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How to 3d-Model the Exterior of a Small Byzantine Chapel

Updated on August 26, 2018
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I work as seminar lecturer and literary translator. I am a published author, and graduate of the University of Essex (BA in Philosophy).

The general form of a chapel

The basic Byzantine chapel has a square basis. The structure’s middle part is forming a cross, and the top contains at least one dome. In this article we will construct a simple chapel, using only basic shapes, while maintaining authenticity in regards to the overall form.

A small Byzantine chapel
A small Byzantine chapel

First step in modeling a small Byzantine chapel

In general, a chapel of this type tends to reach roughly the height of the top surface of the cube whose bottom area was the square we are to use as a basis for our model. So, with that in mind, we may want to keep the original cube around, and either make it part of another layer of visibility (so as to only make it visible when we need to check the height) or simply move it in space and bring it back when we need to construct the dome itself…

We first subdivide the cube, with the intention of taking its upper half out. This is done because, typically, the lowest part of the chapel where roof tiles begin to appear is at around half the total height of the building. Figure A shows the highlighted areas which are to be erased from the original cube.

After we erase those, we first create a surface on the top of the new shape we are left with, and then subdivide that surface twice. The result is shown in Figure B.

It is important to divide it in this way, because the specific symmetry we are after is more directly achieved in this manner; in the next step we will begin to extrude some of the surfaces which were the result of this double subdivision.

Figure A
Figure A
Figure B
Figure B

Second step in modeling a small Byzantine chapel

We select the areas highlighted in Figure C. We want those four central square areas extruded so as to reach a height which, again, is in clear analogy to the overall shape: we are to reach ¾ of the height of the original cube. Working in Isometric perspective we can easily notice that this height will make the top edge of our shape appear to be in line with the back of the cube – due to properties of drawing in this perspective. The result is shown in Figure D.

Figure C
Figure C
Figure D
Figure D

Third step in modeling a small Byzantine chapel

Now we extrude eight of the remaining, peripheral square areas. We do so until they reach roughly ½ of the height of the central area we extruded in the previous step; Figure E shows the result. Notice that the outermost four square areas are left untouched!

Switching to working with vertices, instead of surfaces, we now select the vertices highlighted in Figure F, and move on to move those points (careful: not to extrude, but to move) until the reach the height which the central part of our model has; as shown in Figure G. Their shape is now that of a pointy roof.

We do something similar for the points shown in Figure H, although now we do extrude those until they reach the same height as the lower part of the peripheral areas of our model; as shown on Figure I.

Lastly, we form surfaces by linking the heigher vertex points created in Figure I, to the lower vertices of their corresponding triangular shapes. This is done so as to form the roof sloping for that level. Notice that the sloping is of the same height as the one in the higher level we created in Figure G.

Figure E
Figure E
Figure F
Figure F
Figure G
Figure G
Figure H
Figure H
Figure I
Figure I

Fourth step in modeling a small Byzantine chapel

We can set a different color for the roof surfaces we constructed, so as to make the end result easier to observe. In Figure J the roof surfaces are in red.

Adding a cylinder, inscribed to the large square made of the central elevated area in our structure, and a sphere having the same diameter on top of it, will give us a finished model of the exterior shape of the chapel… Figure K presents the finished result!

Figure J
Figure J
Figure K
Figure K

© 2018 Kyriakos Chalkopoulos

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