December 15, 2004
The first thing to do is to try to figure out what we are looking at when we examine the painting of the mansion. The painting style is very impressionistic, with architectural details being suggested with the use of bold paint strokes, rather than with fine lines. The closer you get to the painting (by enlarging), the less detail can be discerned. It is also very possible that the mansion was designed and painted merely to suggest a looming, haunted mansion, but in fact may not be completely logical as a 3D structure.
I brought the image into Photoshop, and readjusted the brightness, contrast, and sharpness, to try to bring out details which were not as apparent in the original. Below are a few enhancement variations. Of particular interest, was to figure out what was going on in the top right dormer area (circled green). An added distraction to figuring out details, is that the mansion facade is in shadow, and the shadows confuse the eye. Of course, the shadowed facade accentuates the foreboding appearance of the mansion, and the lack of sharp detail creates a disturbing sense of mystery.
The gable appears to be protruding from an angled mansard roof.
As you can see (above), detail is in the eye of the beholder!
December 18, 2004
I did a little more work on the mansard roof, and gable. I also cut out a few windows using boolean operations. Already this model has more "real" detail than the painting. My plan is to attach texture maps to the finished model, which will mimic the brush strokes of the painting, and hopefully that will tone down the sharpness of the geometry.
Another questionable component to this painting, is the covered "gazebo" which is in front of the house. I always thought it was part of the front porch, or maybe a carriage porch. But consensus so far has been that it is gazebo which is set nearer to the cemetery. The roof of this structure is not in the shadow of the house, so it appears to be closer to the viewer. Also, the scale of the structure seems to be much larger (and closer) than the attached porch.
December 19, 2004
And the tweaks go on.
I made many more changes, using the painting as a template, and there are many more tweaks to come. It is a challenge to position the camera at the correct angle, to approximate the angle and perspective of the painting. I had to invent the details of the porch, and front doors, since they are either too dark to see, or are blocked by the gazebo structure. I debated where to put the front doors. Originally I was going to position them so they were centered under the center dormer (and the tower), but since it would be behind the gazebo structure in the final rendered image, I decided to put the doors beneath the wide left dormer.
December 20, 2004
Today I experimented with texture maps. From Lightwave, I made a screen capture of the isometric front view of the house, and used it as a template to "deconstruct" the painting to fit the faces of the model. In Photoshop, I isolated the white wire frame of the model, and made it the top layer of my Photoshop document. I dragged the painting into a bottom layer. Then through a combination of duplicating, stretching, distorting, and cloning the elements of the painting, I was able to build an experimental texture map, which attempts to duplicate the look of the painting.
When the Photoshop texture map was complete, I removed the wireframe layer, then flattened and saved the image as a jpeg. In Lightwave, I created a planar UV map which projects the texture map straight on to the front of the house. Later, I will make more detailed UV maps of more of the house faces, for a cleaner look.
Here is the most recent rendering, with the experimental texture mapping. Since the map only projects on the front, the sides of the house have horizontal smears caused by the fringe area of the texture maps being stretched over those faces. I superimposed the sky and cemetery from the painting, for this image.
December 30, 2004
After rendering the house, I compared it again to the art. Below is the comparison, with the 3D house superimposed into the album painting.
And here is the final composition!