US Park Maps

Taking some of what I've been learning with my France map and doing a short series of US National Parks. Going to just focus on 4 - Rocky Mountain, Zion, Yellowstone, and Yosemite. I've got an itch to do something less mountain based though, so I might have a whack at the Everglades when these are done.

These can actually be quite a faff to create.

Initially I looked at using actual DEMs (digital elevation models), stitching them together, and the cutting the models into horizontal slices to create these. However, the easily available DEMs of national parks tend to be quite detailed and therefore, very high poly. Additionally I had to stitch together about 12 - 14 of them for the Rocky Mountain park, resulting in a model that was over 9 million polys. I tried using a poly reduction however if I did that with the whole map it ticked away for hours before I gave up.

I then tried loading the DEMs in strips, doing a poly reduction, then stitching the new, lower-poly model together. Quite tedious, but it worked! I then made my horizontal slices, turned them into paths. However the paths were quite messy. It took me almost 3 days to tidy them up and then group them according to their vertical placement. Then, finally, it was ready to extrude!!   And it looked crap. Well, not crap, but the large number of slices meant the result was quite detailed and it felt too busy. I almost gave up then, having poured so much time into it. I hadn't really sat down and done any preliminary sketching, and that quite often leads to dead ends for me. 

In a last-ditch attempt at saving the idea, I switched back to illustrator. I was lucky that while looking for topo maps of RMNP, I had come across an elevation map split into big sections. I was able to use that as a guide to create more simplified elevation guides. For two of the maps I wasn't able to find anything like that, so I ended up using low poly models of the parks that someone else had created, applied vertical gradient, rendered out the resulting elevation map, then used that to make the linework in Illustrator. And then of course brought it all back into c4d. Round and round and round we go...

A nice cabin in the woods

Definitely dream of a little cabin way out in the middle of nowhere. It's not that I don't like people, I just love the peace and quite of a dense forest. So if anyone's got a beautiful cabin in the woods they need taking off their hands, get in touch!

Here's a bit of 3d meets 2d with Sketch & Toon.

France, now in 3d

To help get into 3d a bit more, I'm recreating my map of France in Cinema4d. There's a lot of assets contained in that map, so I think it will provide a lot of opportunity to learn more about the standard features. I find I remember much more easily the techniques I learn by solving problems of my own creation, rather than following tutorials. 


Here's the start so far. Laid out landscape, created mountains, hills, and a few trees. Then I spent a lot of time tweaking the textures. Eventually, I moved on to the rough model of Paris. 

Diving in to 3d

I've wanted to get into 3d for a long time, but always managed to talk myself out of it in the past, feeling that it was a lot to learn and I should just focus on 2d. But for the past month I've managed to ignore those fears and make a decent crack and learning c4d. 

So far I've really enjoyed it and feel like I've been taking to it like a duck in water. Of course there are lots of frustrating, head-scratching moments as I have a habit of biting off more than I can chew. 

Here's a bike chain set I made for my partner's bike blog.