Golden Shell - Wooden Sculpture

I recently stumbled across this 1994 sculpture by William Hunter in the Luce Foundation Center for American Art, and I think it’s intriguing.

Now I want to model it. It will be a challenge for me, but I’m thinking I’ll start with a UV sphere, rotate one of the poles about the z-axis with smooth proportional editing fall-off so the grooves will be spiral-ish, and after that I’m lost as to how I should proceed.

Help please?

[Note, the image below is a reference image, not anything to say “good job” about yet. . .]

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First rendering:

  • Missing the actual shape of the sculpture, just testing the groove-pattern and material
  • Too few grooves
  • Grooves are running the wrong way (counter-clockwise instead of clock-wise)
  • Specularity should be softer
  • Need more lights
  • Color is too dark
  • Wood texture is too pronounced

Does anybody know how to get the lighting effect in the reference image where the surface is darker when the surface normal is aligned with (or directly facing) the camera than when the surface is not aligned with the observer? Or is that just a random discoloration of the wood?

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Second rendering:

  • It’s close (sort of) but I don’t feel it’s true to the sense of motion evoked by the original piece, probably time to start over.
  • I’ve also had trouble getting the material right. . . ideas anyone?
  • I’ve also had a lot of trouble with the geometry around the poles, right now I’m just selecting the edge loops there and merging them to make the caps. . . probably not the best way to do that

[also, the renderings were done using the Blender internal renderer on a year-old netbook in just over a minute each. . . pretty awesome really]

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If you want to achieve the effect you mention with the lights, you may wish to try set a fairly high “translucency” to the material (IMO this is a very misleading name), put an area light on either side of the piece and a darker one behind it, but nothing that will reflect directly onto the camera…