About Ricky Colson

Ricky Colson is a visual artist known for his paintings of miniature people, animal silhouettes, and Welcome to Autumn series. A native Texan, he's also lived in Pennsylvania and Virginia, where he rediscovered his love for architecture, history, and nature. Cat whisperer, Mexican food addict, and proud idealist.

Fashion Collection – Top Hats

The gentlemen’s collection of toppers and accessories.

I love history, and in my own projects I’m constantly having to research and build old models (architecture, furniture, etc). There are plenty of modern and futuristic 3d assets out there, but I’m more interested in the past. In this case, I’ve put together a set of top hats that can be used for Victorian and steampunk themed projects or to be simply used as studio test models. You get tall ones, short ones, furry ones, and silky ones. You even get a few fun additions like the Mad Hatter’s hat!

So many styles to choose from.

Have you had this problem like I have? You’re in a hurry, and you’ve decided to purchase an asset instead of making it yourself. But when you finally find one that fits, you realize it’s not exactly what you wanted or maybe you want more of a variety to personalize your scene. Instead of buying one asset at a time and then still having to customize it later, why can’t you get an entire pack of options? That’s why I decided to create this collection. I’ve built a comprehensive set of hats so you can simply choose what style you like and then move on to the next stage. It’s simple, and you get great renders.


Thoroughly researched. It’s all in the details.

What you get is a complete set of realistic top hat models for Blender that you can import easily into any scene. The pack includes 50 fully textured models in addition to hat accessories that any respectable gentlemen would need to preserve the quality of his topper. Meticulous research has gone into to making sure these hats are historically accurate which is why I’ve also included info on how to use them in the right context. Simply append the hat group you want to use, and it’s ready to go. The materials are based off of modified node setups from Chocofur.com with as much customizability as I thought necessary. You can change hat color, glossiness, material – even play with the procedural grunge mask to age your hat. Not only do you get a pack of hats with accessories, but you also get to keep the various fine tuned materials like satin, velvet, and wool. Each group contains hat elements and a lattice – all parented to an empty at the base of the hat. Select and move the empty to place the hat where you want. Each hat is made up of the crown, brim, brim binding, ribbon and bow, sweatband, lining, and moniker. There are 18 base materials  shared throughout the blend file. If you’d like to customize them, you can either alter the base material or make it a single user copy and play with the shaders.



  • Historically accurate
  • Multiple realistic materials
  • Procedural grunge mask
  • Comprehensive collection including accessories
  • Contextual tips so you know when to use specific hats
  • Accurate sizes and shapes
  • Ready for any era from 1790s-present
  • Advanced Cycles shaders using modified Chocofur material nodes
  • Customizable materials so you can mix and match styles
  • Imperial measurement
  • Each model is in its own group so you can append right into your scene
  • Optimized for subdivision surface
  • Use of modifiers for subdivision surface, thickness, and brim curve
  • Groups of common colors
  • Lattice deformation for crown shape

Assets included:

  • 40 different top hats
  • 10 novelty hats
  • 3 hat stands
  • Hat brush
  • Buffer
  • Bandbox style hat box

Materials included:

  • 3 paper materials
  • Leather
  • Silk-satin
  • Silk
  • Velvet
  • Wood
  • Boxcloth
  • Melusine
  • Grosgrain silk
  • Fur
  • 2 moniker decals
  • Wool (multiple colors)

Node groups include grunge/edge wear, dust, and color swatches. More hats and accessories are coming so purchase now to help fund additional sets!

Purchase Fashion Collection – Top Hats on Blender Market today.

Introducing the Historic Houses of Candy Lane – Mini-Project

The cardboard boxes are beginning to stack up around me and our next move is approaching. As we move from El Paso back to my home town of Houston, Texas I must confess that I don’t know what the future holds for us.

It’s the first time we’re actually planning to stay in one place indefinitely. I’m ready to get all of the commotion over with and start unpacking again.

While that’s all going on in the background, I have a new mini-project to announce within the Autumn universe.

