Eric Lay (known around the forums as Boofredlay) is the creator of the Electric Chair image designed as a visual pun with SketchUp and rendered with Twilight Render. We recently had the honor of interviewing him regarding the process of creating this image. Eric had multiple winning images in the Twilight Render First Year Anniversary Celebration Top 10 People's Choice Awards. The winning images and honorable mentions may be seen in the album on Twilight Render Plugin for Google SketchUp's Home Page or in this gallery on our Facebook page.
Eric Lay (EL): I started a topic on the SketchUcation forum in April of 2009 called Visual Puns and Puzzles. This was one of my ideas for a visual pun; a chair made with only an electrical cord or an “Electric Chair”.
EL: This model was created in SketchUp. No other modeling applications were used. I modeled everything except the electrical outlet and plug.
Most of the models I created for the Visual Puns topic were simple and quick but this one took some thought.
I started off by using a plugin called 3D grid that allows you to have a cube of construction points. I copied some of those points upwards to create the back area of the chair. I then deleted some of the grid out of the bottom cube to simulate the legs. Finally I copied a few construction points back to where the plug on the wall would be as well as where the lamp would terminate.
Next I used the F-Spline tool from the Bezier Spline plugin to create the path of the cord. I set the F-Spline segments to the maximum number to get as smooth a cord as possible. Then it took a few tries to get the path that I wanted by starting at the wall and finishing at the lamp.
The final cord steps are simple. I used the Pipe Along Path plugin to create the diameter of the cord and set the segments to 6. This may sound “blocky” for an electrical cord but the next step was to use Subdivide and Smooth with 2 iterations. This made the polygon count go through the roof but it was worth it for the result I wanted.
And finally I made a simple bowl shape fixture for the lamp on the end of the cord.
EL: For the preliminary image I used the 01 Prelim setting just to get the cropping and placement like I wanted. For the final image I used 10 Interior+. I wanted a progressive setting for the final so I could get as much light out of a single source as possible.
EL: Like I mentioned, I wanted one light source. I felt the image needed to be a bit ominous and the chair to be alone in the room. Too many lights and I think the mood would have suffered.
EL: I think the cord came across well. I used the Generic Reflective template and increased the shininess by 30. It turned out to be not too shiny but just shiny enough. The surrounding environment was simple to model but I wanted the room to look old. I found the floor, wall and baseboard textures on CG Textures and I added various bump values to them with Twilight.
EL: My background with modeling is varied. I started computer drafting with Autocad. I found SketchUp version 2.0 years later during an interview. I have tried to use a few other 3D modeling applications but none is as easy or fluid as SketchUp. The first rendering program I used was Podium however as soon as Twilight was released I was hooked.
To date I work for KPS Group in Huntsville, Alabama. KPS is an architecture firm with offices in Birmingham, Alabama and Atlanta, Georgia as well. I do contract documents, graphics, 3D modeling and architectural visualizations. I am also a contract artist for Form Fonts 3D, an online resource for 3D models, 2D graphics and graphical styles.
EL: I am very proud of this model and set of images even though they were created purely for fun.
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