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3D Fun – How 3D can Help you as a Writer

Use of 3D in Spotless #3, Crystal Whisperer - A Venice Canal

I already mentioned that I love using 3D to help me visualize the scenes in my novels. Here, I’ll go into some details of what I use, what models I create, and what’s their purpose.

Tool of the trade

I use the simplest, cheapest (as in free) and easiest to use 3D software, in my humble opinion: Google Sketchup (They’re not paying me to write this). It comes with both a standard set of tools to create your own models, but also a vast library of existing models, all made by a large community of Sketchup users who kindly share their work.

Using pre-made scenes

Sometimes I just download an entire pre-made scene, to check for visual details, dimensions, etc. Here, I downloaded a portion of a Venice canal, to examine the details of the bridge, it’s height, the depth of the canal, and get a general feeling for the scene I was writing.
Use of 3D in Spotless #3, Crystal Whisperer - A Venice Canal

This was completed by research on Google maps, where I’d use street view to determine exactly where the characters are, what they are seeing, what are the obstacles … This is even more useful than any of my own pics or memories. 🙂
Use of street maps in Crystal whisperer - A Venice Canal

Making my own models

Cool as it may be, Sketchup doesn’t have everything I need ready for use, so I build my own models, to get a feeling for the location in the book, and again, help me describe what my characters see as they navigate in a scene. Below, I modeled March’s cubicle house of Cape Saint Francis, and did a preliminary model of a building in Venice, where some scenes occur (it’s unfinished).
Use of 3D in Spotless #3, Crystal Whisperer - March's Cubicle House
Use of 3D in Spotless #3, Crystal Whisperer - Dikkenek's house in Venice

It’s also super useful for actions scenes, to see what’s where and when, check the distances, here again. In this scene, I wanted to know what was possible or not, determine a shooting angle, and whether the helicopter could both miss car 1 and hit car 2, and what would be the distance between the projectile and car 1’s roof.
Use of 3D in Spotless #3, Crystal Whisperer - March's Cubicle House

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2 Comments. Leave new

  • Wow, I had no idea you went to such lengths to visualize a scene to get it right! I already hold you in very high regard as a writer, but you’ve shot up even further in my estimation. Kudos! And thanks so much for sharing the images with us… I read and re-read your books, and now I have actual visuals instead of always relying on my imagination. Hang in there Camilla, even though it seems amazon is less than helpful to you in the process (understatement), your books are a wonderful gift to us all and such a treat to read!

    Reply
    • Thank you for your kind words, Susan! 🙂 I got some good news and encouraging words from an agent today. I’m thinking maybe the skies will clear up in the year to come! I don’t deserve your praise for the 3D thing: it’s so fun to do that I almost feel guilty because it doesn’t feel like work when I make a pause to do some Sketchup!

      Reply

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