Knightsbury XIV - A Walk Through a Medieval Town (Blender + Unity3d)


(Manorial) #1

Hi All.

It is finally time to start a thread on this project - of which I have been talking about for a few months now. There is a lot to say, and still a lot to do, but we (Pitibonom - nickname here on Blenderartists - and my very self) are close to the end (at least, of the demo).

Knightsbury is a fictional English town of the XIV century. It is based on the study of a series of English cities of the period (i.e. Canterbury, from which many buildings have been used as reference images).
It will be possible to visit the town, and for now (talking about the demo version which will be released in September), a part of it: High Street, with its inns, taverns, rich houses and church; Blacksmiths’ Row, with the banging of hammers on anvils; Butchers’ Row, also knows as ‘The Shambles’, and its shops with hanging meat and beefs; Tanners’ Street, where animals’ skins are left out of tanneries to dry; Cloth Street, divided between cloth dyers, up north, and cloth sellers, located near High Street; and finally, a multitude of labyrinthine side-alleys so narrow that two men cannot walk there by each other. But since a town cannot be complete without people, it will be possible to stop by and look at people’s clothes and manners, and hear what they say: from jokes, greetings, news to sermons preached by friars at the crossroads and cries of shopkeepers.

The very question which made us embark onto this project is: what was it like to live in the past? What was it like to live in a medieval town? One thing is actually taking a stroll through the streets and look at the architecture, the other is combining this with an actual total immersion into the past. Therefore, panels with information will pop up to learn more about life in a city, as for example laws, codes, building techniques and so on, although a great deal of stuff will be learnt by simply observing what’s going on all around.

Obviously, a 100% accurate understanding of the past is far from possible; however, a thorough study of all the sources which the middle ages have left behind - from documents and poems to frescoes, illuminated manuscripts, manufactures and archaeological remains - can give us the elements which, if put together, can enlighten our understanding of those who shaped part of our life-style today.

Knightsbury XIV will be as accurate as possible. I personally study history and archaeology at the University of London, and have carried out a lot of research before even beginning the modelling part. Pitibonom is in love with history too, and his contribution to my understanding of many things has been way more than essential.
The great majority of things you will see or hear in the demo are historically accurate, however, a few mistakes will be undoubtedly present; this said, one of the amazing aspects of technology is that it permits us to make corrections without the minimum effort, so, when (hopefully) people more expert than me will point out mistakes etc., those will be corrected as soon as possible.
We are currently working on the website of Knigthsbury XIV, which will have an entire page dedicated to the bibliography and reference images used.

A few things about the making of: all models have been made in blender, and are low-poly, around 1000 faces per house. The textures were created in PS, re-working and putting together other textures taken from personal photos, CGtextures sites, and some awesome timber textures given to me by Doug Turner (3dMedieval here on BA), who has always believed in the project, has been incredibly helpful and whom I’ll never thank enough for his endless support.
Pitibonom, the true magician of the project, is putting together all the models in Unity3d, creating an awesome world which literally opens its gates and unravels its inner wonders.

Here are a couple of shots: the first one is a view of High Street (the main street near what will be WestGate) at dusk, and a row of rich townhouses that will be found further down on High Street.
The house with a hanging wounded arm belongs to a physician - note the elaborate composition of bricks (also found in the house of Edwin Wooller) and the bright colours used to paint the plaster; XIV century people advertised their professions through hanging signs, which were either three dimensional objects (a barrel for a brewery, scissors for a tailor, a wheel for a wheelwright and so on) or painted signs; surgeons and physicians either had a wounded arm (a wooden arm with a bloodied band) or exposed a bowl of blood out of their premise.

The demo will be released on Michaelmas (29th September) 2013. A presentational video will soon be posted.
Stay tuned!

Manorial and Pitibonom

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(3dmedieval) #2

I love it. I can’t wait to see it!


(Manorial) #3

Thanks! Can’t wait to release the video. Here are all the buildings (except for gatehouse, walls, towers and bridge) created so far. Many more to come!

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(3dmedieval) #4

Very nice! You don’t have to watermark little renders like that - there is no practical use for that sort of image. If you want to copyright the work, see here:

It isn’t a perfect system, but it is free, and will establish the date of the content’s creation with a postmark (you mail an envelope of related materials to yourself, but don’t open the letter). You could also use a notary, maybe across the envelope opening, showing that you didn’t stuff the envelope later.

Of course you can just put the copyright symbol on things, and that will tell people it isn’t intended for any sort of distribution or re-use.


(Manorial) #5

Cheers Doug, I used that system when I recorded an album with my band. Too poor to actually pay for a copyright haha. Anyway, here’s a preview of the House of Hugh Willoughby, wool merchant. It looks exactly like many other townhouses you will find in the town, except for the fact that this one house is fully explorable. Every single room will be visitable by the user, from the ‘office’ where Hugh deals carries out business, to the private bed chambers on the first and second floors.
Below you can see a pic (quick render with cycles, in unity there will be more light coming through the big unglazed window) of the smoky hall of the house, which, as you can see, is not covered by anything but the roof tiles. The whole in the roof (which you can also see from the outside) is there to let smoke out. Indeed, there’s a fire burning on an open hearth. On the right hand side you can see the gallery leading to the bedchambers upstairs. The house is still unfurnished. 4000 poly.

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(3dmedieval) #6

Looking very good!


(pitibonom) #7

I can’t wait to set this up in unity :smiley:
Light it, make an athmosphere, an ambient sound… only smells will not be there ( hopefully maybe :smiley: )

Very beautifull work Manorial !!


