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Exercise 4

Allow at least 30 minutes for the greyboxing activity (Exercise 4A). Additional time may be required for greyboxing larger areas of the site.

Part A: How to model assets in Blender

A step-by-step video for Exercise 4A can be found here.

In the first three exercises, you generated clean, georeferenced meshes of the archaeological structures visible at Malthi, considered how best to represent these features, and optimised the dataset to build upon it. In this exercise, we will first discuss the process and benefits of greyboxing, a term that was introduced in Exercise 2. Then, we will go through the basics of modelling assets (using Blender version 2.93.1) and how to apply textures to those assets, should you choose to do so. We’ll then discuss how to export your final reconstructed assets for use in Exercise 5.

For this exercise, you may wish to choose one section of the site to work with (one which you have already prepared through Exercises 1 – 3). If have prepared the data from the entire site, the optimised dataset can still be small enough that you’ll be able to progress through this exercise.

While we could introduce infinite amounts of detail, depending on your level of artistic skill, this exercise will focus on introducing the technical skills necessary to address our primary aims – creating a scaled reconstruction, populated with hypothesized structures that can help us understand how the site would have been navigated during the Middle/Late Bronze Age. As you will see in the next steps, greyboxing and modelling a site have significant archaeological value as a thought experiment and interpretive exercise. These processes can help you try new configurations of features to test whether make sense, given the evidence.

Key Blender Shortcuts

Blender 2.93.1 has many shortcuts that make it easier to work in the software. Listed below are a few that are essential to the exercise below.


Zoom: Scrolling Mouse-wheel

Rotate: Clicking the mouse-wheel and moving your mouse

Pan: Click mouse-wheel and hold the Shift key

Tab: Change between Object mode and Edit mode

1: Select Vertices (use the 1 from the top row of your keyboard, not the numpad)

2: Select Edges (use the 2 from the top row of your keyboard, not the numpad)

3: Select Faces (use the 3 from the top row of your keyboard, not the numpad)


Shift + A: Add a primitive mesh

Ctrl + R: Loop cut

S: Scale

R: Rotate

E: Extrude

G: Move


Ctrl + Z: Undo

Delete key: Will delete faces, edges, or vertices you have selected

Note: There are also a number of add-ons created by the Blender community that may make your construction experience easier (like Archipack or Archimesh, which are architecture-focused add-ons) – however, this exercise will focus on introducing the simple tools that are fundamental to modelling anything in Blender.

Greyboxing the site

As explained in Exercise 2, Greyboxing is a technique used in video game design to quickly test how a game level should be laid out. In this case, greyboxing will be a key tool in understanding the walls at Malthi. How do we visually differentiate between walls, tumble, piles of displaced stone from Valmin’s excavation, and exposed bedrock? How do we decide which walls are external and which were internal divisions? If you’re uncertain, you can always have a look at the maps from Worsham et al’s preliminary report on Malthi (2018) to aid in your wall identification. Even once we’ve identified the walls, we need to decide how the structures would have been accessed. Where are the doors? The stairways? This is where you would be discussing these issues with archaeologists familiar with the site to make better informed decisions. But for now, we will see how greyboxing affects our own interpretation.

The assembled map of Malthi with the normal map applied by enabling the 'Viewport shading' option, highlighted with a red box.

The measure tool applied to one of the walls at Malthi indicates that it is roughly 0.6 m thick.

Snapshot of the 'Snap' dropdown menu from the 3D Viewport toolbar.

How to alter the dimensions/scale of the cube primitives in Blender.

Rotating the cube (highlighted in orange in the scene) and emphasising the location of the Navigation Gizmo (surrounded with a red box).

The cubes generated are in contact with the Malthi dataset.

Our first cube has been extruded to reach the end/corner of this wall.

Adding a loop cut to our cube to generate walls perpendicular to our wall.

A new edge loop has been created in our cube to align with the interior edge of the adjacent wall.

After extruding the face, we have created an adjoining wall.

After using the Move function (G) to position the wall according to the geometry of the walls.

Think and Respond: As you greybox your chosen area, can you identify individual rooms? Individual buildings? How certain are you in separating these? Have you been able to identify access points?

Go back to Exercise 3 Part B To Exercise 4 Part B