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. 😉