Elaan of Troyius – The Chase

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. 😛

Enterprise Beauty Shots

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)

371,802 polygons
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.

TOS Star Trek Part 05

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.

TOS Star Trek Part 05

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.

TOS Star Trek Part 04

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. 😉

TOS Star Trek Part 02

I got the secondary hull mostly done on the Connie. The flattened out areas on the sides and bottom of the front area and the shuttlebay section are the more painful areas for this part. Both require a lot of work and a lot of polygon cleanup. Of course, the windows are also no fun, as each one had to be positioned, cut, inset and rounded. Plus, a few of the round portholes needed a bit of vert cleanup, but that’s to be expected. Other details include the shuttlebay doors, which don’t open, and other assorted bits around the shuttlebay. I figure if I ever want the bay to work, I can always build working doors and the interior. However, I have a bad habit of wasting time making that stuff all work only to never do the actual bay, so I figured I’d just do simple doors that mostly match what’s on the actual model.

The only two things left to do on this section are the navigational deflector and main pylon (neck) that connects it to the saucer. Then, it’s on to the saucer. For those who are wondering, pennants and whatnot will be added in the texture phase. With 4K maps, there’s no real advantage in quality to modeling the stuff, and there’s a lot of cleanup involved in stenciling it on the hull, to say nothing of the work involved in removing a name and registry from a ship. (It’s even worse if the ship has grid lines) Anyway, I’ll draw all of the pennants and other markings in Inkscape and put those onto the texture maps. I figured out textures in Lightwave 2018 earlier. Fortunately, it uses nodes similar to Blender, so I was able to quite quickly figure out how to add a map using the node editor. I successfully applied a color and spec map to one of my older models using LW2018’s Principled BSDF materials. So, I’m stoked about that, as textures are obviously necessary and will make stuff like adding those markings a simple matter for me. 🙂

TOS Star Trek Part 01

So, I’ve started a new project, separate from my other projects I was working on. My goal is to model many of the ships from Star Trek: The Original Series era, both canon and non canon. Unlike the Enterprise I was working on previously, this is an attempt to do mostly accurate TOS era stuff. Of course, accuracy is in the eye of the beholder, as there were no less than four separate models that represented the Constitution class during the run of the series, not including 3 and 4 inch models, used in scenes in The Corbomite maneuver and The Doomsday Machine to show enormous scale and used as Sylvia’s miniaturized Enterprise from Catspaw. First there was the 33 inch model, which was built as a study model but was used in almost all of the effects shots in The Cage, and made various other appearances in the series. Then there was the 11 foot model, used for most of the series. And, there were two AMT models built and used, one to represent the Constellation in The Doomsday Machine and one built to represent the Enterprise next to K-7 in The Trouble With tribbles. Post TOS, there was also Greg Jein’s model from Trials and Tribble-Ations and various CGI models, used on Enterprise and for the TOS Remastered episodes. All said, there are many models that represent this one design.

So, where I’m at. I started on the nacelles for the Constitution class, as well as other ships, last night and got those finished, along with the connecting pylons. I’ll work on the engineering section tonight. Since I’m working from blueprints, there was no need to block in parts, as is necessary when I design ships in 3D. I’m using Alan Sinclair’s blueprints as they’re my favorites and I’m also referencing photos from the 11 foot model just before its most recent restoration at the Smithsonian. I’ve found a few discrepancies between the actual model and Sinclair’s blueprints, so I’m kind of eyeballing the changes. The hope is to have at least a 90% accurate model. Now, I don’t plan to model things like screws. That’s just insane, and I do plan to have this represent a finished starship, not a model. Naturally, I’ll also be detailing the left side of the ship. 😉

Anyway, this is where it sits right now:

I’d say I probably have about 8 hours into this total, as I didn’t work on it constantly. A few of the things I had to eyeball included the corrugated cardboard around the nacelle end caps and boxes just forward of them, as well as the shapes of some of the bits, like the intercoolers. They were a bit more rounded on the blueprints I’m working from, but that’s inconsistent with the actual parts from the model. The grill pattern is also simplified, as what was on the ship in the Smithsonian isn’t original to the model and is also too complex for me to feel it’s worth recreating. And, of course, the bussard insides are just my interpretation of what was believed to be in there.

For those who are curious, I’m building this in Lightwave 2018. I found some tips and tricks online to deal with the issues I was having before with the reflections. For one thing, I was using older style materials before, and I also upped my samples on both my lights and the reflections prior to rendering these. I’m pretty pleased with how these are rendering. I’ll be using Lightwave moving forward. As much as I like the idea of Blender, I don’t like the way it does certain things. I also find that open source projects tend to lack direction, evidence of this can be found by the fact that they keep changing render engines and have overhauled their user interface twice in the past decade. But that’s just my personal opinion, others will see it differently. Either way, I like Lightwave better, so that’s what I’m using. Besides, I paid $400 for the upgrade from LW10 to 2018, so I might was well use it some more.

Ideas Part 3

So, this is where I’m at with this little funky design.

The underside is pretty flat right now, so I’m not showing it just yet. After several attempts to redo the secondary hull to something I like, I wound up just going with what I had before, but with some modifications. Right now, this ship is around 81.5m long, 45.6m wide and 11.35m tall. It’s going to get taller when I add a bridge and something to the bottom. As previously stated, this is a support ship, so it’s nothing that is going to have to survive for long periods of time on its own. I’m also thinking it doesn’t have a very big crew, maybe 15 or so. It would likely mostly be used for transport duties, possibly the occasional scouting or scientific mission. It also would likely be used for defense.

The square part in the back is going to be for a shuttlebay, I’m thinking it only carries one shuttle. I’m not planning on giving it the ability to land, as landing gear would take up too much of the finite internal space. That’s what transporters are for. Anyway, that’s what I have for now.