I made a mission patch for the ship I’ve been working on. As people who read my previous post will notice, the ship’s name changed from Endeavour to Manticore. Someone over at Scifi-Meshes is working on an Enterprise-era Endeavour and I don’t like using the same names others are using unless I’m building a canon ship. So, I changed the name.
This is kind of a mini update, but I want people to know what is going on with this. I’ve begun texturing the ship, which is not an easy process. For starters, I have to teach myself texturing in Lightwave. As with a lot of things, the manual is only kinda sorta useful. It tells me the basic crap about mapping and adding textures, as one would expect from a manual. The book I have is pretty much useless. If it was a real book and not an ebook, I’d probably chuck it in the trash. But, it’s not and it’s forever on my Amazon account.
Anywho, so the challenge here was to get the maps to conform to the hull. In TrueSpace, I couldn’t do this. I had to use flat maps and apply them with plane, cube, sphere and cylinder UV mapping tools. Unfortunately, that’s also what I have in Lightwave, though Lightwave’s tools are much more intuitive. (in some ways) I tried what Lightwave has for UV unrwapping, which is a great method for making maps that conform to the hull contours, and it’s a joke. It makes way too many different parts for the map. I think it creates new parts for everything, even the friggin’ grid lines. So, that wasn’t working. So, I was back to flat maps. This isn’t really an issue, I have used flat maps since I started texturing seven or so years ago and they work fine.
My biggest hurdle with the saucer was making the panels match the contours of the shapes. With a “normal” saucer, I would just create some panels, make them follow a circular pattern, and call it a map. However, the saucer isn’t all circles. The inner parts taper inward into oval shapes and the paneling has to follow those shapes to look good. I started by trying to lay out some lines in Inkscape, (an open source vector graphics drawing program, for those who don’t know) and that went dreadfully. So, I finally decided to try setting up a saucer top in Layout with an orthographic camera above it and I rendered that out to a wireframe. That worked great. I had lines going in the correct pattern. So, I went with a “clean” saucer so as to not have the grid lines, etc. on there. I added lines where I needed them using Band Saw Pro and removed them where I didn’t need them by combining the faces. What I wound up with was a nice grid pattern that follows the contours of the saucer. So, with that I went to work.
In Gimp, (open source Photoshop-type program, for those who don’t know) I loaded up my grid and started using the bucket fill to fill in the panel colors for the spec map. Again, this worked great. After a while, I had my Aztec pattern on there and it came out exactly as I wanted it to. To make sure I got panels where I wanted them in relation to the grid lines, I also rendered a saucer top with the lines and other cuts to a wireframe image and laid that over the top of my grid with an alpha channel. That also came in handy later, when I wanted to us the airbrush tool to go around the grid lines and darken them a bit. So, after a bit of work, I now have my first texture map, for the saucer top. This is a “proof of concept” test and I think it came out great:
I wasn’t sure what specular settings to use, so I downloaded one of Dennis Bailey’s wonderful Lightwave meshes and checked out what he has. It looks kinda poopy in my WIP lighting, but it will look better in some regular scene lighting.
Also, for those who are interested, this ship is going to be named Endeavour. Those who know my body of work know that, when I built the Intrepid, I moved the nacelles back to do a variant that I named Endeavour. This ship will be replacing that one:
For the registry, I won’t be going with that stupid NY-07 crap that I did before. Obviously, there’s an issue there with the NX-01 registry. Prior to the episode Fortunate Son, you just think that refers to the ship’s experimental status, like NX-2000 an NX-74205. Unfortunately, in that episode, they first uttered the words “NX class.” That means that “NX” refers to the ship’s class, not its experimental status. From then on, “NX class” is used frequently and the second ship of the class was “NX-02.” Unfortunately, those are also the only two Starfleet ships in the series to have registry markings. The Intrepid and other Starfleet ships don’t have them. So, you have to guess what the others are. Some people have given the Intrepid the marking NV-01, as I did. As a natural extension, I added “NY-07″ to the Endeavour’s hull. Well, that won’t fly here. The cargo ships on Enterprise had the designation “ECS,” Earth Cargo Ship. IE: ECS Fortunate, ECS Horizon. I’ve decided that the NX class ships are special and other ships have a more standard registry. So, for this ship, I’m going with ESV-34. ESV = Earth Starfleet Vessel. I like that better than ESS (Earth Starfleet Ship) and I think it works great. (34 is my current age, for those who aren’t getting the connection there)
So, that’s what is going on with this. Thanks to anyone who stuck around to actually read this long-winded post.
