MAY 8th 2017

This is my final blog on the Thoor Ballylee 3-D project.  The last and most important part of the project was merging my scene with Gavin’s scene.  In my naivety, I thought merging the scenes  would be rudimentary and straightforward; maybe it would have been for somebody with more experience than me.  I gave Gavin my USB key which contained my 3ds max file and he copied it onto his desktop. It later transpired that the geometry of the cottages opened on Gavin’s computer but the materials were missing.  I subsequently panicked and began watching tutorial after tutorial on how to export/import/merge scenes in 3ds max on YouTube.  I converted my file to the FBX format and sent it to Gavin to see if this would work. Gavin later emailed me

Screenshot of the tower and cottages.

and said it worked and sent me the photograph to the right.  I was overjoyed because I thought I had destroyed what I had created.  The only part it was missing was the environment that circumnavigates the three structures, but I really do not think we have the time to make that now at this late stage.  Maybe at a later date I will finish it off in my own time and include it in my CV.

On Tuesday May 9th, I went to college with the intention of having a final meeting with my project colleagues about submission.  It was then  I  found  out  that an FBX  file does not have a material library, it

Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5lSANYBzQAI Screenshot of still from YouTube video.

merely bakes the material on to the objects and does not show the material editor like the picture to the right. In hindsight, I would not make the same mistake again. Moreover, if I had more time, I could have done a really nice job on this project.  But I also know from twenty years working experience that time and task management is of the utmost importance when conducting any project.  It is not simply a case of quantity versus quality, one must strike a balance in life and I think this is where experience comes in.  The more experience one has the faster they become and their work output increases.  So I think under the circumstances our group did a reasonably good job.


MAY 7th 2017

This morning I imported the extension cottage into the scene of my main cottage and aligned them together.  I also created a flat plane which will be directly underneath the two cottages.  This will be the ground that circumnavigates the tower and two cottages.  This plain will eventually encompass garden walls/gates and shrubbery which are present in the grounds of the original buildings.  The screenshot below illustrates the two finished cottages sitting on a green plain. Tomorrow I will meet my colleagues Maria and Gavin and import the models that I created into Gavin’s scene which includes the tower which is the center piece of our project.  This will include a list of the layers I created which you can see below.  We will amalgamate all the models into one scene and eradicate any errors that may be present.

Final 3-D Model of Thoor Ballylee Extension Cottage by Justin Martin.


Screenshot of Scene Layers by Justin Martin.

I  am  confident  that  my  colleagues and I  can  manage to submit our 3-D project on time tomorrow.  I also hope that we have managed to portray the special essence and beauty of these wonderful buildings and their surroundings.



MAY 5th & 6th 2017

I think over the course of the last few days, the biggest problems I have faced has been the application of materials.  The geometry has also been challenging but I have always managed to find a way around a problem.  For example, closing a gap, you can choose polygon and select the bridge tab or use the cap holes modifier.  But the application of materials can leave one heartbroken.  I watched some tutorials and I tried applying IDs through the multi-sub objects tab, but this would not work with bitmaps, or if it does, I could not find a way around it.   So I went onto a forum and discovered that if you select polygons on the object you want to apply the bitmap image to, then you go to the modifier list and UVW map it.  Next step is  to  go to the utilities button and press the collapse selected tab and this will bake the material onto the object for you.  This worked very well for me and now I am making a lot of  progress.

Today, I have started building the extension at the back of the main cottage at Thoor Ballylee.  As you can see from the screenshot below, I have built the frame of the cottage 2 1.6 x 8 x 2.39  meters.  I

3-D Model of Thoor Ballylee Extension Cottage by Justin Martin.

coloured the 2/3  of one side of the cottage red to outline where I have to join the main cottage on to it, as seen in the screenshot to the right hand side.  This will make life easier when I am bringing the two cottages together.  I then began making the windows out in the same system as the main cottage.  I chose edges, and then highlighted the top edge and bottom edge and pressed connect.  I then  had  to  input  the  amount  of  vertical  connections   I   wanted; this   was    dependent    on    the     amount    of    windows  and  border

3-D Model of Thoor Ballylee Extension Cottage by Justin Martin.

surroundings I had planned to put in. This can be seen on the screenshot to the left.  When I had all the windows and doors  completed.  I extruded window sills outward and extruded the door frames inward as seen in the screenshot below.  I think  the  result  is  pretty  good, and I  am  starting to get faster the more time that I spend on building the

3-D Model of Thoor Ballylee Extension Cottage by Justin Martin.

