Starship Revamp, Pt. 04

I didn’t get as much done over the weekend as I would have liked, but I had other things occupying my time. I think I have most of the materials where I want them. All that’s left is to do some fresh greebles and the name and registry. The nacelles still have the old registry.

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Starship Revamp, Pt. 03

More playing around with specular settings.

If you know what the specular setting does, you may just want to skip this part and go to the renders. For those who don’t know, the specular setting makes an object shiny. It works hand in hand with the glossiness setting to determine the overall look of a shiny surface. Glossiness makes the shine “localized.” A high glossiness setting makes a small super shiny patch, while a lower setting spreads the shine out. For metal that’s not painted with glossy paint (no car paint) and isn’t buffed to a mirror shine, I want a higher specular setting and a lower glossiness setting.

The specular map is what determines what is shinier. Basically, it’s a grayscale image with patterns on it. The shades of gray determine shine, with white being totally shiny and black being not shiny at all. It also creates the individual hull panels, along with a diffusion map to control light absorption. The look we should all be chasing is the paneling from TMP:

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Basically, they used paints and with different shine levels to create the individual panels. The way it works is, in direct light, (light hitting the object from the same side as the camera) the panels are barely visible. However, in indirect light, (light hitting from the opposite side as the camera) the panels are visible. In the image above, the registry light is hitting the hull at an indirect angle, causing the panels to be visible. This is achieved in CGI with specular mapping.

In the images below, the ship is rendered at the same angle with 3 different light angles. The first is direct lighting, the other two are indirect lighting with the light in different positions on the other side of the model. This gives an idea of how it would look if I rendered a flyby where the ship flies between the camera and light. I’m happy with how these look:

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Starship Revamp, Pt. 02

Well, it’s a work in progress. Taking the stenciled lettering off of the hull is the chore I expected it to be. It’s a lot of merging faces and deleting points. I got all of the registries off of the main hull (saucer.) I still have to take the ones off of the nacelles, but I didn’t want to do it right now.

Instead, I set about getting rid of the greeble trenches. My idea for the other model was to not do those, so I got rid of them on this model. There was a lot of destroying faces and building new ones. It was a chore, but worth it when all said and done. I really like how that looks VS having the trenches. Since this is supposed to be a predecessor to the Miranda class, and not a Miranda, I figure some differences are warranted. I have new greebles planned to go there, so it won’t be the plain dark gray areas you see now.

And, lastly, I dorked around with materials. The last version of Lightwave I used was Lightwave 10.1 or 10.2, something like that. Either way, it was an old version, from 2010. So much has changed since then, that I’m having to figure out all new settings in Lightwave 2018. But, that’s part of the fun. At least I’m doing this with a model that already has textures.

Anyway, this is where it sits:

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Starship Revamp, Pt. 01

So, I promised a return to CGI, and here it is.

A few years ago, I was part of a doomed fan film. It was called Star Trek: Equinox. This was around the time of the whole Axanar thing, where they bit the hand and crowd funded over $1,000,000 and hired a bunch of professional talent to work on the film, forcing CBS to create a bunch of new rules for fan films. Anyway, this other film was being worked on a the same time as Axanar, but it was being done considerably less professionally. I was the model maker, and there was a bunch of bickering and bullshit behind the scenes. Also, because the guy running the show kept pissing off effects artists, (among other people) I had to do a lot of the animation and rendering for the trailers too, despite just originally wanting to make models for it. (and, let me say, people on Facebook can be real motherf***ers when your stuff isn’t as good as professional artists) Anyway, I wasn’t very happy with the project, which wound up imploding due to a lot of the BTS stuff, as well as the guy running the project and his tendency towards pissing people off.

Anywho, this is the model I built to be the main ship of the show:

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TOS Miranda Class, Pt. 06

Well, I haven’t worked on this for a few days because I’ve been busy playing Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic II: The Sith Lords, which got a massive update on Steam, including the ability to play on Linux. So, I’ve been happy. Even though I own the old CD version for Windows, I could never get that working in WINE. If I remember correctly, I could never get past “insert disc 2.” It wouldn’t register the disc and let me continue installation. But, that’s all moot now, because all I had to do was buy it on Steam and download it. 😀

Anyway, back to the ship. I forced myself to add the remainder of the windows. It’s tedious, but I got them all on there. Note: there are less “rows” of Windows than on the Enterprise because mine actually line up with a deck plan, they’re not just put on there wherever I felt like. I couldn’t really find a lot of good places to put many windows on the bottom, so I just did one row.

