"Gateway College Oxford"
Major Project Design Log

N.B. As this project has now been submitted I have removed the large size images to free up webspace for other uses. This document and all it's associated images have been submitted with the rest of the project and are contained on CD-ROM #1.

I have uploaded my final images to my Deviant Art account if you have anywish to view them.


As a prelude to the real work, a project strategy had to be devised. This is here for reference purposes.
Major Project Strategy

Design Log

2006-01-17 - Tuesday

Architecture of Oxford -- 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14 (Continues as Search on Stock eXchange)

The first idea which I am developing is the Second Story Tramway, a raised tramway running alongside the buildings of the borough. Having sat in the coffee shop on Maldon High street and pictured the tramway running along the upper floors of the shops, I decided that is was an impractical but highly cool idea. It helps the imagination that Maldon High street has a number of buildings of the era of architecture which I am designing for.

Working on this concept I have a rough sketch, it's not the best piece of draughting in the world but I'm working from my imagination, not paper.

2006-02-08 - Wednesday
I'm using the shapes feature of Strata 3D heavly in this model, the enginering and architecture of the 19th century contains a great deal of repetition, which is good for me as I can model each component of the scene as a shape (section of the Strata manual on shapes) and then replicate the component as many time as necessary.

I have started with the support columns for the track, the design has be influenced by some of the images from my research, specifically a image from Briton of a covered walkway on the water front.
development renders

2006-02-10 - Friday

Development Render

2006-02-23 - Thursdays

Development Renders

2006-02-24 - Friday

Development Renders

2006-03-12 - Sunday
Well there's been a bit of a break in work, getting my head around XML and it's associated languages took a couple of weeks, but I've got the feel for it now, so it shouldn't require quite so much attention. Why am I learning XML? Well, that would be for my Multimedia Portfolio II project.

So today I did one of the things that I intended to do this week, which was put the roof on the tram tracks. I've gone fro the flat roof for the time being, if I'm feeling adventurous I'll make the upwards curving 'good drainage' version later. I have modified the flat style slightly from what I originally thought of by keeping in the arch on the underside, it just looks like it belongs there.
Development Renders

2006-03-14 - Tuesday
I've found that the line that showed up between the straight glass and the curved glass of the tramway cover is caused by internal reflection in the glass objects, I could cure this by using the boolean combination tool, but the boolean operations in Strata are unpredictable at best so I have used plan B and placed an I-beam across the offending line. However to make this look slightly less silly I have reduced the I-beam to half the hight of the rest of those used to devide the glass.
development Renders

Now to narrow the track gauge.

2006-03-15 - Wednesday
Today I have narrowed the track gauge, and added the girders underneath, I've found from my research on trams that there is such a thing as a 'rail grinding tram' which I don't see being very popular with people below, so I've put a platform beneath the track. Realisticaly there should be a drainage and flushing system for removing the grindings, which if I am extreamly flush with time I may add in some detail for later. I have realised that the track is lacking in in any kind of support, leaving it floating in mid-air. Something I have to work on, which I've added to the To Do list. Leaving the track alone for a while I started work on the lighting for the footpath.
Development Renders

However at 11:40pm tonight my desktop made a strangled 'bizt' noise and shutdown in a very final seeming way, and pressing the power button did nothing. If I'm lucky it's just the fuse, If I'm less lucky the PSU is dead, and if my current luck with hardware holds something has gone very wrong with the machine as a whole.

2006-03-16 - Thursday
Most of today was spent diagnosing what was wrong with my desktop. It turns out that is was the power supply which had blown, once it was working I had a celebratory backup, not the most exciting way to celebrate but one of relief.