models.  The model below has eleven windows and two doors, so it still took quite a bit of time to finish this particular part.  I started making the roof and chimney   stack/pot   next.    I   was  lucky   because   everything   went well and it was error free.  Now  with  the  geometry  finished   I

3-D Model of Thoor Ballylee Extension Cottage by Justin Martin.

then started assigning the stonework to the extension.  I followed the same procedure as before.  I chose the original photograph of the stonework from Thoor Ballylee and applied it on to the selected polygons.  Then I went into the modifiers and UVW mapped it and using the gizmo, I scaled the size of the brickwork down to a suitable size.  Below is the screenshot that shows the finished brickwork  and roof.  The  next  task  I  have  to  do  is  apply  the  slate  to the roof and

3-D Model of Thoor Ballylee Extension Cottage by Justin Martin.

bitmap images to the doors and windows, and unfreeze the chimney stack and pot.  Tomorrow I will amalgamate the two cottages together and fix any misalignment that may be visible.  I will also arrange all my images and textures into my project folder in relation to submitting our project on Monday 12th.


MAY 3rd 2017

Today I began my morning by working on the model below.  I am not entirely happy with the textures on the cottage so I will start by trying to assign a darker thatch onto the roof.  Secondly, I have to go into UVW mapping and scale down the pebble-dash texture by using the gizmo, because the texture is out of proportion to the rest of the cottage.  Unfortunately, I also have to redo the geometry on all the windows and doors and find  appropriate images to use in relation to

3-D Model of Thoor Ballylee Cottage by Justin Martin.

texture.   Hopefully after doing it once already, I will be a bit faster this time around.  I am also saving my working regularly in four different locations to avoid my previous mistake. I also made a huge mistake in scaling the house instead of zooming in and out.  I had to resize the cottage using the snap-toggle and measuring tape to make sure the cottage was 15 x 5 x 2.87 meters in size. I only realised this after trying to make the first door and window.

I tried to alter the existing thatch to make it more voluminous and to try and make the thatch darker without deleting it.  I feel it is important to show my failures as well  as my victories in 3ds Max. The picture below shows the hilarity of my efforts.  I realise now that the hair and fur modifier does not enhance a thatched roof in any way, shape or form.  Practice makes perfect as the saying goes!  The best way to learn, is by making mistakes whilst practicing.

3-D Model of Thoor Ballylee Cottage by Justin Martin

I decided to swap the thatch in the screenshot to the left to  a picture of the real thing,  and it saved me a lot of time and effort.  I finished the doors and windows and applied the bitmap images of the  real  door/windows  to  the  selected  polygons. I  also  had  a  fail
trying to assign the bitmap images to the doors and  windows   which

3-D Model of Thoor Ballylee Cottage by Justin Martin.

you can see in the screenshot on the right hand side. The model was starting to look nice and I just had to add a material to the window sills to complete it.  The thatch and pebble-dash     looked   pretty close to the original cottage.  I just had to adjust the bitmap images on the doors and unfreeze the chimney stack and pot. By  the end   of

the night I had put the finishing touches to the window sills and fixed minor errors that were visible to the eye.  I finished up by saving four   copies      of      it. The screenshot below shows the 3-D model of Thoor Ballylee which is in the final stages of completion.

3-D model of Thoor Ballylee Cottage by Justin Martin.


MAY 1st & 2nd 2017

This morning I was putting the final touches to my 3-D model. I nearly had all the windows and doors completed and I was ready to begin making the extension at the back of the cottage, which in my honest opinion would have been much easier than the front cottage. I began at 9:30 am and my plan was to have the extension with the roof finished by 13:00 pm.  At roughly 12:00 pm or a little after it, my computer froze and ultimately crashed.  At first I was not worried, I simply restarted it and naively thought my work would be there. However, this was not the case as my model was completely gone when I searched for it in my project folder.  I had been saving in multiple places such as dropbox, USB keys and my desktop but due to high levels of concentration I had not saved since the night before and as a result my backup was just the first 3-D model that I had made a few days prior.  I was completely distraught and nauseous at the thought of losing a few days hard work.  I had been warned multiple times by my lecturer about saving and the ugly truth is, I thought I did save, but when you are deep in concentration, this very important lesson could and did slip my mind; hence I am paying the price for it now.  On Tuesday I just could not face my project colleagues in university and I decided to work hard all day long at home at trying to rectify my huge mishap.  I started off with the model below.

Screenshot of Thoor Ballylee Cottage By Justin Martin.

I had to remove the straw thatch and taper the over-hang on the cottage.  Then I assigned pebble-dash onto all the walls and began making the windows and doors from scratch, which I was not very enthusiastic about as it was/is a very tiresome and laborious job. I spent the day fixing it as much as I could before retiring to bed at 02:00 am.  Although it does not look like a lot of progress, I feel that I did okay considering what happened this morning.

