Category: Art

Current progress: Roughing out of the hull sections has been completed. That was both much easier and quicker than I had anticipated. I need to do a bit of tweaking where the geometry is rough, primarily on prow and stern, both of which, as opposed to the rest of the hull, were somewhat more difficult shapes to model than expected. I also reworked the gunnels resulting in a much better fit. It would probably be more correct to refer to these as frame stringers. Almost identical parts will sit atop of them; these additional parts will be the gunnels.

Click on the image below for a full-size view.

Anyway; the hardest parts of the project, the basic frame and hull are complete. Everything else will be relatively easy, but time consuming. Joining the hull sections into a unified whole, and then thickening the surface so that “bump”, a 3D texture or roughness, can be assigned to it. While inner birch bark is fairly smooth, there is always natural variation in thickness and bumpiness resulting from the lenticels (slit-like pores).

A second instance of the hull will be necessary for the texture of the inside of the canoe. The last task will be to make the ribs, thwarts (cross pieces), and a few odds and ends.

Here’s a test render in DAZ Bryce to see what the model in its current state looks like in the wild. It floats!

Click on the image for a full-size view.

Next time: more tweaking of the geometry and birch bark and wood textures.


A 3D rendering of a Viking shield along with a battle ax and spear hanging on a rough wooden plank surface, perhaps the interior wall of a longhouse. The shield is decorated with a black raven (Corvus corax) painted on red leather.

There are many misconceptions about the Vikings. For example, no horned Viking helmet has ever been found. Such a helmet would have endangered the wearer in combat. And dragon-headed ships were rare. Only one has ever been found. The dragon head did not survive, but the ship is decorated in such a way to suggest there was probably a detachable head.

The stereotypes and cliches began with German Romanticism in the 18th and 19th centuries. The actual Vikings, or Norse, were much more interesting. Even the word “viking” did not denote a people, but a profession. The Norse would “go a Viking”; to sail in search of lands to settle, trade opportunities; and, if commercial conditions were not good, to steal anything that was not nailed down.

Here I’ve rendered a Viking axe and spear, along with a shield, hanging on an interior wall of a longhouse. Click on the image for a full-sized view.

Methods and materials used in the construction of Viking shields varied with place and time. This reconstruction is based on known examples. Norse shields, in contrast to those made by other groups were often made from relatively soft woods such as poplar and birch. Intentional or otherwise, this helped the shield absorb blow without failing. And, instead of a solid piece of wood, horizontal planks were joined – as is indicated by the bolt heads seen on the front of the shield – to prevent spitting along the grain. Metal for shield rims was difficult and expensive for early viking Age inhabitants of Scandinavia to obtain as they had to rely upon bog iron. As a result, to further reduce the possibility of damage the face of the shield was often covered by leather and a leather rim strip was added. Both absorbed blows, protecting the underlying wood. The bowl-shaped metal boss in the center protected the warrior’s hand.

As usual, you can find a number of variations of this image, appearing on various backgrounds, at one of my Zazzle stores.

Despite being partial to kayaks I have wanted to build a birch bark canoe for many years. I also would like to build a traditional skin-on-frame kayak as well. Any way for a number of reasons I’ve never gotten around to it. Now however, I have begun building a virtual canoe; with my computer. Once done, it can be used as an element in my art.

There are several styles of canoe; different tribes had their own traditions and construction methods. I have chosen an old Algonquian style as seen in the photo below:

algonquian birch bark canoe

An Traditional Algonquian Birch BArk Canoe

I am following this plan as a guide:

3-view plan of an algonquian canoe

Algonquian Canoe Plan

You can see the three views of the plan, with inverted colors, in the screen shot of the 3d modeler, called Art Of Illusion, below. To be as authentic as possible I am going about this “the hard way”, modeling each part, thwarts, ribs, etc., individually. The colors of the elements are a temporary measure to aid visualization. Wood and bark textures will be added once the model is finished. The red curves are the gunnels, though I think they are not quite wide enough and will probably redo them. Blue, green, and yellow are parts of the hull.

3d birchbark canoe model under construction

3D Canoe Model In Art Of Illusion

I will post updates as the model progresses; and then a textured render of the finished model. After that I want to model a few birch bark items, bowls and baskets; and then that kayak.

