This website is a log of my many hobbies and passions with art, illustration and computer graphics. It will hopefully over time
fill up with helpful advice to encourage, inspire and guide others with similar interests.

December 2017 - Blender 3D, Graphics and Hobby Home Page

This year has been quite an active year updating my knowledge of Blender with a few projects aimed at demonstrating it's use for technical illustration. The biggest of the projects has been the Spitfire MK 9 cutaway which s now pretty much completed. Illustrations and drawings form the project will be used in my technical illustration website.

Unfortunately whilst I have kept quite busy using Blender, I haven't found much time to prepare any tutorials about new features and drawing procedures. In fact the only by product of the Spitfire project was one minor tutorial on modelling a propeller.

Hopefully this coming year will allow sufficient time to be proactive on the tutorial front, both on Blender and other drawing techniques

Robert Burke Portraits & Art

The Gallery will open as the Banner on my Illustration Webpage

Robert Burke Portraits & Art - new rotating panorama gallery

The Gallery is a new project I have been working on and uses Blender to create a virtual gallery room and banner, in which I can place images of the drawings I create. I then render a cube map of this room to display on the website using the Pannellum panorama viewer. The banner can be viewed in action >>here<<

it would help me Immensely if you would like my "Robert Burke - Portraits and Art" Facebook page 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 - Portraits & Art Facebook Page

Robert Burke Illustration

My 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 soon.

Robert Burke - Art & Illustration Website

November 2017

Spitfire Mk9 Modelling Project

This month has seen the skin of the spitfire model completed. The above image shows the unwrapped top and side surfaces of the model laid over the painted colour texture map, I have also drawn a bump map that adds depth information for all the seams and rivets of the aeroplane. A few extra components have also been modelled together with the pilot. In December I will add the detailed skin to the Spitfire cutaway model.

Sptifire UV layout over painted texture

The image below is two copies of the model overlaid onto an image of Snowdonia.

Spitfires over Snowdon Image

3D Model of the Spitfire Mk9 flying over Snowdonia

Robert Burke Portraits & Art

I have took the time this month to display some of my traditional drawings at local craft and art fairs, and was extremely encouraged with how they were received. I have picked up a few more commissions for portraits of both pets, children and babies, which looks like I will have a busy run up to Christmas. Between the commissions I am also working on larger wild animal drawings and hope to have a large enough collection to display in local art galleries by the summer next year.

Artwork Display at local Art Fayer

September - October 2017

Over the past two months I have been doing a fair bit of travelling and making good use of the camper van, so their isn't too much to report on the hobbies and projects front. I am taking the camper off the road over the winter and I will use the time to do some finishing work on the interior and furniture.

Blender 2.79 Splash Screen

Blender 2.79 Splash Screen

I haven't found much time for Blender work, but I have been really impressed with the update to Blender 2.79. The new features are going to be a real help in creating better quality images. The Denoiser, PBR Shader, Shadow Catcher and Filmic Colour Management all combine to both speed up and improve the output quality that is now much easier to achieve.

Spitfire Mk9 Modelling Project

The final stage to complete this model is to create the texture maps for the aeroplanes skin and I decided to make a full skin rather than just the half needed for the cutaway. So the project has been extended to create a full spitfire model as well as the cutaway. Creating UV maps isn't something I do very often, so I am taking a bit of care trying to minimise stretch and distortion in the UV layout.

Spitfire Mk9 UV Stretch on outer skin.

Outer Skin of the Spitfire Mk9 3D Model

Robert Burke Portraits & Art

Between commissions, I am also putting aside some time to do a few personal drawings to add to the Lion drawing. The new drawings are an English Springer Spaniel and a Gyrfalcon. On November 5th I will be showing some of my drawings at the Burton Vintage, Retro and Craft Fair, and besides offering a few limited edition prints, I will hopefully picking up a few more commissions.

Gyrfalcon pencil portrait

Lion & English Springer Spaniel

August 2017

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:

VW T28 Camper Nearing Completion

VW T28 Camper Nearing Completion

My intention is to print this circuit onto copier transparency film and use it as a photo mask to etch a circuit board. I have made a simple light box with a couple of UV black-lights and will expose a photoresist circuit board using the mask, etching away the unneeded copper with ferric chloride solution.

Spitfire Mk9 Modelling Project

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 spitfire. I think my Blender/Freestyle image below captures the feel of the old vector drawings quite well.

Before I can have a serious look at what is involved I need to clear my workshop of all the woodworking machinery that's filling it up. This means re-roofing my old pottery building to stop the leaks, so the old rotting Oriented Strand Board and felt roof needs to be replaced with a box profile steel roof. It looks like I will be busy over the next month or two.

Spitfire Mk9 Cutaway line drawing.

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 complete.

Spitfire Engine Bay Detail

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 from 3D Model

Spitfire Plan Taken from 3D Model

3D Spitfire Model Standing on 2D Plan

3D Spitfire Model Standing on 2D Plan

Robert Burke Portraits & Art

New Header Graphic for the Robert Burke Portraits &: Art Website

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 - 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

July 2017

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.

AThe 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 and its facebook page

Robert Burke Portraits and Art - Responsive website

The 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 possible.

June 2017

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 drawing skills.

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.

Robert Burke - Portraits and Art Website

The website 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 website

Pencil Portraits

May 2017

Work 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 profiles have 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.

Spitfire Cutaway Model

Robert Burke Portraits & Art

I have kept myself busy over the past month and one area that seems to be gaining momentum is my traditional artwork of sketching pencil portraits 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.

Pet Portrait Flyer

Pencil Portrait brochure

April 2017

Mk9 Spitfire Project

As 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 render the 360 degree rotation video below.

Propeller Plan

Propeller Tutorial

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 challenges.

Spitfire Mk 9 Cutaway Work in Progress

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.

Boxer Dog - Pet Portrait

Kitten - Pet Portrait

March 2017:

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 this far.

There 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.

Spitfire Cockpit details

I 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.

Technical Illustration of a Spitfire - in progress

As 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.

Robert Burke - Portraits & Art

Other 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 dog. Hope you agree the line and shading quality has improved a lot over the portrates I posted last month.

Pet Portrate  - My Border Collie Saffy

Pet Portrait

T28 Camper van Build

Now 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 and 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.

ABS textured bumpers being colour coded to match the camper.

February 2017:

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.

Mk IX Spitfire Structural Framework

Its 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.

Daenerys Tygarian and Tyrion Lanister

Bill Kaye

January 2017:

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 career path. If you come to this site occasionally you have probably noticed that nothing was added from mid 2015. This was because the demands of my last job took over all my time. In September 2016 I parted company with my employer to take a well deserved career break 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 to 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.

Robert Burke - Illustration, website

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 Camper. The van had reasonable bodywork, but fairly high mileage and a number of mechanical problems.

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.

T5 Builders Van

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.

PopTop and Windows fitted

The roof 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 pdf 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 bandwidth 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 608 Bearing tutorial online in the >> tutorials section <<.