This is the penultimate blog post in this series titled Representation and culminates in the documentation of a physical model I have made in the workshop at The University of Greenwich. I chose to develop a model rather than the alternative options of an animation or three renders. This is because I enjoy the opportunity to work away from a computer screen and I wanted to work with different materials to better understand the tidal flows of the river Thames – a variable in my studio design project.
Photographs of the Final Model can be seen in this post.
My main priority when looking for precedent models was to find a suitable method of representing moving water, however this presented a challenge. Most models were pristine and static or ‘messy’ with motion i.e. the materials and viewer were going to have to get wet.
I decided to combine the topographic approach of Cary Foster with the sense of wave movement achieved by Norman Diaz, rejecting – for the purpose of a 3-week project – the inclusion of actual water. I did purchase hydrogel (which LCLA office used to ‘flood’ their work, by heating with a lamp from underneath) and will test the suitability of this later in my studio design project.
Process – six components
Site: Impounding Station, Isle of Dogs; River Thames
- As the twice-daily rise and fall of the Thames inform my design project, I wanted a section of the river to be the main focus of the physical model and therefore modelled this digitally in Rhino.
- In reality, the Thames and the Isle of Dogs (my studio brief) is a relatively flat area, with heights varying from -5m to +5m yet the river spanning 550m in width at this point. I exaggerated the topography of the river bed by x10 fold to create visible yet still proportionately accurate variation at a model scale of 1:1000.
- Sourcing of timber was the next challenge, as I wanted a hardwood with attractive grain yet with a depth of 90+mm (length 600mm x width 200mm). I had a piece of London Plane cut to size by specialist timber merchant City Wood based in Bromley-by-Bow.
- The 3D .stl file and timber were then supplied to the workshop to be cut on the CNC machine (computer numerical control). The timber had a minimum +10mm excess on the three ‘exposed’ edges. Waiting to access the machine has been the biggest challenge due to long queue times.
- Other key elements of the .stl file include 9 slots – where the CNC machine cut through the timber entirely – and grooves to hold my proposal and any existing buildings (which would be created using 3D printing).
- To finish the topography, I sanded any rough edges and added an oil to the wood to enhance the grain.
- As per my original sketches, I wanted to create a handle mechanic – also from wood – that could be manually moved back and forth at a 90-degree angle to the topography to mimic the tide. I modelled this in Rhino to plan the construction and dimensions.
- This was cut from the same London Plane sourced from City Wood. The 480mm top section and small end pieces (30mm x2) I cut by hand on the Band Saw, including the diagonal edges. The larger 860mm bottom section was cut on the Circular Saw, which was a lot more accurate and produced a better end result.
- Using an AutoCAD file edited in Adobe Illustrator, I transferred an image of the Thames on to the 480mm section. This was achieved using the Laser Cutter and the raster engraving option.
- I created two finger grooves on each end piece by using the Pillar Drill on a double length piece of wood (60mm) and then cutting this in half, again on the Band Saw, to create two identical pieces of 30mm in length.
- The four separate wooden pieces were then glued together with wood glue, clamped and left to dry overnight.
- To finish the handle, I sanded any rough edges and added an oil to the wood to enhance the grain and match the topography.
- As a variation on the design by Diaz, I wanted to incorporate nine unfixed sheets of acrylic that could move up and down inside the topography. By placing them on the wooden handle and then sliding this back and forth, the model would attempt to represent the rise and fall of the tide.
- Again, I modeled the concept in Rhino but then created the final files in AutoCAD before editing in Adobe Illustrator. I sourced 5mm gloss white acrylic and cut the 9 ‘tidal waves’ on the Laser Cutter using vector cutting only.
- As per the above component, I modelled the concept in Rhino, prepared file in AutoCAD and edited line weights and colour in Adobe Illustrator. I imported text from an Adobe InDesign file.
- The base has been Laser Cut on transparent light grey 3mm acrylic using both vector cutting and vector engraving. The engraved text represents quarterly tide times and heights from 2017.
- I added a finger joint to the edges of the base primarily to give the structure additional strength, as I was concerned that the acrylic might struggle to hold the weight of the timber topography if it was flimsy in any way. It has also been glued.
- The design proposal of my site have been modeled in Rhino and then supplied as an .stl file to be printed on the Formlabs 3D Printer in grey resin. The Form 1+ is a desktop 3D printer that ‘prints’ onto a liquid resin, solidifying each layer of the model with an ultraviolet laser.
- The model was printed with a support structure that held the model together during the printing process. I removed this with a scalpel.
- The existing buildings of my site have been modeled in Rhino and then supplied as an .stl file to be printed on the Ultimaker 2+ 3D Printer in white plastic.
