August | July | June | May | April

Home | Projects

Send comments, questions or suggestions to

Copyright © 2001, Brandenburg Technologies and M. Maher


I was rather pleased with the way the mirror came out but the bed linens need some work. The first attempt to create a material was not a complete success. I was trying for Victorian lace and ended up with a truly excellent concrete material instead. The mesh is rough and difficult to work with so I may end up creating a whole new one. The frame is pretty good, so I'll keep that.

I'm also thinking Steve Cox's UVMapper might be a good way to go for these objects. Bryce's parametric mapping is better for these soft, organic shapes anyway.


reprise5-1c.jpg (30754 bytes)

I used a similar technique as with the pictures but this time I replaced the picture with a reflective surface and kept only the frame.

Usually the rule of thumb is that diffusion plus reflection should equal 100. Here I set the diffuse color to white and set diffusion to about 40 with reflection at 100. This gives a little haze to the reflection, more like an antique mirror rather than the shiny new Windex variety. 


Haven't counted for a while ... thought it might be fun (it wasn't really).

  • 2418 objects
  • 3,624,483 polygons
  • 385MB file size

And Bryce, not holding up badly. Not blinding me with it's speed but, overall, holding up.

Finished the blinds so now I'll take a look at some of the smaller details.


reprise5-1a.jpg (49775 bytes)

reprise5-1b.jpg (57406 bytes)


The Finch Dilemma

First off, big thanks to Captain Bob for these most excellent finch reference pictures. They should make building that finch quite a lot easier. Jonathan pointed me to a somewhat generic songbird model from DAZ. I could create some morph targets for that model or just start from scratch and build a new model as a NURBS object.

p11.jpg (188247 bytes) p14.jpg (194216 bytes) p18.jpg (189290 bytes)

I haven't quite decided which way to go yet but I'll probably learn a lot more by building my own in Rhino so I'm leaning in that direction.

From the Artistic Director

Michelle fired off a reference link for the bed linens before she took off for the long weekend. I also found a great resource for furniture models (better late than never).

It should be relatively simple to create some image maps from these examples. She also decided there should be a mirror over the dresser and a blue crystal vase and some small family photos on the chest of drawers, dust ruffle on the bed ... and blinds, the big old hard to wash kind like grandma used to have.

... er, ya want fries with that honey?

I also had one evil thought. Perhaps the radiator on the wall is a mistake. A short, small radiator in front of the window would make more sense.

Virtual Painting

That default white on the doors and woodwork was starting to bother me so I headed down to Home Depot looking for some paint chips and found these great idiot-proof color guides.

I scanned the guides at a relatively low resolution but high color depth then gave them a 4 pixel gaussian blur in Photoshop to smooth out any surface roughness picked up by the scanner and average out the color in the chip. Using the eyedropper tool with the color palette open it's easy to convert the colors into RGB values for Bryce.

I grouped all the wall, woodwork, door and ceiling elements into families so that I could select them easily and make sure that the materials I applied were consistent.

On the walls, I'm using a bump channel to simulate the character of the plaster. The color goes into the diffuse channel with diffusion set to 100%. I'm also using the specularity channel to simulate the finish in all groups.

  • Ceiling - flat, no specularity
  • Walls - eggshell, 50% specularity
  • Woodwork and doors - gloss, 100% specularity

Bryce's texture model really makes this easy once you're comfortable with the basics of how the model works. A side benefit is that these simple materials tend to render quickly.

If you think about it, paint companies spend huge amounts of money to come up with these color combinations for the decoratively challenged masses (people like me). You can skip all this and just eyeball these things but consistent color, finish and surfaces add subtle but important detail to the finished image.

Just for fun I'll run out a few different combinations and let Michelle pick the final color scheme later. Since we're trying to convey a feeling of sweltering heat, one of the warm combinations would be the best choice. We'll reinforce the feeling with the figure (the way she's dressed, pose and texture) but the colors in the room should also support that feeling.

It's a good thing ...

