Stone Lantern (Work In Progress)


For my latest modelling challenge I chose a Japanese stone lantern (Ishidoro). It’s not yet complete but for the first time I’ve decided to post my work in progress rather than leaving it until completion. Once the modelling is complete I plan on using 3D Coat to do the UV unwrapping and Substance Painter for the texturing.


For the pillar (Sao) I used a Torus object as the starting point, with a Symmetry object to save time. Yes I could have used a spline and a Lathe but have found myself using splines less and less as I get more comfortable with polygon modelling.


The base (Kiso) started as a Disk object with one section split off, half deleted then placed in Symmetry which was then placed into an Array object.


Using Symmetry and Array objects allows you to focus on just one section and create complex looking models easily.


The base was duplicated and placed at the top of the pillar. The section above that with the cross detail (Nakadai o chudai) started as a 6 sided Disk object, once again using Symmetry and an Array object to minimise modelling. I wanted this section to be a single piece of geometry, which made sharpening the tight corners on the crosses a challenge.


A 6 sided Cylinder object was the starting point for the main lantern section (Hibukuro). Windows were cut in by selecting polygons and using the Extrude Inner tool then deleting the resulting geometry.

ishidoro_07 ishidoro_08

Adding depth was made more challenging because of the raised floor.


The window detail looks complicated but was simplified by using four levels of Symmetry, leaving just one small section to work on.


Once complete, the window was extruded then placed inside a SDS. Splitting the geometry away from the main geometry allowed me to add various control cuts for sharpening and not propagate those cuts into the main mesh.


I actually started out by using a Subdivision Surface and control cuts to create the sharpening but the result ended up messy with way too many polygons (left).


So ended up going for no SDS and used the Bevel tool instead to add the beveling.


At this stage the lantern was starting to take shape so the next step was to model the carved details on the faces of the main lantern section.


The Polygon Pen tool was used to create the leaf topology, under Symmetry of course! Once that was right, the edge was extruded out and scaled to create the rectangular shape. Only at this point were the leaves extruded by first extruding all of the leaves then deselecting the bottom leaf, extruding again, deselecting the large side leaf and doing one final extrusion for the centre leaf.


This section was modelled flat using the Polygon Pen tool then smoothed and given depth using the Brush tool.


At this stage I was ready to move onto the roof (Kasa).


A Disk object was the starting point for the roof, which was placed inside a SDS then adjusted to create the flared dome shape.


One section was split off and placed inside an Array object, with control cuts added for the main extrusions.


This section was extruded in sections; first the central strip followed by the 2 side strips and finally the large rounded extrusion on the rim. The next step will be to create the control cuts to sharpen those extrusion.


Here I’ve used  a Taper deformer and made that a child of the Roof geometry. Deformers are an important part of the modelling process as they allow you to modify geometry quickly and easily in ways that would more difficult if you were to adjust the geometry directly. They’re also non-destructive which makes them more flexible.


The next step was considering how to add the spiral detail without propagating cuts into the rest of the geometry and messing with the gentle curves created by the SDS. I decided to use an Inner Extrude and split the 4 polygons off so as to isolate the spiral detail but as you can see I ended up painting myself into a corner with a loop I couldn’t terminate.


Sometimes getting it right means going back a few steps and trying a different approach. Toby Pitman reminded me that I should simplify the geometry, select and weight the edges (hold down the period key and drag the cursor), then use a SDS but only at a setting of 1. Collapsing that down creates a clean, mesh with enough geometry to allow for easier and cleaner edge sharpening. Once again I fell into the trap of not starting with enough geometry when working with curved surfaces! Toby explains all of this in Making It Look Great 11.


The main roof section turned out pretty well, with all quads and looks smooth under subdivision. At this stage I was happy enough to move on to the main spire at the top of the roof. I’m considering adding the spiral insets using a normal map.


For the detail on the spire I used a Spherify deformer applied to a disk section (under Symmetry and Array) to create the base shape. This gives me a far cleaner result than if I was to adjust edges and points directly at this stage.


I adjusted the topology by pushing points around to create the rounded tops.


Still working flat, I added more loops to further refine the main shapes plus additional polygons on the side to create the triangular connection between the petals.


At this stage I extruded the main shapes, using Soft Selection and the Brush tool to smooth the topology.

ishidoro_28 ishidoro_29

And here’s the finished model. The top spire was fashioned out of a Cylinder object under subdivision. I pulled the point out use the Soft Selection setting. I may add some kanji characters to the back face but basically this is now ready for me to unwrap.



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