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Of Dragons and Druids

Chapter 3: The Kitchen of Druidham

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Gahlen knew that he should be going back to the cellars to help Stenkarlek delve them, but he did not want to go back just yet. The dwarf did not particularly like him, considering the boy more of a nuisance than a help, even with a dragon to help moving the rock. And that was all they did, Gahlen and Koeden. Bring one load of loose rock up to the surface after another, until Stenkarlek decided that they had done enough for the day. Gahlen grumbled at his father silently, since it was he who had volunteered the boy's services to the dwarves. But that had been months ago, and the dwarves were still digging. They were nice storerooms and cellars, expertly hewn, painstakingly precise in their corners and utterly smooth in their floors. But the job was tedious, and the seven-year-old wanted to go run around outside and bother some of the other children of the island. 

And so Gahlen was stopping by the kitchens, hoping to draw Jalme away from his chores. Jalme was the son of the steward, Dervin, who ran the day-to-day affairs of Druidham, assisting Gahlen's father Henjin. The two boys were almost the same age, though Jalme was eight and a bit taller. As he approached the kitchen doors, Gahlen's mouth began to water; succulent smells were wafting on the air currents of the hallway to his nose, reminding him that it was nearly time to eat. Koeden nudged him the back, indicating that he too would like a snack. Hadn't he fed the dragon today already? Young dragons were always hungry, though, and were always growing, too. Perhaps he could sneak a snack from Gregi, the butcher, for Koeden and something from Grishna, the orcwife, for himself. 

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Gregi was busy chopping the heads off of chickens when he opened the door. A faint smile flickered in the corner of the bald man's mouth when his eyes saw the boy and beast framed in the dim doorway. At least Gahlen thought it was a smile; the butcher's beard was so thick that it was hard to tell. Another head popped into the bucket at Gregi's feet, and he slowly slid the whole bucket of heads towards the door. Marni, scaling fish at the same table, clucked in disapproval, but said nothing.

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The old matron had a soft spot for the roguish youth and his dragon, and the boy exploited it whenever he could. If only he could sneak in and see Sorna; she always had a pie or cookie ready for him, but he would have to avoid the eyes of Jalme's aunt, Julippa, who ran the kitchen and had no use for rascals in her way. Unfortunately, Sorna was talking to Kupika about berry pies as the elf brought over a sack of gooseberries for a pie. Several pies were already cooling on the table; probably currant pies, judging by Sorna's pile of currant sacks by the table. 

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Unfortunately, Julippa was sharing a table with Grishna as the two prepared a stew and some salads. That meant no snack from the orcwife today. Grishna was the best, always doting over the young dragonrider whenever she saw him, giving him big hugs and lots of treats. Her husband Urglan, was a dragonrider, too, the only orc to become one so far. 

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Jalme was looking decidedly unhappy as he turned a spit with a large islebird over the fire. He was definitely hot, and always grouchy. But there was no way that he would be able to get away from the work without getting into serious trouble with everyone in the kitchen. Bummer!

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Gahlen lingered in the doorway for a moment longer, before deciding to go outside and try to find one of his sisters to bother. Or maybe his mother, if Galaria might be around somewhere and not busy. But he was done with carrying rocks today. He grabbed the bucket of chicken heads and a bit of cured sausage that Gregi had tossed to him, too, and went back the way he came, out into the lower courtyard of Druidham, into the bright sunshine in the midst of the Mystic Isles. 

 

 

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More pics:

Spoiler

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C&C welcome. I'm not as happy with the lighting in this one as I would have hoped. There are too many different pieces to it: a lamp under the roasting pit, a flashlight behind the bread oven, light bricks and another flashlight lighting glow crystals in the wall, and another lamp shining through a bank of windows (out of shot) to imitate daylight coming in. It was ambitious, and perhaps I'll give it another go before tearing it apart; the results here are "good enough" but not great. 

