeLive

CreativeLive has turned out to be a surprisingly good source of learning material. It is an excellent supplement to KelbyOne. Liberty 3D has been there for me since the first day I dove into LightWave. They have excellent and varied tutorials from established LightWave artists.

I’ll get back out with my camera soon – after ensuring the batteries are fully-charged. Then I will re-charge my creativity and get out of this rut.