3-D Model of Thoor Ballylee Cottage by Justin Martin.

I will learn from this and come back stronger!  Hopefully tomorrow I will have all the windows and doors done and then I can begin making the extension on Thursday May 4th.


APRIL 29th 2017

Today, I experimented with windows, doors, and their textures and geometry.  I tried making a box and playing with beveling and tapering.  I feel that trying to make a door or a window can be achieved in multiple ways and to a very high degree of realism, but in order to achieve some level of accuracy, one needs time and patience.  Both of these nouns I do not possess at the moment, which leaves me with very little  maneuverability in terms of quality.

Thoor BallyLee Window by Justin Martin.

I chose photos from my collection of some of the windows and doors from Thoor Ballylee and cropped and printed them out, so I could get a sense of  their geometry and detail.  As you can see from the photograph below, there are vertical panels; multiple hinges and raised parts that surround all the edges.  I thought that the most practical thing to do was to upload this picture into material editor and assign it onto a plain window. This worked well at first but when I  rendered  it,  the details on the picture  was missing; only the green colour came through.

Thoor Ballylee Front Door by Justin Martin.

I also tried this on the front door of the main cottage and the same situation occurred.  I tried watching some tutorials to aid my progression in making the doors and windows, but this was a laborious task and I really wanted to find a short-cut that would reduce my time in researching and making the seventeen windows and four doors needed to complete my part of the project. Our project needs to be completed in a timely and sufficient manner before Monday the 8th of May 2017.  I plan on finishing my part of the project before the weekend, as I need to meet with my colleagues to finalise all areas of our project, not just mine.


APRIL 26th 2017

Today I started  building the structure of the main cottage and the small extension which is joined on to the tower.  The roofs took me a long time to figure out.  I tried a few different options based on the photographs which me and my colleagues had taken.  The roof on the main cottage was higher than the small extension which it was adjoined  to.   So  due to my lack of geometrical manipulation  skills, I

Thoor Ballylee Cottage by Justin Martin.

decided to build two separate roofs.  After I experimented with the geometry a little bit, I managed to make the two roofs look quite good in the end. Afterwards I  spent a little time making the chimney stack and pot, which can be seen in the screenshot below.  I decided to make the chimney stack and pot  separately  rather  than  extruding  the  geometry  from  the roof.

Screenshot of chimney pot made by Lathe Modifier by Justin Martin.

I experimented with grouping the chimney stack, pot and cottage to secure them all to the building whilst I was working on it. In order to finalise the roof, I decided to assign a material to it.  As this is a thatched straw roof, I went to textures.com and chose a picture of a thatched roof.  When I applied the picture, the bigger roof looked really well but the smaller roof which can be seen above did not look realistic at all.  After trying to fix this problem for a while, I decided to try different materials.  I experimented with other materials but I still could not get the same affect as on the real cottage.

Screenshot of Thoor Ballylee Cottage By Justin Martin.

Ultimately, I decided to use a photograph of the real roof which I then cropped and then applied the UVW map modifier to the thatch. The results were much more realistic and I ended my experiments there, and began working on the doors and windows as one can see from the screenshot below.

Screenshot of Thoor Ballylee Cottage by Justin Martin.


APRIL 25th 2017

Today, I will begin  building my 3-D model based on the measurements that I took whilst in Gort, Co Galway and from the 1963 architectural drawings which we acquired from the Architectural Archives in Dublin 2.

The first problem I encountered was that the 1963 plans have some inaccuracies and short-comings.  The cottages on the drawing do not replicate the cottages that are now situated at Thoor Ballylee.  My journey to Gort now seems justified but on the other hand has left me with a difficult conundrum.  Do I build my 3-D model based on the 1963 drawing or do I build it the way it looks today?  This was a tricky problem and I was not 100% sure which one to focus on.  The plans from 1963 show the two cottages which are separated by a path in-between. Currently, there is no path separating the two buildings.  The two cottages are now attached to one another, with the extension at the back being much longer than the main cottage at the front.

Thoor Ballylee Cottages by Gavin MacCallister

In addition to the geometrical changes stated above; the cottages and the tower were closed on the day of our visit. This also meant that we could not gather textural information on the day, or get a sense of the interior of any of the buildings.  These episodes made me choose the existing structure.