2006-03-19 - Sunday
After spending Saturday blowing off of the stress which built up due to the 'bizt' on Wednesday playing in an Open Beta Weekend of the MMORPG in development Auto Assault, which was quite fun by the way, I got back to work on the footpath lighting.
On wednesday I had left off with the support spar for the lamp, an omnilight, and a floating boss half leftover from it's origins as a section of trellace. I have added a camera underneath the tramway so as to better see the lamps. the lantern has turned out as a cylindrical glass body, circled with bands, capped with a stack of discs, and based with a lense to distribute the light below.
I have been experimenting with the Radiosity renderer in Strata, the results are very good but the rendering time increases sevenfold. I am going to consult with the more experienced users on the StrataCafe forums on ways of speeding the rendering time as the look which it creates is really appealing.
I have realised that the building wall had dropped about ten feet at some point, this has been corrected.
I have also realised that if I want the view from the pavement I need a road, so that world dosn't simply end in a black void. If I have a road I also need road lighting, this will most likly be a larger lamp in the same style as the pavement lantern, though it will probably be horizontal, I am keeping the cap larger than the lamp to reduce light polution.

Pavement Cam1

Sketch Cam

I think the next areas to model are the street lamp, and the building itself

2006-03-20 - Monday
Talking with Jo today, it has been agreed that the Radiosity renders simply look much better. So I am going to need to plan for the extended rendering time and findout if there is any tricks for speeding up the render.
Jo has also suggested that I spend time this week developing the page layout in which the image will be showcased. This is something which I had mostly forgotten about, having got deeply involved in the construction of the Tramway street scene. See note 'On Text Flow' for some thoughts on the layout.

2006-03-24 - Monday
I've been working on the filtering techniques based upon one of the Radiosity renders, the first is an attempt at producing the look of an etching using a commercial edge finding plugin. The second image processed using my 'Sky Captainize 2' action which is designed to reproduce the look of old film, somewhat washed out with plenty of light bloom.

I have a couple of layout designs in rough which I will turn into something presentable.

2006-03-27 - Sunday
Page Layout
Right layout designs, Layout 1 is from the proposal stage, it uses the gateway as a boarder to frame the page. Layout 2 is unsatisfactory the text flow looks wrong and the image can't seem to be made large enough, I am begining to understand why RPG books tend to be printed on paper which is wider than A4. Layout 3 is very likely to be the one that I go with, unless I think of something better.

2006-04-05 - Wednesday
Here I have been experimenting with the floor texture, in my attempt to work with real geometry wherever possible I experimented with making cobblestones, which wasn't too sucessful as they where far to complicated. Persevering with cobblestones I attempted to use displacement maps to achive the effect of cobbles, but I was unable to make that work to my satisfaction. So in the end I caved in an used some quite boring flagtones.
Sketch Cam

Pavement Cam1
You can see in the second image here that I've started detailing the building wall.

2006-04-06 - Thursday

Sketch Cam

Pavement Cam1

2006-04-07 - Friday

Sketch Cam

Pavement Cam1

2006-04-08 - Saturday
I've been working on a means of processing the images to produce the sketched look that I want which dosn't require me to purchase any plugins, and I think I have it. Using a combination of the filters, Stamp, Photocopy, Graphics Pen, and Chalk & Charcoal which I think works quite well.
The first image in each of these sequences is the source image rendered in Radiosity, this is looking like the rendering methord of choice, though it takes far longer to render than the Raytraced equivalent, it is taking nine hours to render these images, though this is only using my desktop, if I can perfect the shuttering technique I can use three machine instead of just one.

The rendering is looking good now, but I have noticed a number of inverted faces (where there are bits which are very black, instead of the flat grey) on the door and window frames, this is easy to fix, but it is terribly annoying that it took time intensive renders like these for me to notice them.

My next job is to remake the wall as sections so that I don't have to use antimatter to cut out the doors and windows, because it is a very inefficient way of doing this, and shadows don't fall within the antimatter opjects which just looks odd.
Sketch Cam

Pavement Cam1
Page Layouts - Layout 1 - Layout 2 - Layout 3
I've updated the layouts to include the new style processed image of SketchCam. I am thinking about removing the edge images from Layout 3, to improve the continuity between pages, I am also thinking of adding a background image of some kind across the two page spread to give more continuity.

