Production | Modelling

Making the 'Reactor CORE'

August 24th, 2018


Following my successful shoot in The Peak District, I began the modelling process. Chiefly, I used my research from previous projects in The Arcane Welder project to combine both mesh-based and Boolean-based deformation with procedural kit bashing and surface detailing.

Fundamentally, the modelling process was about preserving and signifying the core themes of the wider Arcane Welder project via scale, function and iconography.

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Above is a screengrab of the Google map directions from my Home/base and the shooting location in Stanage

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In order to suitably signify the core themes of ‘future-present’ and ‘accelerationist utilitarianism’, my focus was firstly on aesthetics. From my earlier research – Project 1 – into the iconography and function of industrial design, I combined spherical/panelled forms with riveted extrusions. When adding surface detail, I was always aware that someone had to have manufactured and made this, so there would be no evidence of form that would be impossible to fabricate under current conditions/tech.

Additionally, I also wanted to denote a sense of function/usage, by having evidence of maintenance. This was signified via the random uniformity of the paneling on the spherical shape and in the uneven layout of the rivets and bolts. This conscious effort to add this man-made/man-maintained narrative, made the modelling process longer, but I believe helped to further sell the central theme and also improve on the level of detail shown in previous models in the series.

In order to take the level of detail further on the ‘foot’ elements of the structure, I am going to explore Normal Painting methodologies using Alpha brushes inside of the Educational/Free license of Substance Painter, the results of which will be evidenced in my next post.

Please watch the video alongside this text for a full timelapse of my Modelling Process

Core findings

BoolTool Add On is powerful

I have found that the free BoolTool addon included with Blender 2.79 is an excellent way to both paint but also visualise – non destructively – the nature of custom Boolean operations. The freedom to see the impact of your Booleans on both the form and topology of your models prior to the operation gives the user security and clarity, and thus, confidence in the use of these otherwise destructive operations.

Procedural Modifier Stack with Edge Sharpening is Excellent for Detailing

Further to my work in project 1, I chose to push the Procedural method I developed in that project for creating the illusion of paneled surfaces on Spherical forms. This time I not only combined the @Make Sharp’ function on particular mesh edges, but also a smoother Bevel setting for each edge, to produce a better fall of light and hopefully a more organic Curvature map once baked later on.

Using Face Snapping to Kit Bash

For the first time I experimented with the new Face Snapping option in the translation tools in Blender 2.79. Fundamentally, as long as I place the origin of a modelled mesh at the point at which I wanted it to interact with another surface, I could then guide, duplicate and move this mesh around the viewport and latch itself to any edge, face or vertex of another model in close proximity. This saved a great deal of time when adding smaller, kit-based meshes, to larger mesh forms, for example, the circular, raised-panel sections on the Reactor Probes/arms.

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Recent Posts

Here are some recent posts that I have written as part of the Digital Media Practice 3 project – ‘FUSE’