Thursday, 20 September 2012

Steinway Model D

This is a pretty well known model of piano, frequently seen at concerts and often characters from NBC's quality comedy show "Frasier" would gather round while one of them performed the theme from Wings or something.

I made this for printing, for a museum piece. Actually thought I'd lost it but turned out I had it on a backup disk. I only completed the exterior, as a craftsman was hand building a miniature soundboard for it - the final printed and completed exhibit was 1/4 scale. From the attachment angle it basically looks finished, but the inside is completely empty!

So i'm going to build and fit my own highly detailed soundboard, and refine some of the rough edges on the brass pieces and so on, perhaps map it so I can add textures for grime and dirt etc.

Tuesday, 18 September 2012

Alcubierre one. (Dramatic pause) Engage!

To the surprise of almost everyone, our species is now perhaps slightly closer to someone not wearing a Star Trek uniform uttering that statement, in fact he or she may well be wearing a lab coat, probably won't be in space but secretly might like Star Trek....  I'm sure everyone reading this is familiar with this epic plot device as featured in every Star Trek episode ever.  As everything else from Trek becomes true over time we may one day build a functional Alcubierre Drive - the 'real' name for "Warp Drive".

Avoid tricky time dilation, with WARP DRIVE!

Alcubierre bends space in order to cheat Einstein and make a mockery of his ludicrous theories, of course cheating Einstein always takes a ton of energy... More precisely the number of tons that make up the entirety of Jupiter, which is umm, a lot of tons.... So many tons that it clearly makes such a propulsion system a bit of a non-starter since no ship in Star Trek appears to be towing a gas giant behind it, sucking its mass into its warp core with some type of big straw.

How many tons? How the hell should I know, Wes? - It wasn't written in the script. 
But not any more! Probably... By carefully configuring your warp drive in a manner that would make Mr Scott or Geordi La Forge flush with manly pride you can apparently bring this magic amount down to the amount of energy contained in a pifflingly small volume - according to actual real men and women of science its the same mass as the Voyager 1 probe.  Don't ask me how much mileage you'd get out of that, I'm not a scientition, dammit.

Avoid silly hats, with ALCUBIERRE DRIVE! 
My only question, how do we get Voyager back and use it to invent Warp travel before its turned into V'ger by that machine race, oh what.... It can be any mass? not specifically Voyager 1, OK I get it, well I have no more questions then.... Oh, who's this, Erich?


Oh there's a surprise, go on then....

I ask the question that science refuses to even make breakfast for and kicks out of it's parents home at 6am before its mother wakes up. If we can Warp-Drive with only the mass of Voyager, so may any Extra Te-rrrrestrial seevilisation...  

Therefore I ask: 

Is Prometheus real future and ancient mythology? 

Is Damon Lindeloff noble future-seer?  

Perhaps most shockingly, we discover that Eeendiana Jones 4 is a semi-plausible reality. 

I would stake my reputation upon this being true. 

If I may interject, Erich. This news will clearly be a boon to those in fringe science... Since it utterly blows the 'can't get here from there' argument out of the water.. Presumably a whole new series of Ancient Aliens is therefore in the works?

I have already ordered brand new yacht in anticipation! 

But perhaps the best part of the following article which validates and unfortunately inspired this trek into madness:

"White and his colleagues have begun experimenting with a mini version of the warp drive in their laboratory." 

Which is why I said they'd probably be wearing a lab coat.... Or perhaps an old pair of jeans and crinkled T-shirt (I am as stylish as I am talented). It all sounds straightforward enough... Anyone got some Dilithium handy?

Thursday, 6 September 2012

Big Spaceships 002 - Sol - October Class Frigate

It's been just over 10 years since I began showing my work publicly, and really working at improving it.  I have made 3D models since 1993 and grew up drawing pictures of aviation, birds, cars, people... Sometimes even spaceships.

But there never seemed much point to it, no one bar a few mostly disinterested friends ever saw my work but I suddenly found an outlet with internet forums.

