All Aboard For British Colonialism!

TrainCamera01So you’re standing on a train platform in Cairo in 1903, bags packed, and you absolutely, positively have to get to Cape Town, South Africa – 8,000 miles away. You’re out of luck. The British Empire never bothered to finish it. Granted, it was a big, expensive hobby project that kept getting interrupted by World Wars and oppressive, native-exploiting regimes falling out of fashion, but it sure would have been convenient. These are the thoughts rolling through my head while watching the pristine blu-ray release of Walt Disney’s Dumbo – who’s with me?

Dumbo_PosterDumbo has a great animated circus steam train running through the movie – and if you’re like me, everywhere you look you proclaim, “I want to model that!”. Preferably not out loud. The old steam trains of the past have such great personality and character with random pipes and bells and horns sticking out in all directions. The new bullet trains are all streamline and business. No contest which is more fun to play with.

So what’s a train without a station to pull up to? Keeping with the Disney/British Empire theme, an obvious choice was the beautifully eclectic entrance structure of Disney World’s The Jungle Cruise attraction (check out the reference plate below). Train_ContactSheetIt’s a beautiful open-air safari outpost building with savannah shutters, ticket counters and period luggage ready for the ride. Nobody does detail like Disney. Next up was adding a few local touches like the tiny station name Ntungamo (an actual stop on the uncompleted rail line in Western Uganda), and local Acacia and Baobab trees native to the area.

Trees and bushes were all hand-modeled in SpeedTree (used in Avatar, Pirates of the Caribbean, etc) and grass patches loaded into Maya with V-Ray proxies kept my computer from smoking and passing out. Some might ask, “Hey! Where’s all the textures and lights?” Sometimes it’s fun just to model – on to the next project!

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