Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Model Springfield is coming

I’m a giant step closer to realizing my long held dream of experiencing a 3-D computer model of historic Springfield. Google has a product called “Sketchup” that makes 3-D modeling easy. They have a beta version available for free downloading. I was able to render a simple log cabin in a few minutes and a rather elaborate model of the Elijah Iles House (shown here) in a few hours after downloading the beta. The pay version is only $20.00 per year (I think) and the pro version is over $400.00. I’m going to see how much I can get done with the beta for now.

What I’d like to see first is a representation of downtown Springfield circa 1856 or thereabouts. We have reams of data about the time & place, including bird’s eye views that are very reliable. We have a lot of surviving structures to model from as well. Eventually, it would be nice to model the appearance of the town longitudinally beginning in 1818, but that would be a gigantic project.

The main challenges at present are getting the terrain as accurate as possible (the downtown area was intersected by deep creek beds before sewers and pavement were introduced), and keeping the models “light,” that is, keeping the models simple enough to keep their data size down without compromising too much realism. To the latter end, I will try to use textures from images instead of modeling minute details into the structures.

There is still much for me to learn. I’ll have to solve problems like terraforming, creating dirt (mud) streets, fashioning domes, etc., but it all seems “doable” now.

I encourage others to take this up and join me in creating models of historic Springfield. This could very well lead to a wonderful tool for students and historians and anybody interested in seeing what Springfield looked like to Lincoln.


Blogger Betty said...

Hey Larry,

Great blog, man! Hope you'll post some more when you get a chance. I especially enjoyed the model historic springfield sketchups, as well as the Frank Swift Chase paintings.

I'm just posting a comment in this old post because the more recent posts had tons of spam in the comment section.

Is this still your main blog? Do you LJ? My LiveJournal username is Pipetti.

formerly of Springfield
now of Madison, Wisconsin

2:34 PM  
Blogger Larry Stevens said...

Betty Pipetti - great to hear from you.

Sorry this blog has gotten so stale. I'm mostly active here or here.

I have a good subject for a new post at this site, though, cause I'm now a docent at The Elijah Iles House.

I just had a conversation with somebody about the best place to live in the US. I thought it was Austin, but my friend corrected me saying it was certainly Madison.

I'm lame. I've never heard of LiveJournal.

But with my 6-year-old daughter, Lilly, in tow, I've returned to the main passion of my youth, rollerskating at Skateland South.

4:30 PM  

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