Sorry, still just winding out of Martha Stewart mode here. Corel has given permission to the beta testers to publicly post images created with Bryce 5 though we're still not allowed to discuss the new features. I was rather hoping for this since some of the new features will make a big difference in these images.


reprise4-3a.jpg (33276 bytes)
  Deep Aubergine (117/30/50)
  Parchment (240/217/199)
  Antique Gold (161/90/29)

reprise4-3b.jpg (31522 bytes)

  Forrest Floor (66/58/24)
  Wedding White (251/245/246)
  Chippendale (89/38/37)

reprise4-3c.jpg (36271 bytes)

  Day Star (254/170/68)
  Vanilla (255/205/169)
  Colorado Dawn (249/132/31)

reprise4-3d.jpg (34662 bytes)

  Soft Wheat (218/175/156)
  Daydream (249/220/214)
  Dusty Canyon (177/140/131)


Good news. Mercury is rumored to be in the gentle hands of UPS at this very moment. I could sure use that extra horsepower about now.

While I was finishing up the cage I went ahead and moved the picture and added a matte to each of the ink drawings. I guess it's about time to get some texture on that bed and the floor needs a little help too.

I also played around a little with the lighting. This is much closer to my original idea for the "look and feel" I'm aiming for in this one.


reprise4-2a.jpg (219197 bytes)

reprise4-2b.jpg (220384 bytes)

reprise4-2c.jpg (201155 bytes)

The bird is a stand-in. I'm waiting for some reference material from my seester.

In the second and third views there is a single spotlight (pretending to be the sun) illuminating the scene. There is also one omni light with it's shadows off in the center of the room to bring up some ambient light. I really prefer this approach to setting the ambience channel in the materials.

Render times are still running under 10 minutes even in volumetric mode. Go figure.


Ok, I can live without the VCR selection controls. As long as I don't try to use them in other than solo mode, Bryce stays in one piece. Enough said.

I think the bird cage is coming along nicely. Reasonably close to the original. Just need a door, perch and a boid yet. Everything was pretty straightforward except for the wires in the upper section. That was interesting.


bc1.jpg (25281 bytes)

bc2.jpg (40483 bytes)

Modeling from a low quality picture is really just a matter of developing an eye for proportions. It's generally not too difficult if you have the overall dimensions to work from and have some sense of the way the object is put together.


Ask anyone, patience is not one of my virtues.

Are you getting the hint that Bryce was behaving badly today? It took over an hour to get Psyche going again after the power failure last night while I was at work. Fortunately Cupid has more of a golden retriever personality.

The Bryce gods are truly angry again. I exchanged a few messages with Bill Munns (check the bio, who knew?) and he said he's worked on projects in the 30MP range. Beta guy says he's done 26MP and we're falling apart here at 3MP. Something is funky.

Then I went browsing over to take a closer look at the Flamingo gallery (3rd picture down on the right). It seems they've made an awful lot of progress since the early beta I saw several months ago.

Things To Do Today

  • Set v4 aside and import the model again on the off chance that this file is still corrupted.
  • Download Rhino 2.0 beta and the Flamingo beta and see how much progress they've really made.

In the meantime, I'll continue to add the small details I've collected from the web to the model.

Persistence however, is one of my virtues.



Love that Chicken from Popeyes • You'll dig the way it's fried • Feels so good inside • The best you ever tried

Don't mind me. Just having a moment. I haven't had decent fried chicken since I moved out of Philadelphia. The store was in a bad section so we used to have to travel in large groups through Powelton Village to get there. Fifteen years later who knew they'd open up in the food court of the mall? Getting through the mall traffic is no less dangerous but a little less stressful. Life is good.

Back to "work". I'm pretty pleased with the pictures but I'm wondering:

  • Should the smaller picture be over the chest of drawers maybe.
  • What the heck should be on the wall opposite the large picture?

I had the thought that I could scan some of the People's Light and Theatre artwork to look like a theatrical poster. I like the idea but I'm not sure it'd work here.

I started tweaking the materials in the bathroom and finally figured out what the gunk on the back tile was. Turns out, it was the wall. Somehow I shifted the back wall over the tile. That was really bugging me. There was also a small alignment issue with the metal fixtures.

I did get all the tile work done but now I'm not sure about the three pictures in the back. They need to be cleaned up a little. Still, not a bad day's work. All that detail and not one additional polygon.