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Really liking the high rafter ceiling and the activity you have going on in this scene.  Great layout with several nooks and crannies; the statues in the arches on the walls are excellent too!  But I agree with you; something just isn't right about the lighting.  I think you have too much white reflection and it's not warm enough.  It's as though the fourth wall were a sheet of glass through which the sunlight comes after bouncing off a polished floor which is a weird impression for a kitchen to give. :wink:  Not sure how to fix it, but that is my take on the problem. :laugh:

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Posted (edited)

Well done, the up-close shots look really good, and so do the beams above!  As you know I gave you a critique on flickr, but altogether it's lovely work, the details stand out! 

Edited by W Navarre

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Nice scene.  I like the high ceilings.  I also like the way you have different stations for the different food being made.  The roasting pit is nice.  The lighting is good and I like all the figs too.  

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It's really like the whole scene is full of live, I like it alot. Well done!

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Lots of cool stuff happening here. I do agree about the lighting, though, since it kind of gives the scene a dramatic, almost sinister tone. Not in every shot, but a few feel like something ominous is happening in those kitchens.

Your writing is, as always, a standout on GoH.

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Very nice overall!  There's a lot going on in these pictures.  I like all the individual details: the guy on the ladder getting supplies off the shelf; the chandelier tied to the wall; the doors to the kitchen; all the food prep taking place; the vegetables made from pieces.  All of these are excellent.  While you say the lighting isn't great, I think it's all right.  Not perfect, and you're right, the juxtaposition of the light from the wall is a little odd, but it's more of a subconscious notice.  I think one of the things that I am not quite sure about are the high ceilings in the kitchen, from a practical aspect.  From the microscale build, it appears that Druidham is carved into a cave (maybe it's built on an island mountainside, I dunno), so there's a question of space.  Regardless of that, I would think that there are high ceilings due to heat dissipation over the ovens, but you have a modern style fume vent over the fire pit that would remove most of the heat, so it's curious why the ceiling is so high.  The front scene is great, the back scene is great, but the middle (where the orc is working) is a little lost.  If it's meant to make the scene look busy, it works well, but if we are meant to see it, removing a little of the middle scene may clean it up.  In any case, it's a nice build.  I like the doors, too.  Do they open?

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Lovely done, HQ! I can't clearly see the dragon in the doorway, which is a pity - or you meant for it to be that way? As for the lighting, I can tell there's something weird about it, yet my eyes aren't trained enough to tell what it is. On the spot, I'd say the red one through the roasting pit is too strong (so I can't see the oven one clearly enough), while the right hand side of the build is too dark, which confuses things a bit, despite being realistic given the daylight coming in. But yes, just trying to give you some inputs, I'm not the lighting expert, as you know :laugh: Other than that, I like all the activity and the details, plus I love the way you're fleshing out Druidham through all these interiors! :wub:

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On 3/9/2019 at 5:49 AM, en_zoo said:

As for the lighting, I can tell there's something weird about it, yet my eyes aren't trained enough to tell what it is. On the spot, I'd say the red one through the roasting pit is too strong (so I can't see the oven one clearly enough), while the right hand side of the build is too dark, which confuses things a bit, despite being realistic given the daylight coming in. But yes, just trying to give you some inputs, I'm not the lighting expert, as you know :laugh: 

I think the main problem is that the light is too fixed and too red to look like fire or coals.  And there is a lot of glare caught from the plastic bricks which looks off, mostly from the light flooding in from the left. Toning that down would be good, perhaps, but really it's hard to nail lighting, and even if not convincing the lighting here makes it more unique than if just lit like a normal model.  

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Posted (edited)
On 3/5/2019 at 4:27 PM, derEselausErgste said:

Wow... 

Not more, not less...

Thanks!

On 3/5/2019 at 5:06 PM, Kai NRG said:

Really liking the high rafter ceiling and the activity you have going on in this scene.  Great layout with several nooks and crannies; the statues in the arches on the walls are excellent too!  But I agree with you; something just isn't right about the lighting.  I think you have too much white reflection and it's not warm enough.  It's as though the fourth wall were a sheet of glass through which the sunlight comes after bouncing off a polished floor which is a weird impression for a kitchen to give. :wink:  Not sure how to fix it, but that is my take on the problem. :laugh:

Thanks, Kai, the activity was something I wanted to highlight. I was inspired partially by your "Chef Délicieux's Castle Kitchen" and @soccerkid6's recent kitchen, too, for some of the LEGO kitchen details. If I re-try lighting it, I will adjust the angle of the light coming in the windows to see how that looks, and if necessary put some sort of yellow or orange filter on the light. But we'll see if I get around to it. I have to finish the Falcon first. 