- The Ultimaker creates tough, solid ABS/PLA plastic models ‘toothpaste style’ by printing each layer with a melted plastic, known as FDM (fused deposition modeling) printing.
Photographs of the Final Model can be seen in this post.
5 / 5 A short diary of five introductory software sessions, covering Rhino (two parts), ArcGIS, 3D Scanning and Adobe After Effects. Delivered via The University of Greenwich as part of the Landscape Representation module within the Master of Landscape Architecture program.
A 3 hour guided demonstration through the main functionality of Adobe After Effects. The time focused on two exercises: first looking at more simple commands to move a balloon across the screen; secondly animating a series of aisles in a shopping centre.
The principle of animation is keyframing.
The older style – e.g. that Disney used – was an additive process, called stop frame. Digital animation does away with that and is interpretive. The aim is to strip it back to base functions e.g. twist, size, move, rotate…. Need to boil the actions down to principles.
- Composition > new composition > select Preset (PAL Widescreen Square Pixel)
- Everything in top half is SD whereas below is HD
- Window > workspace > standard (although this is likely the default)
- Option of no. of views > 1 View is best (should be default)
- File > import > file > select option to retain all layers > and make editable
- Drag and drop the layers you want into the layer edit panel (bottom left)
- Scale balloon either manually, or open up the arrow options > Scale
- Drag in the second layer (6) need to move to top, and then change position of ball
- To set your first keyframe > on the active layer next to the principle e.g. Position, start at 0’ > click the stopwatch (indicates keyframe start)
- Move to 10’ > click the diamond i.e. setting second keyframe > at the second keyframe of 10’, alter the variables of the principle i.e. move the object’s position to where you want it to be.
- Repeat for any other principles e.g. Scale, Rotate. This is the approach for all work in this software: keep setting keyframes.
Exercise 2 – File Preparation
- Photoshop > Turn image into a series of layers > create 8 layers > add a fill for the background > keep some pixels at the top and bottom so the software can use this as reference
- After Effects > drag in all 8 layers and select the small cube option (3D) (if this isn’t an option, toggle between switches/modes)
- Layer > Camera Settings > 35mm > Open up 2 Views (like Rhino) and have Top and Active Camera (you won’t be able to have these options if 3D is not switched on)
- From layer 2, in Position, change the 0 setting to 500 pixels (moving it back); add 500 pixels per layer so by layer 8 it’s 3500 pixels back. Careful not to change anchor point instead……
- Then scale each of the 8 layers so they are the same size. You can tell you’ve done it right in the Top view: the “cone of vision”!
- In camera, change Field of Vision to 3500 (z axis) (i.e. the depth of pixels of the furthest away layer). You can then click on the camera and ‘fly around’.
Exercise 2 – Applying Animation
- Camera layer/view > move from left to right > zoom in and down to play with the angle and avoid seeing the edges of the image > all using keyframes
- Z rotation will tilt the camera. Play with the camera options – treating it like a real camera.
- Test depth of field > top view > change focus distance > exaggerate aperture (bigger the aperture is will look like miniature). Try starting in focus at front 0’ then moving to back at 10’.
Exercise 2 – Applying Effects
- Select layer > right click > Effect > Colour Correction > black and white (will change only layer 2); this is like Photoshop. You can drag and drop the effects. This is only layer by layer: could copy and paste the settings.
- In order to apply effects to all layers, shift > select all including camera > Layer > Pre-compose > move all attributes > open new composition. Any actions now affect the whole image, but you can still have the original version folder to edit.
- Effect > Distort > CC Lens = fish eye, will default to very extreme setting, but you can subtly round the corners
- Noise & Grain > Noise > 3% is a nice subtle emulation of actual filmed footage, slightly changes what you see every frame and therefore tricks you into high reality
- Window > Wiggler > will replicate a slight shake/wobble > edit this in Camera layer > shift and select both keyframes > Wiggler will be in bottom right > 3 per seconds > magnitude 0.5-1 i.e. barely perceptible > apply settings (makes it seem like a human natural wobble)
- Puppet Tool > Select layer > select puppet pin icon > place on the drawing, making a joint > first at top of pillar > second at bottom > click back on first pin (Puppet Pin 1) and with arrow can play with the whole layer. Add loads of pins in order to reduce movement. Unpack Puppet Pin 1 > will find a stopwatch > can apply same method to animate. Could realistically use for e.g. someone waving in an aisle.
