This website is a log of my hobbies,
passions and projects. It will hopefully over time fill up with helpful
encourage, inspire and guide others with similar interests. rab by the
way are my initials Robert Andrew Burke
This has been an extremely
productive month for me with a number of projects coming closer to completion.
When I restarted this blog in January this year, after a period of
seventeen months without time to work on it, I was part way through the
conversion of a VW transporter T28 panel van into a camper. This month
has seen the camper put back on the road and a few stops out including
a trip to the Lizard in Cornwall. The suspension rebuild and mechanical
repairs all worked well and the camper was a pleasure to drive and use.
There are still a few more areas of internal trimming needed to finish
the project, but it is great to have it in a usable condition.
The conversion has included:
- Fitting a pop top roof.
- Adding windows all round.
- Colour coding the bumpers.
- Changing the front bench seat and drivers seat for two bucket seats on seat rotators.
- Insulating and lining out the van body.
- Installing a rock and roll bed.
- Fitting cupboards and a kitchen.
In February I started a project to see if I could create a cutaway
illustration of a Mk 9 Spitfire, but rather than creating a 2D vector
illustration, model all the components in 3D using Blender. The benefit
of modelling in 3D is the model can be rendered from any angle or even
animated. One of my targets was to see if Blenders line rendered
Freestyle could recreate the appearance of a vector line drawing such as
those produced by Mike Badrock, especially his
I think my Blender/Freestyle image below captures the feel of the old
vector drawings quite well.
Blender/Freestyle Render of the Spitfire Mk9 3D Model
There has also been quite a lot of time spent adding detail to the
spitfire over the last month, especially around the engine bay, which
other tan a few hoses and small components the engine bay is now almost
Spitfire Model with the Addition of
Extra Engine Bay Details
The beauty of working with 3D models is it is a relatively simple
process to view the model from different sides and positions, making it
relatively quick and easy to create different images of the model such
as the images below.
Spitfire Plan Taken from 3D Model
3D Spitfire Model Standing on 2D Plan
Robert Burke Portraits & Art
This month I have picked up a few commissions for portraits that have kept me busy
with the pencils, a number of pet portraits and a baby portrait. Not
all can be shown as they are commissioned for future presents. The
Portraits & Art website
has also had some more time spent on it with a lot more helpful details added to
the commissioning page.
Marble - Bengal Abyssinian Cat
Marble the Bengal Abyssinian Cat was quite a challenge as the fur was
full of flecks and highlights. He was commissioned as an A4 portrait,
which proved difficult given the amount of tiny detail that needed to
be added to get the required level of realism. I sometimes think it
might be easier to draw detailed portraits on much larger format paper.
Andi and Rosie
Andi and Rosie was commissioned as a present and combined onto an A3
drawing sheet. I was extremely pleased to receive a wonderful review
from Ceri who commissioned the drawings. The review is on my Portraits
and Art Facebook page.
it would help me Immensely if you would like my
and share it with others. At the moment it is my only source of income and the further it is spread
throughout the web the better the chance I have of maintaining these websites and continuing with
future Blender and drawing tutorials.
Follow me on Facebook
Robert Burke Illustration
Illustration website has started to be progressed again and I am now
porting the provisional content over to the new template. Some details
should be appearing on
early next month.
I am hoping to get the Illustration website live before the
end of September.
Last month I mentioned I had started working on a website to showcase
my pencil portrates, and with a lot of work to do, it has also been the
main focus of my work this month.
As promised, the site went live during the first week of July, though
as a work in progress needing a lot of content adding. I have also had
to do a lot of learning and read up on making websites responsive to
different screen sizes, as all my previous sites were designed only for
PC and larger tablets. I was very pleased with the results as the
layout changes quite fluidly with changes in screen resolution.
The portraits I produce are being received very well and just through
word of mouth I have picked up a few commissions and lots of interest
and enquiries that will hopefully turn in to future work for me.
At the moment the portraits and illustration work are my only source of
income, so if you would like to help, secure the future of this blog
and further Blender tutorials, help me by spreading links to http://www.robertburkeart.co.uk
and its facebook page
Portrait & Art website just needs a couple of pages to be populated
with information and it will then be ready to publicise as widely as
My Illustration website sat on the back burner through July as I
concentrated on coding the Portraits & Art website. Fortunately
there is a lot of similarity between the layout of the two sites, so
converting the Robert Burke - Illustration site hopefully won't be too
much work. I am hoping to get the Illustration website live before the
end of September.
There has been hardly any time this month to progress my work on the
Spitfire project. In fact Blender and computer graphics have had to
take a back seat to my growing passion to revisit my traditional
Time has also been limited as I took a couple of weeks touring a few of
the tourist destinations in the west USA, with a visit to Sedona, Grand
Canyon, Monument Valley, Zion Park, Las Vegas and San Fransisco. It was
a great adventure and holiday of a lifetime for my wife and I.