I also found a couple new things on the web that might work in the bedroom. Still have to get going on the bird cage (an owl stand would have been much easier).


reprise4-1.jpg (43917 bytes)

reprise4-1b.jpg (36675 bytes)

The artifacts on the back wall were due to an alignment problem. Both the tile and the wall surfaces were positioned at the same Y coordinate. I fixed the alignment in Rhino and imported the bathroom wall section again. In a case like this Bryce will give you unpredictable results in the final render.

I created three tile patterns in Rhino. One for the floor (object top), one for the North-South walls (object front) and one for the East-West walls (object side).

To keep the scale consistent I laid out the tile just as I would in the real world. Though it's much easier this way, less messy and quite a lot cheaper.

I imported the tiles into Bryce in groups making it easier to play with the final colors. I set the grout surface 0.01 BU under the other tiles to minimize the shadow effects. After Bryce rendered the tiles, I saved the image then opened the current scene and applied the new materials to the tile surfaces. 


The Bryce gods are truly brooding and angry today. At one point, Bryce was having an issue and I accidentally saved a corrupted version of the scene over the last good copy. I was however, able to coax one last image out of the corrupted file.

On the brighter side, while I was coaxing, I added the mirror in the bathroom and made good progress on the revised floor tile map for the bathroom (all in Rhino).

I did have to scale the large picture over the bed by about 75%. This is so much more convenient than real life. Usually you find a great picture and most times, it's too big or too small for where you want to put it and isn't available in any other size. As a general rule, pictures should be centered vertically at eye level.

Michelle has good taste in pictures ... eh?


Issue resolved ... I think. I think the problem was related to a Bryce issue with PSD files. Out of habit I tend to save images in Photoshop format. Now I remember some talk about the PSD import filter having some problems but I never paid much attention because I never ran into it. I finally deleted the picture objects I just added and everything seems to be fine again. Now that the Bryce is stable, I'll try remapping the pictures using the BMP format. I had to go back to Photoshop to fix the Moiré patterns anyway.


reprise3-2.jpg (234908 bytes)

I noticed some Moiré interference patterns on the pictures when rendered in normal AA. The images were scanned at 300dpi, at that resolution, the scanner is resolving the individual dots that make up the printed image.

I'll have to go back to Photoshop and apply a slight Gaussian blur to the original scans to fix the problem.

05/18/2001 PM

I replaced the last image with a fine art AA version that I let run while I was at work. I'm seeing a pretty dramatic improvement in the image quality.

Mike has again been adjusting my hard work to suit his own tastes. Normally that would earn him a retroactive pay cut but he did such a great job with an Internet auction this week he's earned a couple "get out of retroactive pay cut free" cards. Actually, Xev looks pretty good in this scene (the scale is a little off) ... I'll have to run it past Michelle but somehow I don't think she'll go for it.

We had a pretty interesting discussion about pictures for the walls and bird cages this afternoon. I still didn't find a picture (of the bird cage) that was quite what I had in mind but I did find a couple things that looked like they belonged in the scene. I still think the owl would be better but, she's the boss.

We agreed to move the bird cage away from the radiator a bit to avoid a repeat of one of Michelle's rather unpleasant childhood experiences.

Small Details

The second link is a real gold mine for details that'd fit nicely into this scene. Anybody know where I can pickup a finch model ... cheap? I also found a book and a couple magazines from the Chester County Book Company that are right on target. I can't believe how easy it is to find reference material on this style.

It was interesting that both Michelle and Helen looked at the first image I posted this morning and immediately (and independently) "recognized" it as being just like their grandmother's bedroom.

Fortunately, the weather is supposed to be unpleasant this weekend so we should make pretty good progress.


reprise3-1d.jpg (39069 bytes)

frame1.jpg (50247 bytes)

frame2.jpg (38566 bytes)

frame4.jpg (39522 bytes)

I got a catalog from Brushstrokes last week. Turned out to be just the thing. They show their paintings in a head on view, just perfect for Bryce.

I scanned the images then created a frame in Rhino that approximated the size in the catalog then mapped the scanned image onto the solid model using object front mapping.

In these images I also generated a bump map by desaturating and setting the lightness +10 and the contrast +25 (in Photoshop).

I used a similar technique for the three ink drawings. Those were scanned from a book called Victorian Floral Illustrations. You can find lots of these type of art and craft books at a good bookstore. This book was left over from a calendar project I did several years ago.

