Imaging and Data Visualisation – Reflection

Imaging and Data Visualisation has been a brilliant module, ranging from the projects to our tutor who was always there to give us a hand and to explain things to us individually. The projects set were creative and allowed us to experiment within Maya and also within Zbrush/Mudbox. It was nice to be given the chance to work on a project individually with the 3D head portrait. Taking some individual time to focus on one skill was very beneficial as there was no feeling of having to please someone else.

Throughout the module I have learnt quite a bit in Maya. One of the most useful skills I’ve learnt is how to adjust the render settings in preparation for rendering. During the floating city project we had difficulties setting up various parts, some things were just not working out. But since we had to sit and go through everything to discover what the problems were, we learnt a lot about the process and when it came to rendering the next time, things were much simpler. During class we were set various tasks within Maya, even though they seemed simple, I found them very difficult. It is challenging trying to keep up within class as it moves quite fast although if more time was spent in Maya self-learning during my free time, it would be easier. Hopefully next year I will be more organised in that way so as not to fall behind in class.

My modelling in general has developed although I still need more practise as I haven’t modelled anything I am proud of. After having spent some time in Zbrush I do prefer it over Maya. Hopefully during the rest of the course I can use Maya and Zbrush together to create intricate sculpts that can be animated whist learning more about their interfaces and the workflow used between the two programmes.


Final Compositing of Belfast City Model

Once I had all my modelled components ready to put together in a modern city scene I made a few test renders without any materials, but added two arnold area lights on either side. My section has used a few assets from Erinn, Michael and Jack, this including a crane at the rear view, a smaller tower, the waterfront model at the front and power lines by Jack. I had modelled a watermill which is visible in the 1800’s section.

I am happy with the outcome as I feel I have achieved the low poly look we were going for, and to a certain point successfully depicted a modern Belfast, which in reality isn’t as clustered as I would have liked to depict.


Jack’s section, the base (see image below) was influenced heavily by Belfast’s role in the industrial revolution. The cogs are working hard to keep the propellors of the city spinning, thus keeping it floating. The propellors were an idea as they resinate with those on the famous Titanic ship.


4Image Courtesy – coolvibe

The steampunk image above was the kind of feel we were going for when it came to the overall look of the city, especially with the mechanical/base section.

Erinn’s victorian section was also based off these kind of vibes. Sticking to the muted colour scheme with plenty of housing whilst showcasing some older buildings/elements of Belfast I feel this section turned out very successful also. Michael’s 1960’s section depicting the troubled time in Belfast also turned out brilliant, you can see parts which are crumbling. This section also shows building/construction thus showing that at the end of these times Belfast started to renew itself and grow again, despite the damage. (Images below)

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After putting the model together I started to texture the top section. We had agreed on making this section more colourful and vibrant to contrast with the other eras in time.


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I didn’t include any lights in this section as I thought it would be bright enough after rendering took place. I am fairly happy with how it turned out, although I do feel maybe it looks a little out of place in comparison with the other sections but nevertheless, this was intended.

Below shows some final renders of our scene along with the final video, one without the statistics and one with. As our rendering ended up taking 3 extra days than intended, we never got the time to produce good quality motion graphics as we had hoped for.



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Without statistics below

With statistics below – this version isn’t the quality we had intended, the music seems to have warped a little after converting the video to a mov. file. The video above has the clear audio intent without the statistics and had also been darkened down a bit to increase contrast with statistical values popping up on the sides.

Floating City – Visual Inspiration

This blog will show some inspiration I found whilst researching into floating cities, looking at how other productions have gone about creating these environments. A typical one to start off with is Cloud City from Star Wars. It is suspended high among the clouds of Bespin- “a floating metropolis of sophisticated beauty and political freedom” –

The design was agreed to hover by being suspended by an anti-gravity pod.



bespinImage Courtesy –

The above designs of Bespin were produced by Star Wars original concept artist, Ralph McQuarrie. The colours work well with the warm greys against the vibrant sunset. Although you can see a large city at the very top of the platform, there is still a lot going on underneath the main area. Every part of the design has a function which I thought was interesting. It states on it’s description that “Cloud City exists not only as a mining colony, extracting valuable Tibanna gas from the depths of the giant planet, but also as a sanctuary for those trying to escape the turmoil gripping the galaxy.” –

T3Image Courtesy – studioghibli

Laputa, Castle in the Sky is a memorable movie by studio Ghibli and directed by my all time favourite, Hayao Miyazaki. A floating castle is depicted in this full length animation, having multiple tiers and some archways which resemble the arches which Erinn in my group is working on for the Victorian section of our floating Belfast.

 t2Image Courtesy – studioghibli

Above is another piece of concept art produced by the Studio Ghibli team. It depicts the castle with huge propellers at the bottom, again this is another idea which my group is currently working on. Jack is modelling cogs and propellers quite similar to the ones above. It is good to see that they have been used before to consider keeping a castle in this case, floating in mid-air. Below are some extra concept pieces a long with 3d works from the Studio Ghibli museum in Tokyo which show the floating castle.

