Wednesday, 9 October 2013

Big Spaceships 004 - Columbia Class Carrier - Part 2 (of 2)

Carriers face off against one another
Pew Pew Die Lenin class carrier!
OK, lets get this one finished in short order!

Large multibarrel guns adorn the upper surfaces
The reverse of the last shot in the previous article, superstructures are busy as always.
I'm sure this ship, like many of my others generated tons of criticism, debate and arguments years ago at Those looking at the first pic in this article, showing opposing carrier fleets might be wondering why in sci-fi the big ships get so close its like they need to use cannon balls, like its 1750 and the spacecraft are made of wood.  Well, its perhaps not realistic as we might imagine space combat today but that kind of thing makes for far more exciting looking effects - its always just more fun to put opposing spacecraft within spitting distance so sometimes you have to let it go and enjoy the film.

The dock of the bay
Note the baffles/sheilds and the recovery crane for larger vehicles.
  The Allies employ a much cleaner type of propulsion than the Soviets, and pilots might be expected to land by passing directly through the engine plume - or possibly the engines are turned off for spacecraft recovery, after all this is space and not the sea; hey, lets mix and match our realities as much as possible, its Sci-Fi, baby.... If we assume more realism, to offer some kind of protection from off-but-still-hot nuclear engines an array of baffles and shields are built between engine modules and flightpath/landing bay.

A large fictional spacecraft
Getting much closer to completion, surfaces looking a little bland.

The bows and pennant of a large fictional spacecraft
Totally ripping off Joe Haldeman here, sorry Joe.

A 3d rendering of a fictional spacecraft
A splash of colour lifts it a bit, bit of a 'Republic' scheme.

Is it the bucket, or the beast?
Makes you want to rotate your head or something.

A fictional spacecraft, in space
All too obvious themes from nature here.

rear of the spacecarrier
250! I don't know... seriously i've forgotten, meters?

OOOoooh, pretty.
Test firing the heating and cutting beams, it heats with some kind of focussed EM beam and cuts with a particle beam, nasty.

big ships!
Now you know how big this big ship is, its pretty big.
Another space battle test render, similar to the one at the top of the article...
 I started making some images with these models but they rarely amounted to much - my compulsion was generally to start another project, the renders, animations to come later as all these models did have a purpose to tell a story, as yet untold! nnnnn

Thanks for reading, hope you enjoyed the images, even if its all a bit old.  More, better, exciting, thrilling action to come folks, if you liked it, or even if you didn't but are feeling generous please hit the share buttons, and feel free to leave a comment!

Wednesday, 2 October 2013

Cydonia Base

Some more old work from probably more than 10 years ago! Featuring the Sikorsky Space Crane.  Still digging the dust, I always found Mars a fascinating planet, though this may not be the most accurate portrayal, I probably learned more about lighting and fog effects than modelling or texturing (which is very basic) still fun and very atmospheric!

Wednesday, 18 September 2013

Xtreme-Hobby box-art from 2005

A recent post on JBR's blog reminded me of one of my first projects.  After some rummaging around in the Coolhand Graphics backup CD storage room / hat museum, I dug out these images and a rather fetching purple fedora.

Dare you face down the fearsome Mauridians! You will end up with face down!
JBR built the models as no one trusted me to make the protos back then, I created 3D artwork from them, backgrounds are a little rough in places, and well, there's all kinds of problems with them and mistakes I wouldn't make today but I think the textures worked pretty well, as they're the prototypes for quite small minis the textures have to provide extra levels of complexity, hence the use of pannelled looking textures.

Don't recall a nebula around earth like that, pollution, eh?
Ravenstarstudios now own & produce these models, I know I made some other pics, because there were at least 2 other fleets, perhaps they're over there under that pile of beanies...?

Sunday, 1 September 2013

Big Spaceships 004 - Columbia Class Carrier - Part 1

Thought I'd take a moment to answer a couple of letters recently received at the Coolhand Graphics reception desk. My faithful assistant, the lovely Hannah, typically drowning in my personal fan mail generally tosses it all in the Mr Fusion, which funnels vast amounts of electrical charge to my Delorean sized graphics card, seriously it weighs more than the motherboard, what's up with that? 

