The Armillary Equation

Hello All,

Here is my very first project. I started this on June 17 of this year and just finished it a couple of days ago. I have been familiar with Blender for about 5 or so years but I only ever did some of the tutorials and played and experimented. I really never created anything meaningful until this project.
I decided to make an Armillary Sphere because of my love for Ancient Scientific Instruments. I studied thousands of armillarys, actually about 4500 different pictures. Then I studied how to use one. Then I did many rough sketches on paper before I was happy. Then I put it together.
This Sphere is a Functionally Accurate Demonstrational Armillary Sphere. Now if only I could rig it. I guess I’ll have to learn that later. Anyways, this was a Major Blender study for me. I leanred a tremendous amount just from the daily hands-on exercises that I created to learn certain parts of Blenders functionality.
My basic idea of this composition is that I have always equated an Armillary Sphere as a sort of a mathematical slide rule that can be used to complete complex calculations. This is only my theory, but, because no certain person or country can be attributed to its invention, the mystery leads to ones own interpretation. Though it is very useful for determining positions from the sky, I believe that it has a second mathematical use of which no one knows. If you look to the left of the picture, you will see a formula that some will recognise as the formula for the Golden Ratio. In case your eye can’t see it, I also alligned all 3 objects on the corners of the Golden Rectangle which also uses this very same formula. In addition, I created 2 different focal points. 1 focal point is the door which represents the unknow namely the answer of the Golden Ratio. If you notice, 2 of the ball feet are lined up directly with the door. The other focal point is alligned both to the door and the formula. This is supossed to trick the eye, but, I think I made it to subtle to see. In any event this project is the result of many many hours of hard work and research.
I have added additional pictures to show the details.
Please feel free to comment as all comments and questions are welcomed.
Thanks for viewing my work.

wow, lots of text, bit too much imo. But a nice model! how did you do those…umm…things? you know, those very detailed pieces of metal.

The little clips that hold the rings on? After I spun the top tropic ring, I modeled a rectangle and extruded it right onto the ring, then I subdivided the tip that goes onto the ring, then I grabbed the middle points and pulled them down to create a V. After that I copied it and mounted them on the other rings. I did the rivets later on.


I mean those 4, well what are they, bars? that stick out from the wood. or…is that what your talking about?=D

Oh, the frame. I made one piece then duplicated it 3 times. What I did was I took to circles then spun them to 90 degrees. then in edit mode, I selected the center vertices on the circles and made a face, then I selected just that face and sub divided. when I had connected the faces all the way up the curve and subdivided, I did sort of a Dot-to-Dot to get the basic pattern. Then when all of the dots were connected, I made faces in the pattern. When all of the faces were made, I extruded them then smoothed them out. It was allot easier than it sounds or looks. It took me a week to figure how to do this. I originally made it in a squared rectangle but I could not get the thing to curve without distortion. So, I posted a question on here in the modeling forum " Curving a rectangle by 90 degrees ". Modron gave me the immediate solution, however to me, it still looked somewhat distorted. So, this was what I came up with.


I think he means the etching on the metal.

All of the ticks, words, and zodiac signs are all modelled as flat objects and then put on like a sticker.

nice amilliary spheres, maybe a little displacement mapping to really have an etched look?

Thanks atm,
I did try displacement, I also tried subtracting an image and neither were satisfactory to my eye. That is ont thing that took allot of time. Modeling the ticks, letters, numbers and sysmbols. They took about a week or so to model, duplicate and place. The best thing about displacement mapping is that it would have only taken a day to complete.

Wow, I’m quite impressed…you put a lot of thought and work into that and for a first project this is more than awesome. The modeling seems really accurate and well planned, as well as the whole composition.
First off, congratulations!