On 3/5/2019 at 8:05 PM, W Navarre said:

Well done, the up-close shots look really good, and so do the beams above!  As you know I gave you a critique on flickr, but altogether it's lovely work, the details stand out! 

Thanks! I respectfully disagree about the tables, though, since I wanted the look to be a busy kitchen, full of life and activity, rather than a clearly visible and visually simpler shot. I don't think I agree that all-LEGO shots need to be simpler, either, as the goal is to replicate real-life, and real life is often cluttered. 

On 3/5/2019 at 9:42 PM, zoth33 said:

Nice scene.  I like the high ceilings.  I also like the way you have different stations for the different food being made.  The roasting pit is nice.  The lighting is good and I like all the figs too.  

Thanks! I tried to make it realistic, and you're not going to be scaling fish and making berry pie at the same table, I wouldn't think, unless you had to. 

On 3/5/2019 at 10:01 PM, TheLordOfBricks said:

Awesome! Such a wonderful busy-ness to it, yet keeping it simplistic with the textures. :) Really nice work! Keep it up!

Thank you! The simple texture of the walls is intended to imitate newly constructed (and by dwarves, no less) stonework, which would be quite smooth.

On 3/6/2019 at 10:44 AM, Servertijd said:

It's really like the whole scene is full of live, I like it alot. Well done!

Thanks, life is what I want to convey!

On 3/6/2019 at 11:26 AM, The Last of Nergoue said:

very nice build, i love the combination of the clean stone walls with the liveliness of the scene.

Thank you!

On 3/8/2019 at 2:52 PM, mccoyed said:

Lots of cool stuff happening here. I do agree about the lighting, though, since it kind of gives the scene a dramatic, almost sinister tone. Not in every shot, but a few feel like something ominous is happening in those kitchens.

Your writing is, as always, a standout on GoH.

Glad you like the writing. I can see what you mean about the lighting; we'll see if adjustments can solve the issue. 

On 3/8/2019 at 8:44 PM, Grover said:

Very nice overall!  There's a lot going on in these pictures.  I like all the individual details: the guy on the ladder getting supplies off the shelf; the chandelier tied to the wall; the doors to the kitchen; all the food prep taking place; the vegetables made from pieces.  All of these are excellent.  While you say the lighting isn't great, I think it's all right.  Not perfect, and you're right, the juxtaposition of the light from the wall is a little odd, but it's more of a subconscious notice.  I think one of the things that I am not quite sure about are the high ceilings in the kitchen, from a practical aspect.  From the microscale build, it appears that Druidham is carved into a cave (maybe it's built on an island mountainside, I dunno), so there's a question of space.  Regardless of that, I would think that there are high ceilings due to heat dissipation over the ovens, but you have a modern style fume vent over the fire pit that would remove most of the heat, so it's curious why the ceiling is so high.  The front scene is great, the back scene is great, but the middle (where the orc is working) is a little lost.  If it's meant to make the scene look busy, it works well, but if we are meant to see it, removing a little of the middle scene may clean it up.  In any case, it's a nice build.  I like the doors, too.  Do they open?

Thanks, Grover! I was basing the build and many of its details on an old "look inside the castle" type book that I found in a discard pile from the library at the school where I teach, so I confess I was not thinking about the scale so much there. The picture had fairly high ceilings and also had a sort of hood for smoke coming from the oven, which I replicated as best I could; if it is a bit too modern, I blame that on the gnomes who live on the island, too. All of the details are meant to make it look busy, yes, even at the expense of a bit of clarity. The doors on the left do open, the ones on the right and at the top of the stairs (not visible in any shot) do not open. 

As for Druidham itself, it is both carved into a cave and built on an island mountainside, depending on the part of Druidham you are in. The kitchen complex is built at the mouth of a cave and is not carved; dark bley is the color of the living rock in the micro build, and light bley the color of added stonework. When I build a dragon's weyr (cave) it will be dark bley; if I build storerooms, they will be dark bley too. If I build down into the catacombs of pre-existing tunnels beneath the island, they will also be dark bley. But for now, everything I have built for Druidham - hall, library, loggia, kitchen - has been built up rather than carved. 