- File > Export > Add to Render Queue > amend the three options in blue
- Output module > format Select QuickTime file > Format options Ideal – H264 (what you see on screen comes out exactly as render)
- Never use animation as = huge files
- At any time you can go back and edit the variables
- The stopwatch always activates the keyframe, however pressing the stopwatch a second time will delete all the set keyframes
- Rotate principle: if you just alter rotate it will rotate from the centre > can change anchor point > move the part of the image you want to anchor > the anchor spot (just by eye is fine) > move image back to the original spot > play with rotate and it will rotate from e.g. bottom left
- Use Graph Editor to smooth out keyframes: diamonds will now show as egg timers to let you know you have made edits
- Avoid too much movement in animating as it will look fake: perspective will be overly distorted: the ideal point will be the middle where the camera is
- The more axis you animate over the more dynamic it will feel: try sweeping across, out and in all in one go
4 / 5 A short diary of five introductory software sessions, covering Rhino (two parts), ArcGIS, 3D Scanning and Adobe After Effects. Delivered via The University of Greenwich as part of the Landscape Representation module within the Master of Landscape Architecture program.
2.5 hour demonstration workshop of how a 3D scanner works. There are two components to the result: firstly a scan of the physical geometry, and secondly a scan of the colour information i.e. a photo of the space, taken in full panoramic.
A 3D scanner:
- Scans what you can see…. that is to say, it travels through glass, but can’t see through objects. Always do more than one scan of any space for this reason. The best place to hide is behind a wall, or under the scanner!
- Requires at least three scans, with correct setup needing to be able to see scan site #1 from #2, then needing to be able to see #2 from #3, etc.
- Set at the maximum resolution it will take about 2 hours per scan and it’s highly unlikely a computer will be able to process multiple files: so reduce the settings. Low scan in comparison will take about 5 minutes and the capture is still very high resolution. Only use the highest settings on very small spaces.
Scene software allows you to:
- Make either a point cloud model (which you can’t edit in 3D software), OR make a Mesh (which is really easy, and means you can then manipulate the file further).
- Follow a clear workflow bar that sits across the top of the software program. The ambition is to make all 3 boxes in ‘Project’ (tab 1) turn green, and at that stage, the process is finished.
- Select the ‘Registration’ tab (see pic), where you can stitch all of the scans together. Here there are 3 options, being ‘Auto’ – which may or may not work; ‘Manual’ – which is very easy: matching viewable elements; ‘Visual’ – which is organising parts. We tested ‘Manual’.
- In the ‘Manual’ option, pick the top image from each scan > mark targets (see pic) > mark a point or a plane > keep marking > the top button goes green. Points and corners of things tend to work better than planes.
- Navigate around a rough model in the ‘Explore’ tab, which will be a lower resolution on screen than what is actually captured. Use an auto-clipping box to quickly tidy up the file: move and rotate this to fit. You can use as many clipping boxes as needed.
- Finalise your master image via the last option on the ‘Create’ tab. Typically keep the settings on the default options, then this stitches all the scans together.
Export considerations include:
- File types are typically .stl – for 3D printing; .ply – not very commonly used; .obj – the universal file, can be used in any software (obj = object)
- Point cloud is good for background fills. In last ‘Export’ tab, export project point cloud. Studio Max doesn’t work with .pts (point cloud) file, but export this then open up Recap, scan project, open and save as .rcs (Revision Control System) file.
- Point cloud option can’t be used in Rhino, but can be used in other 3D software like Studio Max (Autodesk 3ds Max) and Blender.
- The settings when making a Mesh have the option to make it watertight, which would then be suitable for 3D printing…. But remember it’s 1:1 and will likely morph some of the shapes. Mesh turns your scan into lines and triangular faces. Mesh Selection > mesh clipping boxes > will turn yellow. Meshes > right click > export > save.
- A Mesh should import into Rhino easily, however, don’t apply lighting as this is already baked in from the photographs. When viewing the model in Rhino Render mode, it will retain the photo information. Note: this is if you have scanned with colour. You can turn colour on/off, and without it will give whitey grey overall finish. Turn Mesh Wires on/off in display settings of Rhino.
3 / 5 A short diary of five introductory software sessions, covering Rhino (two parts), ArcGIS, 3D Scanning and Adobe After Effects. Delivered via The University of Greenwich as part of the Landscape Representation module within the Master of Landscape Architecture program.
3 hour demonstration workshop, first spent introducing GIS (Geographical Information System) as a system and the background of ArcGIS, a software company owned by ESRI. Explored the 3D application of ArcGIS ArcScene and 2D application of ArcGIS ArcMap. Finally, we retrospectively learnt how to connect the content of folders downloaded from Digimap via ArcGIS ArcCatalogue.
