I got back to Blender and added a couple passes of leaves. I simply floated them below each of the twigs, expecting up to 4 on each one. On the "sparse" view, I put one leaf on about half the twigs.
It's kind of hard to see the sparse collection, so here's the "man on the branch" view:
And then I went ahead and filled out nearly all the open slots—I think there's about 200 empty with 2,008 filled. Again from the branch-view for comparison-sake:
Finally, I've been enamored of the "far-away" view even though I haven't posted much:
I think this pretty much concludes my work with this particular 3D model. Right now I can see making two models in the future: first is one that will be the basic shell with the mechanics to allow it to be assembled, and how it will collapse; second is a final design that will be a board-by-board construction that should really drive me insane. One change would be to go with 2×3 lumber for the twigs instead of 2x4s. This would make the twigs look, well, more twiggy and allow the leaves to stand out more.
In thinking about the next stage, I'm thinking that the crowning branches might not be worth having—at least not in the thick form they are now. From my first idea of how the Temple would be, I kind of knew how the lower level would be assembled and how it would collapse. Recently I devised a way for the second tier to be added, modelling it after a kind of scissor-jack that would raise it into place. That would also allow it to collapse straight down as the lower-level split outward.
I got back to Blender today and quickly added some twigs to the lower-level branches. I was almost done and it crashed so I had to do it again … faster the second time, so there's good and bad with that. My eyes were going a bit crazy trying to see where to place things as it got quite dense. I think it's too cluttered with branches to permit leaves to hang off the twigs (at least without getting all tangled with one another) but I'll have to wait and put fresh eyes on it another day.
It's getting kind of hard to see, so I have another angle I've been playing with that's a person standing on the lower level:
I'm not thrilled with this result, and having only added 50 twigs, it's not enough to get close to my earlier estimates of the number of leaves for solid coverage. I figure I'll have about 4 spots for leaves on each twig or branch. In these images, there are 268 lower small branches, 50 twigs, and 124 upper small branches for total of 442. With 4 on each one, that's only 1,768 close to the sparse fill with 1,900—although that was an even distribution on a hemisphere and not in a pattern mostly on the outer sides. By not filling in the top, it makes for an odd kind of tree, but one that seems to look okay looking from the ground.
Starting with the idea I had with making canopies—by hanging thinner branches from above rather than supporting from below—I came up with a way to make a 3D test of that idea. I started by making guard-rail posts around the perimeter of the elevated trunks that people walk on. Working upward, many of the posts would have a rope to anchor the bottom of a branch. On the lower elevated level, the tips of the branches would have a rope tied to another branch which would have holes to hang leaves with messages; the upper level would only have the main branches to hang leaves. The tips of all these branches would be anchored from above with ropes to the next level up.
This way, the branches will sway with the wind with a great deal of flexibility. Further, for any that break, the rope or rigid branch can both be replaced on the Playa. If the branches had been rigidly attached from below, flexing of the branches would be difficult to achieve, and they would be prone to permanent breakage.
For now, I only rendered the first set of branches, omitting the forks on the lower elevated level. I also omitted any anchors, simply placing the branches how I would like them to appear.
I was just out walking around the neighborhood and I realized that trees tend to place their leaves on the outer periphery of the branches. It forms a canopy—which, I guess is why we use the same word for a forest's treetops and a kind of roof.
I think this is what is making my tree models look so weird and sparse. I think I can string ropes to form a kind of quasi-organic geodesic dome that would provide the hooks upon which to attach the leaves. That was another sticking point in the design: how to create nodes where one could hang jeir message. I was pondering making some kind of wooden branches, but they'd be likely to snap in high winds.
I met with Jay Lincoln, a local artist and teacher at a coffee shop. He drew sketches for me and we worked on it. It was during this meeting that the project fully became collaborative.
Jay suggested adding outriggers to hold up the long spans of the branches—perhaps to appear like ladders, or if the branches touched the ground. I insisted the branches be free-standing, though … unless, of course, it proves impossible to do so. He had the idea of integrating ladders and stairs into the minor branches which would be fine by me.
I have been working on some scale drawings in 2-dimensional CAD software and came up with a way to build the main branches. There would be four branches—one for each compass direction—and all of them would be similarly constructed. Alone, each would fall outward, so they would need to be tied to the mirrored pair to balance it.
The branches would be built in segments that could be prefabricated and brought to the Playa for final assembly. The assembly could be done by hand, using only simple pulleys and winches to lift the branches. By working in mirrored teams, the branches would counterbalance one another. As they are winched off the ground, the next segment could be attached, continuing in this way until they are fully hoisted into position.