3d Modelling, Analysis/Interpreting 3d Spaces

The Upper Floor.

All along the modelling process I decided I was going to leave out the Upper Floor, until the final stages of the model, I felt that without the upper floor the model did not look right. Although it was debated whether or not an upper floor was built the arguments that prove there was one outweigh its nonexistence. Ultimately this decision would then lead to my downfall. When modelling the upper floor for the first time I extruded the polygons on the top of the walls of the ground floor and also beveled the pillars to make them look like buttresses to become the beginnings of a support for a roof.

Like so.

Pillar supports.

I then began creating the windows in the upper floors by using the boolean command to remove boxes I had created.

Like so

upper story

With these removed I was finally going to move onto adding the textures and materials to my structure. That’s when 3DS max decided to crash. Throughout the whole project I had never had any issues with the system crashing and thought at that point my experience with that was just far too good to be true. Unfortunately I had not got any of my work saved up to this point and it wasn’t salvageable.

So I began the process again, however this time I don’t know what I did when extruding the sides of the walls I somehow messed up the geometry and when it came to using the boolean command to subtract a box the walls it would only work for one side.  At this point I became frustrated and tried pretty much anything to remove some of the objects to create the windows on each side.  I began connecting edges together, removing the polygons etc…. nothing I did however seemed to work and I was gone past the point of no return.  For this reason the upper story only has one window and one slightly distorted wall where I was adjusting the edges to try and create another window. My biggest regret with the project was that I extended the walls instead of building another structure separately and so may not of had as many issues regarding the the geometry when trying to use modifiers or the boolean command.

As I had taken up so much time recreating this upper floor I lost time in trying to complete the materials of the structure. Only the arches over the doorways and the fountain truly have the proper materials I wanted.

It was a disappointing end for me personally to the project as I felt I had the potential to model so much more, the materials, a proper Upper Floor with windows, the capitals and the decorative stones. I have learned my lesson though, it is ultimately easier to build objects and join them together than what I started off doing by trying to model the objects I already had, this could be said for the arches I first started off with and the Upper Floor example from above. I also learned that just because for the first 95% of the project I had no issues with 3DS max it doesn’t mean that this can turn around and change drastically at the end. But most importantly I have learned to always always save your work and not give the software the opportunity to delete your hard work.

The Fountain and the Tiles.

As there is no evidence of the original fountain left from the Lavabo, modelling the basins for the was somewhat based on fragments found from the site and other Cistercian abbeys that were formed in and around the time that Mellifont Abbey was built. From looking at Stalleys ‘Decorating the Lavabo: Late Romanesque Sculpture from Mellifont Abbey’ it is known that there would have been two basins at least forming the structure. I decided to use this basis and then look at the fountain from Santa Maria de Poblet, Cantalonian Cisterian Monastery Spain, which can be seen below.

fountain abbey

My final structure looked like this.


The bottom basin was just a cylinder shape, which I then extruded and beveled the top polygon to create the edges of the structure. I then created a small hemisphere and aligned it on top to sit in the middle of the cyliner for me to place another larger hemisphere on top to act as the second basin. With this shape I again converted to editable poly and used the bevel and extrude commands to model the edges. I then copied the previous smaller hemisphere and again aligned it to the centre of the larger hemisphere for the final “basin” to sit on top. From the fragments that were found at the site, the archaeologists interpretation was that there would have been 8 decorative stones where the lead pipes would have pushed the water out of. As mentioned in previous posts due to time constraints I decided to leave out decorative features on stones and capitals and instead focus on the actual structure itself. For this reason the the spouts at the top of the fountain are just represented here as eight stones, modeled together in an octagonal shape to keep in align with the structure itself.

The Tiles then where just a cylinder with 8 sides and a diameter of 25ft just like to Lavabo structure. I just used a bitmap image to import an image of the tiles on top of the geometry and then used tiling and bumps to create the tiling affect on the floor.


The Ground Floor.

In the last post I talked about building one side of the octagonal structure. My next step then was to copy this, 7 times to complete the ground floor.  I used the dimensions of a floor plan to create a cylinder with 8 sides to align with the walls. However although they were all lined up, there was till “gaps” between the sides which needed to be filled in to complete the structure. I did this by using the splines to create small triangles, converting this to an editable poly, extruding the shape and then using the cap hole modifier to create a shape. Using boolean in the compound objects I used the union option to join this shapes with the wall sides, altogether creating the ground floor.

Like so.

fin arch

From here I created another spline for the wall edges, on the outside of the structure were on the Lavabo there would have been a slight pillar.

I next looked at the pillars or columns on the inside of the structure.

inner pillar

This part of geometry was quite simple to do as it involved creating a cylinder, converting it to an editable poly and applying the slice modifier to cut it in half. The by applying the cap hole modifier to the vertices I could then extrude and bevel the pillar to the way I wanted. In Lavabo structure the beveled part of the cylinder at the top of the pillar is actually a decorative capital, however I decided to leave these out, more for time constraints rather than for lack of ability.

Below is an example of the pillar joined with the wall using the boolean command.

arche and pillar

Taking a different approach to the structure. Day 3


From my previous post here you can see that when attempting to build the model, I tried to take a shape and work from it ie… the octagon shape where I would attempt to edit/mold/delete and model around that specific object, however I have learned from my mistakes and instead this time I am attempting to model it from a different approach.

I began looking at the individual sides. Below is an example of one of the walls of the lavabo, so my approach now was instead on looking at the overall structure work from the individual sides and then copy them 8 times.

first pic

I began this by building (what I deemed) the most challenging aspect of the sides, which is the arch way, and then modeling on from this. To start with the archway I create a spline for half of the arch, converted it to an editable poly and the choose the polygon which I wanted to start with and the used the option ‘hinge from edge’ option to angle and heighten it, like so.

