Jan 062013

This post is part of a meta-series. Click here for a list of all posts in this series.

Finally had a little time to poke at this. Haven’t done much besides fix up the windows on the saucer rim, but since I haven’t done a full-ship render in a while, this seemed a good opportunity!

Spent about six hours putting in the ventral grids (all of which are nice and tidy; helps to know the pitfalls you’re going to encounter and how to mitigate them in advance!), windows, and rooms.

There’s something funky going on with either the room self-illumination or the window frames that’s causing the J and N deck rooms to be darker than they should be. There’s also some funky shadowing going on with the windows on the right side of the image, but I think that may just be because I mirrored and inverted my lighting rig to bolster the light for this render. Mirrored lights often do weird things.

Went through a lot of trial and error with Blender’s various deformation tools in order to get the shield grids near the neck collar to flow around it, rather than end abruptly. Finally came up with a solution I was happy with using Mesh Deform (essentially using another mesh as a Lattice deformer). I also fiddled with the UVs on the rooms so that the K deck room ceilings (which are what you see through the windows at this angle) aren’t so much brighter than the J and N deck room ceilings. There’s still a big difference, but it’s not quite as bad now. Finally, added the ventral saucer phaser arrays.

Ventral saucer lifeboats now in place. Started working on the “real” version of the sensor assembly, based heavily on the Lakota-style sensor assembly.

The initial shapes came together fine, and I decided rather than subsurfing the whole “star” pattern of the sensor assembly, I would do just enough to get the shape geometry and then bevel the edges several times to round it off. This created some less-than-attractive corners, which I deleted and thought, “Okay, I’ll just patch this with some curves and be good to go.” Come to realize I don’t know how to do this in Blender. I’m reasonably sure the functionality exists, but after several hours watching tutorials (Side note: why does everyone post video tutorials these days? Am I the only one who prefers the text-and-picture format?) and banging my head against bSurfaces, various Python scripts, and so on, I ultimately decided to brute-force it and extruded the “base” of each hole, then rescaled each loop based on the cursor anchored to one of the vertices along the edge. And all of this for little detail bits that are barely 15cm across!

Now we’re cooking with gas! The following represent another 10ish hours of work, but I believe also represent the conclusion of detail work on the saucer (except for the secondary shuttlebay doors, which I think I need to plan out before trying to tackle).

First up, a completely new and improved sensor dome, based on that of Lakota. I like the front-back orientation better than the sideways orientation as seen on the refit Ambassador, so that’s why it’s rotated the way it is. I imagine all of these components are modular and can be swapped-out on a per-mission basis, anyway.

(Just noticed the little render errors in the shield grid here. Probably trivial to fix.)

Second, another full-ship render, this time showcasing the saucer rim RCS thrusters. As with the sensor dome, these are based on Lakota‘s RCS thrusters rather than those of the Ambassador studio models because the ones on the studio models are little more than colored lines. The Lakota RCS thrusters share lineage with those of theConstitution Refit and look much more like actual RCS thrusters that would emit gas to push a ship around!

Also visible: running lights!

I spent a ton of time re-integrating the neck and engineering hull into one piece. Also made a ton of other really small but significant shape tweaks to the engineering hull. Rather than spend two hours rendering out something that won’t really look that much different without a side-by-side comparison, I did another annotated screenshot:

Over 170 hours working on this model so far.

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