For me, being an artist has always been a lonely gig. I work and think better when I’m alone, but over time this becomes overwhelming for a few reasons. Second opinions help keep you on the right track.

Coming up with original ideas for every aspect of your art can be difficult, and you have to supply your own never-ending supply of enthusiasm and determination.

So, for some time I’ve wanted to collaborate with other artists on projects. With our many moves over the years, though, it’s been hard to find and build those relationships. I’m hoping to dip my toes into the waters of collaboration with this next stage.

Early render of Candy Lane cottage at night

Historic Houses of Candy Lane will be a series of digital renders and oil paintings depicting a strip of old Victorian homes in Autumn dating back to the 1880s, around the same time City Hall was being built.

Each house is unique and will be personalized by fans. Monthly contributors of $10+ to my Patreon page will get to choose a house plan, the color scheme, and, to the extent that they want, get to come up with a resident’s back story. I’ll fill in the holes from there.

The homes each have a unique feature that I will focus on in the painting—stained glass, American flag, bird bath, etc.

Just like my City Hall, I will build it in 3d. The final render will be used as reference for the oil painting series.

In the end, I’ll have a group of colorful paintings and a new part of the history of Autumn to share. Each painting will have the patron, the character, and backstory associated with it and eventually be displayed with the final piece.

It’s your chance to be part of the creative process! Learn more about Candy Lane and its backstory.

Candy Lane

Candy Lane is the alternate street name for a series of seventeen colorful historic houses in Autumn, Virginia. Llolman Road, its official name, runs roughly southwest to northeast through the neighborhood of Northview.


The strip of cottages, villas, and town houses extend from Jefferson Road to Stuart Road The area is known for its lush tree coverage, picturesque views, and feeling of seclusion despite its close proximity to downtown.

Northview is one of the oldest neighborhoods in Autumn, made up of mostly Victorian houses that date from the 1880s when the city began its first economic boom. At the time, it was still on the outskirts of the city to the north, but the convenient location to both downtown and train access made it a haven for moderately upscale residents.

street numbered map for Candy Lane


The first house built in 1880 was a for a friend of architect Harold Wick. It was a modest cottage with a simple color scheme. Soon after it was finished, a neighbor moved in across the street and constructed an ornate town house. Rumor has it that the owner of the cottage became angry because the new house blocked the sunrise. To compensate for the lack of warmth on his house, he decided to paint the cottage yellow.

The new resident, following a verbal argument, interpreted this to be a display of dominance and painted his home a new color that would attract as much attention. A rivalry began and expanded with each new resident, leading to a progression of more colorful and unique buildings.

Comprised of Victorian era architecture, visitors will find a mixture of Gothic, Romanesque, and classical elements on Candy Lane with rich colors—a stark contrast to the Jefferson style red brick and white trim architecture for which Autumn and most of Virginia are known. It has become a popular location for photographers.

One of the houses includes a tragic story. The last lot to be purchased was in 1901 near the east end of the street. The resident was a wealthy businessman who was charmed by the neighborhood and built a house on Llolman Rd. as a summer retreat. His son inherited the family fortune and house after the father passed away, but lost all of it after the stock market crash of 1929.

He was reported to have taken a train from New York to Autumn, walked home to his house on Llolman Rd. and hung himself in the upstairs stairwell, facing the stained glass window that looked east. The house has had trouble keeping tenants over the years and is currently vacant.

Name origin

The residential street takes its name both from the vibrant and varied exterior colors as well as a candy shop at the west end of the community. During the 1920s, at the corner of Jefferson Rd. and Llolman Rd., a candy shop moved into the tiny abandoned commercial building, providing soda and an assortment of treats for the neighborhood, specifically after church let out on Sundays across the street.

After the owner’s son died in World War II, the shop fell into decline. The owner sold the establishment to a patron who wanted to refurbish and expand the business. It is now a popular destination and symbolic starting point for visitors of Candy Lane.


Each of the Candy Lane houses are considered free-standing single-family detached homes. The following are historical backgrounds for the buildings.

