Bark Skin Redux

After a hiatus to get the fall term started, I finally had a chance to revisit the longhouse asset.

I wasn’t happy with the previous approach to the bark skin. The sheets were placed too haphazardly, due to random point placement in the digital asset. Looking at photos of reconstructions, it seemed to me that the placement should be more regular.

To recap, here’s what the original placement of bark ‘skin’ sheets looked like:

No rhyme or reason to the placement.

In aiming to make the pattern more regular, the easy part was to deal with the long parallel walls. It was relatively straightforward to lay out rows of sheets with some minor variations:

This works much better, although as you can see I’m starting to have a problem with sheets clipping through their neighbours. This problem is most apparent where the sheets start to curve more sharply approaching the roof. I’ll have to revisit and refine this.

Continuing this pattern along the rounded vestibule structures at each end proved to be much more challenging. The question of how to efficiently cover a spherical form with rectangular shapes is a non-trivial one, as cartographers mapping the globe and kindergarteners working with papier-maché both know!

I wrestled with this for a long time before realizing that my problem was that I was trying to think too procedurally. What I needed to do was to take a slightly more hands-on approach and divide each vestibule quadrant up into sections which I could treat individually. A single algorithm wouldn’t work well for the entire area.

Here’s how I ended up dividing the quadrant into smaller, more manageable sections:

As you can see, giving each section a set of parallel “ribs” makes it much easier to analyze how the bark sheets should be laid out to efficiently cover this irregular form. Hindsight is 20/20, and now I wish I’d thought to take this approach much earlier!

There is still some refinement needed, as certain dimensions of the structure can produce some unwanted results, such as “ribs” at the edge of one section sitting too close to those from the next section. But as a starting point, I’m quite happy with this.

Here’s how it looks with the bark sheets laid out according to these new patterns:

This looks to me much more like a structure built by careful and thoughtful human engineers–rather than a dumb machine throwing random points around!

Again, there are some problem areas that will need to be addressed (like the centerline, and the top of the roof). There is also still the problem of some sheets clipping through their neighbours. But I feel that these are solvable problems and the base approach here is a solid one.

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