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TOS Miranda Class, Pt. 05

It’s just one of those days. I have nothing really new to show, but I actually did a lot of work on this thing today.

One thing I absolutely despise and will not tolerate to the point of going to great lengths to get rid of them are smoothing errors. They’re ugly. I had a few around my aft section window cuts last night, but not too bad. Minor things, but I knew they were there. So, I bisected in some geometry to fix it. The geometry itself is ugly, but who cares? It’s not like the wireframe matters, it’s what the thing looks like rendered that matters. So, this morning I was doing some renders with different lighting hitting that part to make sure there were no more lingering errors. While I was happy to see none there, there was a major issue around the back of the model, where the back of the trenches and the shuttlebay openings are.

I turns out the booleans tool in Blender has a major issue. Well, all booleans tools do, but this is a particular quirk of Blender, it also happens on the Knife Project tool. It turns out, when you cut into a plane, the booleans (or knife project) doesn’t create flat, even geometry. It cuts the new geometry a fraction off of the level of the existing geometry, leading to smoothing errors when rendering. When you’re dealing with a face that’s lined up with one of the 3 axes used in the 3D space, that’s not an issue. You simply go around and manually realign the points to be level. That worked great for the top of the back of the saucer. Unfortunately, when you’re dealing with angled planes, like the ones found on the back edge of the saucer, things get trickier.

I fought with the existing geometry for a good couple hours or more. I tried the Edge Split modifier and all kinds of things, nothing got rid of the errors. So, I finally realized that the offensive geometry had to go and that I needed to start over. Fortunately, I’m anal about saving stuff to new files when I do things like cuts, so I just had to open a second Blender window, open the uncut file and copy and past the sections I needed over to replace the messed up geometry. That’s where it got even more fun.

I tried re-cutting the geometry using the Knife Project tool, that’s where I found out it does the same thing booleans does. So, I wound up through a series of bisects, insets, extrusions, and whatnot, getting the elements I wanted back in there, without using either the booleans or knife project. It was a giant pain in the butt, but worth it in the end because there are no freaking smoothing errors. It’s all clean and it looks beautiful rendered.

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So, after a long day of frustration, this is all I have for tonight. While they may look like last night’s renders, there are differences you don’t see. And, now that I’m done with that and I’m mentally drained, it’s time for some XBOX 360. I’m going to go take out a day’s worth of frustration on some thugs in Gotham City. 😉

TOS Miranda Class, Pt. 04

Work, work, work.

OK, lots of things here and there. I added some cuts to the back of the saucer for the shuttlebays. I also added trenches to the top for the greebles that will more or less replicate (at lower detail of course) the nurnies that ILM put on the movie version. I also added a cut for the deflector-like details on movie version, but I don’t know yet what I’m doing there. I also put in the three groves that are in the underside of the Enterprise’s saucer. And, I added windows. A whole bunch of windows. I’d have done more, but I also spent a lot of time cleaning up the mess that the booleans made. And, I fiddled with the bussard collectors some more.

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TOS Miranda Class, Pt. 01

So, this is what I’ve been working towards. I wanted to do the nacelle first because I wanted that to match the original Enterprise’s nacelle. The rest, of course, has to all be custom built from either fan plans of similar configurations and from my head. Of course, people have done these over the years, with different options for hull shape, pod/no pod, where the deflector goes, etc. I did one several years ago in Truespace and then nearly two years ago in Lightwave, I rebuilt the same ship for Star Trek: Equinox. Though, that was a smaller ship and one that I never personally called “Miranda class.” This one is more appropriately sized. Like the Miranda class in Star Trek II and onward, the saucer has the same diameter as the Enterprise’s saucer, though this one is (of course) based on the TOS Enterprise, as opposed to the movie one. So, the saucer has a diameter of 127.1 meters. However, I did “beef up” the edge a bit, to more realistically fit 2 decks there. I also made the teardrop taller, for the same purpose, and the bridge is probably taller to, as I don’t believe the series version bridge structure was large enough to house the bridge. So, this is where it stands right now:

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The saucer was time consuming (it took up much of yesterday) but not particularly difficult to do. I did it pretty much the same way I did in Lightwave, which involved a lot of box modeling, a custom curve or two, and a buttload of edge rounding. The ship is going to have a roll bar, just as the movie one does. I plan to put the navigational deflector and possibly the torpedo launchers in the pod. I’m also going to do the big phasers on the roll bar, just as they are in the movie version.