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Star fighter & nebula in Blender

spacePlanes_medium

spacePlanes_mediumDuring the odd free weekend in the summer I had a play with Blender volumetrics, their Cycles rendering engine, and some modelling.  After an initially steep learning curve, I was very impressed with the general ease of use and speed with which you could put something together.  The above image was mostly done in Blender, with a little tweaking in Photoshop.

Here is a closeup of the basic starfighter I made, which was mainly an exercise in simple box modelling and UV mapping:

spacePlane_render

 

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My best work so far.

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Contact form fixed

It came to my attention that the contact form was broken, which then uncovered a virus lurking in my blog.  I think I’ve resolved the problem, but if you see any issues please comment here to let me know.

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New Gallery and Website changes

I’ve given the blog a small facelift with some rotating banners and a gallery of my previous work, so you can access it in one place without having to trawl through blog posts.

Future projects: I’d like to explore some new territories – NURBs modeling (application of choice not yet decided) and volumetic rendering (probably with the new Blender 2.5). If anyone has some good pointers to suggest, let me know!

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Home is where the starship is…

Taking a break from the Eaves Class 3D mesh, which I still feel needs a little more work, I thought I’d try my hand at making a triptych (A picture split into three pieces) of the Insignia Class starship for my home.  I’ve been wanting to do this for some time and have had blank empty walls in the house ever since we moved in because of it.

I did the picture below a couple of weeks ago with this in mind, which was a combination of cloud effects and radial blur in photoshop:

I then split the above image into three, rescaling the ship so that it fit within the third section. Originally the ship spilled over into the second, but I thought this might look a little disjointed.

I then went over to canvas101 and ordered three prints on foam board. This was cheaper than printing them off on canvas, and as this was the first time I’d done this I was wary of them turning out badly. However, I was quite pleased with the results.  Here they are on my wall:

Overall, I was quite pleased – I hope they don’t look too geeky for “normal” people visiting!

Next, I’m turning my thoughts to the end of our hallway.  I’ve put together this rough concept image to give you (and my understanding wife) a taste for what I’m planning:

So, what do people think?  Would you have something in your lounge like this?

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Orbital Station mesh available for download

Orbital Dock mesh

The model used in my previous picture is now available in the downloads section.

As always it would be good to hear how this mesh is used – so let me know of any pictures/animations!

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Insignia Class Starship mesh available for download

I have had a lot of requests over the years to release my Insignia Class Starship mesh to the public, and after some resistance on my part I have finally submitted.

It can be hard to let go of something you have come to hold very dear to your heart; I remember when I first developed this design from the sketches at the back of the old TNG Technical Manual. I recall the hours and the months slaving away to make it a reality. So I have been very wary of unleashing it into the public domain where I have no control of it. I have come to trust you though, dear readers; so treat it well.

I never seem to have the time to make the many animations and pictures I have in mind for the model, which is also a reason for releasing it. There are a fair few of you and only one of me, so I look forward to seeing all the images and animations people make with it – please do email me with any of the work you do. Just remember to credit me whenever you use it!

So, with that, continue to the new downloads page

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In production: Mothership concept

For some time last year I was working on a project for Sonnett Realm Productions, where I was tasked with realising the concept and animation of some invading saucer-like motherships.  The concept was meant to very much reflect the genre of the piece.

Whilst the project is on ice, here are some test animations and images with some annotation:

Shot 1

First off, a simple shot of the saucer emerging from some clouds.  The pulsing center was inspired by the saucer seen in Cocoon, but there are of course a lot of Independence Day references to the design.  The main direction was that the mothership had to be black.  At first the blue glow started off being much brighter than it is here, and the initial pass showed all of the ship in frame.  However, to portray a sense of scale more, the camera was brought closer and only the central part of the ship is seen.
The brief part that shows the saucer coming out of the cloud was actually the hardest here, believe it or not.  I faded flat 2D layers of cloud in post production to get the effect, which cut down on the render time of an actual CG cloud.

Shot 2

The shots increased in complexity at this point – the brief was to show a set of saucers descending on a city.  The concept storyboard sent to me indicated a hazy-sunset type effect which I attempted to recreate in the scene here.  The city is a still stock photo of night time New York, with subtle noise effects added to the windows and streetlights to give the impression of a living, moving metropolis.  Noise effects were also added to the still photo of the lake to give the impression it was noise.  The motherships were then rendered in to the scene and then a solid colour was laid over the entire shot to blend all the elements in together.

Shot 3

This is my most favorite – and complicated – of the shots I put together. The camera pulls out from the edge of the saucer, showing the true origins of the invaders, and pulls far out to show multiple ships devastating the land.
The complication came not only from the pullback of the camera which involved some fine control, but also from the many elements overlayed on the shot: the still background photo of the landscape had to be wrapped correctly, and the expanding mushroom cloud shot had to be synced with the moving landscape. The mushroom cloud was again a still image with distortion effects added to it.
Then the laser effects were overlayed on top of this, with lots of glow added in post production. The small fighter you see getting obliterated here was added last, where the exploding debris had to also be synced with the laser beam it hits. You can see the low poly mesh of the fighter in one of the still shots at the bottom of this post.

Shot 4

Finally for now, there is shot 4 – which is a much simpler shot, although it took longer to render because of the reflections involved in the skyscrapers. The main brief was that the saucer descends/rolls into shot from the point of view of an onlooker. After doing this shot, I noticed that the V remake had a very similar shot in the daytime. Again the whole effect is very reminiscent of Independence Day to keep the genre recognizable.

Finally, this animation shows the very first test shot I put together:

Below are some stills of the mothership I did before doing the shots above:

image image

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Encouraging results with Blender


I downloaded the latest alpha release of Blender 3D the other day, mainly down to it’s use of volumetrics. I’ve been agnosing over the last few weeks about how to create a realistic 3D nebula effect much like the Mutara Nebula from Star Trek II:


The 3D Sphere at the top of this post was created by me in Blender where volumetrics were used to create that of a 3D cloud, an effect I’ve struggled to create in other 3D apps. It actually didn’t take me as long as I thought, do I’ll see if I can start making future images with it.

I mainly used this page as a guide to creating it; Blender’s UI is still taking some getting used to, but seems well worth the effort.

I’d animate the sphere, when I can manage to work out how… 😉

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