Now I’d like to say, however, that all that planning might be a little too much already. As you’ve said, you created two focal points and aligned objects in a special, very exact way - but actually I don’t think that this really adds something to the scene as a whole. I find the door rather distracting and misfitting. It makes the picture feeling unbalanced as the eye is always drawn to the upper right part of the image (especially with the forluma up there, too). You should try to place the door differently or even scrap it. And placing the formula in another way might be a good idea as well.
Then there’s no background - obviously you wanted to make the sphere stand out and that’s good. But if you just added a ground for the sphere to stand on, or something like that, I personally think that it could improve the overall emptiness of the image. Not sure about that but one always needs to experiment.
So, as far as the modeling and texturing goes, I can hardly add something, you might want to render it in Yafray or Indigo sometime and try yourself on more realistic lighting setups / materials. That would be a nice next step, I think :wink:

So, keep in mind that these are my thoughts, just wanted to share them. Anyway, keep it up, I’m already curious about your projects in the future :slight_smile:

Well this is finished projects and very nice work. It isn’t so much the complexity that makes it good but the attention to detail which is missed quite often.

Outstanding work Dr. Sminty! I too have a fondness for antique instruments (see my web page, and my website on constructing nomograms), but I never thought of creating them in Blender.

I do know that astrolabes were the medieval equivalent of slide rules and pocket calculators. Like armillary spheres, they are generally for astronomical observation, but also has some mathematical calculating features. Astrolabes can solve certain trigonometric equation, and can be used for surveying and navigation.

Thankyou for your input Myke. Your thoughts are greatly appreciated. I did make the sphere as complete and accurate as possible. In fact, if I knew how to rig it, it could be used for its intended purpose of finding constellations and nautical positions. In any event, my brother Cristopher tells me that my compositional skills are lacking at best. He also indicated the same things as blatent empty space, unbalance, and distraction. His main point was that I spent so many months perfecting the speres details, that the few days that I spent composing the “Big” picture was insulting to the incredible modelling of the sphere. Though this sounds harsh, I have used his crits to rethink the Big picture. It also helps to hear the same from others. Thanks for viewing my work.

Thanks for your comments. It is great that the attention to detail is noticed.

Excellent web site. How intersting. I was actually thinking of making my next project a Functionally Accurate Astrolabe. It should not take as long though as I have a good repitoire built up to this point.
Thanks for viewing.

Maybe. You should be able to construct most of the astrolabe components quite quickly with your current skill. However, the rete is going to take a long an tedious time to create.

Examples here:

Hopefully it might be quicker. However, I would do the same thing and make it a major case study with concept sketches and the works.

Hey, give yourself some credit … these images are good! You’ve done meticulous research and produced some amazing images.

I happen to like the concept of the first image. Although I confess that I’m not sure what the igloo-entrance-like object on the right hand side is supposed to be, it certainly gives a sense of mystery to the Armillary Sphere. As you said yourself in your first post, the sphere had no single inventor and some of the features of existing spheres have unknown purpose. There’s no greater source of mystery, and mysticism, throughout the ages than the night sky.

So, I think that the first image is a really nice bit of commercial-art, balancing “mathematical rigor” on one side with “mystery” on the other. Maybe it would work even better if something else were chosen to put over there on the right side. (Good placement, but what if it were, say, Stonehenge instead?)

And as for critics? Well, ain’t the world full of 'em. Smile, take their suggestions, implement a few of 'em if you want to, or not, if you want to.

I know that a lot of folks would love to see a tutorial (maybe a mediawiki article?) on modeling an Armillary Sphere.

Hi Sundial,
Thanks for your words of encouragement. I do personally enjoy critism because it helps a person to better themselves. Through what comments and sugestions I have already recieved, I have decided that this sphere model will certainly be used in other compositions. As my knowledge of Blender increases daily on an exponential basis I know I will definitely be able to produce some amazing works. 4-5 years ago when I first met up with blender, I viewed others works with an envious eye saying to myself " Don’t I wish I could produce something like that ". Some of my greatest inspirations have come from these forums. Namely @ndy, Robert T, and Sago to name a few. I am not certain that I will be on their levels anytime soon, however, I shall endevor to persevere to accomplish my own level of perfection.