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WIP Critique Pompeii Garden

Discussion in 'vBench (Works in Progress)' started by Ferris, Feb 9, 2017.

  1. Ferris A Fixture

    Hi All,

    Here's the start of a project I have long dreamed of doing.
    I am fascinated by Pompeii and the view it gives into daily life of the Romans. It is almost like a time capsule and, when wandering the streets of the archealogical site and with a bit of imagination, one can almost see and hear Romans going about their business.

    I am not the first to be fascinated like this; in the 19th century, when extensive scientific excavations were done at the Pompeii site, the public and a range of artists was similarly inspired. This resulted in numerous well-known depictions of roman life in drawings and paintings, which were in popular demand. Many of these are now considered 'romantic', showing idealized or stereotypical depictions and should not be considered as scientific reference.

    However, one painter stood out and that was Lawrence Alma-Tadema.
    Dutch-born, but more at home in England, he took extreme care to make his paintings historically accurate. Where others interpreted references rather loosely, filling in gaps with imagination, he took his examples from collected artifacts and careful study of museum pieces and the historical site itself. On top of this, he was an extremely skilled painter. Today, high prices are paid for his work.

    While thinking about doing a figure in a Pompeii setting I realized I was as much in awe with Alma-Tadema's work as with Pompeii itself and in the project that I am starting here I seek to capture the spirit of both: Pompeii and Alma-Tadema's paintings.

    Here are some examples of his work:


    Attached Files:

    MCPWilk, rossbach, Kaws and 10 others like this.
  2. Ferris A Fixture

    So that was the idea.
    Next was realization and that is where reality kicked in.....
    I wanted to make a small vignette showing part of a house in Pompeii, a figure, and the whole thing to look like an Alma-Tadema painting, but did not really have a concrete example that I could copy in 3D. I also did not have a specific figure in mind.
    One thing that was clear that it would have to be a civilian figure.
    Another thing was that the house would have to be scratch-built.

    I am an awfully slow modeller, and I did not dare to start a WIP thread to report my progress for fear of updates coming in way too slow.
    I start it now because I have advanced roughly half way through the project (I think/hope), and finally have a clear picture of where I want to go. At this time I can also still adapt to any feedback, so feel free to comment.

    So, after a long introduction, this is the rough outline of the vignette. I'll go into the details in the next update.


    Attached Files:

  3. Edward A Fixture

    Great start - I look forward to seeing more. I find Alma-Tadema inspiring as well and have planned to do some Adriano Laruccia Roman figures with groundwork inspired by this artist.

    By the way, I saw this animation of Pompeii on Reddit the other day:
    Viking Bob, Ferris and 1969 like this.
  4. swralph A Fixture

    Looking forward to seeing more of this Adrian:).
    Ferris likes this.
  5. Rich Sculpts A Fixture

    Should be an interesting project to follow Adrian - great start on the base work! :)

    Ferris likes this.
  6. ausf Active Member

    I'll be watching and learning.
    Ferris likes this.
  7. Oda A Fixture

    What a fascinating project!I love Alma -Tadema too.I love your idea and so far it looks like you are on your way to producing something unique.Being an extremely slow modeller myself I can relate to what you are saying.I will follow this with the utmost interest!!!!!!

    Ferris likes this.
  8. Borek A Fixture

    Great start Adrian. My curiosity is waking up ... ;)

    Cheers Borek
    Ferris likes this.
  9. tomifune A Fixture

    Super project and good luck on it. You know how I love Roman history. Don't worry about the time lapse. There have been multiple projects on here that have taken years. The fun is in the working of it.

    Ferris likes this.
  10. 1969 A Fixture

    What great Idea Adrian, building section looks fantastic so far, looking forward to seeing more of this one.
    Ferris likes this.
  11. fermatgom Well-Known Member

    You have caught my attention!! As a lover of roman period I will follow this with interest!
    Ferris likes this.
  12. Ferris A Fixture

    Thanks all for your enthusiasm!

    Here is some info on the materials for the house.

    So first job was to think about the overall setup and composition. I wanted to depict part of a roman house, but the whole thing had to fit on a relatively small base. Then I wanted both interior and part of a garden. After a lot of sketching and playing around with mockups I settled on the composition as in the pictures, with a small bench in the corner of a garden, where a collonade ends in a wall.