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Disney’s John Carter depicts a floating city named Helium, consisting of two parts, separated by 75 miles. I found an image or two which shows the modelling stages of the city. I thought it was interesting how they are kind of suspended between rock, rather than floating mid-air.

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Image Courtesy – creative cow

Below is a one of image I came across online by an amazing middle eastern artist Ярмарка Мастеров. The vines which are coming from the bottom of this floating city are connecting to another further off city, this is an idea we were playing with in relation to our model.

Screen Shot 2017-03-15 at 10.51.35Image Courtesy – live master

Fallout 3

Fallout three’s ‘Rivot City’ is quite different and is a city which caught my attention. Instead of the city afloat of floating mid-air, this city is located inside a decaying aircraft carrier. It is depicted in the game as being “the largest, most developed and scientifically-advanced settlement in the Capital Wasteland” – fandomwiki


Group Members Blog Links

Erin Morrow –

Jack Ellison –

Michael Lilley –


Ярмарка Мастеров. (2017). Магазин мастера Майя Шорохова (Air-brush): футболки, майки, люди, кофты и свитера, для мужчин, фантазийные сюжеты. [online] Available at: [Accessed 15 Mar. 2017].

Colossal. (2017). A Giant Illuminated ‘Castle in the Sky’ Ship Built for the Studio Ghibli Exhibition in Tokyo. [online] Available at: [Accessed 15 Mar. 2017].

Floating City Maya Assets

Group Members : Jack Ellison, Erin Morrow, Michael Lilley (Links to blogs below)

Once we had decided to divide our city model into four sections, including the bottom mechanical part which will work to keep the city afloat, we began to model some small assets in maya which could be used in each area, such as windows, building blocks, tower blocks, trees and lamps etc.

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We decided upon which sections each of us would start building for, I was assigned the top section which is the modern part of Belfast, (mainly 2000’s onwards).

As we have decided to model the city in a low poly style, I tried keeping my assets low in detail/tried maintaining lower divisions. We took inspiration from the images below.

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Group member blog links

Erin Morrow –

Jack Ellison –

Michael Lilley –


Floating City-Conceptual Development

As our floating city will be floating mid-air we had to think about how it’s surroundings would look. We thought of a few ideas which might fit our ideas of the city colour scheme, but in the end decided that to keep it quite dull and ‘foggy’ was the best route to go due to the weather here, low visibility at times and the ‘dirty’ atmosphere in general.

Whilst painting some variations of backdrops, we had thought that a dark background would bring out the lights of the city better. After learning that less lights would quicken the rendering time, we could no longer include the lights we had originally planned, so therefore our overall finished look had to be altered.

I painted some variations of backdrops but we decided to stick with the dull brownish hints.

Trying for more realistic
Darker Blue

Our final choice felt more natural with the floating city model we had in mind. You can see some Irish fields below the clouds with the sunny horizon in the middle. As a group we felt this would work best with the industrial feel of our city.


I have been making some rough sketches of possible floating city shapes in my sketchbook, images shown below.


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Some initial ideas we jotted down as a group for the overall structure of the city. (above)

Below are a few very quick colour concepts I did in photoshop.



The photo-mash above was a quick concept I did in photoshop to convey our idea of how the model might look.

Colour palettes

As a team we looked a bit into colour palettes for the main textures of Belfast’s building. There is an online site name CSS drive (link here) which generates colour palettes from an uploaded image or url. Although the colour we used were not directly taken from this palette it did give 1800s and 1960’s sections of our floating city something to go by.

citybelfastImage Courtesy – Belfast City

From the image aScreen Shot 2017-03-15 at 18.52.46bove the colour palette below was generated, thus giving Erinn and Michael the idea of keeping the 1800’s and 1960’s sections with neutral tones such as muted oranges, blues and creams.

For the base, Jack had decided to go for a steampunk vibe, mainly using golds and rustic colours.

The top section I am working on will have a little more variation in colour to show Belfast’s growth, excitement and change. I will have more vibrant blues, creams and browns. I haven’t taken colour from an image for this section.

I came across an amazing sculptor, Jeroen Van Kesteren, who creates cardboard airships which are packed full of detail and originality. I originally thought that this level of detail would be amazing to have at the top section of the city as we could have power cables linking the buildings together to show better communication, have plenty of buildings tall and small clustered together with motorways below this. But time and low poly styling were an issue so the more minimalistic approach was the way forward.

airship1airship2airship4airship3Image Courtesy – kesteren

Floating City Conceptual Research

There are many great ideas circulating the internet when it comes to floating cities. Below I have included some interesting pieces of concept art I have come across which I feel relate to our chosen city of Belfast. Since our group is focusing on the growth of the city from around the 1960’s up until the present day, with possibilities of including forecasted growth statistics, I thought it would be a good idea to focus on the grittier/industrial feel.


I felt the above image had a good representation of what the ‘underworld’ of Belfast could possible look like. Since it’s foundations grew enormously due to having the largest shipyard in the early 20th century-the ropes which are connecting this floating city to the ground seem notable. INCLUDE HERE REFERENCE TO SOMEHTING YOU READ OR WATCHED BRING IT IN AND DISCUSS.


