Progress Blog Post 1: the Galeazza begins to take shape

In this post we present the intermediate accomplishments of our project, as well as the next goals that we plan to achieve within one month. We begin our description by showing the data that we have collected so far, which are serving as the primary source of information in the first modeling stage. Thus, we will describe in detail the modeling procedure, as well as the tools that we are exploiting to create the first components of the Venetian galleass. Finally, we will list the upcoming stages of our project together with an updated version of the planned milestones.

Data and sources of information

In order to model the Venetian Galeazza in detail, as a first step we had to find reliable and precise documentation about the structure, the proportions and the materials of such ship. In order to do so, we decided to go to Venice and look for specific plans and books about galleass of the 16th century.

Our first intent was to visit the Arsenale di Venezia and search for the galleass plans in its archive. However, due to some complications in having access to the documents of the Arsenale, we decided to look for information at the Libreria Mare di Carta, a bookshop that is specialized in the Venetian nautical field. In this extremely well-furnished archive, we were able to find exhaustive information about the Galeazza of the battle of Lepanto’s epoch, including plans of the ship and several books on this specific topic. In particular, the material that we have purchased is composed by:

  • Eleven plans of the Venetian Galeazza issued by the Associazione Navimodellisti Bolognesi. These detailed drawings are serving as the primary source of information in the construction of the main structure of the ship.
  • The book Galeazze, un sogno veneziano[1]. This volume is about the history of the Venetian galleass and the evolution of such ship during the different epochs of the Republic of Venice. This book will be extremely useful in the later stage of the modeling process, especially when we will insert details about the materials, the embellishments and the tools of the ship.
  • The book Navi veneziane[2]. Such catalogue is a collection of several ancient original drawings about the Venetian fleet since the 13th century. The sketches included in this book will be fundamental to infer the internal architecture of the galleass in the last stage of our project.

After purchasing and examining this material, we were able to start the modeling procedure.

Modeling approach and tools

Following the recommendation of our assistant we decided to exploit Rhino 3D instead of AutoCAD or SolidWorks for modeling the ship. The reason is that such tools is quite easy to use and it has many import and export possibilities. In particular, the import function proved to be extremely useful as it allowed us to automatically obtain a 2D curve of each building block of the ship from the scans of the 11 plans of the Venetian Galeazza.

In order to do so, we first had to scan at high resolution the eleven existing plans of the ship. Thus, by using Adobe Illustrator CC, we were able to extract the polygons defining the shape of the parts. The reason why we chose AI for this purpose was that such program is available for a free trial  period and allows the extraction of the polygonal line in an intuitive way. Additionally, Rhino allows the direct import of AI files.

The line extraction does however not work flawlessly. Quite often the curves were not fully closed or deviated from the actual line due to stains on the plans. Therefore, in some cases we had to modify and correct the imported curves manually. When this was done we only needed to scale the parts to the right size according to the scale reported in the plans (1:50). Finally, after obtaining the contours of the building blocks in Rhino, we just had to extrude the curves.

ScanScan with AIScan with RhinoFigure 2: Main modeling stages.  Top panel: Original scan of the image. Central panel: Processing with Adobe Illustrator CC. Bottom panel: Extrusion in Rhino3D

Next goals

So far we have been able to model the main pieces of the plans, and this allowed us to create the hull of the ship. The following step will be to assemble all the different parts, in order to obtain the main structure of the Galeazza. The plans we purchased contain guidance, so that we will be able to know which peace has to be placed where.

Once the hull and the keel of the ship are created and assembled, we will start defining materials so that we can create renderings of the model. For that, we gathered information about rendering techniques and useful programs. Even if Rhino3D includes a rendering function, it seems that there exist other programs with more powerful rendering capabilities for doing this kind of work. We could find two software programs suitable for our requirements: Maxwell Render and Blender Cycle.  The former seems to be a very sophisticated program but it is payable, while the latter is an open-source software. After talking to an expert in 3D modelling, who recommended both programs, we decided to begin working with Blender Cycle since it should be able to manage our demands. Therefore we are going to continue with our modelling and in the mean time we will install the rendering program and try out some basic functions to get used to it.

A further goal of our project was to do a simulation of the ship as soon as it will be modelled. There is a simulation tool called Orca3D that runs as plug-in in the Rhino environment. This tool leverages Rhino especially for naval requests. So far we noticed that Rhino is a very powerful and user-friendly modelling tool. Hence we expect a lot from Orca3D as well. According to the manufacturer, such software should allow us to “…create the hull, deck, and superstructure surfaces, analyze hydrostatics and stability, predict speed and track the weight and the centre of gravity of the ship”. Thus, installing this plug-in will be as well one of our next steps to get used to it and to try it out, so that at the end we will be able to perform physical simulations of our Galeazza Veneta.

Milestones (updated)



[1] Guido Ercole, Galeazze. Un sogno veneziano, Gruppo Modellistico Trentino, 2010.
[2] Gilberto Penzo, Navi Veneziane, Lint, 2000.