Sep 142013

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Finished off the detailing on the neck!

I’d been adding microbevels to all the asymmetric details, but I hadn’t done so on the mirrored elements of the neck, so I went back and added those, too.

Redid the lighting setup; Blender’s “sky” lighting is great for giving something a good “sitting on the ground outside” lighting, but not so much for space. Besides, I needed a more oblique light to show off my fun new textures! They’re just temporary, but I had this idea (which I’ve been experimenting with on my Ambassador — yes, I’m still working on it, too!) about using a very small image filled with multi-color noise and then scaling it up using Nearest Neighbor resampling, rather than bilinear/bicubic. It keeps the “blocks” hard, rather than smoothing them, and provides a neat base from which to make metal paneling! It still came out looking a bit too uniform, but for just a few minutes dinking around in Photoshop, I’m pretty happy with it.

Still need to decide what I’m going to do with the PDL emplacements in the neck’s weapon pods, and I’m leaning more and more toward treating the toy’s greebles as “layer one” of the ship’s greebles, with an additional layer or two required to really provide the necessary sense of scale. Also need to fill in that currently-blank strip down the middle of the neck. I think I’m going to go with the idea of a smaller bay at the far end, with the long run-up used as a sort of catapult that boosts smaller craft away from the ship before they fire off their own engines.

Roughed in the engineering section!


The extensions near the neck are almost 2D on the toy, but I decided to bulk them out. I tried shrinking their vertical height so that they were more inline with the neck, but it didn’t look as interesting. Perhaps they’re docking spars for ships too large to land in the internal hangar bay, which roughly coincides with that area.

I’ve always conceived of the round middle section as the location of the ship’s main reactor. Its circular shape kind of implies some kind of Tokamak fusion reactor design to me, or at least a large circular particle accelerator of some kind. I suppose a particle accelerator could be an antimatter reactor, too.

None of the stuff in this section (or the gunhead, come to think of it…) has microbevels yet, which is part of why it looks a little bland compared to the neck. It also just has substantially less greebling in general, but I’ll probably mirror the top details down to this side once I put them in.

I’m sort of tempted to do a master systems display-style cutaway of this ship when all is said and done…

I’m also having a lot of fun with these wacky camera angles. Can you tell?

Added in the beginning of the dorsal surface details. Main reactor in the middle (orange), fuel pods toward the bow (the three capsules on either side).


The toy is asymmetric in regards to these two sections, but one of the sections is a control console of sorts. It doesn’t make visual sense if translated directly, so I’ve mirrored the fuel pods instead. However, I’ll be lifting some of the edge-on detail from that side and re-purposing it as edge-and-overhang detail for the area beneath the fuel pods.

The gunhead now has microbevels, as do all of the railguns. Some of the elements of the core/engineering section have microbevels, but not everything does. The main body geometry itself doesn’t, for instance, but the fuel pods do.

Overall ship length for those curious: 510m. I’m not sure if I want to double/triple this for the “final” scale, or just leave it where it is. 510m is small by, say, Star Wars scales, but it’s still larger than any existing aircraft carrier. I suppose it’ll at least partially hinge on the size that the bay doors need to be.

Sticking the neck out

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Sep 082013

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Started in on the neck. Various notes and thoughts scribbled into the images themselves.

Current length, not including the main guns: 336 m. I might scale the model up once it’s done, or I might leave it where it is. Right now, it’s a direct 1000:1 scale-up from the toy (1mm on the toy = 1m on the ship).

Enter: Defender

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Sep 082013

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Story time!
As a kid, I had a bunch of toys. Often, I would play with these toys “as intended” — X-men would be X-men fighting evil mutants, Star Trek micro-machines would fight space battles against other Star Trek micro-machines, and so on. But sometimes, I liked to re-purpose the toys into something original. That gave birth to the Defender universe. Using aforementioned micro-machines, coupled with a handful of other larger toys, I concocted huge space battles between the heroic UEDF and their genocidal alien enemies.

Always at the center of the chaos was the UEDF Illustrious Defender, which was originally an old StarCom toy called Starbase Station. The toy itself was actually intended as a vertically-oriented, multi-level play set for the StarCom toy line, but if you detached the middle level, removed the base-level’s gun turret, and flattened the whole thing out, it looked something like a large spaceship, especially compared with the other micro-machines in question.