The image above is another good example of industrial growth, with the heights that it is reaching.

Below is a slideshow of a few other images I have gathered which fall into how I would visual a 3D representation of what a floating city of Belfast could be likened to.

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I really loved this image below. As soon as I seen it a great idea for a camera angles in Maya came into my mind. Although it may be difficult to do with the limited knowledge we may have as a team this far into our journey-it still might be worth a go (depending on our design). Even so, it’s always something to try in the future.



Bibliography /Sources

All images shown have been found on

Pinterest. (2017). [online] Pinterest. Available at: [Accessed 20 Feb. 2017].

Belfast since the 1800’s

Belfast’s Role in the Industrial Revolution

In the 1800’s

As we were given a new project to create a floating city based on Belfast, research into its history is a must. After reading on Belfast’s past I was reminded of how the industrial revolution had made a major impact on the town, thus awarding it city status by Queen Victoria in 1888.

tabaoImage Courtesy – BelfastLive

“The Industrial Revolution was the transition to new manufacturing processes in the period from about 1760 to sometime between 1820 and 1840.” – wikipedia

I found it interesting to discover from my teammate Erin that a river runs beneath the city streets. I looked more into this and discovered that the Farset River primarily runs beneath High Street. It was the river that ships had once docked and today in its place, the Albert Clock stands.

q4Image Courtesy – KatieBrownDesigns

Linen production, tobacco processing, rope making, engineering and also ship building (one of the largest in the world at the time) – all helped with Belfast’s industrial and economic growth. As Belfast was once the world’s largest linen-producing areas it was nicknamed linenopolis. The heavy industrial company Harland and Wolff specialised in shipbuilding and offshore construction. They brought a lot of economic growth to the city and are famous for having built ships such as RMS Titanic, RMS Olympic, RMS Britannic, the Royal Navy’s HMS Belfast and P&O’s Canberra etc… Their ship building cranes are still situated at Queen’s Island, Belfast. These famous cranes are called Samson and Goliath and are still the biggest free-standing cranes anywhere in the world. Thus being classified as official historical monuments.

hw.jpgImage Courtesy – keywordsuggest

When looking at the industrial success Belfast had gained due to the revolution, how have things changed/developed since then? It is obvious that due to the civil unrest of the troubles in the 1960’s; Belfast’s success declined dramatically. More than 100,000 manufacturing jobs have been lost since the 70’s. (Old postcard of the shipping docks, below)

q6Image Courtesy –

Since the port was a major part of Belfast’s growth, I will look into other areas which can come into play in relation to the port, whether it be now or in the future. I came across a great PDF document which was written in 2016 and details plans for the growth of the harbour; it is named the ‘Port Master Plan: 20-30 Year Period’. Link for download included here. There are some interesting factors in the document and have opened up more possibilities as to where other statistical research can be done next.

Below is a screenshot of Belfast’s Harbour Annual report which shows the collected statistics of its trade in 2015.

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When thinking of our initial ideas for how to represent certain statistics, we have been thinking of building various tiers of time periods of Belfast. This industrial growth is important to show, whether it be in the 1800’s, 1970’s or 2000’s.

In the 1960’s

The troubles in Belfast had serious impacts on production and growth within the city. The infrastructure was affected as well as the population rate. I have done some research into statistics for this time period as it can’t be over-looked when looking into Belfast’s past.

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As Belfast was in turmoil during this period we have decided to depict this part of the city being much smaller, less vibrant in colour with buildings that are falling apart. Michael will mainly be working on this part of the city. Whilst keeping a minimalistic look we still hope to portray the decaying nature of these times through the modelling/lighting.



Whilst researching into Belfasts past we found a few other interesting facts which were quite interesting. On Great Victoria Street, the cities smallest house can be found, measuring 3 meters wide, it is no longer occupied as it has been demolished to make way for new parking facilities. Belfast also contains 3,000 acres of parks, many of them forested. We are hoping to include a mini forested area in our model to represent this bio-diversity within the city.

Modern Belfast

Belfast has quite a lot of modern architecture so I choose some of the main attractions to model in low poly. Amongst these is the Victoria Square dome, the Boat Building, The Mac, the Titanic Quarter Museum and the City Hospital. Below are some photographs of the buildings I choose to model from the city.

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When thinking of working on the modern part of Belfast we have decided to make it a little more colourful than the lower sections as to show growth and development within the city. Many of these modern buildings are good examples of fantastic artistic achievement and have brought more tourism and culture to Belfast. Height and connections should also be another factor when thinking of design.

References (2017). Statistics of Deaths in the Troubles in Ireland. [online] Available at: [Accessed 12 Mar. 2017] (2017). Cite a Website – Cite This For Me. [online] Available at: [Accessed 12 Mar. 2017].

Culture Northern Ireland. (2017). Industry and Commerce in Belfast. [online] Available at: [Accessed 15 Mar. 2017]. (2017). Economy of Belfast. [online] Available at: [Accessed 15 Mar. 2017]. (2017). NISRA – Commerce Energy and Industry Statistics. [online] Available at: [Accessed 15 Mar. 2017].