One of the advantages to posting work on the Internet is that you have more eyes on your stuff and people can help you spot mistakes. It was brought to my attention earlier that the impulse engines near the saucer edges are too close to the docking ports. It’s true, the location of the docking port would leave no room for the impulse engine components. Also, there were some windows close to the engines, but I wasn’t worried about those. Nobody said your impulse engine rooms can’t have skylights. However, the docking port was an issue. It was suggested that I move the port. To do that would have required deconstructing and reconstructing much of the saucer section edge, which I didn’t want to do. The easier option was to simply move the impulse engine back. I (very briefly) toyed with the idea of moving the engine back and extending the exterior part forward. This would have worked, but I didn’t like how it would have looked. Instead, I decided to add a 6 meter extension onto the back of the saucer because I knew I could do that seamlessly. So, that’s what I did. This leaves plenty of room for the impulse engine components behind the docking ports.
I think this is going to do it as far as modeling on this one. I could add more greebles, but it’s a Trek ship. (not a Borg ship ) One thing I definitely try to avoid doing is over-greebling Federation ships.
Gerard Duffy (AKA Taranis) asked for some wires, so here they are. Lightwave does have a render to wireframe option, but I don’t see anywhere that I can render to a “hidden line” wireframe (where you can’t see the lines on the other side that shouldn’t be visible from the view.) So, I just did some screen shots.
Up next is UV mapping and textures.
More stuff. I added a bunch of sensor/communications things. The NX had these all over it, so I’m doing the same. Ignore the piece of the secondary hull that’s intersecting the sensor thing below the impulse engines, I’ll be rebuilding that when I finish the secondary hull. Also, I haven’t figured out what’s up with the overblown white glow on the port dorsal navigation light. Though, that may just be a result of the crappy scene lighting. Still, it shouldn’t be happening.
More bits. I’m closing in on being done with the modeling phase of this ship. It’s all small stuff left, which is both a relief and a pain because you can spend more time working on little detail bits than big structures because of the size and intricacy. But, it’s nice to almost be done.
Lightwave is definitely different than my old software because it has separate programs, Modeler and Layout. Layout is used for rendering. (If you have to ask what Modeler is used for, there’s something wrong with you. ) Unfortunately, that’s also where you set objects to not cast or receive shadows. The software I used before was a single program, so I could set an object (or part) to not cast or receive shadows and save it and that setting stayed. Unfortunately, this is not the case with Lightwave. If I set something to not cast or receive shadows in Layout and save the object, it won’t save that setting. If I remove the object from the scene and/or exit the program, it will be reset when I go back into the program and reload the object. This is problematic because you use objects in different scenes and I also don’t think I’ll be able to edit parts once I collapse the model layers down to a single object. So, I was about pulling out my hair looking for a way around this, a setting that would stay. Obviously, I don’t want things like the blue glowing thing behind the deflector to receive shadows because it’s supposed to be a light source. The manual was no help, nor was the book I have on the software or Google. Nothing could answer the question for which I needed an answer. So, I finally figured out on my own that if I turned the diffusion all the way down and ramped up the luminosity, I got glowing bits that don’t receive shadows. And, since material settings are saved with the model files, that stays when I save and exit.
I finished up the paneling and windows. This is good because, as people who do CGI know, paneling and windows are two of the most time consuming and tedious things you can do on a ship build. There are different methods for doing paneling, none are fast. For windows, there’s a lot of lining them up, rotating them, finding out you don’t quite have it right, and doing it again. Then there’s the fun of using the booleans tool, which can cause issues. So, I’m glad to have this stuff done.
More stuff. This should do it for main structures.
I’ve been working on various bits. I added the docking ports. They’re a simplified version of what’s on Enterprise. I don’t ever plan to show them closely enough to justify doing a full detail version. If I do, I can build one that’s higher detail. I also added the RCS thrusters and impulse engines. And, the bridge dome. It still needs the smaller dome on top, but it’s mostly done. Also, I may put a hatch on the bridge, Enterprise has one or two. Though, Enterprise’s bridge is also less curvy, but I can add a section to the back that’s less curvy and put it on there, or just work it into the curves.
