Thinking outside the blocks….

For the past week I’ve been debating on how I should handle all of the stone blocks that are used extensively throughout the temple (for the walls, floors, columns…etc). Part of this process is to insure that I am mindful of the actual placement of these elements.  I’ve been comparing the Heidelberg photographs to Ranke’s site illustrations.  From what I can see they seem very accurate.

floor_block_comparison

I’ve started placing proxy bricks (basic polygonal cubes) in the Pronaos and ramp.

proxy_ramp tiles

 

I’m testing a few approaches to see which one might hold up better in VR. Initialy I thought I would break the various elements up into sections, then using either Mudbox or Zbrush, I would detail the proxy cubes and extract a normal map back onto a more simplistic type of geometry.  I tested this on the ramp, which kind of works.  However, because this is just a bump map if someone where to view this on a shear angle, the illusion of detail would flatten.  Just a side note, once I get into the Unreal Engine I might revisit this approach with displacement maps….or possibly vector displacement maps.

ramp_low_res_geometry
This is simplified geometry that will get the tile texture generated in Zbrush and Mudbox.

 

ramp_normal_map
The normal map generated by the higher resolution tiles.
ramp_with_normal_map
The normal map applied to the ramp.

My hope in using this approach is to keep the interactivity within the virtual world crisp and speedy.  I wasn’t particularly happy with the initial results, although untextured (lacking diffuse colour, specular maps….etc) I could tell that there was a fidelity issue, particularly from extreme angles.
My second approach is to texture 2-3 groupings of individual low resolution blocks then hand place each one (similar to how I placed the proxy cubes to begin with).

inividual_blocks_group1
A test grouping (not the final textures)
placement_of_individual_blocks
Beginning to hand place each block…..

placement_of_individual_blocks_2

UPDATE: The known floor tiles (according to Ranke) have been placed, as of June 8th.  I’ll need to fill in the gaps with a similar patterning.  But I’m moving onto the interior walls first.

june14_2

Kris Howald

I was immersed into the world of virtual archeology for my Masters Research Project at Ryerson University.  The focus of this project was the digital reconstruction of the el-Hibeh temple in Egypt.  After four months I believe I was able to demonstrate the potential this medium has to offer as a way of bridging the past and present.

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