2006-04-12 - Wednesday
Sketch Cam

Pavement Cam

2006-04-16 - Sunday
Sketch Cam

Pavement Cam

2006-04-17 - Monday
Sketch Cam

Pavement Cam

2006-04-18 - Tuesday
Sketch Cam

Pavement Cam

2006-04-19 - Wednesday
I've done some maths based on the size of the image in layout three, to get it at the correct size at 300dpi it needs to be rendered at 827x1635 pixels, lets call it 1700 pixels high, 2000 if I'm feeling flush with time.
Speaking of time, I think I've got a way of speeding up the rendering quite a bit, reading through this thread in the Stratacafe Forums I've picked up a trick about increasing the Octree hight. The default is nine, a little bit of experimentation has lead me to twelve which gives me a ten second improvement on 1:38 in test renders... Every little helps.

2006-04-20 - Thursday

Sketch Cam

Pavement Cam

2006-04-21 - Friday
For the cortyard of the Orient Building I have managed to find some free models to give it a better feel, including a japanese maple, and a koi carp for the ornimental pond. I have also found some aqautic foliage from a site called 3DPlants.com

Model Sources
Japanese Maple - http://www.lfgrafix.com/grafix/Meshmodels/MeshBasicTrees-1.html
Koi Carp -

Japanese Maple

Water Ripples
I'm wanting an ornimental pond for the cortyard of the Orient Building, this is an experiment in using Strata's ripple texture to make a realistic looking water surface.

The Orient Building
I should probably explane myself, I've realised I haven't excplained what the Orient Buiding is before in this log. This is the second illustration which I am working on, it has evolved from the idea of 'Wou Chen's Tea Shop' and into a complete 'China Town'. I have already included a number of orientally inspired elements in the architectural design already as the 'build phases' for Hingeway of the late 1800s and early 1900s fall into time when there was a great deal of exotisist interest surrounding all things from "The Mystic Orient".

The design I have in mind of the Orient Building is a modification of the existing edwardian inspired arciatecture of Hingeway, incorperating elements which are iconic of oriental archiatecture such as Shoji screens, paper lanters, and circular doors. The above sketch is my, rather shabby, effort at drawing out what I want it to look like (note to self, relearn to draw once course is over), a cortyard with an ornimental pond, a japanese maple, and the tea shop in one wall. With a Shoji style sliding door, and the window having a clear centre surrounded by a Shoji style boarder. Paper lanterns hang from beams above (or below) the second story windows. The kanji in the boss on the wall will most likely be either the Chinese or Japanese for tea.

2006-05-10 - Wednesday
This is update diversion from the Marketing Concepts essay which I can't focus on at the moment. I've have been working on my first item of street furniture, an old style red phone box. This is a relativly simple structure, apart from the roof, caused me some head scratching on how to create it, after attempts with polygon moddeling, and bezier curve moddeling to create it I was ready to admit defeat and makeup my own roof.

When a new piece of software presented itself to me via an email from a company called Daz3D (who make and sell lots of differnt models for use with Poser), announcing that they had recently aquired a company called Evoia who produce a program called Hexagon. It is Hexagon which Daz3D are offering at a reduced price, fantasticlly reduced, indeed a mere $1.99 to members of their 'Platinum Club' which costs $27.95 to join (and $7.95 for each moth after if you intend to stay), making Hexagon 2 a mere $32 or £17.23 instead of $269. Needless to say I jumped on it.