For these, since I didn't have a frame, I created a simple one, a plane of glass and a plane for  the scanned image.

I also added a paper like texture (bump channel) to these.

Image map techniques like this are a quick and easy way of adding detail to any image.

05/18/2001 AM

Not really happy with any of my options I came up with plan D. A low calorie version of the model. Not quite as crisp as the original but not too bad and it's workable on my current hardware. I can always swap out the lo-cal elements later if I want.

  • 1407 objects
  • 2,976,650 polygons
  • 274MB file size

Good enough to at least get some preliminary textures on the model.

The shadows are too harsh but I won't replace the single light sources with cluster lights until I'm finished. It looks great but keeping the render time down is the most important thing right now.

These metal materials are just minor variations on the Bryce preset metals. I picked up Jonathan's Seriously Real Metals last week and I'm anxious to see how they look in this scene. It'll be interesting to see if he's as good as I think he is with the Bryce DTE.

The materials need a lot of work yet and there is still the bathroom mirror and the tile all has to be redone. Then it'll be just a matter of integrating the figure, finishing off the details and getting the final lighting in place.


reprise3-1a.jpg (30566 bytes)

reprise3-1b.jpg (33003 bytes)

reprise3-1c.jpg (45877 bytes)


The Rhino 3DS export filter allows you to specify how the object mesh is generated. By adjusting these settings I was able to cut polygons count in half and still retain most of the detail..

Unfortunately, the lower polygon count causes some faceting in Bryce. Once the model is imported, I now have to spend extra time smoothing. I'm using a smoothing angle of between 22 and 46 degrees in these images.


PM ...

The beta team assures me that we are nowhere near the limit so ... Plan A ... good to go.

Jim, who is better at Truespace than I am says Plan C is good too but has a personal preference for Plan B until Plan A becomes available.

Things are looking up!

AM ...

"Houston, we have a problem." I spent a couple hours importing the model into Bryce. Here are the statistics for the model to date:

  • 1434 objects
  • 6,870,798 polygons
  • 637MB file size

With only about another million polygons to go to finish the model, Bryce has already become too sluggish to use on Cupid (800Mhz). It's now taking over a minute to perform the simplest tasks (select an object). Too slow even to texture the existing model (without prescription pharmaceuticals).

Rhino is still fine but it's working with a NURBS representation and doesn't have to deal with the massive polygon count Bryce does. Surprisingly, render times are still very reasonable.

It's decision time.

  • Plan A - Throw more hardware at the problem

    Within the next couple of weeks a new box (Mercury) should be up and running. This one will be a 1.3Ghz Athalon which may be enough to allow me to finish the project. The problem today is that every geek on the planet wants that ASUS motherboard and Craig got his order in a little late. They are currently backordered with no ETA available.
  • Plan B - The Breakup

    I can close the doors and import the two rooms separately ignoring all out of view objects. For the bedroom I'd only need to import the walls, lights and crown molding for the hall and bathroom. Since the original concept was for a scene in the bedroom only, this still works with only a slight diminishment. The model could be reassembled in it's entirety if it becomes feasible in the future. Moore's law, don't fail me now.
  • Plan C - Infidelity

    Switch to another renderer. Both TrueSpace and Rhino's beta Flamingo are offering radiosity in their lighting model ... very nice to have for this scene. It's tempting, but the price is that I would have to abandon Bryce's material and volumetric lighting model. I'm also not very familiar with either package and I've got no idea how much trouble they'd be working with a Poser figure import. A project this complex is also probably not the best way to break in a new renderer and I'd have to abandon and recreate all my material libraries.

A combination of plans A and C would probably be the best choice overall but the most practical and expedient is a combination of A and B.

I'm a little disappointed. Instead of seeing the (volumetric) light at the end of the tunnel next week I'm now looking at several more weeks before I can finish. I was rather looking forward to seeing some preliminary textured views and working on the fine details of the Poser model. Plan B seems to be my best bet at this point but I think I'll take a little time off and briefly explore the other options first.