This week however one or two escaped the nuclear annihilation and shockingly, were not death threats that had been extensively sneezed over in a primitive attempt at bio-warfare.  

Susan from Fife asks: 

"Steve, I'm a huge fan of yours - along with all of us at the retirement home - and really like spaceships and all the other junk you make, but wait a minute, you're still in the middle of 003 - that Covenant thingy, this is 004...? Also, why "00X", do you have like more than a hundred of these things?"

Dear Susan, How unbelievably prescient of you to write to me about something I haven't even published yet, people might think this is all merely some kind of self-serving literary device. Anyway, I thought I'd mix things up a little, please bear with us for the final part of that other article, as for the numbering, I thought it looked cooler that way and perhaps makes sense in the long run, but who knows, I thought about starting them at 0001, but that seemed overly ambitious.  

Donald from Albuquerque pedantically inquires about the article labelling: 

"Why specifically *big* spaceships, why emphasise this aspect? I guess we've had the mile long vessel entering Disney's Black hole, and monstrosities like the super star destroyers from Star Wars. Was the Death Star merely a gigantic symbolic ova and the SSD crashing into it somehow symbolic of reproduction? Why is bigger often seen as better? Is there something inherently sexual about these gigantic leviathans? - Pls answer I need help with my 3rd year dissertation."

Dear Donald, Like towering Apollo rockets, or train tunnels drilled through mountain ranges, No, absolutely not and you're massively insane for even bringing it up. But its important to recognise and accept that there are nearly always several valid interpretations of a form and to not shy away from a functional design because it could be interpreted in such a way. Otherwise, we'd have never gone to the moon and the 10:15 from Euston would be hopelessly late. This design in particular is excessive in many ways, not all good... Maybe none of it is good, but it's always a challenge to build something bigger and better than before and that's all part of the fun - the only way is up, is a perfectly valid point of view, as much as its totally obsessively wrong.  I'll be Frank, Donald, often the more sexy a design is, the more popular it is, and the bigger it is, the more popular it is.  Never fear or shy away from these things! However I have always viewed these craft holistically - more as large living organisms, animals in their own right rather than any specific organ or cell, but others may have different interpretations. I call them big spaceships to differentiate from, well, the smaller ones. All the best and good luck with your dissertation, always here if you need help! 

greebles abound on its form
Shots like this would really wow people back in the day! coo, look at the out of scale chipped paint effect, looks fairly realistic even, but out of scale making the whole thing look too small, reminds me of the Nostromo miniature after it was left out in a carpark in LA for 20 years. 

Anyway, for those still reading, enough with the guff.  I'm pretty sure this particular beast is circa 2003, built for my Sol project - the "Allies" side of the system wide cold war lacked a serious carrier-deterrent, in comparison to the mighty Lenin class of the People's Republic. In an effort to close this carrier gap the Columbia Class (named after the recently at that point, tragically lost real-world Space Shuttle Orbiter) Is commissioned, greatly extending the reach of the Allied Super-Powers. 

It has some nice features but overall its far from my favourite design, as we delve more deeply into the construction, perhaps we'll find out why. 

3 point lighting on the low detailed form
Humble beginnings
It starts as all others with a shape, as smooth as it needs to be to carry the later detail.

a large spaceship on a black background
Beginnings here of that chipped paint effect, this is purely procedural as I did little work with bitmaps back then. 
The detail begins, I decided to try a double-bridge structure, I'm not sure what that was all about but it somehow seemed appropriate at the time. 

