I love football. Just to be clear, that’s what we Americans call football (where you use your hands more than your feet) and not what the rest of the world calls football (where you actually do use your feet.) Thus, I was watching a game on TV earlier and I had my tablet out. I was looking at my green planet renders on there and I noticed that the underside of the Enterprise’s saucer looked too dark, much more so than on my desktop monitor. Now, I’ve known for a long time that I have a bright monitor, but it’s amazing how different it is than the tablet. Both are LCD screens, both made by Samsung and both are running on Nvidia graphics. So, I decided to alter the lighting slightly and render them again. This meant flipping and moving my 2D planet(s) slightly, but that’s not a big deal. I have those saved as GIMP .xcf files, which is a vector graphics file format. So, I made minor alterations and here they are. I’m happier with the lighting on the ship now.
I decided to do a couple images of the Enterprise orbiting some planet, the type that they did a lot of on TOS. I found a sweet tutorial for making planets in GIMP and I’m really happy with the results. I was going to do a red planet, but I decided on green instead.
I’m calling this one done. Were I to get nitpicky, there are things I would change, but I’m drawing the line at “close enough.” Here are a few “beauty” shots that I rendered earlier against a quick starfield that I made in Gimp.
This is the first ship that I’ve completed (with textures) since switching from TrueSpace to Lightwave, so I’m happy with how it came out.
Next I plan to get back to work on the Sirius. This was mainly a diversion while I waited for Steve to send me his original file, which is apparently lost. Though, the “diversion” took longer than expected because I kept taking “breaks” to play Champions Online. (or was I taking breaks from CO to do this? ;)) However, since Steve couldn’t find the Sirius on either of his three computers, I’m just going to proceed using his perspective renders to build it and not worry about it matching up perfectly with his model, which is now a moot point. Also in the near future, I plan to build a new model of the Botany Bay and some Klingon (and possibly Romulan) ships.
She’s textured, except for the bussards and impulse engines. I still have to decide how I want to approach the always fun bussard collectors. Then, after that, it’s off to lighting and I’ll probably tweak a few of the materials, especially the glowy bits.
Getting closer. I just have the nacelles left to do.
The saucer section is now textured. The only thing I can’t decide is if I should add a glow effect to the impulse engines. Of course, the original doesn’t have one, but every other Star Trek ship does. So, I probably will.
Naturally, when you’re doing work like this, you must maintain a high level of seriousness.
Unfortunately, even at HD resolution, (the maps are 4000 x 4000 pixels) the signs are just too small for the text to be clear, but I know it’s there.
Well, the ship now has “interiors,” but it’s not the way I wanted it to be. I started off by building a little room, an office or something. It’s all low poly, but would look OK when viewed through the windows.
The problem came when I went to put that behind some windows. I started off with the teardrop. Unfortunately, I forgot until I started doing this that the windows on this ship don’t line up to a sane deck layout. That’s because nobody even bothered figuring out back in 1966 how many decks this ship had, the modelers just cut in some lines of windows wherever they felt like it. (wherever looked good) So, my interior, which was modestly sized at 2.4 meters tall, wouldn’t fit. That’s because there’s not enough room in that teardrop for two decks, even though there are two lines of windows there. So, rather than pull my hair out over that crap, I just textured the windows. It won’t look as good, but it works.
The “texture” is actually just a picture of main engineering that I got from Memory Alpha. It was the only interior shot they had without people in it, or more “recognizable” things like the main bridge. Plus, it was a floor level picture, not an “overhead,” so that worked. I just used an Atlas UV mapper to apply it to the back faces on the windows. Up next are the rest of the textures, which will be considerably easier and less of a pain in the ass than dealing with trying to put interiors in this thing.
On down the road, I may do MY version of the TOS E. Nothing too wacky, like I’ve done in the past, or like the JJ-Prise, just the ship with some “logical” upgrades, like visible weapons, grid lines, RCS thrusters, etc. I’ll also make a deck layout that actually works.
I think I’m done with the modeling of the exterior on this thing. I say that because I thought I was done, so I loaded it into Layout and realized I forgot the running lights on the saucer. (oops) So, I added those, reloaded it into Layout and rendered. Then I realized I was still missing the two little red lights on either side of the bridge dome. So, after adding all of that stuff, I now *think* I’m done.
