I got my saucer markings all done. The name and registry are where they should be. I still need to add those gray and yellow panels that are where the underside windows are, but that won’t take long. I also further tweaked my bussard collectors and added a material to my interior boxes. Like I did with Lightwave, this is achieved by mixing procedural textures. I find mixing really simple in Blender. I have 4 different procedural textures mixed, each one is plugged into a color mixing node. Each node has 2 color slots, so I have 2 color mixing nodes plugged into a third, then that’s plugged into the color channel of my material. Overall, I like the effect. I went with different colors to simulate that thing in TOS where different rooms were different colors (usually achieved with lighting.)
So, I had a slight meltdown the other day. I bought and installed a brand new 2TB SSHD last week and decided I was going to go to one operating system, that being Windows 10. So, I got the drive installed and got Windows installed and everything was going well. Well enough, that is. I couldn’t help but notice that Windows 10 is sometimes sluggish and just plain slow at times. I have a plenty powerful enough computer and I installed the OS myself, so there was no bloatware on there. No bloatware, that is, except for Windows itself. I determined the issue was Windows 10, so I fragged it. As luck would have it, Ubuntu and its derivatives released a new version on Friday, so I downloaded and installed Xubuntu 20.04 where Windows 10 had been. Needless to say, that runs smooth and fast. The only issue with Linux is, no Lightwave. I checked because I recently got an e-mail about Lightwave 2020 being out, but it still doesn’t have Linux support (nor was I expecting it to.) So, it’s back to Blender.
So, I downloaded Blender 2.82a and started checking it out. Of course, the last version I used was 2.79b, so there are a lot of changes. I decided something I definitely wanted to do was import the Enterprise I made last year. It’s better than building a new one. I used one of my laptops, which has Windows 10 Professional on it, to export the mesh to .fbx format, which Blender 2.82a happily imported. I had to do this twice, because the way I modeled some of my window cuts didn’t import well into Blender, and it was easier to fix them in Lightwave. Anyway, this was the result:
Not bad at all, I can certainly work with it. Of course, the materials were a mess. Now, this wasn’t the first attempt at doing this, I spent way too long dorking around with Blender’s UV mapping, which I’ve never liked. After that, I decided to just re-import the unmodified .fbx file and start over. That render was the result. After messing around with the materials for a while, this is where I am with it:
It’s coming along. At least it’s not all flat paint. 😉 The bussard collectors are getting there, but they’re not quite there yet. Now, there are a lot of things to like about Blender 2.82a. For one thing, the collections are really nice. You can just add stuff to a collection. For example, I have a collection called “Enterprise,” with sub collections for the saucer, sngine section and nacelles. I can make anything from any collection invisible, or just make the whole collection invisible. I like that a lot better than messing with layers, which both Lightwave and earlier versions of Blender use. I also find a lot of the material tools to be really intuitive, perhaps more so than Lightwave. So, I’m liking it so far.
Still to do on the ship: markings and texturing. I don’t think I’ll texture the markings, as I did before. I think I’ll just model them. Honestly, it’s not much more work than the textures, and one of the main issues I was having was getting my markings to line up where I wanted them. The saucer was pretty easy, but the engineering section gave me fits. So, I’ll just model those and shrink wrap them to the hull. After I get this ship done, I have a few more on one of my older hard drives to grab.
I added lines to the secondary hull. I got as close to the lines on the Matt Jefferies drawings as I could, though some of them didn’t survive the passage of time. For some, I used the cleaned up schematics from the Phase II book and just eyeballed the placement. It does look like the Jefferies drawings have some more horizontal lines, but they’re harder to make out and very closely spaced. They’re also very straight, as opposed to how you’d normally draw a horizontal line on a curved surface. It’s possible those were indications of where the decks are for him to align things like windows. I think that’s highly likely as there’s no indication of these lines on the bottom view. The lines I added are the ones that most depictions of the ship include.
On a side note, I’ve been looking at the Eaglemoss miniature of the ship. Right now, I just have web images, but I do have my very own model of this ship on the way from an Ebay seller. (they’re sold out on Eaglemoss) I noticed they didn’t include any of the lines on the secondary hull, or the ones on the bottom of the primary hull. Now, I haven’t seen the ones on the bottom of the primary hull on any of the drawings, I just added those myself. However, the ones on the secondary hull are definitely on Matt Jefferies’ original drawings. Anyway, that’s just something I noted. I’m still looking forward to getting my Eaglemoss model of this ship. I’ll post pictures when I get it. 🙂
I redid the grid lines on the saucer. I did them the same way I did my 24th century cruiser’s lines, but these went faster because I had less of them to do. I was able to do one section, then clone and rotate that and join them until I had a quarter of the saucer, the just mirror that along the X and Y axis. I also started on the bridge and planetary sensor array. Those were a bit of a pill to do because Jefferies’ drawings of the ship don’t match between views. I got it to a point where it’s between matching up closely enough with various views and the photos of the miniature being built by Brick Price. I would assume they were working with a more refined set of blueprints to make the 4 foot miniature.
