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:


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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Phase II Enterprise

OK, this is the thing I’ve been working on, for those who didn’t get it already. I’ve always been intrigued by Star Trek: Phase II, the second attempt at a Star Trek TV series by Paramount that was doomed before it really got into production. Of course, the pilot episode became Star Trek: The Motion Picture, and many of the sets were used on the movies and even TNG, and some of the characters and stories were revisited on that show as well, but one wonders what would have become of Star Trek had that series gone through, as opposed to becoming a movie. We’ll never know because it didn’t happen, and everything worked out OK. We had the movies with the original cast, followed by TNG, DS9, Voyager, more movies and Enterprise. All told, a lot of good Trek, some of which likely wouldn’t have happened if Phase II had happened instead of TMP. Of course, the current state of Star Trek is sad, but at least we have hours upon hours of great shows and movies.

One thing I’ve always liked from Phase II was the model work being done at Brick Price Movie Miniatures, particularly the Enterprise model being constructed by Don Loos. Unfortunately, the model wasn’t high enough quality for the motion picture work as it was being built for television, so it couldn’t be used. Still, I love looking at Matt Jefferies’ sleek redesign for the ship, and at the 75% completed model that was being built. They were also working on a space dock that was significantly different than the one designed by Andrew Probert for the movie.

Anyway, I’ve built this ship before, but it’s been many years. As before, I’m using Jefferies’ updated drawings, cleaned up and made available by David Shaw. The drawings aren’t complete, but they give a complete enough view of what he had in mind for the Enterprise’s refit. There are also a few existing pics from the build in the Phase II book, which I of course have a copy of. In fact, I’m re-reading it while working on this. But, what I don’t have as far as references is where artistic license comes in. My goal is to do something between TOS and TMP, like maybe an intermediate design. Anyway, this is what I have so far:


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Return to CGI, Pt. 2

If anyone calling them self a Trekkie sees these images and doesn’t know what ship I’m doing, I’m going to have to ask you to turn in your Trekkie card. 😉



The rear end of the engineering section is based on the one from TOS. I did it as close to the schematic drawings and the handful of pics of the incomplete model as I could, with a bit of embellishment of my own thrown in. That’s been the most time consuming part of this build so far.

Wildstar, Pt. 04

Unfortunately, I made a rookie mistake with this design. One of the things to consider when designing a space ship is how does your crew get on and off the ship? I have hatches planned, which will come in handy when the ship docks at something like a space station. However, I have no plans to give the ship the ability to land. Due to the way I designed the hull, it would require some really long rear landing gear. Plus, it would probably have to have some kind of long boarding ramp. It’s jut not practical. Of course, in some Sci-Fi (Star Trek, Blake’s 7, etc.) have some kind of matter transporter, or teleporter. Of course, this is good from a TV show budget sense, as using an effect like that is cheaper than shuttling the crew from place to place. Plus, it’s cool tech. Though, even if you have that kind of tech, you still need some kind of landing craft, as they had on Star Trek. And, indeed, we saw several Star Trek episodes where the transporters weren’t working for some reason or another, so they used shuttles. (except in “The Enemy Within,” where it would have made a lot of sense) Anyway, I don’t plan to have that kind of tech in my universe.

So, I decided to give the ship a landing bay. However, since I didn’t plan for it, I had to redo the paneling somewhere to fit it in. I chose the underside, since it required less work to redo the paneling there and because I could add a bay without breaking the upper hull design. My first thought was to do an inset with some doors inside it. Those doors would open into a bay. However, the only part of the underside that is curved enough is too far forward to put a bay forward of it, due to the shape of the front of the hull. So, I decided to add a structure to the bottom. This structure not only gives the underside ample room for a bay, but it also increases the ship’s internal space. So, the ship has a landing bay now for support craft.





On The Rocks, Pt. 01

For years I’ve wanted to know how to do certain things. One of which is making asteroids. Doing planet and nebula shots is nice, but sometimes you just need to do different things. So, last week I got the March 2014 Lightwave newsletter in my e-mail. I get these because I’m a registered Lightwave user and, truth be told, I usually just glance over them and then dump them in the trash folder. Anywho, this month’s had a great picture of a space scene that an artist did with a space station and asteroids and a cool shuttle and some dudes in space suits. I clicked on it to get a better look at the picture, and found myself on a great “how I made this” page by the artist. Not only that, but he made a great video tutorial on making asteroids and an asteroid field. The basic mesh is pretty simple, but then you use procedural noise in the displacement node to get the funky shapes and procedurals for the textures. So, this is my first official asteroid:


Mine doesn’t look quite as “rocky” as his do, because I used smoothing in my materials. It looks too pixilated without that, in my opinion. I honestly don’t even know how he made such a great looking image without smoothing. Though, he also used Lightwave 11.5, which may have a way to make that look better without smoothing. (or he used a smoothing filter in rendering) However, I can also up the bump on the material, which I’ll probably do later. I also had to figure out how to make his method work on larger rocks than he was making. His is 1m, mine is 200m. Fortunately, he had a link to an example file in his YouTube comments section, which helped me figure out why his method wasn’t working for me and what I had to do to fix it. Also, once I have a few more asteroids, I’ll make a field. I’m not just doing it with one rock. (boring)

Anywho, any Lightwave users who want to do this may want to check out the tutorial: