TOS Star Trek Part 10

As I indicated in the finished art post I did earlier, I converted a few of my older ships to Lightwave 2018. This basically entails completely redoing the materials, as Lightwave 2018’s render engine is designed to use Principled BSDF materials and older versions of the software used different materials and a different render engine. These models were made in Lightwave 10 about 5-6 years ago.

I’m seriously considering redoing the Equinox (and not calling it that) as that was designed to be a ship that was a later TOS era, almost to the TMP time frame ship, hence the details. But, I’d prefer to do a model that looks like an older ship. Besides, I haven’t done that style of hull in ages and it’s a fun style to do. Another thing I’m considering is rigging up models for animation. For the most part, these models wouldn’t be hard to animate or take a long time, but the bussard collectors are a problem. They’re done practically with modeled lights and mirrors, and a lot of light refraction. The refraction is what is causing the noise that is visible on the Erickson render. This can be done away with, or at least greatly reduced, but increasing the anti aliasing to the level required results in really long render times. So, I’m probably going to have to fake the look of what’s inside the bussard collectors with a texture, which isn’t all that hard to do. I’ve done it before, all I have to do is animate it, render it to a .avi file and then use that as a applied to a dome. For animation, this will work fine. Really, it would probably be OK for still images, so I’ll have to decide after I do it if I want to keep the practical bussards or just go to the textured version.

Enterprising Images

I made some new textures for my TOS Enterprise model. When I first built the ship, I didn’t want to do any paneling or weathering on the textures. Well, I’ve changed my stance on that and I’ve done both paneling and weathering. The paneling is subtle, it’s only in the specular channel and I used small variations in shades of gray to make it subtle. The weathering, on the other hand, is more prominent. It’s in both the color and specular maps. I didn’t bother trying to recreate the weathering on the 11-foot model, instead I just did my own thing. I also tweaked my bussard collectors further and finally got them looking how I want them to look. After that was done, I decided to render some images.

I originally planned to do more than two images, but I wound up spending some time converting some of my older models to Lightwave 2018. This basically entails changing from the old style materials to Principled BSDF materials. Principled BSDF works much better with the rendering engine in Lightwave 2018. Unfortunately, when I change the materials, I have to reapply my textures. And, for materials where I didn’t UV unwrap the objects, I have to redo the mapping as well. So, it takes some time, to say the least. But, it was worthwhile as I was able to use my Starbase and Reliant-style ship for the second image.

Star Trek Phaser

So, don’t ask me why it took me 41 years to get one of these:

For those who haven’t seen these before, Diamond Select Toys makes them. They’ve been making them for years, but the one I got has a 2019 copyright on it. As you can see in the second image, the smaller phaser 1 separates from the phaser 2 pistol, just like on the TV show. The phaser 1 houses most of the electronics. I think the phaser 2 has an LED in it, but that’s about it. When you pull the trigger on the phaser 2, a post goes up and presses the button the phaser 1, making it fire. It’s got, 5 settings: safe, stun, heavy stun, kill and disintegrate, (at least, that’s what I’m guessing they’re supposed to be) each associated by a different pitch sound. (except for safe, obviously) This also causes the light to blink faster or slower, with disintegrate being fastest, and so-on. The dial on the left of the phaser 1 makes the little aiming thingamajig pop up and the dial towards the back of the phaser 2 caused the phaser to overload. which is really cool. The switch towards the front of the phaser 2 swtiches the emitter LED on and off. You can also twist the silver ring around the emitter to make the light more or less intense. Size wise, this is supposedly smaller than the ones on the show, or so some YouTuber said. However, to me, it looks like it’s about the same size, just based on watching episodes where they hold the phasers. The rear of the phaser 2 on the show went just past Leonard Nimoy’s wrist, which is where the toy one goes to on me. So, if it’s smaller, it’s only slightly smaller. Build wise, it feels a little flimsy, but not too bad. Besides, I’m an adult and know how to take care of my stuff. 😉

So, not too bad for $40, with 1 day Amazon Prime shipping. My inner nerd is happy and that’s all that matters. 😀

TOS Star Trek Part 09

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.)

TOS Star Trek Part 08

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.

Eaglemoss Starships

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.
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TOS Star Trek Part 06

I bashed together a Hermes class scout. For those of you doing the math, yes, it’s the same design as the Saladin class destroyer. The main difference is that the destroyer variant has more weapons. However, in canon, there are two scout ships that have been name whose class was never revealed, but their names and registries come from the Starfleet Technical manual. Those ships are the USS Columbia NCC-621 and the USS Revere, NCC-595. In Star Trek: The Motion Picture, the Columbia is being ordered to rendezvous with the Revere during the establishing shot of the Epsilon IX station. So, I chose to make mine one of those scouts, the Revere.

The build was, obviously, mostly just rearranging parts from my Constitution class, with only a few parts to make. Then I made some new texture maps for the changed name and registry. I also moved one of the lines on the neck forward, to between the vents and the windows. So, it’s pretty simple, but it adds another ship to the fleet.