My rationale for fitting this design into Starfleet is simple: They were already working on upgrading the Constitution class before the Enterprise came in for its refit. They had already done a redesign and had built and possibly even refitted some ships into this design by then. Then, when Scott and his team set about redesigning and refitting the Enterprise, they refined the design. This ship could still have been in service, though, as a variant of the Constitution class. Really, this is art imitating life as it fits with how the ship was done for the show and movie. Matt Jefferies came in to do the redesign of the Enterprise for Phase II. His design was then used and further refined by Richard Taylor and Andrew Probert for the version we saw in TMP. Since we didn’t see all of the ships in Starfleet, it’s possible there were ones like the Phase II ship creeping around in the 2270s. But, I will maintain that it was probably a more rare refit, perhaps five to ten vessels were done in this configuration. There is precedent for more rare versions of ships. The rarely seen Enterprise-B version of the Excelsior, for example. Even after Generations hit theaters, we still only saw one other ship in this configuration. The rest of the Excelsior class ships we saw were the original design. So, it’s possible only a small number of Excelsior class ships were done in that design. It may have simply been a sub class specific to a select few ships used for special purposes. That same kind of refit logic can be applied to the Phase II refit Constitution. Perhaps it just wasn’t as desirable of a refit as the TMP ship.
Anyway, those are my thoughts on this.
I’ve been thinking lately of doing the Phase II Enterprise concept again. I’ve done it before and in fact was working on a model of the ship almost two years ago. I couldn’t find that model on any of my backup drives, so I figured it was lost. Well, as luck would have it, I got a new game controller. I’m tired of playing games on a little monitor, so I decided to hook my gaming computer up to my TV. I pulled one of my earlier desktops out of mothballs to use as a regular desktop, as I’ll probably keep the gaming rig hooked up to my TV. When I went to boot it, I saw it had no operating system. No problem, that’s an easy fix. I saw the drive had a backup partition on it, and plenty of unpartitioned space, so I decided to leave the partition alone and proceeded to install MX Linux on the unpartitioned space. It’s a good thing I did that, because there were several files on that backup partition, including some Blender files. As luck would have it, one of the folders contains my Phase II model project from 2017. So, I installed Blender 2.79b from the MX Linux repositories and took at look at it. Naturally, I did some renders to assess the current state of the model:
It doesn’t look too bad. It looks like I had a lot of the painful stuff out of the way. The saucer grid lines need to be redone. I’m not sure how thick they are, but they look pretty thick. I also don’t like certain other aspects of them. If memory serves, I tried a different method with them and it didn’t work like I wanted it to work. But, those are easy to redo. The warp pylons also have something funky going on with them, but I can easily redo those as well. The nacelles and secondary hull both look good, which is what really matters.
This is a more substantial update than the last one. I got the rest of the saucer section windows in. I put quite a lot of windows on the saucer bottom, to fit with other Star Trek ships. And, to fit with other ships, some of them are at a more extreme “downward” angle than I’d like them to be, but that’s how Starfleet rolls, I guess. And, to finish up the windows, I did the structure under the bridge too. I also redesigned my phasers to be more like TNG phasers. The ones I had before were too “poofy.” These are flatter. And, of course, more escape pods. There are an odd number of those on the bottom, but I’ll even it out up top as there are still more to add up there.
There are 55 escape pods in the lower saucer, added to the 36 up top and that’s a total of 91. As I said previously, the pods can hold up to 6 people for a total of 546 people. However, ordinarily the pods hold only 4 people, for a total of 364. The pods would only have to be filled to max capacity if the ship was carrying extra people. After all, the shuttles can also be used to abandon ship. I don’t figure the ship has a crew anywhere near as many as there are escape pods. That’s normal, though, as the ships do sometimes carry extra people. The Enterprise-D had enough pods for 1400 people, plus shuttles, and a crew of only a little over 1000. Even though this ship is the same size as a Constitution class, I figure it only has a crew of about 350, owing to modern automation and stations/departments that are no longer necessary in the 24th century. IE: the ships no longer have communications officers, as the tactical and ops officers usually handle communications. The helm and navigation stations were also combined into one flight control station. We have to assume other redundant departments would be combined and unnecessary ones removed. This trend is evident by the Galaxy class having a crew of only a little over 1000 when it’s much larger than a Constitution class. The Enterprise-A in Star Trek VI had a crew of 500.
Anyway, that’s what I have for now. I may move on to the secondary hull next and get those grid lines and windows knocked out.
It’s not a massive update, but I’ve kind of been picking at the lower saucer grid lines all week. It’s tedious work, so I’ve been breaking it up. I also added the registry to the bottom. That will help me with my window layout, so I don’t have to guesstimate where that will be. Tonight I’ll start working on the windows, phasers and escape pods for the lower saucer.
So, despite my claim that I was done with this for now, I can’t help but be nitpicky. My escape pod hatches were bothering me. What really bugged me was that some of them were close to the phaser arrays. However, while I was fixing those, I decided to tighten up the spacing on them all, to put them in tight groups.
Anyway, I think it looks less sloppy. Each pod holds up to six people and there are 36 pods (so far) on the top of the saucer, allowing 216 people to abandon ship using these pods. Of course, more will come on other parts of the ship, and possibly more on the saucer top.
So, one last update before I call it a day. I’ve been thinking about how to add text to the ship. Of course, textures are always an option. However, I’ve heard good things about the “Shrinkwrap” modifier. So, I modeled the name and registry and used that to make it follow the curvature of the saucer. 🙂