The Month of Water

June starts today. I’d better get my arse in gear.

“水無月” is the olden name for June in Japan. The first letter is “water”, the second “no” and the third “month” (“moon”). But “水無月” doesn’t mean “month of no water”. The “no” letter is actually the possessive – “of”. So the real meaning is “month of water”, which makes sense since June is the month a stationary front sits over Japan and deposits rain regularly on much of the country.

I have no interest in the history of Japan, nor this kind of linguistic titbit. Not much interest in the weather either. But “水無月” is interesting as a theme.

Bothrogonia ferruginea (Fabricius)

How much easier this would be if it was a photo blog. One click and there’s your post. Instead, I have to spend hours moving round vertices, turning edges, extruding polygons before I have something to show for my effort. Graphic software has come on leaps and bounds, but there will always be bucketloads of unglamorous spade work to do.

I’m having difficulty finding good reference material for modelling the firefly. The genus I need to make is one of the typical japanese varieties – ゲンジボタル (GenjiBotaru) or “Luciola cruciata”. I should be able to go around picking up dead ones next month. In the meantime, I thought I’d take some insect photos to get in the mood.

This one is called “Bothrogonia ferruginea (Fabricius)” (ツマグロオオヨコバイ) and it landed on my wife’s shoulder this afternoon. I used an old Ricoh CX-1. It has a pretty decent macro mode for such a small camera.

Modelling Start

I’m starting with the fireflies.

I was considering stylising them, like the insects in “A Bug’s Life“, but I’m not really aiming this at children. Although they’re central to the story, they won’t be appearing as characters. There’s no need for them to be cute.

The tool I use is Autodesk’s 3ds Max. Most of my work involves space, so it’s not often I get the chance to model something like this. I’ve started with a combination of spline and poly modelling. This is also my opportunity to get to know the Graphite Modelling Tools. That toolbar has sat unused since it was first introduced.


This is what I’ll do first.

It wasn’t meant to be water. I started with fireflies but that led to June. Then that led to 水無月 (minazuki), which is equivalent to June in the old japanese calendar –  “The month of water” or “the month of no water” depending on your source. Fireflies appear here in June.

‘Here’ is a place called Iwamura in Japan. It’s where I live.

The water will be water in space. Water is eveywhere, as ice, vapour and liquid. There’s plenty in our solar system, it infuses our Milky Way galaxy, and has been detected 12 billion light-years away.

Project #1 – water, fireflies, Iwamura and space. Collected together into a short animation, 「水無月の宇宙」. Start.