And now it has windows. This will pretty much do it for Windows on the entire ship. What this ship has for a secondary hull is small, so it won’t need many. There are three windows back there on the drawing, so I’ll probably add those to both sides. There are also three on the bridge module, which I’ll also do. Other than those, this is it. Enterprise had all of its Windows in its saucer and bridge module, the catamarans had none.
There were a few guesses as to what the error was that I spoke of in my last post. However, Eric Reinholt (AKA, scifieric) got it correct:
“My best guess would be the two straight lines under the saucer that match the edges of the rounded cut and move forward. The look a little odd when the rest of the lines are radial lines.”
Basically, those lines shouldn’t exist on the bottom, or at least they shouldn’t go back that far. I needed them on the top and partly on the bottom so that the lines could have a nice edge and not go all the way into the thing in the center. So, I selected the faces where I needed a line and knifed it in. Unfortunately, I also did it all the way along the bottom. So, I put in the paneling and then rendered it and realized my mistake. I had a few options, I could have deleted what I did and used the “clean” version to redo that part. However, I decided to simply knife in another line and panel between them. However, (again) I decided I don’t like that, so I went with option one and just redid the paneling.
It should be fairly obvious what I’ve been working on. Needless to say, the saucer grids were very time consuming, but worth it in the end. The cut-outs on the side also took a bit of time, more than they should because there were extra verts in there interfering with the rounder. I had to find and eliminate those to get the edges rounded.
And now it’s time for a fun game: Spot the Error.
I made a mistake somewhere that has now been corrected. It’s blindingly obvious to me, but I want to see if anybody else can spot it. So, if anybody on either my blog or the three forums on which I post my work can tell me where and what it is, I’ll admit to it and tell everyone. If not, there is no mistake and it looks exactly as it was intended to look. These aren’t the droids you’re looking for. I’ll give you a hint: it has something to do with the saucer grid lines. (the big part of the saucer)
And the ship is now a single unit, more or less. I built the structure that goes in the center of the saucer. Obviously, both that and the saucer itself are thicker than on John’s Drawing. But, you have to take a bit of creative license when doing things off of a single sketch. Indeed, they did so when they built Intrepid, it’s not exactly like the design. For one thing, both ships have really thin saucers. Neither one is a deck thick at its edge, as many Trek saucers are. Some are two decks thick, but all are at least one deck thick at the edge. I thickened the whole saucer and gave it a more rounded design to fit better with other ships of the time.
So, here’s the ship as it stands. I included a render that’s close to the same view as the sketch, to give an idea of how it compares. Obviously, as I already stated, there are some slight differences. But, overall, I’m happy with how it’s progressing.
More work on the ship. The part that looks like it should be part of the Batman emblem took a long time. I made something yesterday that I hated, so I had to redo it today. I’m fairly happy with how it came out after I rebuilt it. Originally, the back came to points like it does in John’s drawings, but I had some mesh errors that wouldn’t smooth out, so I cut it off and capped it. I’ll put some thrusters or something there. That’s also why there are “trenches” in the side, I’ll put some greebles in those. (the sub-patching is great, but it can leave errors) The other stuff is pretty basic, modified cylinders, spheres and cubes.
Also, I had to cut some off of my pylons because I realized AFTER I did all of those grid lines (of course) that I hadn’t rotated the part that connects to the ship like I did the part that connects to the nacelles. So, they weren’t lining up with the ship, so I sunk them in some and removed the part that got buried. It was either that or completely rebuild them, which I wasn’t doing.
More work on the pylons. In fact, this will probably be all I do with them, modeling wise. For the top, I tried to duplicate John’s line pattern as best I could. It’s all done using the pylon’s existing geometry, so there are a few differences. For the bottom, I just did what I felt like.
I noticed (and so did someone at Scifi-Meshes) that the pylons didn’t have enough girth. Also, while I was initially pleased with them, I didn’t quite like the shape. so, I redid them and their connectors.
Work continues on the ship. I mostly finished the nacelles. Though, after seeing the “blank” spot I have in front of the pylon connector, I think I need to add a greeble or something there. Also, I started on the pylons. Those went well, better than I’d hoped they would. Of course, I still have to detail them, but getting the shape right was the majority of the work on those. There are a couple tiny issues, but I’ll fix them later.
Close up on the pylon: (yes, I see the mesh errors.)