Hexagon is a dedicated polygon moddeling package, and from the short time I've had to play with it making complex moddles seems to be a doddle. But it is just the boolien tools which I need for this, as Strata3D's are not terrably reliable. I used a frame of cube primitive to corral an opening 3.35' across, in which I created a sphere primitive to the right size for the curvature of the roof, and then cut the unwanted parts of the sphere using boolian subtration. I gave the resulting shape some body with the 'thickness' tool, and reinforced the edges with some extra polygons to keep them sharpe when the shape is subdivided in Strata3D to regain some smoothness. It was then imported into Strata3D via an .obj file.

The end product can be seen here in moody half light, with it's illuminated sign, and that pathetic light that phone boxes have inside. You can also see, though just barely, the very rough model of a speaking tube style phone that I've decided is just the thing for Hingeway. The mouth piece is part of the unit, and the ear piece is attached, but hinged like an angle-poise lamp.

Sketch Cam

The penultimate image here is a Radiosity test render done at half size, it took 1h 23m 57s, this is a slight improvement on previous renders of this size, though I estimate a render time somewhere in the order of five hours for a full size image. The new phone box does look rather spiffing in the 'line drawingized' version though.

This full sized test render came in at 3h 31m 19s. I have posted on the StrataCafe forums for help on reducing the rendering times.

Pavement Cam

Further Progress
I have had an idea on how to spread the existing roof over the much larger Orient Building. The problem was that the roof is a modified cube, and if I change the size and shape of it to fit the Orient Building the angle of the slope will change, which would look sloppy. The other problem was how to acount for the hole that needs to be above the cortyard, the solution to both these problems was to cut copies of the roof into a number of componants which could be used to make up roofs of almost any size and shape. Now I am debating whether or not the roof should just join squarely to the cortyard wall, or to have a outwards facing skylight all around the cortyard.

I have also put the water in the cortyard's ornimental pond, and placed two more cameras, one a street view, and one in the cortyard itself.


I am wondering if I should turn the sun down a bit now that I have a lot of in scene light sources, are the images becoming too washed out?

Tea Shop

Orient Street Cam

2006-05-14 - Sunday

Tea Shop Plan
This slighly shoddy sketch shows the basic layout of the Orient Building cortyard. The circular door which leads in from the street is top and centre in this image, with the pond directly opposit and crossed by an oriental style bridge

City wall plan

Sketch Cam

2006-05-15 - monday

Sketch Cam

Orient Street Cam


2006-05-16 - Tuesday
Right, I've finished puttin the wall in so I can maintain the illusion that there is more to this place than four buildings

Orient Street Cam

2006-05-17 - Wednesday
We have progress, the front wall is on the Orient Building and I've put the detailing on the roof. Now to make corners for the track

I have added some track across the front of the Orient Building, this creates a situation where I should really be moddeling some points, but I reckon that as long as I don't point a camera directly at that section of track, no one will notice. So I'm going to put in track across the junction, as well as constructing corners. The bigger challenge will be creating the cornered sections of awning. I shall see if Hexagon has a sutable bending tool, if not I will draw around the end of each section in Illustrator and lathe the things again. Why can I not just go straigh ahead with the lathing? Why whould I need to trace? Well, the canopy is already made of lathed componants, however these are lathed up and over to from the shape of the canopy, and I them to be lathed horrizontally so that they can turn a corner.
Sketch Cam

Pavement Cam

Orient Street Cam

Tea Shop
The new lighting scheme, while faster to render isn't quite so penitraiting as the old on. However the cortyard is to have it's own light sources so this is not a problem.

2006-05-18 - Thursday
The time when I can watch the DVDs I got for my birthday is tantalisingly close at hand... Err. I mean the end of the the project is close at hand, once the canopy above the track T-junktion is completed, and parts from it used to make the corner needed to stop the track from crashing into the wall, when these two details are compleated I can set all but the Tea Shop images to their final renderings.

I have decided that I am going to use Pavement Cam as the chapter coverplate, I will render it at A4 though only at 150dpi as I am not intending to place it as a full page bleed. On the subject of layouts I have decided that I am going to salvage the element of Layout 3 which I most like, the image borders, by using a stock photo of an arch instead of the flat grey shapes I created in Illustrator all those months ago. To be exact I am going to use this image, processed to make it fit in with the general feel.

