Vulcan Shuttle, Pt. 05

For people who like to see this sort of thing, here’s a test fit for the upper panel lines. All in all, it’s not bad. I need to tweak a couple things. Ordinarily, I’d do more maps to correct a couple things, but I’m trying to keep the number of materials and maps down so that Tobias has less to convert. Of course, if Lightwave had decent UV unwrapping tools, this would be easier.

Also, the bottom is a mess, which is why I didn’t render it. 😉

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Vulcan Shuttle, Pt. 03

Working hard or hardly working? Either way, I’ve got the ring all detailed now. I just have a few more thingamabobs (technical term) to add to the main body and a really simple interior for the windows and then I’ll be ready to texture. 😀

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I was back and forth with the idea of modeled paneling or textured paneling. I’ve opted for textured for 3 reasons. 1. Tobias gets it more quickly. 2. It will have the same look as the model on the show, which had textured paneling. 3. In order to model the paneling, I’m going to follow my geometry, which doesn’t match the panel lines in the nose and rear sections due to the subdivision. So, it won’t look the same if I model it. However, I can always go back and do modeled paneling later, if I so desire.

Vulcan Shuttle, Pt. 02

I got a little more work done on the shuttle. Mostly, a lot of edge rounding and some paneling and boxes on the ring. I also put in the inset lines the top front section has, part of which appear to be the hatches. And, the piping stuff around the cockpit window.

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This isn’t exactly a 1:1 representation of the model from the show because my geometry is likely different, but it’s close enough. Besides, I never copy anything exactly.

Vulcan Shuttle Pt. 01

This is a favor for a friend. A few days ago, Tobias Richter posted a thread on Scifi-Meshes asking if anybody had done this shuttle from Enterprise:

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I didn’t know of a mesh of that particular shuttle, but I was looking at the 5 view orthos and thinking it wouldn’t be hard to build one, so I volunteered. Tobias would do it himself, but he has a lot on his plate right now.

So, I started on this on Sunday and I’ve been picking at it. Terrific references for this shuttle, thanks to Doug Drexler posting the 5 view orthos and perspective shot on his blog, and thanks to Bernd Schneider for re-posting Doug’s stuff on his site, since Doug’s blog no longer exists. (yes, I know it’s in a web archive, but EAS is in my bookmarks) This is very helpful, because this shuttle has about 4 seconds total screen time in 4 seasons. It appears very briefly in two episodes.

Tobias said for his purpose that it didn’t have to be this exact shuttle, but I want to keep it as close to the original as possible. I really love John Eaves’ design work, and this is one of the many awesome designs that he did for Enterprise. Besides, it’s hard to say how quickly Vulcan designs would have evolved after the dissolution of the Vulcan High Command in 2154 and Vulcans (presumably) putting the bulk of their creative efforts into stuff that benefits the Federation, which apparently uses ships for 100+ years anyway. 😉

Even with a 5 view and perspective, there is still some guesswork in some areas, such as the inside of and anything blocked by the ring. But, it’s going smoothly so far. This is where she stands right now:

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I’ve got the big pieces in place, it’s all about details right now. The front top bit was the first piece that I did, but I was overthinking it at first. At first, I was trying to do the cockpit window as part of the mesh before subdivision, but it was coming out like garbage. Fortunately, I regrouped and decided to do it after the subdivision by making a piece that shape and then stenciling it into the mesh. Then I set in the window and cleaned up my ngons (to make the conversion to .fbx for Tobias easier.) Since then, it’s been going well.

I would just like to point out that I think this new dumbed down “improved” posting system WordPress is using sucks. I used the old system as long as I could, but it looks like I’ve got no choice now. Thanks a lot, you asshats.

