What should we do when we can't find references?

Let’s say I want to model a medieval forge…

No matter how much you google you won’t be able to find front / top / side references for the forge.
So what is the process in these cases? Should I try to draw it?

Thanks in advance.

I would try and find any images you can of the items and import them as planes. This will give you something to look at constantly and repeatedly as you create the item from primitives.

For example: I’m currently working on modeling a specific car and absolutely no one actually takes direct side view or front view pics of cars. And top view, you wish… well I wish. So I’ve collected a number of different images of that car’s model year and then started prototyping the parts I figured I’d need. With that finished, I can get a better look at the overall shape and come to a more reasoned decision about modeling the final product.

It is hard and probably why fantasy and sci fi are so popular subjects! Nothing can be wrong. Very easy.

Historical items you might find images of originals, but as you say rarely do those recording them take or put up proper elevation, plan, side views. Just the ‘best’ pictorial views. So in the end you just have to use your judgment. If you have some view of the item check it by trying to look at your model from the same angle as the image appears to have been taken from. Be aware always of perspective distortion too.

For a medieval forge, try to find the oldest forges you can find images of, like paintings. Illuminated manuscript edge doodles. Sometimes you might get lucky and there is some archaeologist in an era who has written about the finds related to medieval forges, and their expert conjectures on how they were laid out. Reenactment groups often have good knowledge of everyday items of their era of interest. Or particularly military modelers, have great knowledge gathered to base painting their models and terrains with. Also blacksmithing has not changed much since then. Hammers, tongs, anvils. Just the means of heating will be very different. Best not include an oxy-acetylene bottle set!

In the end if you can’t find after diligent searching any specific details, no one else is going to know what you invent is categorically wrong! Just be in keeping with the era, materials, building styles. Especially non high quality, just domestic everyday stuff is the hardest to source into about. Just like us today it all got thrown away, demolished and redeveloped.

Depending on the style you’re looking for. There are some great fantasy drawn top-down forges made for DnD. Googling for DND forge might help you a bit, at the very least it should give you a nice top-down view of a fantasy forge.

The assets itself I would suggest just narrowing down, anvil, pliers yada yada.

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