More than a few times in the past I’ve discussed the programs I’ve used to help define a story, lay out a time line, or even help design a local so I have a better idea of what it looks like when I’m trying to develop the description. And in the course of his novel I’ve used them all to make each of those things more or less come alive–
All save one.
If you were paying attention at the end of the excerpt yesterday–and I know you were–you saw the kids welcomed to the Sea Sprite Inn. What is it? It’s a fictional bed and breakfast just a half a block south of a real bed and breakfast on the same street. It’s location is right on shore of Salem Harbor, and though there’s a residence there now I’m sure they won’t mind that I’m uprooting them. It should also be pointed out that they’re directly across the street from The House of the Seven Gables, which makes it even easier to find.
Oh, and it’s owned by The Foundation and run by an alumnus of my magical school. That sort of thing happens, you know. Hiding in plain sight and all.
One of the things about the Sea Sprite Inn is that it becomes a focal point for Annie and Kerry in this novel, and while I’ve known so much about the school itself and some of the other locations they’ve visited, I’ve considered the Sea Sprite for a while but had no idea what their room was like. (Oh, and if you hadn’t figure out that their “special accommodations” involved them sharing a room, you haven’t been paying attention.)
I was pretty much exhausted last night after coming home from work; I ended up nodding off in a chair about six-thirty, and wasn’t functioning at peak performance for most of the evening. But I still had enough hand-eye coordination to be able to put things together visually, so I thought, “Why not design their room?” And I did.
Here’s the program I used: Sweet Home 3D, which is an open source program that you can get free with a few bare bones items that you use for furniture, or you pay fifteen dollars from Amazon and get it with a whole lot of items to make your design look like a real place. I’ve had the free version for a while, but last night I sprung for the Amazon copy and set it up on my machine.
Here’s the interface, by the way, with the finished room and some . . . additions.
You design the room or rooms in the top right, you get a 3D scene of it below, and to the left you have your furniture and items along with a list of what you have and if you want it visible. You can change the size and proportions of everything and then save it off to your hard drive.
The room is good sized: twenty feet by thirty. There’s a large bay window to the south, giving them a great view of the harbor. The bed is actually a canopy bed: I’m going to hunt for a download tonight and see if I can find one to stick in the room in place of the one there. Because this floor of the B & B is reserved for Foundation people, there’s enough room to conjure up just about anything you want in the room, which explains all the space there. I mean, why leave things laying about when you can magically bring them up when you need them.
The nicest function is the 3D view, which allows you to see what you’ve created. You can even use the program to get a snap shot of your view and store it on your hard drive, if you were of a mind–
And since you can rotate the view around to just about any point, you can get a lot of different shots.
One of the things I played with last night, though, was a video walk through. Pretty much it’s a movie of what it might look like if you were to entered the room and look about from the inside, and one of the last things I did before going to bed was make one and upload it to my account on YouTube. The picture quality isn’t that great, because my machine won’t handle the massive rendering needed for a near perfect look, but it’s good enough that you’ll get the idea.
So there you have it: the final location designed. And that’s a pretty neat thing when you think about it, because this really all began with me designing Annie’s Lake House, which became the first scene in the novel. Now we’ve come full-circle and I’ve designed the last new location for the last scene in the book.
Time to go in and finish this off.