Nathan's 3D Modeling Project

To create my model I decided to use Google Sketchup, which is available for free at . I chose this program because it seemed very intuitive and was fast to learn.

Even though the program is very intuitive, I still spent many hours learning how to create models. Getting to the point of initial modelling is very fast in Google Sketchup, compared to other programs such as Blender that would have taken many hours just to get to the point of being comfortable navigating the workspace. Advanced techniques do require some additional learning, and I have to credit google for their highly useful training videos, which I made frequent use of.

Enough about the program, on to the production:


City Fire Insurance Plan (1915) Before undertaking any of the modelling process, I decided to do a little research to make my life easier. A quick trip to the Galt archives netted me original scale drawings of downtown Lethbridge, all the way back from 1915. After getting a photocopy of the page I needed, I found out that the University holds a digitized copy of the same documents. Large printout in hand, it was time for more photos.

Using a local landmark was a big advantage because it allowed me to get very specific pictures of the fire hall. In particular I took a photo of each visible side of the building, making sure the picture is perpendicular to the face of the building. This, in combination with the insurance plans obtained from the Galt archives allowed to put all features of the building into a reasonable scale.

Simple Construction

Grid layout of firehall front The first step was to create the rough shape of the building, to scale. With the information I had, it was fairly easy to get Sketchup to create the building to the appropriate scale.

After creating the initial box, I decided the easiest way to keep things to scale would be to start at the bottom and work my way up.

Adding Doors

Let's face it, a building isn't much of a building if you can't get into it. Logically, the doors were the first thing on my list.

After creating guidelines for the basic dimensions, I added the basic arches and created the recessed areas for the door.

Because this was my first time using the program, I decided to try my hand at adding details to the lower section first. This lead to a few important lessons, including making repeated items into components and also how components interact with the model.

Outlining the doors Adding details to the doors Adding the doors

Adding Windows

Time to shed some light on the situation: we need windows. This step went a little faster than the doors, partly because of my gained experience, and partly due to a high degree of repetition.

Adding upper windows Adding the rest of the windows

The Tower

Grid layout
		    of firehall front I guess you coud say I saved the best for last. As a finishing touch, I added the tower to the top of the building.

Although it is a fairly complex shape, it was easily accomplished by using a side profile of the tower and the follow-me tool around the base shape (an octagon).

Again I used components to make editing all 8 sides of the tower at the same time a snap. I'm fairly happy with the result, but if I were to be rendering with the tower in a closer view I would probably add more detail.

Adding Texture

Adding texture Time to add some color and texture to my model. Thankfully Sketchup is fairly intuitive when it comes to texturing, and also comes with a good enough selection of textures to make the basic building.

Because of this adding the textures was only a matter of time, and little frustration. I did however find places where my components were not behaving as expected, which lead to additional work due to some repetition. The upper windows are a good example of this, due to the fact that there are three of them that are not the same as the others, and as such, each was textured seperately.