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, 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 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.

Autumn City Hall – Update 7

Last two days have been floor plans. This part is driving me a little nuts since it can be complicated, especially wall thickness, staircases, and multi-level rooms. I’m not gonna model the inside very much or texture it, but I want the building to be functional if I decide to go back later. This is the “skeleton” showing. After I have random rooms set up, I’ll do a little more research and make sure I have designated rooms appropriate for a City Hall in the 19th century, specifically for a city government in Virginia.

Autumn City Hall – Update 6

Did some work yesterday building the clock faces. There are a couple structural layers that I built. Behind the hands there is the decorative iron work attached to a supporting iron structure that mimics some of the lines of the front layer.

There are individual planes of glass in the center “flower” shape along with larger individual panes towards the outer part of the circle. The inner section has less of a frosted look.

Behind each face there are 12 spheres of light in place as temporary lamps. Because glass has to be replaced from time to time and is affected by the sun, I’m planning to add a subtle variation to different panes that can probably only be seen from behind. I can’t wait to add grime and textures to it! Ahh, delayed gratification…

Next up is setting up the final floor plan to look for any glaring mistakes in construction as well as making sure the entire structure fits into my city map plan.

Autumn City Hall – Update 5

I’d love to texture the building procedurally to have a variation in detail size, but I want more control. I’m not completely sure what direction I’m gonna go, but I may have to split the building up into many sections. I want dirt, drips, scratches, paint peeling – all that. I’ve been using Substance Painter recently, and I’m curious to see if I can integrate it in some way with such a large model.

Like I mentioned before, I got caught up in the clock design this weekend. Here is the final design I came up with. The faces will be 22 feet wide and be made of opalescent glass and iron. I plan to animate the hands in the future along with the machine inside. That’ll be a nice lesson for me in drivers, gears, and constraints.

Would love to hear thoughts on the design…

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