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.
So, when I start a collection, I don’t do things in half measures. I got hooked on these little Eaglemoss Star Trek ships a few months ago, and I haven’t been able to stop buying them. I have a dozen of them now:
Most of these are direct from Eaglemoss, though a few are from Ebay and Amazon.
So, look what I found in really nice shape on Ebay:
These are awesome blueprints. Sheets 1-5 pertain to the Enterprise, external views and the bridge blueprints. Sheets 6-9 are the Klingon Battlecruiser, external and bridge. (no bottom view, unfortunately) Then there’s the shuttle that brought Spock to the Enterprise, the work bee and the travel pod. All told, a lot of great designs from one of the most visually stunning Sci-Fi films of all time. I was really happy to find these on Ebay, especially in such remarkable shape. They’re 39 year old blueprints and the pages are almost all in pristine shape. They sat on a shelf for years, so the blue cover sheet has a mark from the snap on the plastic case, but that was clearly described and shown in the listing. Also, there’s some slight browning on the paper on all the sheets, particularly at the crease lines and a few of the sheets have some small brown spots on them. Sheet 14 also has a folded corner and some slight fold lines. But, given their age and how a lot of this sort of stuff wasn’t preserved so well, these have fared remarkably well. I’m a year older than them and I’m not exactly in perfect shape myself. 😉 The best part is, they were only $21.99 plus tax, free shipping.
So, I’m pretty happy with this purchase. I also have the TOS blueprint set on the way, they look to be in about the same condition. (that’s why this post is part 1) That set was 4 cents less than this one. 🙂
A little piece of artwork I did based on the classic TOS episode Elaan of Troyius. Elaan wasn’t necessarily the best episode, nor was it the worst, but it did give one of the best ships ever for Star Trek, the Klingon Battlecruiser. The ship was seen briefly as it chased the Enterprise, firing its disruptors. Thanks to a screwy airing order, the D7 wound up being first seen in The Enterprise Incident, representing a handful of Romulan ships, but in production order it first appeared in this episode. So, this is my take on the chase.
This is my first composition image in a long time, so be gentle. 😛
I decided not to do any paneling on the ship. It’s not hard to do or anything, I just really like how the ship looks. Besides, I went through so much to try and match the colors of the ship in the Smithsonian, why make it look totally different with some hull panels? So, I’m calling this done (for now.) I decided to render some beauty shots. I did a few renders with a single light, and a pass from each camera with the light turned off to use as illumination passes. I had the ship shots saved to .png files, so I dropped those against a starfield I made in GIMP a couple years ago, comped in my illumination passes, and we have some beauty shots:
For those who like specs:
Length: 288.6 meters
Width: 127.8 meters
Height: 69.3 meters
For those who are wondering, I took the blueprints and selected the ship only, then took the dimensions of the sheets, converted the pixels to meters, then created a cube with those dimensions. I then scaled the ship up to the canon length of 288.6 meters. That means the generally accepted canon width of 127.1 meters is slightly off, and the height of 72.6 meters is significantly off. And, it’s not a symptom of the blueprints I’m using, I’ve done the same thing with other blueprints, all of which were created by taking measurements of the model, and I always get a height of over 69 meters, but less than 70. So, I don’t know where the 72.6 meters came from. (and I don’t really care)
9 texture maps (least amount I’ve done on a model in ages)
All told, I’m pretty happy with how it turned out. Aside from not thinking the panels were going to look right, I also concluded that there’s no reason you can’t paint a ship in solid colors. If you look at real world examples, Navy ships are typically solid gray. I decided to keep the shine levels low, but not quite flat like the paint on the original ship. It’s got a kind of satin finish to it. The only really shiny bits are the glass domes and metallic parts.
Anyway, that’s what I have. I’ll be kitbashing this thing to create more models.
I got the color maps done. For the most part, this is all easy stuff to do. Though, some things are more of a pain, like getting the stupid little numbers on the engineering hull close to where they needed to be. But, stuff like that happens when you put stuff onto a tube and you’re working from flat images.
All that’s left to do on this one is the spec maps, which shouldn’t take too long. I can usually knock out some paneling rather quickly. Also, I need to add a material to my window boxes to make it look like the ship has an interior. I’ll probably do a procedural texture for that.
This is a render I did to test how the bussards look, and I think I finally got them were I want them. I also got the color map done for the saucer top. I’m probably going to lighten the grid lines a lot. They’re correctly colored for graphite, though, which is a nod to them being put on with pencil on the original ship.
The materials are coming along. I’ve tried to mach the colors of the ship from the TV show as best I can. Of course, nobody really knows what the colors were 50+ years ago. I used Gary Kerr’s painting guide for the ship, as Gary has tried his best to match what the colors were. Two places where I’ll definitely go off of canon, sort of, are with hull paneling and weathering. If you count TOS Remastered, the paneling is canon. My paneling will be subtle, but I want it to be there for realism and for looks. Another realism choice I’m making is to not do all that weathering they did on the TOS Enterprise. The reason for this is that it’s unrealistic that a ship is going to get dirty flying through space. While the are things that will mark up your hull, that would mean that the hull integrity is compromised and that would be fixed at a Starbase. But, there aren’t really any circumstances where a ship will pick up dirt flying through space. There just isn’t going to be dirt in concentrations in a vacuum. Even nebula gas isn’t as tightly concentrated as it’s depicted on these shows. Also, the navigational deflector and other systems would keep most of that stuff off of your hull. While it is canon that the TOS ship has all that weathering, it’s also keeping in universe to not do it, as other ships don’t have all that. Back in the ’60s, nobody really knew much about space travel. Astronauts were actually kept in quarantine when they returned in case they picked up any illnesses in space. Obviously, it was later realized that didn’t happen and that practice was dropped. I believe the weathering was applied for the same reason, because they didn’t know any better. It’s possible that, when they had more scientific advisors in the 1970s and onward that someone let them know that the ship wouldn’t pick up all that crap flying through space.
So, with all that, this is where it stands:
The bussards are a work in progress, but I like how they’re going so far. Also, ignore the sensor domes, that was an experiment that didn’t work so well. For textures, I’ll have 10 4K maps to make; color and specular maps for the saucer top, saucer bottom, engineering hull, and both nacelles. I’ve also got a couple smaller maps to make, for the teardrop and underneath the shuttlebay, as both have markings on them that will need to be textured. Also, I may do a texture for the impulse vents. Everything else is just going to be the colors they are. This pretty much matches the paint that’s done on physical models, as it’s usually just a solid color. There’s no need to texture solid colors. 😉