before you die you see goatsy
Every carrier needs somewhere for its fighters to land, this is it, coming back to what I was talking about in the pre-amble if the whole thing is an animal then this is the... 
I decided it needed a single fly-through, internal flight deck, some questioned whether this was 'safe' given the proximity to the propulsion systems, but if you don't want to soak up some radiation,then don't join the Allied navy. 
a ship up close, under construction
Swiftly moving on with the detailing here.
I always feel that the bridge of a ship like this becomes something of a centre of interest, though it shouldn't really received any more detail than any other area (because who knows which areas will be shot on) but I often began with this area of a ship.  I recall my style of greebling at this point being criticised by some, it was simple for sure, but I think how I arranged the elements still made it work, once complete. 
Note the turrets in the next shot are in some ways similar to ones seen on Battlestar Galactica 2003, however they are from the earlier Sheffield class (as yet undocumented) I believe both these ships pre-date the appearance of the nu-galactica, certainly the Sheffield did anyway. Cooincidence? Possibly, I like to entertain the notion that some of my work was printed out and put up on a wall in some meeting somewhere, and made a tiny contribution to that epic design. 
did i rip off galactica, or the other way around;)
Lets get some better lighting on there... Or at least try.
Lighting makes all the difference, I would spend endless hours tinkering with the setup and the materials, not really knowing what I was doing, I would for example load up one model, and import another one to find that one ship would be totally blown out (over-exposed) and one was too dark, because I'd put too much light into one scene, and too little in another.  It's best to set things up realistically, photographically and make your lighting a realistic simulation complete with exposure control, but back then it was all beyond me. 

this is a poor line of questioning
Spaceships are not phallic, OK Donald from Albuquerque?
The lighting here is nearly quite nice, its always a good idea to rake the lighting at a shallow angle, so to throw long evening shadows along the hull, the closer your key light gets to the camera, the worse things are going to look, I didn't really understand this at the time. 

Trying to evoke something like a marine animal, like a shark or something. 
the opening which releases smaller vehicles.
A toothed mouth? a forked tongue perhaps? 
a bomber departs the deck
Starting to look the part now, but I think this shot shows the whole weighting of this design is perhaps off, its much too tall, lending it an old-fashioned look, I'm reminded of the old artwork illustrating the trans-atlantic liners of the early 20th century... Heavy is the word, perhaps its appropriate.   
A white space-fighter.
The fighter/bomber seen in the earlier shot, I fear this was too ugly to live, and it was never seen again outside this project.  
a ship hangs in space
Lets put her in space (Allied ships were female, Soviet ships male, I didn't invent this, its just how it is)
The above pic demonstrates a common error of the scifi-artist, the stars... These are horribly sharp, way too even in value, real stars, a photograph of stars, will be blurred, fainter, less even in value/albedo and with a more random distribution - denser in some areas. 

a large ship hangs in space recovering a fighter.
Wave off, wave off, you're too ugly to land... although unfinished, this shot lends a nice sense of scale.

death to the non-believers
A pair of large drop-bays, uses the ships artificial gravitational field to propel troop ships downward or allows the berthing of larger vessels. 
look up and say goodbye
If you're the enemy looking up at this, well, for you the war is over. 
navigation lights and drop bays on show on the spacecraft
more detail going on the underside. 
This brings me to an issue I've had with every spacecraft model, I hate working on the underside, I never have as many ideas, it never turns out as well as the top and I'm never motivated to work on it, I have no idea why really... Perhaps its because the interesting parts like the bridge always go on the top? 

the ship flies in space, half complete.
Another lighting change and trying out some different shapes on the bridges. 

And once again the Blogger blog editor thing is goofing around so I'll get back to work and pick this up real soon in part 2, I promise, and also the final part of the Covenant project, Susan. 

Thanks for reading, if you liked it please share this on social websites and feel free to leave a comment, it really helps keep me motivated to blog more.

Monday, 12 August 2013

Scifi Shipwreck

Downed in the last sky war this leviathan fell from orbit into the desert sands below, its hulk became colonised by the locals over the decades that past since the core was buried and radiation levels dropped inside...

Built in 2004, this probably took about a week and really tested the machine I was using at the time. This image won the shipwreck contest at SFM.

Thursday, 13 June 2013

A Shift of Perspective

Trawled from the depths of Coolhand Graphics impenetrable, armoured concept-bunker of solitude... This is probably from 2009.

