Enterprise Redesign 2020

So, it’s that time again, time to play around with the TOS Enterprise design. But, rather than just model the ship, (I have one of those) I’m doing a redesign. I’ve done this sort of thing before, but it’s been years and I don’t have those models anymore. Initially, this was going to be a ship in the Kelvin timeline, but as I was working on it, it became more my style than anything else. But, there are some Kelvin inspired bits, such as the saucer section. And, there will be more familiar bits that pop in as I go, since I’m drawing inspiration from a number of sources.

Anyway, everything is pretty preliminary so far, and is subject to change. The main bulk of the saucer, secondary hull and nacelles probably won’t get redone. And, I’ve done the warp pylons twice and am pretty happy with them, so they’re not likely to change. Everything else may get redone, though.

TOS Star Trek Part 09

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.)

TOS Star Trek Part 08

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.

Exploring

So, I had this idea to do this image all in one night. Build a ship, make a planet and background and render an image. It went pretty well. The ship took a few hours to do. It’s not necessarily that exciting, but it serves its purpose. The planet took longer than expected. I haven’t made a planet in ages, so it took some time to work some stuff out. Then it took a few hours to render. Anyway, everything was made and rendered in Lightwave 2018. I did some post work in GIMP. but everything else is 100% Lightwave.

USS Sunstreaker WIP, Part 04

It’s not much, but I’ve been playing with a possible way of adding text to the ship using the heat shrink tool in Lightwave. I’ve never used this tool before, but I like it. I may or may not go this route for the final text, but this at least gives me a look at the placement of the text and a visual guide for where it’s going to be when I want to add other details. The only minor drawback to this method is that it “floats” slightly over the hull and casts a shadow, but that’s an easily fixed issue. Other methods include simply texturing it or actually stenciling it onto the hull. Anyway, I did some renders to see how it looks, so I might as well share them.

USS Sunstreaker WIP, Part 02

I got the basics of the bridge module in. It’s similar to ones I’ve done in the past. It channels some Enterprise refit, Excelsior and Voyager love. This also gives the ship a spine.

And, speaking of spines, mine is requesting that I take a break from working on this and watch the latest episode of Picard, and maybe play some Doom 64 on the XBOX One. OK, my spine isn’t really requesting Picard or Doom, but that’s what’s about to happen. 😉

USS Sunstreaker WIP, Part 01

So, I decided to do a new Star Trek ship. It’s totally from the depths of my brain, but I’m of course taking some inspiration from existing designs. The general idea is for it to fit in with the late TNG-era. The general idea an expansion of what was mentioned in more than one episode, which is that the Federation started building more warships with the Borg and Dominion threat. (not to mention that little skirmish with the Klingons) So, this ship is a frigate, which is, by definition, a fast and maneuverable warship. Apart from spending time on the front lines of conflicts, the ship would be very useful for defense, patrolling the Federation borders or defending outposts such as Federation planets and starbases. It’s on the small side, only 200m long, but it’s designed for maximum speed and maneuverability for a ship of its size. It has sparse crew accommodations and little in the way of science capabilities. Instead, most of its power systems are optimized for engines, weapons and defensive systems. The ship isn’t designed to be on its own for more than a few months at a time. Instead, it will usually be attached to a fleet, planet or base.

Anyway, this is what I have so far:

I have the main elements mostly put in, with only the bridge module still to add. Then it’s down to detail work.