1 East Lollman St.

2 East Lollman St.

3 East Lollman St. – The Jansen House

The two story gothic cottage sits near the corner of Llolman Rd. and Luray St. to the east of the first home. It dates to 1883 when Margaret Jansen and her husband, owners of a local flower shop, built the house with its signature St. Bernard statues at the base of the front steps.

4 East Lollman St.

5 East Lollman St.

6 East Lollman St.

7 East Lollman St.

8 East Lollman St.

9 East Lollman St.

10 East Lollman St.

11 East Lollman St.

12 East Lollman St.

13 East Lollman St.

14 East Lollman St.

15 East Lollman St.

16 East Lollman St.

17 East Lollman St.

Behind the Scenes

The houses of Candy Lane are made through a collaborative effort with patrons of Welcome to Autumn. Each house design is chosen from a 19th century architectural book with accurate floor plan and details. The color scheme, period appropriate, is picked along with façade materials – brick, stone, or wood. Finally, the patron produces a backstory for the original owner of the house, complete with names, dates, professions, and personal touches.

The buildings are modeled, textured, and rendered using Blender 3d. The final goal of the mini-project is to create a series of oil paintings connected to a unique backstory. The renders provide both reference for the painting process as well as mock historical photographs.

Come participate in the project and create a whole new story! 

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  • Candy Lane frame cottage

Candy Lane

May 28th, 2015|0 Comments

Candy Lane is the alternate street name for a series of seventeen colorful historic houses in Autumn, Virginia. Llolman Road, its official name, runs roughly southwest to northeast through the neighborhood of Northview. [...]

  • 1879 city plan of Autumn Virginia

Original 1879 City Plan of Autumn

November 24th, 2014|0 Comments

Look what I discovered while rummaging through old stacks at the Autumn Historical Society. It's the original 1879 plan of the city! Also known as the Wick Plan, named for architect and engineer Harold Wick, this city grid [...]

Autumn City Hall – Update 24

I modeled the stained glass window to a point that I’m happy with. I experimented with different saturations and values, but this was the most accurate representation of real stained glass I could get. I attempted to texture it in Substance Painter, but there’s a very bad bug for Mac OS that causes the program to crash a lot so I’ll have to come back to it later when they fix it.

Until then, a basic bump map for the metal parts and rippled lead glass. I also added a metal trim design to integrate the dark fixture into the white ceiling. The ceiling will be textured later with some kind of stone/marble/granite. There are just a few tall cubes above the fixture to test out transparency so the final look with the real building will change.

Autumn City Hall – Update 23

My motivation has gone up and down throughout the process, especially as it gets harder to tweak because of the size of the file. That’s why it’s necessary for me to find different mini projects to tackle like this next part. I’m attempting the stained glass skylight window for the front balcony ceiling. So, when you walk underneath the arch and before you reach the front doors, you look up and see warm sunlight filtering through the window.

I’d love to spend more time coming up with a design, but I have to go with one of the first ones I think of since I need to move more quickly than I have. I’m happy with this design because it incorporates symbols of clocks, the sun, train wheels, cogs, and flowers. It doesn’t feel as Victorian as I’d like, but oh well. On to the modeling phase!

Autumn City Hall – Update 22

Things are getting pretty heavy now. Face count is pretty high and my computer is stuttering. Here’s an update on the look of the entire front. I have a majority of pieces mirrored, but not all. The tower is still in the basic modeling phase. I have a few more details on the facade to model along with the windows.

Autumn City Hall – Update 21

Updated bear statue. I’m gonna stick with aged bronze for now. The image is a bit dark, I know. I should have run it through photoshop quickly. I bounced back and forth between glossiness, but when I finalize the material, I’ll do some research on bronze statue surfaces.

I had some issues with the multires modifier, specifically the dreaded spike bug so I’ll have to try to clean that up at a later date. I used the new pointiness feature for the aged look, but I’m gonna bring this into Substance Painter later for a final texture paint. I’ll work on the pedestal at a later date as well. What do you guys think?