Colonel Harvey Chang on full manual.
Not sure if its landing in a cavern or that's just a break in the clouds.... 

Derived from this even earlier unfinished painting:

Space is brown, on white.
See what I did there?
Apparently (shockingly) i'm not the first person to do this, as I understand it the original star trek spaceship design (you know the one!) started up saucer down...

Monday, 27 May 2013

Big Spaceships 003 - Covenant CCS Battle Cruiser - Part 3

Sorry, these trips to Zeta Reticuli seem to be taking longer and longer, anyway, after extracting myself from the floor where I partly materialised this time (I'll have to patch that over with some MDF or something) and recovering from the odd partial de-materialisation, I guessed I should update my blog for the first time in months.

At least Kirk seems to bogged off back to the neutral zone (I caught sight of the Enterprise passing Jupiter 2 on the way back), and MacFarlane back where he belongs herding manatees to produce more award winning comedy. The starlets of Hollywood once again safer than Cyril Sneer when Bert Racoon is sleeping off his last Meth-Amphetamine binge. Anyway, less talk-y more post-y. Picking up where we left off, guess what, more detailing...

A lovely view of Pruit Igoe prior to demolition.
The project moves into its final phase of development, time is running short... 
I still had little idea of the shots in mind, so great importance is placed adding lots of detail, everywhere.... Sometimes you might want to save time and add a greater level of detail in a given area, like precision targeting a jungle ammo dump at night with an A-6, but this is more like carpet bombing South East Asia with a fleet of B-52's... A slow and steady process of even, merciless coverage.

Plating the beast
Another change of lighting, to better illustrate the detail which tends to occlude itself with shadows - which is kinda what you want. 
Some kind of command towers oversea the greeble sea
I think I really hoped they'd do a nice close run along the side, and one of the few shots discussed with the production team involved a great look at the side.
Many sinister creatures scuttle the hallways behind these windows.
Downtown Hanoi, get ready to drop those snake-eyes on the SAM's in the Peoples Resistance Park and win the war! Shame my trusty B/N Morg won't be around to see it....  Sadly this time it wasn't shown close enough in any of the shots - I expect the model will be used again at some point, but who knows. 
Jigsaw like plating covers this hulk.
Missing Piece Alert! Missing Piece Alert! 
slightly organic detail intersperses mechanical detail.
Hull integrity restored. Phew. 
More plating and city-sprawl covers the keel.
Detailing the underside, I'm informed that the Covenant employ an open sewer philosophy to waste management so standing underneath one is in-advisable to anyone wearing less than a class 2 enviro-suit. 
Mucho detail abounds.
Lots of detail visible from this angle. 
(Kevin Bacon) I found the a$$ end.
And also here. 
I guess its starting to bug out again, we'll pick this up in the final part with the final renderings in 8 bit binary with Part 00000100.

Stay Tuned.

Tuesday, 26 February 2013

Big Spaceships 003 - Covenant CCS Battle Cruiser - part 2

We left part 1 with things looking fairly spiffy, but I warn you, things get far more impressive from here on in. YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED. It's been a real busy work week, so if you've been waiting for part two (don't forget to hit the subscribe button!) I am pleased you are bearing with me. Also continuing with my usual goofy style, which is probably no more appropriate than Seth MacFarlane hosting The Oscars, but then we do seem to live in a world where Seth MacFarlane can host an Oscar ceremony, so deal with it;)

Long time friend and fan of this galactically infamous blogzone, William Shatner, may also be popping in to help prop up and attempt to lend some credibility to my uncouth act so keep an eye out for that!

