Wednesday, 4 January 2012


A birlinn is a type of ship used in Scotland from the 14th to 17th centuries.  It is similar to a Norse longship with a square sail, but is steeper at the bow and often with a rudder at the stern.  The larger birlinns reportedly had over forty oarsmen and must have been a considerable size.

Although it was widely used for over 400 years, apparently, no originals have been found.  The basic shape is taken from old diagrams and photos of modern reconstructions.


The image above is the completed version,  some of the work-in-progress updates below...

WIP - Sea Texture and spray still to be added

Modelled and rendered in Blender v2.61.  Crew created in MakeHuman.  Rendered with Cycles.

Some notes on the modelling. I am using the Ocean simulator in Blender 2.61,  to that I have added dynamic pain effects to displace the ship's hull, create a bow wave and wave effects for a wake,  although these are not so obvious in the renders.  I tried to get some foam effects on the bow wave and wake, but have not figured that out as yet.  I am starting to suspect I am trying to use a Cycles feature that has not yet been enabled.

While searching for reference material for birlinns,  came across some beautiful illustations on the website for Portencross Castle.  The artist is not named.  This is the sort of standard I would love to attain.

UPDATE:  I finally  managed to get a particle system working alongside the dynamic paint effects.  (below).    For some reason, re-baking particles requires that you exit and restart Blender before they show up.  I also ran into trouble with the scaling combined with the physics.   On my initial attempts, the speed of the ship scaled up to 20m/s,  no wonder is was leavng the water after hitting a big wave.  Unfortunately, at 7 minutes a frame, it is not practical to run a full animation from my workstation (it works out at an estimated 28 hours render time for 10 seconds of animated output).  Perhaps time to get a server running on AWS for this?

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