I made a slight mistake with the canopy corner, so concerned was I with acheving the right size of gap between support and glass, that I didn't realise the corner was far too large. Once the last of these renders was distinguisable untypeable words cam unbidden. The extent of my mistake can be seen in this wireframe of the componant.

Orient Street Cam

The track is overhead, the wall is inplace, and I've got rid of the window that was behind the phone box. All I'm needing to do is to put some lights within the building to make it look less desolate and empty. This and the second of the isometric images above have an erronious 'global lamp' in them which, while making this image look quite nice and summery, blowout most of the rest of the model.
Pavement Cam
Here are the new A4 aspected renders from Pavement Cam, I'm definatly going to have to put something in the cortyard before I set the final render for this image going.

To Do

Decide upon how the Oxford of Gateway College interacts with the Mundane Oxford.
     It is contained within a number of dimensional pockets, no I'm not stealing from Neverwhere at all.
Fix the line of refraction between the straight glass and the curved, I think this just needs the flat glass lengthening, but if it's not easily curable I'll put an I-beam across it.
     Solution arrived at on 2006-03-14 - Tuesday
Where the inner curve of the canopy meets the wall it doesn't look like it really connects because the I-beam is in shadow, also I need to make the join more sturdy looking.
I need to revise the lighting rig to cope with the model being taller.
Done 2006-3-15 - Wednesday
Make the track a narrower gauge, it's not going to be able to get around corners at it's current width.
Rough out the cover for under the track.
     Done 2006-03-15 - Wednesday.
Decide upon what sort of light fixture would look good for under the track, one off the columns, or one from the track cover, bearing in mind there's going to be lots of pipe up there too.
     The footpath lights are going to come off from the columns, 2006-03-15 - Wednesday.
Make a corner section, do I go with enclosed like in my sketch, or an exposed corner section?
Put some credible detail into the building underneath the tramway, it's probably going to be an arcade of shops with flats above, much like any high street of the era.
Add some sort of supports for the tracks, having them floating looks silly. The supports can have the drainage and guttering runnign along them.
Add progress images to this page.
Start on page layout for the actual book style part of the project, prehaps a gazetteer style.
Expand on the text description for the Second Story Tram, a couple of hundred words. See note 'On Text Flow'
Build something so that 'Orient Street Cam' isn't looking out into a black voide
Put the front wall onto the Orient Building
Add basic detail into the cortyard of the Orient Building, so that Sketch Cam and Pavement cam can begin rendering.
Complete all modeling in the cortyard before importing the mapel, and the koi
Make a paper lantern
Turn the antimatter holes in the trellace into real geometry so that 'render splines as polygons' can be used to speed up the render.
Test if 'render splines as polygons' only affects antimatter using primitives. Will polygons work?
Make a Post Box
Make a rubbish bin
Combine layout 1 and layout 3 elements into a new improved layout 4.
Spell and Grammer check this document.

Flavour Text

“In the distant mists of the past, the earth was home to beings unlike any known to science. Even while to the Earth was still cooling the first life pulled it's way from the very molten rock. This first expression of life was short lived and unrefined, but it was there and it could think, and from this thought sprung the next generation of life, those which we have come to call Demons.”
Excerpt from Dimensionsology Lecture Notes

“In the times before Mankind, the Demons rules the worlds, they where many, great, and powerful, more closely connected to the Ætheric Dimensions than we, they commanded great magics for both good and ill. For they where not the evil beings which their current name portrays them to be, they where as varied as we are, capable of both good and evil in equal measure, though they did tend towards extremes, but in that they are creatures of their time.”