Rats, I was really looking forward to adding that owl though Michelle said she wanted a nice Victorian style bird cage with finches instead. I thought the owl would have been much cooler (probably a guy thing).


reprise2-3a.jpg (30384 bytes)

reprise2-3b.jpg (22379 bytes)

reprise2-3c.jpg (25463 bytes)


I've opted to start with some of Tony's stuff first. His stuff is pretty detailed and it'll help keep things moving if I can avoid modeling all the furniture myself.

I'd rather spend more time working on the figure and some of the other details. If you hadn't noticed, the Sarah character I was working on back in February belongs in this series.

Once I'm finished with the basic model, I'll go back and finish up work on the character.


reprise2-2a.jpg (27024 bytes)

reprise2-2b.jpg (25632 bytes)

reprise2-2c.jpg (23061 bytes)


[ has great furniture, if you can get past the total cornball home page.]


Had to take a couple days off to deal with the real world but things look like they are starting to settle down a little so I can finally get back to work.

I think we'll be moving furniture this weekend so I thought I'd better get the bay windows installed.

As we were reviewing our progress on Friday afternoon, Helen pointed out that the baseboard is missing a piece of quarter-round at the bottom (Helen does her own finish carpentry). I hadn't really thought about it but, she's absolutely right.

I also noticed one or two other minor details that need polishing so I'll clean those up then it's over to Tony's site to look for furniture.

reprise2-1.jpg (31858 bytes)

With each study I seem to keep increasing the scale to get a good camera view. This one was imported and scaled 10,000% with a 70 degree field of view..

It's a balance. I can always increase the field of view angle in the camera settings but if you go too far you get a fish-eye lens effect. I try to keep the scale down because if I later decide to use image mapped textures in world cubic mode, from past experience I know I can get into trouble with the scale of the textures.

reprise2-1b.jpg (38141 bytes)

See, I knew there was a reason. The wallpaper was made by applying a bump map to the basic material in world cubic mapping mode.

The chair presents a problem. It's in a 3DS format with textures already applied. You can import that directly into Bryce without any problems but you'd have a heck of a time positioning and scaling it right. Rhino 1.1 on the other hand, doesn't support textures unless you use the 2.0 beta.

The answer is, use both. Import the chair, scale and position it in Rhino then export it to Bryce. Later, you can use the copy matrix and paste matrix commands to replicate the size and position of the untextured version when you replace it with the one imported directly into Bryce.

Easy huh? Susan Kitchens turned me on to that whole matrix thing. Now I use it all the time. Thanks Susan.


Found one, and fixed the glass.

I played with the textures a little on the fan. Originally I had a shiny brass-n-glass look but after looking at the fans in my house ... decided to go for the grunge.

The model is incredibly detailed but the textures will make or break the final image. These textures are far from finished.

For the size of the room, I'm thinking maybe only a single bed.

In the office ...

... or not

Mike from the office has seen fit to take a little artistic license with study 14. This is not Michelle, it's Wanda, an absolutely wonderful lady (in our opinion) who is currently dating one of the other salesmen in the office. Wanda, we love you, dump Steve, you deserve better. There's a lesson to be learned here, never bring any personal photographs into this office.

On a more serious note, Michelle is having a dilemma. Is the apartment an urban high rise or a smaller building like those in West Chester. If the latter, shouldn't there be three bay windows instead of two flat against the wall?


study14e.jpg (29651 bytes)

study14d2.jpg (20920 bytes)

Revised glass with a 0.005" gap between the glass and the trim. Look ma! No artifacts!

study14f.jpg (28153 bytes)

Rather than model the expanded metal in the radiator enclosure, I used a transparency mapped procedural material. Looks (polygon) expensive, doesn't it?

study14g.jpg (29671 bytes)


The finished windows, baseboard and crown molding. The ceiling fan I was planning to use turned out to be a little rough for the level of detail we've got going here so I'll have to find another.


study14a.jpg (24438 bytes)

study14b.jpg (14548 bytes)

study14c.jpg (31800 bytes)

study14d.jpg (42972 bytes)

Definitely something funky going on with the crown molding here. I'll have to take a closer look at that later.

I also see some artifacts where the glass meets the trim. This happens with Rhino objects in Bryce where one of the objects is transparent. The workaround is to simply adjust the size of one of the objects so that the faces are no longer adjacent.

All in all, it's a good case for test rendering while you're building a model.