I wanted to stay true to the building that stands there now; thus, embracing the buildings evolution over the ages.  But at the same time, my colleagues Gavin and Maria are going to be working from the 1963 drawings.  After some deliberation, I came to the conclusion that the shape of the tower has not been altered on the outside in any way, shape or form, but the cottages I am building have been altered and thus, have a completely different shape now. So I decided to stay true to the existing building, and I figured that this will not impact on Gavin and Maria’s work on the tower or its environs.

In hind-sight, it was a good decision for us to take the trip to Gort to take photographs and measurements ourselves as there is a clear lack of information and precision in the plans we obtained from the archive.  If we had not undertaken the journey, we would have been stuck with photographs from the internet, which sometimes, do not give the full picture.


APRIL 24th 2017

Today I went to meet Maria and Gavin in Maynooth University to discuss how we were going to divide up our 3-D project into 3 parts. I brought along a draft plan of Thoor Ballylee that I had made from the measurements I took in Gort, Co Galway on the 19th of April. The drawing itself is not drawn to scale, but does include the correct measurements in the metric system.

The problem with Thoor Ballylee is that when you are looking for photographs and information online, you cannot find images of every part of the complex.  In addition, when you look on Google Earth, the topographical view is poor and visibility is somewhat obscured by the trees and shrubs; so it is extremely difficult to get a good sense of perspective of Thoor Ballylee.  The roads are not linear and the infrastructure is old and imperfect; but that also adds character to this wonderful place.

Drawing of Thoor Ballylee by Justin Martin.
(Not in Scale)

My drawing is far from perfect, but it is the best I could manage considering  the problems that I have enumerated above.  I decided to draw it as a plan looking downwards and I colour coded it to make it easier to identify the different elements.  Gavin my project colleague chose to make the tower which is the square pink building, and if he has time he might make the river that runs around the tower.  I chose the main cottage which is light blue, and the extension at the back which is coloured in yellow.  In addition I will be making the surrounding garden and walls.  Maria is making the garage which is coloured orange and the road/bridge that cuts through the middle of the drawing.  Maria might also make anything else that is shown on the bottom of the screen.  These are preliminary tasks and may change, depending on how fast each of us completes our designated tasks.


APRIL 19th 2017

The next step for my colleagues and I in relation to our 3-D project on Thoor Ballylee/Yeats Tower was to gather data on textures. After a lot of online searching and discussions with our project supervisor we decided that the photos that we had were good, but lacked textural information.  Our group was divided on this issue, and discussions began about whether it might be a good idea to travel to Gort, Co. Galway and visit Thoor Ballylee in person.  Due to time constraints and assignment deadlines, there was a real fear that going there might be a waste of time.  In my opinion, travelling to Gort to visit the Tower was burdensome due to time/assignment issues, but on the other hand I felt it would be beneficial to our project in the long run.  So we eventually decided to take the journey to Gort.  I really wanted to get a sense of perspective whilst there, and visualise, touch and photograph the many textures such as slating, pebble-dash and limestone that were used in the Tower’s construction.  In addition, I wanted to use my own images in this blog post and our project presentation which would include my colleagues and I.

The trip to Gort was roughly 1:55 minutes long from Maynooth University.  So I met my project colleagues at 09:30 am to ensure an early start, and we set off on our fact-finding journey.

Google Maps

We arrived there at about 11:45 am after initially getting lost.  The photographs that I seen on Flickr and other online sites do not do the site at Thoor Ballylee justice!  One can certainly imagine how such a place could have inspired W.B. Yeats in his poetic writings.  Yeats’ muses radiate in the wonderful scenery that encircle the Tower.  The Tower itself is much bigger than I had envisaged,  and the additional buildings that are attached to the

Photograph by Justin Martin & Gavin MacCallister

the Tower cover a larger area than the photographs suggested.  So our decision to visit the Tower seems entirely justified.

We organised ourselves and began taking photographs and measurements of the bridge that leads up to the Tower and of the Tower itself and the cottages that are attached to it.  The weather was dull, but the rain held off, making our job easy and enjoyable.

Photograph by Gavin MacCallister.

The  only incident that hampered our progress was the many tourists that appeared there whilst we were trying to take photographs. What should have taken an hour, turned into two and a half hours, but it was still enjoyable, none the less.  When we finished taking all our photographs and measurements, we posed for personal photographs to use on our blogs and impending presentations. I feel that our trip to Thoor Ballylee was beneficial for many reasons, primarily for the information regarding our 3-D project, but also to get a real life sense of this amazing place.

Photograph by Justin Martin

The experience of being there and absorbing its aura is far removed from building a 3-D model of the Tower using solely photographs from the internet. This haunting place has left a long-lasting impression on me and I know that some day I will go back again!