Wednesday, December 26, 2012


Spent a week in November in hospital. Been trying to get back on my feet and catch up with life in general since. The computer has taken a bit of a back seat, but have managed to putter away with a few bits.

First up, a start on a Sopwith Camel model for a friend's animated short.

Still in the early stages at the moment.

Have also been re-texturing the new version of the Ajax. Here's a peek with the Christmas image that I put together for them.

A model kit that a few of us would like to see produced...

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

That's No Moon...

Some early WIP shots for an asteroid starbase for the upcoming Ajax vignette - fun with 3D sculpting now I'm finally starting to get the hang of it.

Still a bucketload of details and nurnies to add. And for the eagle eyed comic fans, the station detail left of frame is based off the Watchtower station seen in the graphic novel 'Debt of Honor' - art by Adam T. Hughes and Karl C. Story, colors by Tom J. McCraw -which remains my all time favourite Star Trek comic story. I trying to use the geometric shape motif to define the rest of the structures.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Coronado Class

While working on the Santee, which is classified as a carrier in the Trek universe, there was a request for me to build the Coronado class - a 'thru-deck' carrier which appears in 'Ships of the Star Fleet: Volume 1'. This was also a good chance to try out some new techniques for building the Trek style secondary hulls and iron out some problems that I had noticed with my earlier attempts at the Achernar and classic 1701.

The bridge and BC deck are still the standard 11 footer version and need to be replaced with the FJ style version.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

But Wait. There's More...

While rebuidling and updating the Ajax, I've been applying the same tweaks to the Santee as well.

The primary hull and nacelles are a direct lift from the current iteration of the Ajax, the dorsal and secondary hulls are new builds with the more subtle paneling effect. I have also changed the way I do the windows - they now have slightly rounded corners as well as a slightly bevelled inset which seems to give a better shadow effect compared to the previous harsher, square insets.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Back in the Saddle...

First up some work for the folks over at Starship Farragut. I sent over my TOS shuttle model to Michael Struck at Neo F/X for use in the latest Farragut episode 'The Price of Anything'. He made some modifications to bring it closer to the original studio prop - slight changes to the paneling details as well as hollowing out the nacelle end caps.
Turns out the poor shuttle is in for a bit of a rough time. Initially the nacelle and support strut needed to be damaged as if hit by weapons fire. Then it crashes planetside and is reduced to a smoking wreck - lots of fun with Modo's sculpting tools. I initially looked at the shuttle cutaway in the Enterprise Haynes manual for guidance, but ended up producing my own interpretation of the internal airframe so we have something to see after peeling back the panels. Given me a few ideas for producing hull damage for bigger ships, which I may well need in the near future.

I had also been eyeing up having another pass at the Ajax. I still wasn't quite happy with the last version, and after looking at Tobias Richter's work on the new Phase II Enterprise, I definitely felt like I needed to try and lift my game a bit. I had initially wanted to rebuild the primary hull to make it easier to UV map, but after several attempts to produce a version that I could cylindrically UV map I gave that idea up as a bad joke. Both the saucer and the connecting dorsal are based on P-Sub cages that make for a more even polygon distribution when frozen. I have kept with my previous plan of modeling the grid lines/paneling, but have taken on board the critique that the previous version was to pronounced (thanks EG180!).

I want to add more nurnies and panel detail to the mesh and perhaps push the model beyond the original 60's 11 foot miniature constraints that were the original intention. This version still has the 11 footer's bridge and BC deck layout - need to remodel the FJ version and swap them over.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Recreating the Past...

Apologies for lack of posts, actually been working. Managed to secure a couple of CG gigs on a Tony Robinson ('Blackadder', 'Time Team") documentary series exploring Australian history - historical recreation rather than science fiction interpretation!

First up was to recreate the 'Female Factory' - a women's prison from late 19th century Hobart. The brief was to have the building emerge from the remains of the site as it exists today. The buildings were built from supplied floor plans heavily supplemented with historical photographs.

This was then textured as could be best estimated from existing buildings surviving from the period - the reference photographs were, after all, only grainy black and white. I fully admit that there is visible repetition in the texturing, but the required camera angle to match the supplied live action plate hid most of this.

The idea was to have the building rise up from the ground in to their original positions. The tricky part was to match the voice over of the local historian who was being interviewed by the aforementioned Mr Robinson. The building was split up in to parts that matched the ongoing description and animated to match the voice over beats.

Once rendered in Cinema 4D, off in to After Effects to put in dust and debris effects to underline the effect of the buildings rising from the ground.

The second gig was to prove a little more technically challenging. The episode covered the history of gold mining at Bendigo and the brief was to show the mines that honeycomb the ground beneath the city. I initially came up with a static model of the mines that the camera could fly around in time to Mr Robinson's voice over. However, the style of his voice over did not suit the static models and called for the mines to appear to grow as the camera moved past. Time for Cinema 4D to step up to the plate. I needed a system that would allow multiple levels of the mine shaft to grow in sync with one another over time. Luckily, C4D has a 'grow along spline' system which can be used to extrude a shape along a spline, the growth can be controlled using the in built Xpresso node based programming system, and the whole thing then linked to one slider to control one tunnel system. A number of base tunnels were created which could then be mixed and matched to recreate the three main tunnel systems that exist under Bendigo.