Work continues on the nacelle. I was hoping to be completely done with it today so that I could move on to the pylon tomorrow, but that didn’t happen. I had to redo a couple things and I also spent some time fooling around with materials for the glowing bits. But, I only have a few more things to add on the nacelle. All I can think of right now that I still need to add are the RCS thrusters and navigation lights, neither of which should take that long.
It’s either a warp nacelle or a lightsaber, you make the call.
No, seriously, it’s one of the ships in this image:
As you can see from the text on the image, it’s a John Eaves design. As I’m sure a lot of people know, he designed several Starfleet ships for the Enterprise Season Two finale, The Expanse, and two were chosen. The one on the right was one of the ships used and, as many people probably know, I built that ship a few years ago. (it was called Intrepid on screen in the Season Three episode Twilight) In fact, I think an image of it circulates on the header from time to time. One of these days, I’m going to build that ship again in Lightwave, but not right now.
I decided the other day that I wanted to do something in the Enterprise-era, so I started looking through my references folder for NX-era stuff (which is, of course in a sub-folder. ) I was looking through images for inspiration when I came across that image, so I decided to do the ship on the left, which is a great design (in my opinion) but was never used on screen. As I’m sure a lot of people are aware, concept artists submit X amount of drawings, the powers-that-be pick what they like and they either ask for alterations or approve one on the spot. Fortunately, among other things, John likes to post his concept art from the various shows and movies he’s worked on, including Enterprise, on his blog, which I follow. So, I’ve saved various things he’s posted over the years to use as inspiration later. For this particular ship, later became now.
For the overall design, the ship will be pretty much as John has it drawn. I see no reason to change it because I really like the design, that’s why I’m building it. Though, of course, I’ll be doing more Enterprise-esque details so that it fits in with the other ships from the series. Fortunately, Enterprise was a bit of a Renaissance series, in that warp drive had been invented less than a century earlier and Earth was designing newer engines and ships, trying to push the technology forward. So, unlike the later (or earlier, depending on your point of view) shows and movies, no two ships really have the same details. Indeed, even the warp nacelle designs vary slightly from ship to ship. So, this leaves me a bit of leeway with the design.
I started with the nacelle because it’s easy to use for scale. I did a quick check using my fingers as calipers and the nacelles on both ships are the same size, or at least close enough. So, I loaded up the orthos I have for the Intrepid at the scale I figured out when I built that ship and used that to get the nacelle the proper size. Obviously, there’s much more to do on the nacelle before I can even start on the pylons, but I wanted to show my progress thus far. I would like to have been farther along before showing progress, but I’m still learning the software and much of what I’m doing I’m figuring out as I go. Though, as a proof of concept model, it’s going great. I never could have gotten the side cut-out or the part that goes inside and wraps around the hull to come out that smoothly in TrueSpace. Indeed, my Intrepid has some mesh errors in that area. Also, I figured out a great way to do the hull paneling using mutlishift and smooth shift, which took some trial and error to figure out (I used a sphere for testing.) But, it worked great. Also, I kept making mistakes earlier and had to keep going back and redoing stuff, so that didn’t help my progress. But, all in all, it’s going well.
NBTrekie (a fellow CG Artist) did a version of this ship a few years ago and Aethernaut provided him with a few additional references, which he passed on to me.
I put the nacelle end cap bit to use and redid those.
I got it as close as I could to the drawing without rebuilding the whole thing. But, it’s a lot closer to what Aethernaut had, so I’m happy with it. As it is, I had to redo the internal stuff.
After doing that, I was all set to start on some grid lines when I realized that it would be a good idea to do the cut for the navigational deflector first. And, while I was at it, I did the deflector itself. It’s a pretty basic TOS-style deflector. The schematic called for a plain deflector like the NX had, but I added the “ridges” to the inside like the 1701 had. I’m happy with how it came out.
I opted for not a whole lot of detail inside the housing because the deflector is partly recessed and will cover up most anything inside there anyway.
