Hello, my name is Hannah Stamp (you may have known me as Hannah Rice). I am an archives professional based in East Yorkshire, UK, and have been creating 3D architectural models on an avocational basis for over 10 years. It has been nearly three years since my last Sketchfab blog post ‘Bringing Built Heritage to (Digital) Life’ and it is a pleasure to return for the ‘Women on Sketchfab’ series!
My academic background is in art history (particularly buildings), archives and the fusion of digital technology with heritage. Since the 2000s I had used Sketchup in a design and technology context, but it was during my MSc in Digital Heritage at the University of York when Anthony Masinton, my tutor and also a 3D Artist, first introduced me to Blender—this had me hooked! I now use a combination of software in my work including Blender for modeling, rendering and creating animations, and Photoshop to paint UV texture maps.
The main aim of my art is to promote local heritage. I seek to recreate buildings which I find intriguing, either for their architectural aesthetic or their social history. I have a particular fondness for the Medieval Gothic and Victorian Gothic Revival styles, and find that modeling window tracery can be an enjoyable challenge! As I am based in East Yorkshire, most of the buildings depicted in my art are located in the region. Some of my work has also taken a family history angle, focusing on places that my ancestors lived and had a connection to, such as Roche Rock in Cornwall (I’m half Cornish) and Spurn Point Lighthouse in East Yorkshire—Spurn Point was the home of my 3x great-grandparents in the 1800s!
I would describe my models as artistic works, akin to a form of architectural illustration, and as visual interpretations of my research.
My workflow usually takes the form of three stages, beginning away from the computer:
- Research: Consulting original documents in archives, local studies libraries, and making site visits to take photographs of buildings and make notes.
- Modeling: Creation of the model using polygon modeling techniques and UV mapping in Blender.
- Access on the web: Uploading a zip file containing texture images and the .blend file to Sketchfab. Adding descriptive metadata on Sketchfab to encourage discoverability on the web and enhance the curation of my model.
To read more on my workflow, have a look at my previous blog post.
Photogrammetry and 3D Printing
More recently I have ventured beyond my comfort zone of polygon modeling into the areas of photogrammetry and 3D printing. I was inspired to have a go at photogrammetry when I first saw a rabbit sculpture in one of my local churches. The “Pilgrim Rabbit” corbel carving at St Mary’s Church in Beverley (UK) dates from c.1330 and is claimed to be the inspiration for Lewis Carroll’s White Rabbit who leads Alice down the hole into Wonderland.
I photographed the sculpture from all angles, gaining as much coverage as I could. I then imported these photographs into Autodesk 123D Catch (now discontinued) to create a point cloud and mesh, and uploaded the .obj file along with the texture file to Sketchfab. For my first attempt at photogrammetry I think the model had turned out better than I expected, particularly as the stone above the rabbit was quite difficult to photograph with the sculpture being above head height. I have since experimented with Agisoft Metashape for photogrammetry models.
I have also experimented with 3D printing some of my models after purchasing a 3D printer. This was particularly challenging as I soon discovered that I had to adapt my models further in Blender to make them suitable for printing. When I first created my models I had only intended to present them online, with 3D printing being a secondary use. As a result, I then had to make significant adjustments to my existing meshes.
To 3D print my North Bar of Beverley model (Fig.2) I sliced the model into three parts (front and back facades, main body) in Blender, checked for floating geometry, and exported the .stl files into Cura software to be printed individually. After several hours of printing (lots of patience required!), I then hand-glued the sections together. I find it fascinating that I was able to turn my digital models into tangible objects, and may consider painting up my 3D prints in the future as sculptural pieces.
Be Inspired by Archives!
I’m a huge advocate for promoting the use of archives, which are composed of materials set aside for permanent preservation, reuse, and enjoyment! I’m very fortunate to work at the East Riding Archives (ERA) assisting researchers with their diverse enquiries using historical documents, with some material dating back to the 12th century. Archives heavily inspire my work, most notably those that help me visualise places from the past, such as maps, building plans, and historical photography.
Since I last wrote for the Sketchfab blog, I have continued to encourage the fusion of archives with 3D through conferences and workshops. My paper, ‘Archives in 3D: a Multidisciplinary approach to digital engagement,’ explored the practicalities of the creative reuse of archives using 3D modeling, which you can watch below:
In November 2018 ERA held a maritime-themed ‘Archives in 3D’ workshop as one of the outreach elements of our NHLF-funded ‘Trawling Through Time’ project to catalogue and digitise the vessel plans from the Cook, Welton and Gemmell Shipbuilder’s collection (East Riding Archives, DDCO). Thanks to our brilliant team of project volunteers I was able to use one of the plans they had digitised of the renowned Arctic Corsair trawler to teach the group basic polygon modeling in Blender.
The ship plans are highly complex works of art in their own right, and each present the design of the ship from different perspectives. As I was teaching a beginner’s workshop, I sought to simplify the modeling process as much as possible. This was also my first foray into modeling ships! Using Photoshop, I added coloured outlines to the digitised ship plan to distinguish key sections, with each coloured section represented by an ‘object’ in Blender. The colours also helped to match up parts of the ship to their corresponding view (i.e., side view or top-down view) as drawn on the plan. For more information on the workshop please read my blog post ‘Archives in 3D: Maritime’.
Archives are treasure troves of primary sources that can help you visualise places from the past, such as maps, photographs of streets and buildings, historical landscape illustrations, and building plans. If you need modeling inspiration, I would highly recommend visiting your local archive to see what sources you can use in your art!
My thanks go to Abby, Mieke, and Jasmin for the invitation to be part of the brilliant Women on Sketchfab community—it’s amazing to see such talented and multi-disciplinary work! I’ve used Sketchfab for several years and have found it has enabled me to share my models with audiences across the world. I love to browse through Sketchfab’s ‘Cultural Heritage & History’ category as I can interact with virtual heritage sites and artefacts that I otherwise would not be able to visit in person!