As my detailed pencil sketching has generated far more attention than
the computer graphics work, with a number of people wanting to
commission portraits, I have decided to concentrate on drawing for the
moment. I have done a few more portraits and also been working on a
website that will hopefully be a focal point for people to see my work
and hopefully commission a few drawings. The structure of the website
has been completed but I still need to add detail to a number of pages
before going live with the content.
will hopefully go live next week (first week of July).
These are a
few of the portraits I have done in July that will feature on the
My Illustration website has also undergone a few changes which bring it
closer to going live next month. At the moment I am searching for a web
host that does multiple website packages at a reasonable cost.
the websites are live I will hopefully be able to find some time to
continue with the Spitfire cutaway project and also put the finishing
touches to my camper van.
has continued to progress on the 3D model of a Mk 9 Spitfire with all
efforts concentrating on detailing the merlin engine.
A V12 engine is a complicate beast to model at the best of time, but
combined with the addition of a supercharger, the curving surface
been a real challenge. Given that I haven't got plans of the engine to
work from and am having to find different photographs
online to cover
all views of the engine, I think this is progressing reasonably well.
There is still a lot of components and detail to add before the engine
is finished. The finished detail will be relative to the size of image
I intend to create from the model, rather than the minute detail of a
full sized spitfire.
To help visualise the work put into the Merlin engine model I have
rendered a series of views using the 3DNP plugin with Blender. The
animation above can be rotated and viewed from any angle by simply left
clicking and dragging the view of the engine with the mouse. The 3DNP
plugin and script by Thorsten Schluter can be downloaded from Here
Once the Merlin engine and all components of the engine bay are
finished I will move on to detailing the outer skin adding all the
rivets and panel joints.
have kept myself busy over the past month and one area that seems to be
gaining momentum is my traditional artwork of sketching pencil
of pets, and people. Word of mouth has generated quite a bit of
interest, so for now I have created a small flier which was received
very well when distributed at a recent fair.
work on traditional art has put me back a little on the timescale I had
set to complete the Technical Illustration website, as my thoughts are
now more focused on a separate art website which I hope to build
alongside the Technical website.
I have also been busy with the camper van focusing on the internals.
The front driver and bench seat have been changed for Recaro seats on
swivel bases, an insulated floor has been fitted together with a
rock and roll bed. With just the kitchen and internal electrics to
complete the camper should be back on the road for our holidays in
August. I will post a few more pictures of the camper once the
internals are finished.
part of my Spitfire cutaway model project which is progressing well,
there was a need to model a propeller.
It may look a simple shape at
first glance, but there is some very
complex geometry with the propellers aerofoil profile changing in both
shape and angle, giving the propeller blade a twist along its length.
To help others who are modelling aircraft I have written a new Tutorial
that describes the process of positioning cross sections of the
propeller blade and then skinning them to form the propeller profile.
To help with the tutorial I have produced a simplified propeller plan
containing only the cross sections and the centre points where they
need to be positioned. This is used as a background image reference
within the tutorial.
The Tutorial can accessed via the Top Menu using >> Graphics
>> Blender Tutorials
Or by clicking << here >>
As mentioned above, the Spitfire model is progressing well. Obtaining a
copy of "The Supermarine Spitfire A Comprehensive Guide for The
Modeller" which is packed full of reference images and photographs.
Most of the internal detailing is done and I am now working on the
Rolls Royce Merlin engine which presents a whole load of new modelling
In between other
work I am also improving on my traditional sketching skills, especially
the pet portraits which have generated quite a bit of interest from
people wanting pictures of their pets. I am now open to take
commissions and will be creating a website specifically for this work.
The following are a couple more practice pieces, being pet portraits of
a Boxer dog and kitten.
If you have a need for an illustration either technical or other, or
would like to commission a portrait of your pet please feel free to
contact me to discuss if I can be as help.
I am now available to take on Art and illustration work and can be
This month I have made a
little bit of progress with the Spitfire model
I am still struggling to source detailed reference photographs and
plans, but fortunately I have manage to find enough references to get
is still a tremendous amount of work to do on this model, and a lot of
what I have already done will need further refinement
This has been a great project to get me back up to speed with 3D
modelling, though there is a lot more I need to learn to be able to
bring the model up to the standard I want. I need put some time into
creating decent texture maps for the skin and any other component that
will be viewed close up.
found construction of the model was best done building the sectional
rib profiles by tracing available plans with bezier curves, however it
is not possible to loft a bezier curve in blender so I had to find a
way to add a subsurfed mesh over the top of each of the curve profiles.