I’ve been wanting to do a Daedalus-class ship from Star Trek for a while now. Originally, I’d planned on doing the design commonly referred to as “Daedalus-Class,” the USS Horizon from Sisko’s office. Though, the only canon Daedalus-class ship is the USS Essex and it was never seen on screen. Anywho, I got the idea to do this model (again) after Steve Neill restored the original Horizon and did a customer build of his self-molded kit a while back. I’d done one years ago, but it went kaput in a hard drive failure. Unfortunately, what kept me from doing the DS9 model was a lack of decent references. All I have are a few pictures not showing the entire model, both from when it was labeled “Essex” for the ST Chronology and when it was labeled “Horizon” for DS9. Other than that, I have incorrect fan schematics and a render sheet of Doug Drexler’s model he made for the ST New Voyages episode In Harm’s Way. Unfortunately, the renders on that sheet are all perspective views, rather than true top, side, etc. orthographic renders, so using them was possible but the perspective might have thrown things off. That was a real setback, because Doug did a really lovely model based off of the original desktop model (an advantage to working at Paramount ) and I was going to use those until I was prepping them and I noticed the perspective issue.
So, there I was ready to do a Daedalus-class but I had so-so references. However, then I was looking at an article by Bernd Schneider on his site (Ex Astris Scientia) regarding the Daedalus-class and I found a fan-made reboot design by Christopher Freeman, AKA Aehternaut. I’d seen the design years ago on Scifi-Meshes, but I had forgotten about it.
This design is a more modern take on the Daedalus-class that takes the show Enterprise and Doug Drexler’s NX-01 into account. I like it, so I decided to model it. As you can see, the schematics are a 3-view, which gives me plenty to go by but also leaves some room for interpretation and throwing in my own things. Also, I will be changing a few things. One notable change is having the blue stuff on the warp engines only on the inside. This change is to go more with Doug’s more recent “Season 4″ NX refit, where he added a secondary hull and “capped” the outer warp blue stuff. (among other things) To see pics of that, check out his blog (Drex Files) in the links section to the right and search for “NX-01.” Also, Steve Neill’s blog and Ex Astris Scientia can be found there if you want to check out the builds and article I referenced or just go see some good stuff.
Anywho, I’ve been picking at this for a few days and this is where I am:
Up next is probably some grid lines. I’ve been avoiding them but they need to be done.
OK, here’s where I am. Needless to say, there was a lot of work involved in the front end of this engineering hull. I don’t know who decided to make this part this way back in the ’60s, but it’s not the easiest thing to replicate in 3D. Next up is the equally fun shuttlebay area.
BTW, if anybody who knows Lightwave has any idea why I’m getting those smoothing errors in the rear of the booleans cut when I render and how to fix them, please let me know. Here’s a screenshot showing the area to which I’m referring:
I followed Ger’s tutorial and everything looks good to me, but what do I know?
OK, people who know me aren’t really going to be surprised by this. I’m not happy with the upper saucer curve in my Casimiro-built saucer section. I frequently watch TOS episodes before bed to wind down and this doesn’t look like what’s on screen. (the original episodes, not the “remastered” ones)
The transition from the curve to the smooth surface is much less severe. So, I needed to fix that. I also like my B-C deck teardrop shape I originally made using Sinclair’s plans better. That was easy to fix, I just made a new one off of Sinclair’s plans and moved it slightly to line up with the Casimiro plans.
The saucer was a bit more interesting. Obviously, I could just make one off of Sinclair’s plans and put it on the shp. However, Sinclair’s plans not only don’t line up with Casimiro’s plans (big surprise there) but the saucer is also smaller than on the Casimiro plans. So, it won’t work. Of course, the good thing about being an artist is that you don’t have to take what they give you. I took the upper curve from Sinclair’s plans and blended it into Casimiro’s plans. The result was a bit messy, so I took that into Inkscape and redrew it to make a nice, clean spline line.
The result is a nice, smooth curve and a saucer I can be happy with.
I know, some of you are probably wondering why I’m going to all this trouble on a ship I’m building for a tutorial. Well, simply put, it took me years and several tries to get a very close (about 99%) TOS Connie in trueSpace. I don’t want to spend that time on the ship in LW, I want to get it done in one shot. I have several years’ worth of ships to rebuild or convert in LW and probably a few new things to do, so no redoing ships that I’ve already done in LW until that’s all done.
The Engineering hull is forthcoming. I’ve just about ran out of excuses to not start work on it, though don’t expect a speedy update. There are a lot of steps, it’s likely to take a few days, and I’m not going to stop to render everything as I go.
How to waste an afternoon and evening: rebuild everything you’ve already built on a project. That’s what I’ve been doing the past few hours after switching blueprints. So, here I am, in about the same place I was this time yesterday.