I imported the entire model to date into Bryce to see how it would respond (828 objects, 3,200,523 polygons and a file size of about 288MB before any of the elements were smoothed). The model was imported in 28 separate sections.

So far so good.

I was curious how the model would react to light so I assigned the glass materials and added three radial light sources. One each in the bathroom, bedroom and living room.

Double hung, casement or awning?

[I liked the windows in the Avalon Window Tour, the 1st page 1st picture, on the older brick building.]

I'm thinking two windows with a radiator in between.

"Consider everything in the nature of a hanging fixture a weakness, and naked radiators an abomination."

Frank Lloyd Wright, 1902

Ok, maybe this time in an enclosure.

reprise1a.jpg (21128 bytes)

reprise1b.jpg (22650 bytes)

reprise1c.jpg (26361 bytes)

I tend to use a warmer light color 255/255/225 rather than a harsh white light.

Obviously all lights should have a source for a natural look to the finished scene but positioning the light can sometimes be tricky.

In this case I selected the glass in the bathroom light fixture then used "copy matrix", created a new radial light then selected "paste matrix" to position the light source.

An alternate method is to add a sphere (or some other object) to the model and later use the object edit menu to convert that sphere to a light source.

Reduce the shadow intensity from the default 90 to around 50 to soften hard shadows and give a more even lighting. These tests were rendered at 90.

In the finished scene I'll probably replace each single light source with a cluster of 3 or 5 to soften the edges of the shadows. Multiple light sources really add to the render time so you have to use them wisely.


Would you have thought it'd take 2.2 million polygons to make this scene? I have have gone a little overboard but the both Bryce and Rhino seems to be holding up so I'm planning to keep on going until one of them cracks.

From the sketch I redrew the entire floor plan for the apartment then extruded and grouped the walls (by room), created the floor and ceiling surfaces and replicated the finished bathroom door to the bedroom and the front door openings.

Still need to finish some woodwork and the pocket door in the hallway along with some door hardware and a mirror for the bathroom. Then we move on to the bedroom furniture.

And a hall light ...

Lighting References

Since Sylvia nipped the bed I found (first) off the Internet for Cozy In Brown I guess we'll just have to build a new one.

Bed References

[I like Serenity, Virginian, Peterborough. (the second link) has lots of finish close ups if you need them. I liked our original idea in wood, brass seems to be more indicative the period, but I worry it will get 'lost'?]

study12.jpg (24052 bytes)

The view from the bedroom looking towards the bathroom and hall.

The woodwork is using a very large number of polygons. I had to import the doors, woodwork and wall surfaces separately. Usually, at this stage I have no problems importing the entire model as a whole. 

05/02/2001 PM

Ok, I lied. Got more done than I thought I would. The basic floor plan. One bedroom apartment, very small. We were kicking this floor plan around all morning on the whiteboard ... and working.

I'm not planning to complete the entire model , I really only need the bathroom, bedroom and hall (don't need the kitchen or living room right now) but it's nice to know what's happening on the other side of the wall. (?!)


study11.jpg (125674 bytes)


The bathroom is nearly complete. No picture today, but soon. I organized the model into layers by material, getting it ready to export and texture in Bryce. Some of the elements of the model are not finished (some tile, crown molding, mirror, small details) but it's easy to add those later IF the overall size doesn't change.

I'll take a little time and block out the other rooms now. If I don't I'll have to reload and retexture everything when the other rooms are added. I probably should have done this earlier but it's still not a problem if I do it now. I'm already thinking of views and camera angles and I'll need the other rooms because they'll be mostly but not completely out of view. In the finished scene, it'll be this room that's mostly out of view. I'm also a little concerned about the interaction of light through the window over the door.

I could also just create a much larger bounding box than I need for this room but sketching out the other rooms will also help to develop the ideas we have for them.

As a side benefit, if the entire model gets too complex, I have the option of splitting it up into several files (in Rhino) while maintaining the precise alignment of objects (in Bryce). That is IF I have the final size for the bounding box.



The finished floor tile mat, well almost. It seems I started with the wrong bounding box for the floor so this image map doesn't correctly fit the floor surface.

Guess it's "throw it all away and start over time". Measure twice, cut once.

Just as well, there were a few minor things I wasn't entirely happy with anyway.

study3-6.jpg (37044 bytes)