    It's tempting to place the back wall paralel to the sides of the base, for ease of construction, but I wanted a slight tilt of the scene. It's one of those 'rules' for dioramas that things should never be paralel to the edges of the base. verlinden already learned that from his ancestors.
    I'm all for breaking such rules, but it this case it was needed to show both the collonade and the wall, and keep the focus on the figure. This slight rotation of the scene did however make construction a lot more complicated, as every part now had slanted edges and alignment became difficult to measure. But that's just how things go....it's always trickier than you thought....

    Having settled the composition and basic dimensions, I had to chose materials. I ended up using a variety.

    The main structure is balsa foam. It's the first time I have used it and, to quote the new US President: It's great! It's absolutely great! It is firm, without grain and soft enough to scrape, sand or saw easily. I had to sand off a pretty big part of the main wall (whee it intersected the base outline) and balsa foam is just to right material to do that with. It's not cheap though. To seal the material (it is like a sponge to paint) I covered it in a mix of plaster, water and white glue. This gives a nice surface for paint.

    I also used foamboard. This is sold laminated between layers of cardboard that can be soaked off with water. The foam is cheap, very light and is nice for building up bulk without adding a lot of weigth. It can also be textured with a scalpel or toothpick, although not as nicely as balsa foam.

    I thickened my balsa foam wall with one layer of foam to make the wall less flimsy. Such mating of material was not a good idea ot turned out, because both materials behaved differently during sanding. The only way to get rid of the seam was to putty it away with plaster. It would have been better to do the whole wall with laminated balsa foam, but experience always comes after the job. Never mind, it worked.

    I wanted to keep the main substructures separate for ease of painting. The plan was to go for elaborate frescos and the freehand painting to imitate that required all areas to be flat and reachable by brush. Although that would make painting easier, it would complicate final assembly, because everything then has to fit perfectly, as there is no more opportunity for filling big seams and sanding. To make a long story short: it took me a long time to get everything to fit and align properly, particularly the roof of the collonade.

    The pictures below show the different materials used and the general layout in more detail.

    Attached Files:

  13. Ferris A Fixture

    For the roof of the collonade I made a sandwich structure of balsa wood (not balsa foam this time), foamboard and plastic sheet. This part was particularly tricky to align with the base edges, because it is attached only to the back wall; with all subassemblies 'loose' ( I mean not yet firmly attached) everything keeps wobbling during test fitting. There's probably a better way to do this than I used I suppose....

    Attached Files:

  14. Joe55 A Fixture

    H0wdy Adrian, now what scale are you going for? Somehow I missed that.

    This will be fun to watch and will be helpful for many, certainly for me. Don't forget the potted plants :D!

    Borek and Ferris like this.
  15. megroot A Fixture

    I really like what you are doing Adrian.
    Gonna follow this with great interest.

    Ferris likes this.
  16. Ferris A Fixture

    Thanks Joe and Marc.

    Joe, the scale is 54mm and potted plants will not be forgotten!

    Borek and Joe55 like this.
  17. Osebor PlanetFigure Supporter

    You have all us expectants! Many of us will find an idea or two here...

    Ferris likes this.
  18. phil_h A Fixture

    Adrian, this is fantastic! The work done so far looks great, and I'm definitely looking forward to seeing the progress on this.

    Ferris likes this.
  19. Ferris A Fixture

    Thanks for your replies and likes guys, much appreciated!

    Still working on the house. Here's info on how I did the rooftiles.

    First some references:

    Attached Files:

  20. Ferris A Fixture

    It was hard to find good dimensions of roman rooftiles on the web. The pics above Are the main ones I used. The flat part was called a tegula, the rounded part the imbrex.
    It turned out dimensions actually varied quite a bit. Whatever the exact dimensions however, the tiles were relatively large compared to some modern ones.

    Another thing I needed to know was how exactly they were stacked. On many illustrations the imbrex is laid over the seam between two tegula, which is logical enough, but it is not made clear how the imbrex is laid over the higher lying one, one row higher. The higher part of the imbrex can be edged on the higher row of tegula, or the imbrex lies flat on his own row of tegula and extend over the lower lying row. I'm probably not using the right lingo; Hope you know what I mean. Anyway, the last two pictures show the latter option and that's the one I selected, as I also found this the best one during test-fitting.

    By this time you can rightly say I spend too much time on such details, but the idea was to stick to an Alma-Tadema-like approach to accuracy.
    Borek and Edward like this.

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