A Snowy Owl (Bubo scandiacus) on a wintery, gray day

female snowy owl (bubo scandiacus)

A Female Snowy Owl

The Snowy Owl is endemic to the Arctic regions of North America and Eurasia. Males are almost pure white, while females, as in this image, have more dark flecks and bars in their plumage. The feathers of juveniles are heavily barred and may be primarily dark.

Snowy Owls are ground nesters. Unlike most owls which are most active at night, the Snowy Owl hunts during the day, especially during the summer. They subsist of rodents ad waterfowl; and will eat carrion when available.

A modified Mandelbulb 3d fractal which reminds me of the Idaho panhandle. There is only 1 fractal in this image. The second and third hills are merely copies of the first; the image was reversed for the second hill. Adjusting the color balance toward the blue and the addition of “fog” gives a sense of depth.

green hills of earth

The Green Hills of Earth

An icy moon orbits a frozen world. You can decide which is which.

mandelbulb 3d fractal landscape example

An Icy Moon in Orbit Around a Frozen Planet

The mountains in the image above are merely a rendered 3D fractal. If you are not familiar with fractals they are never-ending patterns, infinitely complex patterns that are self-similar across different scales. In other words, as you enlarge a fractal you will see the same, or very similar pattern emerge repeatedly ad infinitum as you enlarge the original fractal. This is called expanding symmetry or evolving symmetry. You are already familiar with fractal patterns, the natural world is full of them. Take a tree, as a simple example. The pattern of the trunk and branches and secondary branches is repeated as you move to the scale of branches, secondary branches and twigs. Another example would be the tiny rivulets of rain or melting snow water running onto successively larger flows until they are a large river emptying into a sea. Physical laws dictate that flowing water moves in similar ways at all scales. The same thing is true for coastlines at any scale; similar patterns reappear over and over and over as you look at ever smaller scales. As a result it is practically impossible to actually measure the exact length of a coastline.

The math behind fractals is very complicated, and I don’t understand it anywhere well enough to explain it. Even the experts are not in complete agreement as to how they should be defines. Even Benoit Mandelbrot, who is generally credited with developing the modern idea of self-similarity, fractals, in nature, once characterized them as, “beautiful, damn hard, increasingly useful. That’s fractals.” If you want to impress people at a party with how smart you are repeat Mandelbrot’s 1982 definition: “A fractal is by definition a set for which the Hausdorff-Bescovitch dimension strictly exceeds the topological dimension.”

So, enough with the heavy-duty science. You can find much more about the science of fractals on the Internet. I generally think of fractals as coming in 2D and 3D varieties. I do some work with both types, examples of which have appeared on this blog. 2D fractals are generally backgrounds or some other element; with the 3D fractals often being the mountainous terrain generated by various software packages.

Abstract, 2D fractals can be generated by a computer calculating a simple equation over and over. Here are a few examples, all made with the Apophysis fractal generator:

multicolor apophysis fractal


swirling, multi-colored apophysis fractal

Gravitational Blueshift

orange and green apophysis fractal with a starry background

Quantum Entanglement

multi-colored apophysis fractal

Structural Iridescence

Then there are 3D fractals. I used a free software package called Mandelbulb to create the examples in this post.

This is a very simple one in which the 3D nature is evident:

simple mandelbulb 3d cube fractal

Simple 3D Cube-Style Fractal

Of course, 3D fractals can be much more involved:

blue mandelbulb 3d fractal

A Blue Hatch, A Red Atmosphere

red-toned mandelbulb 3d fractal

Alien War Helmet

And one I like very much – a habitat on a rocky moon or asteroid. The fractal reminded me of the cartoon-like atmosphere of some of the stories by the great Polish science fiction writer Stanislaw Lem, author of Solaris, The Cyberiad, Tales of Pirx the Pilot, and many others. I added a few elements to complete the scene including a spaceship Pirx would have been proud to fly.

modified mandelbulb 3d fractal in memory of stanislaw lem

Stanislaw Lem Station

Science and art! Cool, eh? You can do this too.

An Aeroflot Tupolev (Туполев) Tu-104 passenger jet in flight over a foggy, forested, winter landscape. The Tupolev design bureau logo appears at lower left.

