Archives in 3D: Maritime

AI3D-1- photo by HR
Ready to begin: The Archives in 3D workshop

On Saturday 24th November 2018, the world of historical reconstruction met ‘Trawling Through Time’ for a full day workshop of bringing the past to (digital) life using 3D modelling. Delivered by Hannah Rice (Archives Assistant) the ‘Archives in 3D’ workshop series teach the art of digital 3D modelling, focusing on visualising present and lost heritage using technical drawings held within the East Riding Archives‘ collections.

With thanks to the Heritage Lottery Fund‘s grant, we were able to deliver this workshop to the public for free and utilise the Arctic Corsair technical drawing digitised as part of the Trawling Through Time project.

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Hannah Rice, Archives in 3D workshop facilitator

To begin the day, Sam Bartle (Digital Archivist & Project Coordinator) introduced the Trawling Through Time project and provided some historical information about Cook, Welton and Gemmell shipbuilders.  Hannah then spoke about the applications of 3D modelling within the heritage sector, and the process of creating a historical reconstruction, from the initial research within an archive to the end-use and engagement with your 3D model on the web.

“3D models can be used in historical reconstruction to inform and educate wider audiences about places from the past, including visualising what a place looked like at one point in time.”

The practical element of the workshop involved learning how to create your own digital model of Hull and East Riding maritime heritage.  For the ‘warm-up’ model, a technical plan of the Low Lighthouse at Spurn (document reference: DDX1332/1/1) provided the group with an opportunity to delve into the Blender3D software and learn the basics of ‘polygon modelling’- where the components of a digital object are manipulated in 3D space to form a new object.

“The idea was to transform a simple three-dimensional cube into a model that looks like the Low Lighthouse at Spurn!”

With the assistance of Simon Stamp (Technical Support Volunteer) during the tutorial stage, the group all successfully completed their own lighthouse reconstructions and learned the basics of rendering and lighting a scene.

LowLighthouse_Wireframe
Basic wireframe model, Low Lighthouse at Spurn

After a well-earned lunch break, the group followed Hannah’s tutorial for modelling their own Arctic Corsair ship – slightly more challenging than the lighthouse! With thanks to the Trawling Through Time digitisation volunteers, the group were able to import the technical drawing of the Arctic Corsair (document reference: DDCO/5/1/958/1) as a background JPG image into the 3D software and model each section of the ship according to the plan.

Due to the ambitious nature of modelling the Arctic Corsair in its entirety in one afternoon, the group modelled most of the main hull of the ship and were able to take away their model to work on at home- a great achievement!

ArcticCorsair-HR
Example basic 3D model of the Arctic Corsair, by Hannah Rice

At the end of the session, the group were not only able to take home two 3D models, but also the practical skills to independently create their own, knowledge of how to use archives for historical reconstructions, and the potential applications for their creations- from museum interpretation displays, to art, animations and video games.

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Model of the Arctic Corsair, loaned by kind permission of Gwyn Adams

As a record series, the general arrangement plans of Cook, Welton and Gemmell’s ships in our archive collection (reference DDCO) provide a trove of visual information ideal for modelling of both the digital and traditional kinds. The plans are not only visually pleasing (see some examples), they also have significant potential for in-depth studies into the construction of Cook, Welton and Gemmell’s vessels. Once the plans are fully catalogued by our volunteers, we are hoping they will provide the inspiration for many types of projects.

Look out for more Trawling Through Time events coming soon!

Hannah Rice:  Archives Assistant

(East Riding Archives)

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