Lemanaghan Church Model – Part 5 – Looking Back

Working with 3dsMax  was a lot more fun than I had initially anticipated. I turned to YouTube or the Autodesk Knowledge Desk <http://knowledge.autodesk.com/> website for any tips or information whenever I got stuck.

The way I mostly went about my constructing my model was with a trial-and-error type approach. If I needed a rounded, rectangular object, for instance, I thought of a chamfer box and started from there. If I needed a semi-circle for an archway or the top of a window, I chose a tube or a cylinder, knowing I could slice them at 180 degrees. I would often run through ten or twenty different modifiers on an object to see what they did, and if I didn’t like it or it didn’t give me the desired effect, I would simply delete it and the object would return to its previous state.

One of the more difficult things about 3dsMax for me was organising my objects into layers or attaching objects so that two or three objects became one, and so could be manipulated, moved or rotated easily as a single unit. I never got to stratifying my objects into taxonomic units because I was so tight for time, and kept thinking I’d be better off just getting on with shaping the window or applying test materials and displacement maps. The issue with not organising my objects meant I would often clumsily have to select all the criss-crossed wooden beams making the roof individually when I could potentially have just placed them all inside of the same layer, selected that layer and then have them chosen as one for manipulation.

I also never got around to practicing snapping or aligning objects, which meant getting the different parts of the walls to fuse seamlessly was very time consuming and quite difficult.

Overall, my organisation policy was awful. If I were to undertake a project in 3dsMax again layering, snapping and aligning would be the first things I would brush up on – and I would invariably use these features throughout the constructing phase. I’m not ever going to spend fifteen minutes trying to determine the width of a box to the width of a semicircle so that they fit on top of one another without any jutting out bits ever again.

Patience is something you really need for 3dsMax – but I find once you get into that graphic design trance where you forget about who or where you are and are thinking in shapes rather than words – it’s not too stressful a job to do. On one occasion I went in to the computer room at 9 in the morning, and by one o’clock I realised I had only one window-shaped hole cut into my wall to show for my effort.

Yet, for all its cannibalisation into one’s time, 3dsMax renders some amazing images for you — to the point that when you first see them you think “I didn’t really make that, surely!?”. And, in many respects, no, you didn’t. Using mental ray for textures involves the simple assignment of a bitmap image for a displacement map or a bump map, choosing the image for the diffuse colour if you like, adding more or less specular lighting or glossiness, whatever you like, and setting up lighting like photometric target or mr Sky Portal lights, and the rendering capabilities of mental ray will do the rest.


Lemanaghan Church Model – Part Four – Results

In order to begin rendering my images, I needed  lighting for my interior.

For exterior shots, I decided to use the mental ray Daylight system. I chose my coordinates and positioned the sunlight.

Since virtually no light from the daylight system makes it inside, I decided to use the mr Sky Portal for daylight shots in the interior. I also made two candles out of cylinders (the wicks are tubes and the flame is a self-illuminated squeezed sphere). The candlelight is used by placing a photometric free light, with a warm glow, over the flame shapes. Below are my rendered results, playing with light and camera positions. (I forgot to mention I added an alter, which was more than likely made of wood back in this time as no alters exist from this period and so must have been made from a perishable material. The alter would also have been placed up against the wall as the priest had his back turned to the congregation).

I would like to have added the statuary, but this would have been impossible to do given the time limit. I would like to add a cloth or drape of some sort over the alter, with a cross motif or something like that. I would like to play around with materials even more in order to get closer to a realistic effect.



door1 int3


Lemanaghan Church Model – Part Three – Textures

For the textures of the walls I used images of the walls I had taken at Lemanaghan Church. I applied these as displacement maps of bitmaps, having chosen mental ray’s Arch and Design setting for adding textures. I changed the diffuse colour to white, to create that lime or whitewashed effect.




I had to add a UVW Map modifier to each wall and choose BOX shape so that the materials would not stretch. I also had to uncheck REAL WORLD MAP SETTINGS on every primitive object BEFORE I turned them into editable objects so that complications with textures would not arise later on. I then had to uncheck REAL WORLD MAP SETTINGS on every UVW Map modifier also for the material to wrap itself properly around the object.

For my doorway I added an Arch and Design Stone texture.

For the thatched roof I was torn between using a bitmap of a thached roof or to use the HAIR AND FUR modifier. In the end I opted for the latter. I had to turn the glossiness and specular settings all the way down so that there wouldn’t be any sheen off the thatch.

For the wooden door I used a bitmap from CGTextures and and applied it as a displacement map. I chose the door image as the diffuse colour.

The earthen floor is made using a bitmap image of soil. I applied it as a displacement map and diffuse map on top of a plane.

Lemanaghan Church Model – Part Two – Beginning the Model

The first step in building the model was to make a plane on which I could paste the floor plan of the church.