Spline Spline 2 Hinge from edge

I then mirrored my object so I would have a copy, aligned this to my object and used a boolean union to create this object.

step 4 extrude bevel extrude bevel and mirror

I then selected the polygons on the bottom of the object, extruded them and beveled them until I was left with the basic arch that I needed like above.

Adding on the a simple cylinder and box shape with the boolean operator I created one side of the arch including the pillar. I then mirrored this and created the full arch.

Like so

Arch fin2 double arch

This boolean command however distorted the geometry somehow and the base on the right hand side is now slightly distorted.


At this stage though I was way to far ahead in steps to try and amend this, and when I did try something else would then move somewhere else. So as its only a slight distortion I have decided to leave it in.

Finally I wanted to finish off the wall and did so by creating a box and using the boolean command again to cut out the arch shape. The using boolean again to united the two shapes like so.

wall fin

This is were I am finishing up for today, but in the next post I will hopefully model the sides together to create the octagon shape and finally have my basic structure complete.

Building the Structure (3d Modelling AFF625[A])


Wrights Louthiana 1748

Today I began trying to build the basic structure of the Lavabo. Above is the earliest known image or representation of the Lavabo from Wrights Louthiana in 1743 featured in Stalleys, Decorating the Lavabo: Late Romanesque Sculpture from Mellifont Abbey.  This image along with my own images from the previous post, is what I was basing my reconstruction on.

I approached the structure as 8 sides when connected together form an octagonal structure. I began with focusing on the ground floor first as the second floor didn’t originally look like the image above and so is contested what it originally would have looked like.

I began doing this by creating a plane and then editing this to have an arch.

Like so, I then used an array to create 8 of these and move them into a circular fashion, hoping to edit the individual sides to be wider, longer etc…

Arches 1

However…. I did not take into consideration that as I began with a plane as my standard primitive object to build from, when trying to make the sides wider you are going to have an issue. As it only has one side extruding it means that the object will be pushed out and no matter how I tried to get around it I was left with a 2D shape.

Like so.

Arches 2

This then led me down the line of just creating an octagonal object and creating the structure from there. However again this did not work out as it is more difficult to model the sides of the structure and build in arches into the structure when it is already an octagonal object already. Like so.

arches3 arches 4

So unfortunately after day 2 its back to the drawing board for me.

Day One: Visiting the Site (3d Modelling AFF625[A])

For my final project for this module on 3d modelling, I have decided to attempt to reconstruct the Lavabo at the Old Mellifont Abbey just outside Drogheda Co. Louth.

Mellifont was the first Cistercian monastery in Ireland, founded in 1142 by St Malachy of Armagh. Part of the reason why it is such an important site for the history of the country is the fact that it established the connection between Irish and continental church architecture. The first example for the Romanesque style was the construction of the church on the rock of Cashel in 1127. Just over a decade later the continental type of monastic design and planning was introduced at Mellifont, the first Cistercian abbey in Ireland. By the time it was dissolved in the beginning of the 16th century, Mellifont had become one of the richest monasteries in the country. Its most interesting architectural feature is the octagonal Lavabo built around the year 1200. This is also the most well preserved building on site. Today, very little of it is preserved of the site and with the Lavabo only 4 1/2 of the octangonal sides remain. A 3D reconstruction of the site would help to understand and see the grandeur of the Lavabo as it once was.

Before arriving to the site, from researching it and viewing images in books and online, I went in with the aim of reconstructing the whole site. After walking around the site for 5 minutes I knew that this was an impossible feat given the time constraints regarding the deadline.


Old Mellifont Abbey


Floor Plan of the Abbey [Source Old Mellifont Abbey]

The most intriguing structure on site is the Lavabo, where the monks would have originally washed their hands before meals. One of the reasons behind choosing this structure for my project is because although it is quite well preserved, there is a lot to consider when thinking about an interpretation. The structure, as you can see below still stands with 4 and 1/2 walls remaining.148803324076114880332404301488033241024


One of the capitals at the Lavabo

Originally the middle of the Lavabo would have held the fountain, where the monks washed there hands. From Archival digs in 1953, remains of lead pipes were found which suggest that the fountain would have had 8 taps, as there were 8 pipes, which was what was traditional at the time. However there is no remains left of the fountain, one can assume that it would have been modeled off similar Cistercian Abbeys throughout Europe at the time, according to Roger Stalley in Decorating the Lavabo, it has been suggested that the fondant in the basement at Townley Hall was designed off the basins from Mellifont (the owners of Townley Hall also owning the Abbey at the time).  The other option is to style or model it off the fondant at Poblet Monastary in Spain, also an eight taped fountain from a Cisterian Monastery built at the same time.  So I will need to decide which is the most suited for the reconstruction.

Also another thing to consider is the second story of the Lavabo, this second story came later after the dissolution of the monasteries in the 16th century. Although there is no record of a roof, or even an interpretation of what it would have looked like, there is mention of a second storey, so this is another aspect of the structure I will need to consider.

Finally, I am hoping to in some way incorporate the medieval tiles into the Lavabo. These tiles can be found in the Chapter House currently, however as the original flooring was removed from the Lavabo, there is no reason why the tiles wouldn’t have featured here, the Chapter house being only meters away, so I will have to consider this adaption.


Example of one of the style of tiles found at Mellifont

This and many more of my decisions and I’m sure failures when it comes to modelling the Lavabo will be coming up in later posts.


Roger Stalley Proceedings of the Royal Irish Academy. Section C: Archaeology, Celtic Studies, History, Linguistics, Literature. Vol. 96C, No.7 (1996), pp.237-264.

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