There was a request to see 'nuggets' of gold that the tunnels were seeking out. Initially I thought of doing this in C4D, but eventually ended up using Maxon's excellent AFX plugin to transfer the camera motion from C4D in to After Effects and do the 'nuggets' as particle effects in post.

All that remained was to link the live action footage to the CG tunnels, accomplished via a match move of Mr. Robinson's hand tracking down a map of the Central Deborah Gold Mine which was then tracked to a CG model based off the map in the footage. The last frame of the match move was then matched to the second camera move that pans out and around to reveal the growing tunnels and eventually the tunnel complex.
All in all, an interesting technical exercise.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Endeavor Update...

Had a few hours spare while waiting for some feedback on another project (more later) and thought I would pay some attention to the Endeavor before it starts to feels a bit unloved.
Replaced the primary hull with the new gridline version from the Santee, rebuilt the neck to include the gridline and correct the window placement, modified the nacelles and made a start on the markings. Still in boring grey while I get some information on what the experts think it's colour should be.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

USS Santee - no longer in gray!

Update on the Santee.
Since the FJ/FRS/SotSF material all features grid lines as part of the ships, I have elected to build the grid in to the mesh rather than have it just as part of the texturing. When I was building the Ajax I was tasked with basing everything off the smooth 11 foot TOS Enterprise, here I feel I have a bit more leeway.
Texturing is now underway - I have finally knuckled down and tried to get my head around some of Modo's UV tools and reworked how I create the UV maps for the various sub-assemblies. I have kept the texturing from the 11 footer, but made it a bit subtler compared to my earlier efforts. Also streamlined my methods for applying registries and markings. Still some way to go, but it's certainly advanced from the clay render gray stage.
Having used the Santee as a test bed for new ideas, I can start applying what I have learnt to the Endeavor and the Achernar and bring those up to speed.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Santee Update...

More work on the Santee. Added some more detail, corrected some polygon errors, rebuilt the neck completely to make it less blocky and generally moved things forward.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

USS Santee

A piece of commisioned work this time round. I was asked by Mark Wilson, over at Federation Frontiers if I would like to translate his design for the TOS era shuttle carrier, the USS Santee, in to a 3D mesh. This design initially featured in Mark's Federation Shuttlecarrier Comparison Chart, and will be appearing Erik Kristiansen's upcoming publication in the Jackill's series.

Revision to follow.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Canon, fanon and modeling...

Time for some updates. 'Twould seem that in starting to build the Endeavor, I have entered the Twilight Zone where canon and fanon collide. Canon is defined as what has appeared or occured on screen, be it big or small. Fanon is what has appeared in the ever expanding realm of fan published material - some of which is regarded as more 'official' than others.
Now, Matt Jefferies, the original designer of the Enterprise, designed the ship with a more curvaceous secondary hull. When the model was built, the secondary hull was streamlined to make it easier to physically build. When Franz Joseph published his 'Star Trek Technical Manual' in the 70's, he based his plans off Jefferies original designs - the curvaceous secondary hull was back in, along with a few other tweaks.
I originally built the Ajax and subsequently the  Enterprise based of Charles Casimiro's blueprints of the 11 foot TOS filming miniature. When I originally built the Endeavor, I used the parts that I had already built which were not quite true to the actual plans - as was pointed out to me by a reply on one of the forums.

The Jeffries/FJ designs were used as the basis for the designs in 'Ships of the Star Fleet: Vol 1'. The production design was used for the Enterprise's ship class, but the Jefferies FJ design became its own class - the Achernar. The Achernar secondary hull then became the basis of other designs in the book.
Still with me? Good. Armed with this information and scan of the plans from the book, I have rebuilt the Endeavor and also built an Achernar in to the bargain.
The Endeavor - replaced secondary hull, warp nacelle pylons moved forward in to more accurate position, nacelles elongated to match plans, bridge and B/C deck replaced with FJ versions, phaser emitters added.

The Achernar - a new build using the Endeavor primary and secondary hull with the warp nacelles from my 1701.

Still some detail to add to both.

Friday, January 13, 2012

It was....Inevitable...

A death in the family, a hurried trip to the UK to organise a funeral and a dose of Deep Vein Thrombosis on the return flight to Australia - things have not been overly conducive to the old creativity to say the least. However, a little creative urge has survived and to get me modeling again, I finally decided to take the plunge and use the elements I had made for the Ajax to create an Enterprise that I could call my own. That and I need one for an upcoming project, just to add some further impetus.

Still some details and possible corrections to go, but pleased with things so far. Then it will be time to make with the UV-ing and the texturing - something that always seems to end up a long way down the list.

Having finally got a secondary hull, my addled brain decided to go off on yet another tangent. I have always had a closet interest in the various warp engine designs that people have come up with over the years - particularly how the designs progress from the cylindrical TOS nacelles to the boxy linear TMP design. Just go with it - it's a Star Trek geek thing. Thus I present the USS Endeavour from 'Ship of the Star Fleet: Vol 1' which introduces the LN-52-SCNN warp drive unit.

Again, more detail to be added. Opens up a few more ship types that I can build.