*Trying out Anthony Pilon’s new copper shader.

Autumn City Hall – Update 20

I decided a while back that I would sculpt a pair of bears for the front of City Hall as guardian statues where lions are usually placed. They would represent not only the animals of the region, but also stand for caution as you walk up the steps. They would act as a warning to tread carefully when you conduct business for the people.

Here is my first stage of one of the statues, probably an identical pair. I’ve added a quick bronze material. The face is taking shape so I’m going to move on to the paws and then the hind quarters. I’m still researching what type of bronze material I want to have. I’m also not 100% sure it will be bronze, stone is still an option.

This is my first attempt at sculpting in Blender, and it’s definitely been a learning process, but it feels like it will become more natural as I continue to do it.

Autumn City Hall – Update 19

I finished the cartouche structure that will sit on top of the archway balcony. With the help of an artist on Blendswap, I was able to decorate the oval pretty quickly. I added cornucopias, leaves, and acorns to continue the harvest theme. I sculpted a squirrel head for 3 reasons. 1) I love squirrels 2) continue the harvest theme again 3) The neighboring city is called Moosnick, a bad English translation of the word squirrel in Algonquican, a Native American group. The A will probably be etched into the stone without any color, but the date will stay.

Autumn City Hall – Update 18

Lots of distractions recently, but here is one of the most recent shots of the front archway. I’m having some normal issues with the low relief images within the frames, but I’ll have to sort them out later. I used a lot of harvest objects to decorate with including acorns, leaves, and vegetables. The area inside the wreath is darker because it’s a hole in the wall. There will be a stained glass skylight on the other side that I’m hoping will cast some color through the hole. The entire structure here is high poly, but I’m satisfied with the result. Next up, I’ll post an image of the top sculpture.

Autumn City Hall – Update 17

I thought I would show you all the very quick test animation I did of the flag. You can see that I still have some work to do on the animation.

I also wanted to show the drawing in progress for the archway ornamentation details I mentioned. There are quite a few classical details like cartouches, wreaths, and festoons. I’m looking forward to modeling them and seeing the clay renders.

Autumn City Hall – Update 16

I finished modeling the roof cresting, but I don’t have a render of it yet. I jumped to another part of the roof, the flagpole!

Even a seemingly insignificant part of the building, like the roof flagpole deserves some love so I researched this as well. I did my best to find authentic flagpole “technology” like the truck/pulley design at the top. The poles of the late nineteenth century were still made out of wood so that factoid will help me with texturing it.

The flag is a 38 star American flag from 1877, a year after Colorado entered the Union. My building was constructed between 1881-1889, before the next flag change happened in 1890 when the Dakotas, Idaho, Montana, and Washington were added.

I worked on an animation (first one I’ve ever rendered), but it’s pretty jerky. I had some issues with the cloth simulation because the rope is not a loop. The bottom end is connected to the flag, and the top of the flag is connected to the top end of the rope. I tried vertex parenting, but the bottom end of the rope had nothing to attach to. I would love some advice on having two objects pulling against each other in a cloth simulation.

I also was curious about my rendering time. I tried out motion blur at .5, and while I understand that this would be taxing on my computer, it varied widely on render times. One frame took 8 hours while another took 2 minutes. I started it late on the 8th, and it’s still rendering (108/120). I’m assuming that my simulation was so jumpy that some frames included a lot more blur to compensate. Anyway, I’ll come back to the pole and animation, but for now I’m happy with the progress of the model.

Next up I’ll be working on ornamentation design for the entrance archway. To the drawing table!

Autumn City Hall – Update 15

Here’s another view of the front entrance, this time with the grand staircase in place. The brass railing will probably be removed since it looks like a modern addition. Either that or I’ll make it more elaborate to fit the style. My first attempt had the stairs too steep for the building type, and it looked scrunched up. It’s funny how adjusting little details by a few inches can change the look of the entire building.