All that’s left are some rooms for behind the windows and the textures. The rooms won’t be anything special, just some low poly walls, ceilings, floors and furniture to have “something” behind the windows. I’ll probably do them like crew quarters and lounges and whatnot, even though none of the sets from the series had windows. So, we don’t even really know what they’re supposed to represent.
The saucer is taking longer than anticipated, but not because the modeling is taking a long time. The problem I’m mostly experiencing is having free time to work on it. Yesterday was a bust, I had no time to work on this until after midnight and, by then, I was tired and not ready to do what needed to be done on this. The modeling itself is going about as quickly as I expected, though I did obsess a bit over the teardrop. I’ve built it three times now and I’m still not 100% happy with it, but I’m moving on (maybe.) Also, I noticed that the windows on that section appear to be smaller than they are on the rest of the ship, at least they are on the blueprints I’m using. I’ve used Alan Sinclair’s blueprints in the past and they’ve always worked when I used the same window cutter as on the rest of the ship. However, I’m using Charles Casimiro’s blueprints now and they appear to be smaller. It’s hard to tell if that’s the case on the studio model, but they look like they might be. So, I used the same window cutter I used on the rest of the ship and I’m not completely happy with the size and spacing, so I may have to redo that section (again.) I’ve noticed some of the rest of the windows on the ship also appear a bit large, but they’re the size they are on the blueprints. Plus, it’s not that big a difference, so I’m leaving them alone.
The engineering section is now complete. I thought I was done a while ago, but the I realized I didn’t build the navigational deflector, so I had to go back and do that. All that’s left is the saucer section, which I could build in my sleep. If I don’t finish this tonight, I’ll finish it tomorrow. But, I’ll probably finish tonight because I saved the easiest for last.
By the way, anybody who wants to whip out the reverence images and get nitpicky about the details is free to. (I probably have the same images you do) However, it won’t change anything. I never said I was going for screen accuracy. I take the “close enough” approach, with me being the judge as to what falls into that category.
Also, no, I won’t be modeling any stripes, boxes or text. That will all be added in the textures. I only used to model that stuff because TrueSpace 7 was so dreadful with textures. I had a max image size of 2048 x 2048, which isn’t even HD size, and I could only load so many of those before it would refuse to render. Text and stripes textured below that get blurry really easily, so I modeled that stuff. However, Lightwave is professional software and I can do HD textures, so I will.
Work continues on the Enterprise. Before getting into the (tedious) windows of this section, I decided to add the shuttlebay “doors,” landing lights and center post. The doors don’t really work (hence, the quotes ;)) because they’re accurately modeled. As most people know, the exterior doors on a lot of Star Trek models don’t really work and aren’t really even made to look like they would work. When you see the doors open on the shuttlebay interior miniature set, they’re clearly constructed differently to allow them to open. I did leave the bay area open in case I do eventually want to make a bay, but I don’t know if I will. If I do that, I can always make working doors.
I also did some polygon cleanup and things that don’t really show up in the renders and you wouldn’t know I did without me showing you a before and after wireframe or pointing out what I did on a current wireframe. Some of it just makes the mesh a little cleaner, others take care of some minor render errors.
Well, since the Sirius is still in a holding pattern and I built 95% of a Constitution-class nacelle for it, it was a no brainer that I could do a new end cap for it and start on a Constitution-class. So, that’s what I did. Since I already did one somewhat difficult part, the nacelle body with that somewhat tricky trench, I decided to do the really beastly part, the engineering hull. It’s literally a pain in the neck, but I got the tricky parts done. The rest of the ship is a cake walk after doing that.
Ignore the smoothing errors around the deflector housing, they no longer exist.