Busy Day at the Starbase, 2015 Edition

I spent an almost fruitless week dorking around in Blender. My goal was to switch from Lightwave to Blender and from Windows to Linux Mint. Well, that was rendered moot. I tried at first playing around with some tutorials about modeling. Modeling wise, Blender ain’t bad. There are tools I have in LW that I wouldn’t in Blender, but I’d have adapted. Then I dove into Cycles, Blender’s realistic render engine. I can’t express enough how much I love that render engine, for the most part. For people who don’t know, “standard” CGI rendering engines are hampered by unrealistic lighting. In CGI, light travels in one direction and hits an object from that direction. Any face going the other direction isn’t lit. Period. This is in contrast to lighting in the real world. In the real world, if you have an object with a light behind it and other objects in front of it, such as furniture, walls, ceiling, etc, light will bounce off of those objects back at the previous object, lighting the “dark” side. Most CGI software has a solution for calculating this light bouncing. In Blender, it’s part of the Cycles render engine. It calculates the light bouncing to create a more realistically lit object and scene. I imported a few of my Lightwave models into Blender which, for the most part, went well. As long as I triangulated my faces with more than 4 sides in Lightwave and applied the Edge Split modifier after import, most everything looked grand. Cycles has wonderful emission materials. However, I ran into issues with applying textures to my imported models. Again, for people who don’t know, this is how textures are applied. There’s a projection setting that tells the image where to go, how to be oriented and, most importantly, how to be mapped to the object. Most software has various options for this. There are four basic types of mapping: plane, cylinder, sphere and cube. They are what they sound like. Plane puts your map “flat” on a surface, where the others wrap it around in the appropriate shape. Then there’s unwrapping, where the map is put on there based on the object’s geometry. This is the most difficult and problematic method. Cycles, meanwhile, only has unwrapping. There are several options to unwrap the object, but they don’t necessarily work like they do in other software. IE: selecting “cylinder” doesn’t wrap the map around the object in the shape of a cylinder like it should. And, there are pretty much no controls over this stuff like you have in a lot of other programs. And, by the way, that’s not just me talking. I took a screen shot of what I was trying to do and a friend who is very proficient in 3DS Max commented on the lack of control. So, after a few days of spending many hours trying to get one simple map onto a nacelle the way it should work and does work in Lightwave, I got mad and gave up. So, for those people who keep saying I should “give Blender another try,” I did. Until they fix the texture mapping in Cycles, I won’t be using it. For the record, the Blender Internal rendering engine has “normal” texture mapping, but it doesn’t apply to Cycles because the material settings are different.

So, where am I going with all of this? Back to the light bounce thing. As I said, Cycles is wonderful at calculating light bounce. Well, Lightwave is professional software, so it naturally has settings that do this as well. Though, unlike Cycles, it’s an option that can be activated in the standard LW rendering engine, not an entirely separate engine. So, things like texture mapping work exactly the same. It’s called Radiosity, which is a very popular way of simulating light bounce. So, I spent last night messing around with Radiosity in Lightwave. I like it a lot. Truespace also had Radiosity, though I never messed with it and I don’t know why it’s taken me so long to do so in Lightwave.

So, I decided to redo one of my renders with Radiosity enabled. I’m much happier with the results. As you can see, things like the shuttlebay alcove and inboard side of the starboard nacelle on the Scout have a faint light hitting them, which is bouncing off of the hull back at those areas. Areas on the other objects are also lit by the light bouncing, which makes the whole scene look more realistic. Of course, some areas are still very dark, this is due to nothing being there to bounce the rays back. And, for those who are wondering, rendering with Radiosity only took about 5 minutes longer than rendering without, and that was due to the amount of time it took calculating the Radiosity.

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If you want to see the old version and do a comparison, here’s a link:
(the link will open in a new tab)

Wildstar, Pt. 01

This is something I started on a few days ago. It started off as me wanting to do a Star Trek ship that was a Federation vessel but not a Starfleet vessel. However, as I started designing it, I decided it would work as an original project, rather than a Trek project. Sure, there are a few Trek influences, but it’s hard to not be influenced by any of the major Sci-Fi franchises and styles when designing something.

Anyway, it’s basically a large shuttle. It’s 45 meters long, 44.6 meters wide and 12.8 meters tall. It has 3 decks and probably a small crew. Other than that, I don’t have many details worked out, beyond the name: Wildstar.

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Klingon Shuttle

Yesterday on Scifi-Meshes, Tobias Richter sent out a call for help. He’s doing effects work for the upcoming fan short film Star Trek: Axanar: Prelude to Axanar and he needed a little mesh help. (and I do mean little 😉 ) He’s got a Klingon dry dock scene in the works and he asked for someone to build a Klingon equivalent of a workbee. He needed it to be low poly and he needed it fast. So, I spent the afternoon working on a Klingon small craft.

My first version was too close to the Federation workbee and my second looks too much like a shuttle. This is the more shuttle-like version that I came up with:

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