I added some lion statues that I picked up from Blendswap.com, but those will be replaced by sleeping bear statues that I plan on sculpting. I’m not sure if I want two mirrored versions or one big bear and some cubs on the other side. I’m intending for the visitor to feel as if the mama bear is keeping an eye on them as you walk up the steps. I would love to model the statues and be able to turn them into desk figurines or bookends in the future.

I’m starting to get into the smaller details like sculptures, reliefs, etc. The time is moving so quickly, and my progress feels a bit sluggish for my liking. At every turn, I realize that I violated some classical architecture rule and have to find a way to adjust it. I’m a stickler for tradition and accuracy. Oh well, I knew that going into this!

Next up is the roof cresting. Would love to hear thoughts about the project’s progression

Autumn City Hall – Update 13

Here is a lineup of classical columns I modeled for the facade. They are very traditional without any creative alterations – who am I to mess with centuries of success?

As you can probably guess, the corinthian capital was a pain to model. I may go back and make a composite capital, but I’m a bit worn out at the moment for that now. I haven’t marked which columns in my current building will be which type so I’ll be testing out different schemes. The classical order is to have the simple doric columns on the bottom floors and transition to the ornate corinthian, but I’ve seen different setups so who knows where I’ll end up.

I wanted to see a few columns lined up to get an idea of the finished result would work. I also messed around with the color management film settings. In the back of my mind, I also wanted to turn my renders into a late 20th century cinema look so I was indulging in that here. Eastman Double X Neg 4min film setting.

Autumn City Hall – Update 12

Alright, here is one of the ornate window surrounds I mentioned in the previous post. The current material is a node setup provided by Aidy Burrows from cgmaster.net. This type of window is called an oeil-de-boeuf, “bull’s eye” in French. I love the look of these windows and designed this one using my favorite elements from various references I found. The actual window will be added later.

Autumn City Hall – Update 11

This last week I worked on the window surrounds for each floor. It’s been tedious since each window has a unique profile. My original placeholders had the overall shapes down, but none of the details so that had to be worked out.

You can see in this clay render the basement windows are done. The first story has the original placeholder on the left and two options next to it. I decided to go with the middle one based on real life references, although that may change later.

Ignore the materials in the second render. I was testing various node setups to see how it looks from far away. Each story now has its default window style. I’m currently working on the ornate window surrounds for the mansard roof. The cornices for each level are also modeled.

I feel like I’m bouncing around now, but there are so many details, and I’m afraid of losing steam if I concentrate on just one. My next goals are the balustrades and columns.

Autumn City Hall – Update 10

I said I would get very detailed, and this week I felt the effects of that statement. Using old 19th century diagrams, I recreated an authentic double hung sash window. I modeled every part and rigged it using constraints. The windows open, the pulleys turn, the fastener locks, and the cord slides up and down. Now that I have one window modeled, I can use it as a base for the other windows, including the ones with more panes.

There aren’t any textures yet, and the stone work is still just a placeholder. I’m happy with the results, but it’s only gonna get harder from here to preview the building since my computer is already having trouble with cycles viewport rendering. I’ll have to keep layers separate, use duplicates when I really have to, and just manage.

Now I need to clean a few edges up and then move on to the next part, the cornice for the basement.

Autumn City Hall – Update 9

I started experimenting with the building materials last week. I attempted to see how far I could get with fully procedural textures. The stones and tiles are made up of arrays with some displacement. My computer will probably not be able to handle that many polygons so I might have to replace these with textures from Substance Designer or bake these out.

Today I’m working on fine tuning the stone scaling to make sure the whole building is built proportionally.

Autumn City Hall – Update 8

I’m done with the floor plan for now. I have a general layout and I can walk around the building which is really cool. Last step before the “cornerstone” is laid is to lay out the surrounding grounds. That includes pedestrian walkways and trees. Can’t wait to start modeling the final building! Off to Photoshop to start sketching the dirt paths.

Here is my building overlaid onto my city plan with simple shapes representing surrounding streets and grounds.

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