On 3/9/2019 at 3:49 AM, en_zoo said:

Lovely done, HQ! I can't clearly see the dragon in the doorway, which is a pity - or you meant for it to be that way? As for the lighting, I can tell there's something weird about it, yet my eyes aren't trained enough to tell what it is. On the spot, I'd say the red one through the roasting pit is too strong (so I can't see the oven one clearly enough), while the right hand side of the build is too dark, which confuses things a bit, despite being realistic given the daylight coming in. But yes, just trying to give you some inputs, I'm not the lighting expert, as you know :laugh: Other than that, I like all the activity and the details, plus I love the way you're fleshing out Druidham through all these interiors! :wub:

The dragon is meant to be partially obscured by the doorway. He'll appear in full in a later build, I am sure. As to the light, the firepit is just a regular bulb shining through trans-orange pieces, so it's odd that it looks so red; it is red-looking, don't get me wrong, but it is odd that is does not look as orange; whereas the bread oven utilizes mostly trans-yellow, and looks yellow-orange. Oh well. Thanks for the feedback, en_zoo! 

On 3/11/2019 at 9:20 AM, W Navarre said:

I think the main problem is that the light is too fixed and too red to look like fire or coals.  And there is a lot of glare caught from the plastic bricks which looks off, mostly from the light flooding in from the left. Toning that down would be good, perhaps, but really it's hard to nail lighting, and even if not convincing the lighting here makes it more unique than if just lit like a normal model.  

See my comment above about the redness. I'm not sure what you mean about fixed, though, describing the light. It's not like the light can move in the pictures, so that can't be what you mean. And the glare on shiny bricks is a challenge that I have not figured out how to overcome. A different angle might help, though, as I said above, so we'll see what I can do later. 

Edited by Henjin_Quilones

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6 hours ago, Henjin_Quilones said:

Thanks! I respectfully disagree about the tables, though, since I wanted the look to be a busy kitchen, full of life and activity, rather than a clearly visible and visually simpler shot. I don't think I agree that all-LEGO shots need to be simpler, either, as the goal is to replicate real-life, and real life is often cluttered. 

Alright.  I certainly don't object to clutter, as you probably know, what I object to, and you will probably agree, is the fact that the front table and minifigs are blurred and mixed in with the other details in a disorderly fashion, at least for my taste.  I do see how it's hard to balance detail and clutter with order and getting as much awesome as you can in there, as well as the busy effect you seem to have desired! It's just possible that it would have looked better if you had gotten the front table in focus as opposed to the recesses though, or just maybe you could get all of it more in focus.  

6 hours ago, Henjin_Quilones said:

See my comment above about the redness. I'm not sure what you mean about fixed, though, describing the light. It's not like the light can move in the pictures, so that can't be what you mean. And the glare on shiny bricks is a challenge that I have not figured out how to overcome. A different angle might help, though, as I said above, so we'll see what I can do later. 

Okay, what I mean is that the red (and I know what you mean, color being changed in the photo from real life is annoying!) light is for the most part not flickering, but stationary and thorough, the way a light build lights something, not the way a fire lights something. This is perhaps partly due to the very flat, clean mirrored walls as well as the light source, and I will say shadows help to make it look like it's fire lit.  Hard to avoid this of course, and yeah, also hard to avoid glare with plastic! 

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Beautiful kitchen. I like the detailed layout and the clutter looks pretty realistic to me. But then again, I always did like food! The lighting may not all be perfect but it gets the point across well.

I never did get around to commenting on your lovely library and hall. I really like both of those, too. Hyper-textured builds can be overrated and I like your classic approach, plus the focus on interiors has been neat.

If you don't mind telling, whereabouts in VA do you live? I'm about a half hour south of Roanoke, just east of the Blue Ridge. Booker T, SML, etc.

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Wow HQ! I love interiors, I love big interiors and I just love this moc of yours!! Your recently interior mocs is such an inspiration for me! 

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