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 The Bridge Crane
Gone to Lunch The Bridge Crane
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The Bridge Crane is an architectural concept exploring the idea of industrial shapes painted in large amounts of concrete and metal. While looking for inspiration and reference I came across some pictures of a Russian Aluminium Processing Plant and it gave me a good understanding of the scale I wanted to create. Russian architecture often feels (to me) that it works on a Communist Scale, where everything is over-sized and feels larger than life. Three images in particular caught my eye and they made me realize how detailed and chaotic these places really can be.

Communist Scale Sir Pipe Alot
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I strongly believe that the secret to any good scene is a well placed central object that can act as the focal point for the viewers attention. I knew I wanted to create a large space with multiple floors and I needed something that could bridge the gap (so to speak) between the two sides of the environment. I remember watching a documentary about CERN and how they transported parts of the large hadron collider down a mine shaft and I thought that would be the perfect central object, a bridge crane which I could apply Communist Scale too at the same time.

Long way round Wonky Steps
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The central theme for the crane was to have all of the mechanics highly visible and that it looked interesting from different angles. I started with a giant set of wheels running along a central track and then attached a daddy long leg style frame on either side supporting a large cable box below. The crane needed to be able to access multiple locations (pickup points) around the environment and two large metal / concrete trolleys were built on either end with Communist Scale wheels. This naturally led to the inclusion of two large parallel wheel tracks and the trolleys being hollowed out in the middle to provide additional access around the crane.

Big Wheeler Cable Hook
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With the basic shape and scale of the crane established I could finally start building the rest of the room. One of the main reasons for starting this project was to see how a new photo sourced texture set (which I had initially created for a friend) would work out on actual architectural shapes. With my new industrial materials I quickly created some lego style support girders from model prefabs and then carved the floor and walls around the crane from concrete and metal panels.

Scissor Lift Up and Under
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With the room dressed in concrete and metal panels and the roof supported by a crisscross of girders the scene was finally taking shape. The original plan was to have the crane in one fixed location, but I was curious and tested the crane in different positions. Unfortunately I discovered that there was not enough space for the crane to pick up cargo from the top platform. At this point I had two options, either re-arrange the room and lose the current layout (which was a good scale) or create something that could lift the cargo to the crane instead!

After some image searching I found the idea of a scissor lift and knew it would be perfect for the job. I tested the lift in an open and closed position to make sure it was the right scale and then discovered one problem, the mechanics were hidden from view in the floor. I also wanted a maintenance connection to the bottom of the scissor lift but the floor space was limited. After much cutting of the floor I decided it would be better to expose the bottom of the scissor lift to the central shaft solving the maintenance and hidden mechanic problems at the same time.

The Shortcut Low Maintenance Access
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With most of the basic blocks in place it was time to start adding flavour to the environment. Detailing can usually be split into two types, stuff that fills up empty spaces and stuff that shows character. The first category of detail is usually object models like pipes, crates, barrels and railings and can easily be scattered around the place like litter. The second type of detail is more time consuming because it is wear and tear and environmental story telling. It is trying to show character and history to a place, like the bending of a railing due to a previous accident or the creation of a shortcut (The left image above) because people don't always want to go the long way round.

Cabin Fever Long Way Down
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With so much time spent detailing the rest of the room the central shaft was left to last. I always wanted the centre to be filled with fog but I did not want the usual solid fog effect where the top edge is well defined. So I decided to alpha blend the walls with the colour of the fog instead and it created a lovely effect where the fog is thicker at the sides giving the illusion of a gradual density downwards. The final touch was to add more maintenance levels further down and wave the magic pipe wand across the lower walls to create interesting shadows and shape outlines.

Agent Orange Toxic Green
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I believe the Bridge Crane concept turned out better than I expected and this was partly due to feedback from various forums and friends giving me their impressions and advice. There was certainly plenty of moments when I thought the feedback was wrong, but when you hear the same comment from many different sources it starts to make sense.

One thing that I did notice in many images of real life factories is how bright the environmental can be with strong use of colour to indicator either hazards or functions. I did experiment with different base colours, but eventually I decided on the blue because it reminded me of playing the game SIN for hours on end which also inspired me to make my own SP experience called Freeport Docks. I also have released all of the textures, so hopefully others can have as much fun as I did creating Communist Scale industrial architecture.

Architectural Concepts -
The Bridge Crane -
Florentine Library -
Shape and Form -
Single Player Maps -
Edge of Forever -
Freeport Docks -
Midnight Stalker -
Backsteingotik -
The Ivory Tower -
The Horde of Zendar -
Metal Monstrosity -
Castle Kaahoo -
One Thousand Cuts -
Fallen From Grace -
Single Player Mods -
In the Shadows -
Arcane Dimensions -
AD Only Maps -
Arcane Adamantine -
Arcane Monstrosity -
Firetop Mountain -
Forgotten Sepulcher -
Grendels' Blade -
Nyarlathoteps Castle -
Obsessive Bricks -
Ogre Fortress (e2m2) -
Slipgate Conundrum -
Tenacious Tentacle -
The City of Zendar -
Multi Player Maps -
Focal Point (QuakeLive) -
Pyramid of the Magician -
Mystic Gemini -
Si'Metrik -
Chiroptera -
Indie Games -
Flipper -
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