- Download data from Digimap
- ArcCatalogue > Right click > Folder Connections > Connect to Folder > connect to your Digimap data
- Open ArcMap > click Catalogue (right-hand side) > drag and drop layers you want
- Manipulating in ArcCatalogue will allow you to see MORE layers e.g. boreholes
- Do the same in ArcScene, but note: in 3D there is no scale.
- Right click > scene layers > scene properties > vertical exaggeration e.g. 10
- Customise > toolbars > animation > Camera > capture view (will combine to a smooth video)
- Right click > Mastermap TopographicArea > Open Attribute Table (will give all the visual info in data table, and allow calculation of specific areas e.g. road versus buildings – can be treated like Excel)
- Selection > Select by Attributes OR Select by Location > Select Layer > Add equations > Get Unique Values (will show number of features selected in the bottom left corner) > Right Click > Mastermap > Selection > Create Layer from Selected Features
- Customise > Toolbars > Effects > Swipe (compare layers underneath)
Printing and Page SetUp
- Bottom left – layout view versus data view (= equivalent of paper space vs model space)
- Layers > Right Click > Properties > Coordinates > check it’s British National Grid, to align any imported data layers
- Insert > New Data Frame > then drag the layers you want to use into this new layer
- Insert > Scale Bar OR Legend OR North Arrow
2C / 5 A short diary of five introductory software sessions, covering Rhino (two parts), ArcGIS, 3D Scanning and Adobe After Effects. Delivered via The University of Greenwich as part of the Landscape Representation module within the Master of Landscape Architecture program.
<1 hour practical workshop delivered as a rapid introduction to Grasshopper, described as a visual programming language and environment that runs within Rhino. Programs are created by dragging components onto a canvas. The outputs to these components are then connected to the inputs of subsequent components.
Start with a 4 corner surface and Command > Rebuild to 6×6 grid, and manipulate with GumBall into to a typical organic landscape topography. At this point Command > Grasshopper.
Some steps I remember!
- Parameters > Geometry > Surface > drag into workspace > right click > Set One Surface (click on the Surface you have just created in Rhino)
- Surface > Utilities > Divide Surface > drag into workspace > connect Srf box to S (surface?) > U and V are effectively X and Y axis and need a numerical value
- Parameters > Input > Number Slider > drag into workspace > right click to Edit > Rounding N > change Min and Max (we used 1 and 15)…. have now created lots of points on the single surface
- Vector > Plane Normal > drag into workspace > connect P to O and N to Z (don’t know why!)…. each point now has a separate plane, directly parallel to the surface
- Surface > Primitive > Centre Box > add a Number Slider and connect to X, Y, Z axis (or could have 3 separate Sliders)…. now have boxes that are all the same size
- Parameters > Geometry > Point > right click > Set One Point (click on the Point that you will have gone back and plotted in Rhino, which sits somewhere above the surface)…. forgot to screengrab instructions for this part onwards
- Vector > Point > Distance…. so instead of linking the Number Slider to directly to Box we connected it through Point (I think); see the resulting screengrab
- Right click > Bake > select Layer you want to place it on > will now be in Rhino!
In short, this tutorial was far too quick and I haven’t actually figured out the main benefits of why you would you this software. However, the Grasshopper website has a link to 13 free intro tutorials hosted on Vimeo.
2B / 5 A short diary of five introductory software sessions, covering Rhino (two parts), ArcGIS, 3D Scanning and Adobe After Effects. Delivered via The University of Greenwich as part of the Landscape Representation module within the Master of Landscape Architecture program.
1 hour practical workshop spent adding materials and render effects to a train station built earlier in the session. The software used was VRay for Rhino.
In Rhino, select Render > Current Renderer > VRay for Rhino > Asset Editor
In the Asset Editor, it defaults first to material selection (but you can continue to toggle between this and other options) Add Material > Generic > Quick Settings (to create your own by picking colours, reflection etc.)
Add Material > Generic > Quick Settings (to create your own by picking colours, reflection etc.)
OR click on the small arrow on the left-hand side to access Materials Library > drag and drop > right click > Apply Material to Layer (can check the status in the Layers panel).
If a Material Library surface is looking strange e.g. concrete is very stretched, then alter the Diffuse Colour and Bump settings under UVW, to 100 and 100 (will be just 1 as default).
To provide better context through a typical background, select Setting > Environment > Background > Blue Checker Box > List (top left corner icon) > Sky.
Use Interactive Render with your chosen Perspective. N.B. don’t alter the Resolution size at this point as it will be too time intensive. Play with adjustments to Materials, Sun, Camera, Background. e.g. Sky (Setting > Environment > Background > Blue Checker Box > List (top left corner icon) > Sky).