“For a time The Demons and Man coexisted, this was know as the Age of Legends, or the Third Age. But the world grew too small for both the ambitions of Man, and the Empires of the Demons. As is inevitable it seems, there was a war, a war which which the humans had no hope of winning. Until something unexpected happened, the Demons vanished. Not all of them, and not all at once, but it seems that the greatest of them simply quit the Earth.”

“At various times throughout history there have been places that people instinctively avoid, equally there are places which draw people to them.”

“Throughout the world there are places which still hold to an ancient order of things, places where the walls of what we describe as reality are thin, and passage between worlds is easy, even unintentional. Thankfully these places are hidden from the world, folded in on themselves, only accessible under certain conditions. At least that's what the textbooks say, the truth is a little more complicated...”

On the bank of the Rive Isis sits the university town of Oxford, famous seat of academic endeavour, known throughout the world as a bastion of knowledge, and learning.

Location Descriptions

The Dreaming Spires / The Fingers of Atlas
"Great silver grey monoliths, ancient arcane pylons who's latticework structures dominate the skyline of Hingeway Borough. Built on a scale greater than human structures the spires are by far the tallest buildings in Hingeway, or any of the hidden boroughs. Scraping the the bases of the clouds they seem to be lending the support to the sky."

The spires are parts of the pre-human, pre-historic gateway upon which the college is built. They mark the periphery of the gate, a buffer zone for the energies contained within. The spires are the vertical foundation upon which the the town is built, the university is constructed around the largest of the 'fingers', and from it's heights is the only location where you can see out of Hingeway.

The Hingeway second story tram
Built during the Industrial Revolution, the Second Story Tram services the Hingeway Borough. With access doors in every building, the Tram can be flagged down much like a bus. Using the Original automated system, each resident has a punch card which lets them signal the Tram. Visitors to the borough can purchase a short term card.

Inter Borough Tram Service
The Second Story Tram connects to many of the larger boroughs through a series of tunnels and bridges. It should be noted that tunnels may end as bridges, and vice versa

Pneumatic mail service
Hingeway is serviced by a pneumatic tube system which delivers mail and newspapers to residents. Originally on the university campus, it spread out into the borough first to dorms, then to the rest of the boroughs. The system is still controlled by the university, though the main sorting office has since been moved to a purpose built extension of the Hingeway Post Office. The public system uses the same punch card system as the Tram way, the main pipes are slung underneath. Other populous boroughs have tubes running to them, otherwise the mail goes via the Trams, or the Royal Mail Postal System, often described as “surface mail”.

Wou Chen's Tea Shoppe
One of the oldest establishments in Hingeway, Wou-San still controles the place from a back room, leaving a miscellaneous relative to work the day to day running.
Wou Chen, and encouragble ham, enjoys playing the Chinese mystic rather too much. It aggrivates people to find out that he is infact the real thing, it aggrivates them more to find out that he was born in {{some london borough}}.

The Clockwork Mall
Built at the same tiem as the Tram system and the phumatic mail system. Decorated in an industrial style using exposed clockworks, and wrought iron detailings. The mall is a showcase of early automation, with doors operated by weighted pressure plates, and


On Text Flow
There is no real need to fill a whole page with text about the showcased image, some of the other descriptions and flavour text can be used to fill in the space, indeed it would be good for the book metaphore if some of the text didn't appear in it's entirety on the page, instead coming in at the top of the page, and flowing off the bottom.

Location required for Hidden Oxford
At least two drinking establishments. Shops selling occult items, both legitimate and illicit. The library building needs to be detailed, it is accessible to the public. It was designed by a Victorian architect famous for folded space structures. (non-elucidian). Newspapers, two a broad sheet and a tabloid. The Hingeway Times, a broad sheet well respected, but young. The Hingeway Mail, once a respected broadsheet, now a sensationalist tabloid. The Gateway Post, the university newspaper.

The University Library was designed by the famous non-elucidian architect William Abetment Persephone

The borough surrounding the University is called Hingeway it is the most populous of the hidden boroughs, a large service industry has grown up around the University.