Work continues. I’m not as far along as I’d like to be at this point, but yesterday was a series of non-stop work and various other distractions that left me little time for modeling until I was too damn tired to do anything. But, I did manage to get the rest of the main structures in place, which consisted of modeling the bridge and lower sensor dome. I know it doesn’t exactly jell with what they did on Enterprise, but I based these heavily off of the elements from TOS. However, I feel this works because it looks less advanced, due to the fact that somebody decided the details on the Enterprise should be more TMP looking than TOS looking. (thanks a lot, Berman and Braga) Not that I don’t like the NX and what was done, but I would have gone in a different direction with it. We just have to assume that, in a reality where the NX-01 exists, the TOS ship would be more detailed than it was in the 1960s. Not freaky looking like the JJ Abrams version, but just more detailed, like what Deg did with his “TOS.5″ Enterprise and a few other artists have done. (tasteful, logical additions)
I’ve been unable to talk myself into continuing to texture the last ship I built, so I started another one. For a long time now, I’ve wanted to do a ship in the style of the NX-01, but with a single hull extending aft, as opposed to the dual hull (catamarans.) Originally, I wanted the ship to be from roughly the same time frame as the NX, but I decided instead to make it an earlier vessel.
The following information will be posted ONCE. If people ask me about some or all of it later, I will simply point back to this post.
Fact: For those who don’t know, Alpha Centauri is a binary solar system just under 5 light years from Earth. A third star, Proxima Centauri, is actually the closest star to ours, at 4.24 light years from Sol and is often considered to be part of the Alpha Centauri group, though it’s not a true trinary star system due to the distance of Proxima from Alpha Centauri AB. (Proxima Centauri is not visible from Earth) At least one Earth-sized planet may exist, orbiting Alpha Centauri B.
Fiction: In the Star Trek universe, Alpha Centauri is considered a trinary and there are three habitable planets in the system, each of which has been colonized by human settlers. These colonies were founded sometime in the late 21st century and still exist in the 24th century.
Under the command of the United Earth government, (UEG) the United Earth Space Probe Agency (UESPA) has established three colonies in the Alpha Centauri solar system. Due to the success of these colonies, humans began flocking to them in large numbers. There were a few mishaps along the way, but most of the trips were successful. Due to the few issues encountered and growing knowledge of other species in the galaxy, the UEG knew that they would have to start defensive patrols between Earth and the Alpha Centauri system and around the Alpha Centauri system. Even the Vulcans couldn’t find fault in the logic of that idea. Thus, they began to design a series of small armed vessels to keep the space between Earth and Alpha Centauri safe.
My ship’s specs:
Length: 110 meters
Width: 60 meters
Height: around 20 meters (it will keep changing until I’m done adding the bridge and sensor domes)
Deck count: 4
Crew: around 40
Max speed: Warp 1.95 (see the episode First Flight for when the first warp 2 flight took place)
Cruising speed: Warp 1.7
Impulse Rockets (see the episode Where No Man Has Gone Before) at approximately 1/6 the speed of light
Armaments: 3 or 4 plasma cannons, possibly a torpedo launcher or two
That’s what I have so far. This ship predates Starfleet by over a decade. We know this from plot devices in the series Enterprise. Jonathan Archer said in one of the episodes that he graduated from college and was going to go into the merchant fleet about the time Starfleet was founded, and he decided to go into Starfleet. Since he was a child in the year 2121, (the beginning of the episode Broken Bow) he obviously would have gone to college in the 2130s. Memory Alpha guesstimates that Starfleet was founded around 2134 to 2136. (that works for me) So, this ship would be directly under command of the UESPA. I think it’s safe to assume that, for a military-type ship such as this one, they would recruit personnel from Earth’s various armed forces and give them special training to crew the ships (much how NASA recruits astronauts.)
Design wise, I want the ship to be reminiscent of the NX, but more primitive looking. It may not look so now, but many of the finishing details will be aimed at this goal. (things like bell-shaped impulse engines) The engineering section (central structure) was designed with the NX catamarans in mind. Originally, I had it flipped and the shape was slightly different, but I refined and rebuilt it. Then I paneled it and, after doing so, I realized I had made it too low poly. Fortunately, I’m using the “save incremental” feature in Lightwave, so I went back to pre-paneling and subdivided it.
Anywho, without further ado, here are the pictures:
It’s very rough right now, but you get the idea. While it’s mostly my design, I’m getting influences from the various ships from Enterprise, other Star Trek ships and even some fan designs. As Doug Drexler did when he designed the NX-01, I’ll be putting in plenty of “classic” elements, such as the round TOS-style deflector that I’ve already built. I think it’s important to have some “nods” to the series and ship that started it all.
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. :P) 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.