(XeroShadow) #8

I wonder if an actual castle will be in the demo. I’m personally trying to create a medieval town myself.


(HelloHiHola) #9

The critical thinking going into this is highly commendable. I appreciate you’re portraying the high-end part of town without a desire to romanticize it. At every point in time, there were people, comfortably placed, who thought ‘this is as good as it can get’ and it wasn’t a romantic view, it was reality.

As you do your research, have you found that there was ever grass inside the walls of the keep/city? Often, all I see is dirt and mud in portrayals. My thought is that the posh then, as now, fancied a recreation of nature as if to show they’ve harnessed nature; hedges, manicured lawns, flower gardens, peacocks in cages, a row of exotic trees etc. segregating the must-haves of life (farming at the time) from the trappings of a treasured life.

From the time of cavemen to Knightsbury to yesterday, it might well be a group of neighbors or a husband and wife sitting in their little slice of Earthly Heaven in front of a bar-b-que having a drink, and while their content is genuine and not romantic, the next hundred years will be unimaginably different and another couple will toast the same happiness in front of their fire.

Will your demo illustration of Knightsbury carry any sort of story arc? Your work so far is very exciting and really charging imaginations!


(hotzst) #10

It’s good to see, that it all comes together. Can’t wait for your demo


(Manorial) #11

Thank you all guys, I’m glad to see so many are showing interest in the project. First of all, I wanted to thank Hotzst, since he has always shown interest and support since my very first posts over a year ago.
Now, let’s answer the questions: yes, there will be a castle, the ‘old’ Norman keep built at the time of the conquest, but this will be present in the final version, not the demo. The demo will have the following visitable features: High Street with its rich houses, an inn and a tavern, shops, and a fully explorable merchant house; blacksmiths’ workshops, tanneries, cloth dyers and weavers, stables, butcheries, saddlers, tailors and shoemakers, all with their shops fully visitable, plus the town walls and the gatehouse.
The final version will be the entire town, with the cathedral, market place, hospital and friary, churches and castle (plus all the other shops etc.).

Second question: medieval English towns did not have public spaces such as parks; the only public spaces were streets, little openings, and the market place. This said, people certainly enjoyed some private spaces with grass and trees, but these were to be found in backyards; indeed, rich townhouses had little backyards, although these were often used for more practical things rather enjoying nature in our conception: plants and trees were grown for fruit and vegetables, and open spaces hosted pigsties and rubbish pits. People went to the open country side when they wanted to enjoy a walk in the fields, and every sunday they practised archery just by the city walls, in the open fields.
Medieval towns were very densely populated, and therefore people built houses everywhere possible within the city walls (that is why medieval streets are so irregular), at least until the XIV century. This is confirmed by medieval seals, paintings and manuscripts, which depict cities using two characteristics that recur very often: walls and high density of buildings - check out the attached image, from an early XV century English manuscript (online catalogue of the British Library).
This said, there will be an ‘open space’ in the yard of the Ol’ Oak Inn, on High Street, where travellers rest in the shadow of the big oak and sit on the nearby grass.

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(hotzst) #12

I always find it instructional that along with you models goes so much information about the background.
This also was an idea that I had for my game, to provide historical information along with the game.


(Manorial) #13

Hugh Willoughby’s house is finished and already integrated into Unity, so I moved on to the next step: creation of furniture. Here are some chests, stools, benches and wardrobes I have modelled so far. They are a WIP and there probably are things to fix in the structure etc. However, this is a preview to give you and idea of what the furniture of a rich man such as Hugh will look like in the demo. I have literally sacked the British Library online catalogue of medieval manuscripts searching for reference images. Luckily enough, I found dozens of them.
The frescoed chests would be a gift of Florentine merchants, large-scale buyers of English wool.

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(3dmedieval) #14

Nice to have FB chatted with you last night. I will download these pictures today and give you some feedback. via email, or maybe here, so others can benefit - I say benefit - I’m a professional furniture maker for those who don’t know, as well as a Medieval geek, so I do happen to know a great deal about this subject.

Here are some images (links to) of some Medieval style pieces I’ve made, which are faithful in construction and extremely sturdy:


(HelloHiHola) #15

You also have some beautiful ducks by the way. They look outstandingly happy! Sorry for the interruption (I help run a waterfowl farm).


(3dmedieval) #16

Oh, funny!. I took those pictures at a park in Atlanta. Not mine. I couldn’t resist. Very people friendly, so they just walked around as I was photographing the pieces. I started trying to get them in frame. I thought it helped with the Medieval vibe. I took some pictures on a stone bridge as well for the same reason.


(Manorial) #17

Tremendous stuff Doug, thanks!


(Manorial) #18

Some more furniture - quick renders (cycles).

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(Manorial) #19

More stuff on the dining table - very quick render. The human figure is a WIP townsman.

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(3dmedieval) #20

I’m sorry, I have not given you any feedback on the furniture. Super busy, and still busy. Quick crit - Gothic looking dining table (your post #18, bottom picture) looks great. Turn the wood grain to vertical on the legs, instead of side to side. That’s how it would have been made. I will try to get to this today. Feeling frazzled. Behind schedule…Wasting time at the moment. Just sent out some quotes and remembered I promised to have a look at this for you.

Here is a table (replica), but it show the wood grain direction.

http://www.earlyoakspecialists.co.uk/Main/Replica_Furniture/Tables_and_Cup_Boards/15thCenturyStyleTrestleTable/15thCenturyStyleOakTrestleTable.html