I had wanted to show my first ever big spaceship, as it would have been just over 10 years old this month, but having gone through all my backup disks I can find no trace of it.  So I thought I'd show the first capital ship built for my Sol project.   Sol is a cold war type scenario between planetary forces, constrained mostly to our solar system, broken down into two factions, essentially a Soviet type regime on a partly terraformed Mars and everyone else who stayed on Earth after the cataclysm.

I had already produced the Foxhound fighter/bomber (anti-capital(ist) ship warfare) as shown elsewhere in the blog.  But I needed to find a way into a larger ship design so I chose the 'boat in space' style as used in shows like Starship Troopers.  Working it entirely in 3D (not a concept sketch in sight) I refined a shape down to the finished model as depicted below, please click for a marginally larger resolution.

A rendering from 2003, hence the hon-HDness of it. I clearly had a thing for pink dust clouds - which were perhaps pollution from mining operations, obviously there are no pink nebula around our solar system so I had to come up with some explanation. 
To get there I used a Pentium 3, something or other with a tiny amount of ram compared to today and probably a very early nvidia card.  So it's not like a model I'd build today in that its very simplistic but on a par with the types of models that my peers were building at the time. The simplicity means its probably a nice one to study the method with.  
Roughing out and refining the base hull and superstructure shapes, if you don't get this right then whats the point in detailing? 

Adding and refining secondary shapes to the design, the turrets are designed for around 100 degrees of elevation change, meaning they can shoot straight up and attack the weak point for massive damage.  Note the horribly overexposed lighting here, this was always trial and error for me before i began to understand these things. 
Ah, much better lighting Coolhand, maybe a bit gloomy... 
Increased the fill lighting to get more clarity in the shadow side - nearly looks like a spacecraft, or something. 
Panelling and detailing the superstructure, the little indent on the side of the bridge is probably an airlock, in the heat of battle the crew would be located further inside the ship, this tall bridge being used for navigation - akin to the sail of a submarine, while it may have some windows the control centre is usually somewhere in the middle of the ship instead. 
Since I seem to be missing a few WIP pics (if anyone has copies please let me have some copies back!) We'll skip ahead somewhat, getting very close to the finished model here, topside is nearly done. The dome on the front is probably the main fire-control and radar. 

A closeup on the upper foredeck, some exposed structural elements imply a layered structure and depth.  My main turret designs are sometimes compared to BSG's but this project pre-dates it by about a year, it's counterpart on the opposing faction even has a similar ribbed appearance to the nu-BSG Galactica but was also shown online before the new Galactica model... Jus' sayin'. 

Enlivening the sides of the ship, still not quite interesting enough, note the same airlock structure as shown on the bridge earlier.  Look near the three large windows on the right, human scale features like windows and airlocks are essential for creating a sense that we're looking at a large structure of some sort..
Ah, thats better, what could be more appropriate for a futuristic spaceship than a set of fixed, sideways firing cannons - perfect for delivering an 18th century style broadside.
finished pic showing the stern detailing. Stern, stern but fair.  
Another view of it, the rear is particularly well covered by anti-aircraft type guns. The vents behind the turret became a recurring theme, in this case bad luck for the turret operator who's in the rear enclosure when the reactor is purged. 
Key lighting is nicely balanced on this one, but the blue fill is horribly inky and awful looking - probably a result of too much saturation in the fill lights.

For the Motherland! (umm, Mars) Another nasty inky looking rendering, but at least it has a rough propaganda poster look - or something, not sure if I was going for that look or not. 
Probably the best image I made with this model, has a sense of speed and emptiness, which is well, space travel in a nutshell if you're doing it right. The pink clouds actually looking fairly natural combined with the glow from the sun, backlighting a model against a pretty background is aaaaalways a good idea, imho.

I guess i just about got the blue looking akseptibull in the end. I must have switched to an area filter or something as this render looks so blurry compared to the rest.

And thats all folks, final analysis, I still think this design works pretty well, Its modelled and smoothed in a very simple way, detailing could be better and the textures are only procedural but I prefer it to some of my later ships... Which will be detailed in future blog articles, so join, ooh at least 10 other people and hit the subscribe button on the right tabs or add me to your reading list so you don't miss out!

Thanks for reading, I hope you enjoyed it.