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I'm trying to figure out how to properly model the top part of the Ancient Greek Column. Can someone explain the easiest way to do so?

enter image description here

This is the base I did:

enter image description here

You can download it here: https://ufile.io/1eb83

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    $\begingroup$ You have 3 options. 1. Sculpt it and retopologize (best method for me, you can then bake normals to low poly retopo and have nice clean mesh) or model it by hand as master 1D_inc (youtu.be/B0hUBH5AmCE). 2. Create height map and try using it as displacement map (experimental microdisplacemant will be your friend). 3. Model just base shape and use image as texture with normal map. $\endgroup$ – cgslav Feb 21 '17 at 16:59
  • $\begingroup$ @Jonathan Here's my answer showing how to model a volute: blender.stackexchange.com/questions/46706/… May be helpful. Please check it out. $\endgroup$ – Paul Gonet Feb 21 '17 at 17:40
  • $\begingroup$ When I was doing a column, I have used default cube and curve modifier. At first I drуw the contour with Grease pencil, then convert it Curve, then combine Cube with this curve, also add some beveling and scaling during the process. When you finally happy with your "spiral" part apply all modifiers $\endgroup$ – Serge L Feb 21 '17 at 18:26
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Concerning the main part to do it quickly...

The idea is to notice we have a kind of spiral which is more or less the equivalent of outer and inner circles.

We know too that a subsurface modifier can do a circle from square/straight lines.

That's what we use here :

Simply follow the reference image with the fewest vertices has possible.

To do that, preset a subsurface modifier in order to view step by step the rendered curve as you add vertices.

Here I have chosen to have 5 points for half of a circle with a subdivision surface set to two:

enter image description here

To obtain the image above, begin to add just the contour lines. Then use the F2 addon to fill the faces (it is really quick! https://wiki.blender.org/index.php/Extensions:2.6/Py/Scripts/Modeling/F2). The important point is to have the same amount of vertices for the inner and outer part (so that they correspond and you can make faces all around).

A trick: don't close totally the face on the right of the inner circle (that will be easier for the loop cuts later).

Now... we just have a flat surface, but nearly all is composed of quads and edge loops.

From that, "loop cut and slide" with CtrlR at the center.

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Then validate and move down Z this line:

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Now enforce the flat parts, either adding another loop cut or beveling:

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Complete filing the hole we let before, extruding the outer part and eventually add another subdivision level the the subsurface modifier.

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Note: for the thinner details, as said in the comments, use normal maps or others... or spend more time to model it...

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I'm guessing the curves are what's troubling you. My suggestion is to just grab a vertice and start extruding along the curves. Then start making your topology better by filling quads between vertices. To create the groove of the curve, I would suggest just extruding inwards many times until you have something that looks nice. Don't be afraid to just do what you can in the corners and sharp edges of the mesh. Even if it looks ugly up-close, it should look good from further away. Don't forget to use a mirror modifier, so that you only have to model one side of the mesh. I hope this helps.

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