I might post a mini tutorial of how this was done in the coming weeks.
a lot of the components will be hidden, I might even create an exploded
view animation so the full amount of work can be appreciated.
than progressing with my blender projects and learning new blender
tools, I have
also put some time in to relearning the sketching and drawing skills I
used to enjoy when I was a teenager. I have put a little bit of
practice into improving my line and shading skills and completed a few
pet portraits, as fur is said to be a challenging subject. The images
below are of our Blue Merle border collie Saffy and a German Shepard
Hope you agree the line and shading quality has improved a lot over the
portrates I posted last month.
the weather has warmed up I have also spent some time on the camper
conversion, which had been mothballed throughout the cold winter
weather. The back textured ABS plastic bumpers have been rubbed flat
are being colour coded to match the rest of the van. The back bumper is
finished and back on the van, the front bumper is goint
through the same treatment and ready for the top coat to be applied.
Over the next month I will be concentrating on my Art and Illustration
website as I intend to go freelance in the next few weeks.
This month I have spent quite a bit of time improving my mesh modelling
skills. As I will most likely be setting up as a freelance illustrator
from April this year, with an emphasis on the more technical
illustration, I thought it would benefit my portfolio if I could show a
fairly large technical project.
With this in mind I decided to create a 3d model of a Mark IX spitfire,
but rather than just showing the outer skin, the model would be a
cutaway of all the internal details, possibly in the style of Mike
Badrock. It is worth looking up some of the cutaway vector drawings he
has created, especially the spitfire.
As a 3D model mine will be able to benefit from realistic texturing and
global illumination to give a more photo realistic appearance.
The amount of detail needed means I will have to model hundreds of
components to add to the inside of the spitfire. To start, I have
decided to build the super structure of the aeroplane first as this
will give me the framework to add all the components.
been quite a challenge to find suitable reference images and plans, but
things are now progressing well, though there is a lot more detail to
add before the framework will be finished.
Besides working on the spitfire project, I have broke out my sketching
pencils and had a go at a few portraits. Its been almost 40 years since
I last sketched a face, and I was really pleased that I could still get
a reasonable likeness. I have done quite a few technical drawings over
the years with pencil and ink, but left the more artistic drawing
alone. As a start I have sketched a couple of characters from Game of
Thrones and also a good friend of mine.
This month marks the 10 year anniversary of keeping this web log of
some of my hobbies, and posting articles and tutorials that have
hopefully helped or inspire others to get started with graphics, or
just having a go to make or repair something themselves.
For me 2017 marks a major change of direction as I embark on a new
If you come to this site occasionally you have probably noticed that
nothing was added from mid 2015. This was because I was exhausted and
being made ill
from the stress of my last job. In September 2016 I parted company
with my employer to take a well deserved career break and recover my
health. The release from the past few years of stress has been great
and I am back on track to get back to working on projects I enjoy
rather than being forced to travel Europe from meeting to meeting.
My intention is to start up as a freelance Technical Artist in a few
months time, and hopefully over time be able to make a living from work
I enjoy and will certainly take pride in.
A project aimed at helping me promote my artistic skills is the
creation of a dedicated web site highlighting the work I will be able
do for people. It is early days yet, but it is beginning to take shape
and I have enjoyed updating myself with some of the recent changes to
Blender producing material for the site, and a few other projects.
I have set myself a deadline for April to have the site populated and
fully functional, at the moment it is hosted on a sub domain of this
site, the content can be seen by clicking the image above.
Though I haven't posted anything over the past 18 months it doesn't
mean I have been completely inactive. A new project I have been
working on since leaving work is to convert a Volkswagen T5 builders
van into a
van had reasonable bodywork, but fairly high mileage and a number of
The biggest problem turned out to be a defective glow plug, which was
sheared in the cylinder head and necessitated dismantling the front of
the van to make room to drill it out. A full service, new cam belt and
rebuilt front suspension has knocked the van into what I hope will be a
fairly reliable condition.
Once I was satisfied with the mechanics, it was on to the camper
conversion with the first job being fitting the Pop-Top roof which was
supplied as a kit of parts.
had to be cut out, and a structural frame riveted in place to add
support back to the roof.
Once the roof was on, the side and rear panels were cut out and windows
bonded into position. Still to do on the outside is to paint the
bumpers to match the white bodywork and refurbish the alloy wheels.
The plan is to also make and install the interior myself, hopefully by
the spring it will be back on the road and providing us some great
holidays around the UK.
the piano project detailed in the 2014 / 2015 posts turned into one of
my few failures. After spending many attempts at freeing off much of
the movement only for many of the hammers to seize up a day or two
later. Then finding it wouldn't hold its tune for more than a few
hours, meant it wasn't possible to bring it back into working
condition. The 30 plus years it stood unplayed and dried out was just
too much and after taking advice from a couple of piano technicians who
the only option was to scrap it, so unfortunately it had to go.
version of the Precision Modelling Guide has also had to go, as
I now don't have an income and can't justify paying for the extra
created by the download of the guide. The guide is very out of date
being written for Blender 2.49.
However for legacy purposes I will
leave the online content of the guide on my tutorials