Over the years, I’ve taken several stabs at modeling Defender, using the original toy as a real-world reference. I made my first attempt in trueSpace, which accurately captured the original shape but lacked a lot of the toy’s surface detail. (1998)

My second attempt, done in LightWave (or it might’ve been Inspire), kept the overall shape intact, but retooled a lot of the details to make it a more original piece. (ca. 2001)

My third attempt, also done in LightWave, went back to the idea of doing an accurate detail capture, this time with a lot more surface detail. (ca. 2004)

This marks my fourth attempt, done in Blender, which continues to attempt the accurate detail capture, but with an eye toward the end goal of representing the toy as a massive starship. To that end, I’m modifying the details here and there to bulk out shapes, depict armaments, and so on. I’ve got a nice set of digital calipers for measuring things, so this should also be the most accurate version (excepting the bits I’m deliberately changing) I’ve ever done.

Enough with the background, on with the model!

I call the front section the “Gun Head,” since it houses the enormous main railguns and, if you think of Defenderas resembling a giant banjo, it’s where the “machine head” would be. I re-purposed the design of the toy’s middle platform’s guns to be smaller turrets and placed them on raised daises that house clips for the top-side’s magnetic plate on the toy. This time around, rather than mounting the guns on top as I have in the past, I decided to mount them beneath,

That detailing along the edge is an accurate capture of the same detailing on the toy, as close as I could make it. I elected to treat a couple of the toy’s flat decal colors as physical objects, namely the three round observation towers.

I need to put a bunch of windows and smaller machinery in to give it a better sense of scale, but I think I’m going to come back and do that once the rest of the major shapes are in place.


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Jan 092009

It’s been a while, so it seemed high-time to talk about some of the things I’m working on.

Novel: Gold (tentative title)
This past November, I participated in and “won” NaNoWriMo by completing a 50,000 word manuscript.  It’s the story of a young woman that wakes up in a strange, burning office with an unfamiliar voice in her head urging her to jump out of the window…to save her life.  Once I completed it, I sent it to a number of people for a first review.  I haven’t touched it since, taking the advice of Stephen King to let the first draft sit in a drawer for a while before returning to it.  My parents have recently finished reading it and are going to be sending me their feedback this weekend.  I’m still waiting to hear Cody and a few others’ thoughts as well.  Once I have the combined feedback of everyone, I’ll set to work writing the second draft.  My hope is to publish it sometime this summer.

Film: Wec: The Sequel
Wec 2 has been in stasis for a while, superceded by work, more immediate hobbies and diversions (Xbox games, Fallout 3, novel-writing, etc.).  However, I do still plan to finish it.  It’s hard to bring myself to work on it specifically because it’s a film that deals with an entirely different era of my life.  I’m not that guy anymore, and so the movie’s personal relevance to me is greatly diminished.  However, with Ron’s help, I still think the movie itself is salvagable and will actually be interesting.  I recently showed Wec: The Movie to a co-worker of mine in preparation for a new project (see below), and I realized (again) how inane that first movie is.  I want the second one, as silly as it is, to actually be enjoyable for more than the sheer lunacy value.  I think it can be.

Film: Untitled Star Wars Fanfilm
I’ve played with the idea of doing a Star Wars fanfilm many times in the past.  A few weeks ago, an image formed in my head that caused inspiration to strike: an X-wing, floating “hidden” behind an asteroid, and then maneuvering like a real spacefighter (a la BSG).  This prompted the idea of creating a film based on a some X-wing pilots, in the vein of BSG.  It would play with established SW conventions (i.e. X-wings would actually maneuver like space fighters) and make a more “hard” sci-fi version of Star Wars.  

Co-worker and fellow SW fan Steve was intrigued by the idea when I told him about it and with a bit of convincing I’ve gotten him pretty enthused about the project.  We recently asked Ron to help us with the writing, and the last week has had us working through the first draft of the treatment he wrote up for us.  He’s now busily working on the second draft that Steve and I will use to write the first draft of the script.  Once we’ve done that, it’ll go back to Ron for a dialog polish (George, why didn’t you do this?) and we’ll start material pre-production (set building, costumes, etc.).  So far, the film will star Steve, Cody, and myself, along with a cameo by Steve’s wife and children.  

Other Novels
I have several other novel ideas that have been banging around in my head, begging to be written.

  • A mostly-hard science fiction novel dealing with the rammifications of space warfare after the advent of practical defense shields.
  • A science fiction novel dealing with the setting that I’ve had in my head forever, first implemented in any practical form as the UEDF Illustrious Defender e-mail RPG.
  • A sword-and-sorcery fantasy novel wherein a character joins a guild of assassins and uncovers a plot that led to her father’s murder.

There are more, but those three are the most fully-formed.

RPG: Vampire
At some point in the near future, I also plan to resume my Vampire game.  I’m not totally sure when this will happen, though it is likely to take place on Saturday evenings.  The timing is up in the air right now because many of the players are currently in unstable situations (as it pertains to regularly meeting on IRC, that is).

So, that’s about it from my neck of the woods.  Going to be a busy year!