I scaled the plane to a length of 19.4 metres by 7.5 metres, the size of Lemanaghan Church as it stands today (Quinlan, Moss 24). I then traced around the walls with a line (notice the white lines around the top wall. I had to make an ‘imaginary’ gable wall at the right of the top and bottom walls, since the extension right of these walls was added in the fifteenth century, and my model is a representation of the structure as it was in the twelfth century.



The next step was to extrude my lines of the floor plan with the extrude modifier. I gave my newly formed walls a height of 4.5 metres, which is the height they stand today.




For the window recess I took the following steps:

I turned my primitive object into an editable poly.

I cut a rectangle around where the window recess would be positioned.

I grabbed this polygon and beveled it inwards.

(Not as easy as it sounds,  lots of trial-and-error before I figured out how to achieve this).


Next was the Romanesque doorway.



Since there is not much left of the Romanesque doorway extant today at Lemanaghan, it was up to me, myself and I to try and figure out what would be the most easy, but still aesthetically pleasing, design to choose. The columns were no big deal – just a cylinder, with a narrow box wedged between each one to seperate them. The capitals over the columns were a bit of a nightmare. I tried for so long to try get the conched, shell-like design – and think I finally did achieve it.

The capitals:

Lemanaghan Church 004s

I started with a chamfer box.

I added a taper modifier so that it tapered in at the bottom.

I added a wave modifier to give it that nice wavy effect you see on the top of the left capital in the above image.

I tessellated each face and grabbed each polygon (I’ve turned the object into an editable poly at this juncture) and extruded each one a little.

I then added the TURBOSMOOTH modifier, which smoothed the extruded polygons and gave a nice natural conch shape, which is what I was going for.

I added a squeeze or a push modifier to just squash the capital a little and give it that bulging shape. With each modifier I just played around with the options and values until I got the desired effect.

For the arch, or archivolts as the experts call them, I had to add “twelfth century Romanesque Irish doorways” to my history of Google searches. I kept getting back images along the lines of this:


so I modelled the Lemanaghan Church archway on the similar pattern motifs that could be seen on all the Romanesque doorways of the twelfth century period.

For the doorway archivolts I made:

A tube.

  • Sliced it in half.
  • Turned it into an editable poly.
  • Tessellated it (I think).
  • Grabbed each polygon one by one and beveled each one at a time.


For the window:

  • I made a box and a tube.
  • Turned them both into editable polygons.
  • Tessellated the box.
  • Went to Polygon Modelling > Generate Topology
  • Changed inner lines of box from a square to a lattice shape.
  • I chose all EDGES and then chose the CREATE SHAPE FROM SELECTION option.
  • I then had a LATTICE mesh object which I placed over the glass window.
  • Voila!


  • Got my glass window.
  • Positioned it in its rightful place in the wall. Widened it for a moment.
  • Chose compound object.
  • Had my glass window selected.
  • I chose SUBTRACTION [B-A]
  • I clicked on the wall.
  • The window shape disappears and leaves a hole through the object.
  • I then moved one of my copies of the glass window with the lattice design into the hole slot.

The roof:

At this early stage. Next will come the thatch:










Lemanaghan Church Model – Part One – Research and Context

As part of the 3D modelling project for the module in Remaking the Physical, I decided to choose as my case study Saint Manchán’s Church in Lemanaghan, County Offaly. The church dates back to the eleventh century, with extensions added in both the twelfth century and the fifteenth century.

I decided that it would be interesting to try and recreate how the church may have looked in the twelfth century. The first thing to do was to find out historically factual information about the church itself and archaeological information about twelfth century Irish churches and what they looked like — including what type of furnishings or features might have been commonly found in these buildings during the early medieval period.

Dr Rachel Moss, Assistant Professor of the Department of the History of Art and Architecture at Trinity College, Dublin, and co-author of the Lemanaghan Heritage Conservation Plan, drawing on her expertise of medieval Irish ecclesiastical sites, kindly gave me an archaeologically-based interpretation based on how the Lemanaghan site may have appeared circa the twelfth century, which I have listed below:

The walls would have been rendered and lime washed, possibly with wall paintings, but many were also apparently left plain.

Parish churches (as this would have been by the twelfth century) often had two devotional statues on separate shelves either side of the altar- in this case St Manachan on the left (north) of the altar and the BVM [Blessed Virgin Mary] on the right (south).

There would have been no seating and probably a beaten earth floor with rushes and some flat grave slabs.

The roof was probably thatched.

It’s possible that the east window might have had coloured glass.

You can find out more about the

Given the time limitations of this project, I may have to omit more difficult features such as the statuary and the wall paintings out of my project for the moment, but if I get more time in the future to add these details I will do. For the moment, I think it’s important to get the main structure of the building, along with their textures and colouration. The main things to worry about for the time being, then, are:

The lime washed stone walls.
The earth floor.
The window.
The doorway/door.
The thatched roof.