Thursday, February 24, 2011

Waddesdon Manor - Roof Stacking

When building in the Sims game, have you ever deleted a section of roofing and found more roofing sitting right underneath it that you didn't know was there before almost like one of those Russian nesting dolls? If you think about it, you might realize that the game allows you to place an infinite number of roofs over top of each other because they can overlap. Not that that would be practical or possible for that matter, but the ability to overlap roofing can be useful in various ways. Also have you ever noticed with certain roof shapes that the bottom edge of the roof changes elevation when you raise or lower the pitch of the roof? It's easy to miss because the movement is subtle.

By themselves these two observations don't really mean much, but taken together they create a lot of potential for interesting roof design using what I have called roof stacking. There are two general ways to go about this technique. The first is to just overlap sections of roofing that differ only in pitch. Looking at the first image below you can see what I mean. Here I took two roof sections, one with a shallow pitch (first small house) and one with a steep pitch (second small house), and overlapped them on the third small house found on the far right. This creates what is called a bell-cast shape to the roof by adding a small flare on the bottom edge. The exact steps I took were to place one roof piece, lower the pitch with the roof section pitch control, and then place the second, which was at default pitch.

With the next image, you can see how I've used this idea on a custom bay window (I forgot the windows so you'll just have to use your imagination). I've seen this type of roof design on bay windows found on many traditional styled homes. It's a nice way to make a bay window more interesting and more closely resemble those found in real life. You might have noticed that this technique does create a thicker horizontal band on the bottom edge of the roof, which is called the fascia. You can see it's doubled in size in the below image so if ever a build calls for thick fascia then there you go. Haven't you ever just thought that a sim house would look better with a thicker fascia?...what, you're not that strange...well I have.

Here's how I used this technique on my Waddesdon Manor with the chateau roofing. The difference in pitch is a bit more pronounced than in my above examples because I have the shallower pitched section one tile further out than the steeper, but it's the same idea. The example below the manor image also has the steeper roof section moved one tile inward compared to the shallower, this time done with the octagonal roof shape. I once saw a creative builder use this idea to make a witch hat house for a Halloween themed build so there are a multitude of cool things you can do with this technique.

My next example illustrates the second general way to go about roof stacking, which is to overlap roof sections with different shapes. Here I combined the straight octagonal with the pagoda octagonal roof to create a unique design. It has the flare at the bottom as well as slightly steeper point at the top. I think it looks more interesting this way than the straightforward octagonal roof.

This last example doesn't exactly follow the technique I described, but I didn't feel like devoting an entire blog post to it so I included it here. It is, however, an example of overlapping roof sections so it's appearance here is not due entirely to laziness. As you can see below, I've created an elongated domed roof by simply placing a long line of domes bunched tightly together. Right below that image, you can see how I incorporated this design into my Waddesdon Manor. The real design uses a convex mansard design, but that is, as far as I can tell, impossible to do, so this is close enough.

These are just a few examples, and there are countless variations that can be done using combos of different shapes and pitches. So get in game and experiment! 

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Waddesdon Manor - Chateau Roofing

From my last post you know that I'm trying to recreate the big English estate called Waddesdon Manor. If you know of the place you probably are wondering whether or not I'm insane, but I assure you my craziness only extends as far as the Sims. To continue my WIP presentation, I would like to show a few quasi-tutorials on how to create the roof designs used with the lot so for this post I'll go over the chateau-type roof.

One of the more common elements of many French chateaus and buildings in the chateauesqe style is the mansard roof named after its creator Francios Mansart , a 17th century architect. The mansard roof is a type of hipped roof that slopes steeply from the bottom and then transitions to a shallow slope above. The image below shows you what I'm talking about. The term "hipped" refers to roofing that slopes downward on all sides in comparison to a gabled roof design which has at least one vertical edge. A big reason this type of roof construction became popular was that it allowed for much more living space on the top floor of a building where natural lighting was provided by multiple dormers.

If you look at the two images below you can see in game examples of mansard roofing used in my Waddesdon build. Ok, so you might be a bit confused by the images and what I'm saying. I admit that the main roof section in the center isn't exactly a textbook mansard roof. As you can see the roof slope starts off shallow then gets steep and there is no roofing on the very top only flooring seen in the second image. This is a variation on the mansard design that is used in the real version of the house. However, just to the right you can see a good example of typical mansard roof design. I'll give a short explanation of how I created the chateau variation of the mansard roof.

If you weren't aware, the game even has a roof tool called mansard so making that type of roof should be easy right?  BUT as you can see from the first image below the slope is way too shallow compared to the traditional mansard seen on many older buildings like Waddesdon. You can get around this, but it takes a bit more work on your part. Take a look at the next image below to see an example of how I go about it. What I did is create another floor that's moved 1 tile inward from the outer edge of the floors below. Then I used the tool called "half-hipped roofing" and created roofing all around this room. Simply raise the pitch of the roof until the top edge of the roof meets the top of the room. As you can see in the 3rd and 4th images, you have the option of placing floor tile or if you're a traditionalist go with hipped roofing with a shallower pitch.

So that's a typical mansard roof. I did promise to show how to make that chateau style, although since the initial steps are basically the same I started with a simple mansard. To create the chateau design seen in the 2nd image I posted above, I made a room 2 tiles inward from the edge of the lower floors and 2 stories tall compared to only one. I again used the half-hipped roofing tool to surround the room and raised the pitch to meet the top of the room. You can see how the slope is much more steep.

I'll save how to add that shallow bottom portion of the roof for my next post that will go over a useful trick: roof stacking.  

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Waddesdon Manor Project

So what would you do if you had more money than a small country and you wanted to build a house for yourself to let everyone know that fact? You'd build something like Waddesdon Manor. If you've never heard of the place, like me until a few weeks ago, all you really need to know is that it is a country estate located in the village of Waddesdon of Buckinghamshire, England. It was built between the years 1874 and 1889 for Baron Ferdinand de Rothschild, and is currently part of the National Trust.
The style of the house is called chateauesque and homes in this style are based on those built in the Loire Valley of France between the 15th and 17th centuries. A notable example of this type of design in the US is the Biltmore estate located in Asheville, NC.  One aspect of the style that drew me to recreate this house in the Sims game, and which created the most challenge and frustration was the complex roofline. From domes to conical towers and bell-cast chateau towers, this house has it all.

You can see the real life version above and my attempt at a recreation below it. Apart from the roof, most of the grunt work was spent adding detailing to mimic the intricacy of the real facade. I've learned that if you are striving for realism in a build with the Sims, a lot of detail work is important especially with this type of style. The two images below highlight some of that detail work. The first example shows what I did to recreate the parapeted dormers found on the real version. They have this three spire thing going on with them, which I tried to mirror with the fencing and the addition of a fence light. If you look at the picture on the right, you can also see how I positioned a few statues from the World Adventures EP on the roof to add more decoration. I admit it's a bit much, but more is more with this place. This is no minimalism here Mies.

The remaining images show the back facade as well as the parterre and my own addition to the plans of the manor, a glass roofed pool house. With additions still being made to the art collection of the house you'd think the Rothschild family would have added in a pool by now...c'mon. Currently the architecture and landscaping of the lot are complete. It's on a 64x64 so getting this far was a gargantuan task in itself. The interiors are next, and I'm planning on at least 10 bed rooms and almost as many baths. Here's hoping I get it done before Sims 4 comes out and I'm not being completely facetious.

For my next blog post, I'll go over how I went about recreating the roofing of the estate so if you ever plan on tackling a build in this style make sure to take a look.