Туполев Ту=104

Tupolev Tu-104 Camel

The Tu-104 (NATO assigned the reporting word CAMEL to this aircraft) was the second jet airliner to enter service, the British de Havilland Comet having been the first. It was the sole jetliner in service from 1956-58, when the Comet was grounded after a number of crashes. The Tu-104 carried over 90 million passengers during its service life with Aeroflot (then the world’s largest airline). The aircraft was retired in 1986.

A number of Tu-104s of various types were used for special applications, including weather research, and as a “vomit comet” reduced-gravity aircraft to parabolic flights allowing cosmonauts to experience short periods of zero gee.

Aeroflot’s need for a modern aircraft with greater capacity and performance than the piston-engine aircraft it then operated by modifying the Tu-16 Badger bomber. The wings, engines, and tail surfaces of the Tu-16 were retained with the airliner, but the new design adopted a wider, pressurized fuselage designed to accommodate 50 passengers. The glazed, bombardier nose of the Tu-16 was also retained, giving the Tu-104 a distinctly military look.

The interiors of Tu-104s built early on were said to resemble Victorian Pullman cars with ornate chandeliers, overstuffed seats, brass serving trays, and chain-flush toilets. But the aircraft, overnight transformed Aeroflot from a lowly-regarded, primarily domestic line, into a major international presence. Those Tu-104s I flew on had a much more utilitarian interior.

Puppy Ray is a ray tracing filter included in recent versions of Project Dogwaffle. It can run in the graphics processing unit (GPU) of a computer. I have recently acquired a new machine which allows me to better utilize the GPU. Here are my first two experiments running Puppy Ray in the GPU.

The first is a night scene. I have a particular liking for such images perhaps because I have spent so much time living in northern latitudes where winter nights are so long. I also like the bluish cast common to snowy scenes and the contrast between dark and light. And the lack of illumination can make successfully putting together a pleasing image can be a challenge.

Then one when the sun is up, fjords. Water planes processed in Puppy Ray are semi-transparent, allowing for more realistic rendering; i.e. you can see down into the water. The refraction index of the water as well as wave height and frequency can also be fine-tuned.

Click on the image for a full-sized view.

I have long joked that I am going to form an organization to be called “Chickens Unlimited,” modeled on Ducks Unlimited, dedicated to the preservation of domestic poultry. Chickens Unlimited’s first priority would be the construction of new coops for my flocks of chickens. Yearly memberships would be available; you could even adopt a particular hen, or rooster, and receive a photo of “your” bird and occasional updates about their life.

The Bitcoin and Ethereum digital currencies, aka cryptocurrencies, are probably the best known applications of the blockchain secure, distributed ledger. Issuance of a new digital currency, via an ICO (initial coin offering) is now a common method of raising initial funding for business startups. The value of digital currencies fluctuate greatly. Buy the right coin and you can make a mint.

Cryptocurrencies, as they are digital, usually only exist in cyberspace; however, physical coins do exist. Here is a photo of physical Bitcoins.

phyical bitcoins

Physical Bitcoins

Great news! Chickens Unlimited lives! Here’s your chance to get in on the ground floor. Don’t miss out on the hottest ICO in some time. The KatkaKoin is now available. Build you own digital nest egg.

katkakoin digital currency issued by chickens unlimited

KatkaKoin Cryptocurrency – Chickens Unlimited

Notice that Bitcoin’s circuit board motif has been replaced in KatkaKoin by more appropriate chicken wire (poultry netting). The title KatkaKoin was chosen for Katka Mountain Road in northern Idaho where my homestead is located.

Here’s my latest experiment in combining the best features of Howler and DAZ Bryce. An arctic coastline, perhaps Greenland; with the familiar Flying Moose Aviation de Havilland Otter to indicate scale.

The mountains were rendered in Howler. I really like the degree of control one has in developing the texture, or image map, afforded by the use of an image editor such as Howler. Howler’s 3D Designer has two adjustable light sources which can be of different colors, typically orange and blue shades, resulting in very realistic lighting.

The seaside rocks and water surface were rendered in Bryce. I was not 100 percent successful in integrating the two images; a bit of tinkering will be required the next time to improve the results. This image is a study or sorts; I want to make a similar scene depicting the houses typical of coastal Greenland with a whale breaching in the foreground, and improved floating ice.

Click on the image for a full-size view.