So, this is about where we left our spacecraft, somewhere in Golden Gate Park (don't worry, it's cloaked and I'm sure for the duration of the article no one will accidentally walk into it or anything)... I think it looks pretty good so far, but then I would...
Keen eyes will occasionally spot the odd floating greeble in these WIP pics, truth is my projects are often surrounded by a cloud of spare parts, usually all hidden in renders... 
But as this turns out, after some discussion with my client, it was really more detail than needed for the smaller vessel.  Does this mean I had wasted time? No - as the extra detail would be up-scaled to supplement the ludicrously detailed CCS Class Battle-Cruiser. The following pic is the stripped-down model which became the small Covenant Cruiser (new readers will be really confused by this point, so go back and read part one!)
The final version of the small cruiser, as then textured and featured in Halo 4's DLC series: Spartan Ops, the removed detail will be used on the larger CCS Class Battlecruiser, which is also to be used in the cinematics for the same series, clear? Good. 
Uhuruhu, read part one to me, Sulu, images on main viewer - and stop b*tching about me on Howard Stern. I, William T Kirkner, am intensely interested in this article. 
So now we get to the CCS Class Battlecruiser, proper. After scaling the removed detail from the smaller one, I sought to enhance it in an effort to give the ship a tremendous sense of scale that would apply at different distances from the camera. I'm always impressed with the industrial detail of the enormous oil tankers which ply this planet's Sperm Whale infested oceans, with much pipeline and infrastructure visible on the decks, they look massive even from miles away. It's difficult to add such detail to these curvy forms but I thought I'd try and it seemed to be working well in darker recesses to add scale.
The worlds largest Oil Tanker, Knock Nevis, was built in the year of your correspondents birth, though he's managed to outlive it by at least 3 years at this point, the Sinister Men in Black may be closing in as we speak... 
A great way to add scale is to add features that are instantly recognisable as having a certain size, by our everyday experiences. Because we're used to seeing a large building from far away our brains instantly associate a row of windows with a room or a corridor - a space large enough to hold a person.  The idea is to trick our brains based on our own experience of the world around us, this instantly ups the perceived scale. I clumsily call these details 'human scale features' - Such things might include windows, airlocks, hand holds, ladders, exterior lights, vending machines, etc. Anything that relates to the viewers direct real life experience helps sell that sense of scale.

Decks 38-42 are presently uninhabitable after a sewer main backed up on Deck 43. The solution: This fall, everyone's favourite Marine Plumber, Mario Chief will be despatched to unclog it in Super Halo Brothers 5, apparently it plays a bit like Call of Duty Black Ops 6, but with more Sparticans and less mushrooms. 
What the... Incoming communication you say? I was just getting into this Blog, now you ruin it with an interruption? Oh, hey I'm helping host the Oscars, Honestly I was just hanging around on my Bridge in my uniform, like I do every Sunday.
So, a large spacecraft is really more of an environment than a vehicle, thinking city or industrial complex rather than spacecraft helps to get a handle on the scale, this is a little beyond "Greebling" itself, A greeble as some will be familiar with, according to the makers of Star Wars being:"Something that looks cool but doesn't actually do anything."  And lets face it, they probably knew what they were talking about.

The purpose of human scale features by contrast is that they have an obvious and familiar purpose and definate size, thereby giving the viewer something to relate to - because a window can only be so large, whereas a greeble is somewhat fractal in nature. Capiche? 

A little patchy and experimental, but this first tentative area gives me an idea of where I need to go with the rest of it, the model will never look finished, or unified without a similar level of detail over  e v e r y t h i n g. 
It's important to consider how the model will look at different ranges, even pulled back like this the sense scale is still evident, largely because of the windows. Yep, I have changed the lighting again, not sure why I do this, but the project extended over several weeks, its easy to get bored - for consistency I also provided the occasional 'clay' render with a simple single light setup
It's also important to see how it looks close-up, I don't know what shots it will be used in, but I wanted to give the Director the ability to use the model in many ways. 
And so all too soon the gods of the Bloggospheroid have rudely told me through their signs and portents of bugs and errors that this article is getting too large. Though it pains me I must once again leave you dear friends, to try and earn a crust in this harsh cold winter; to get the money that buy the logs, that will feed the burner, that will boil the steam and drive the turbine of power;* that will enable the great machine of truth to send the required binary signals to post part three in the very near future.

If only all I had to worry about were which actresses in the audience had exposed their anatomies on film for money, and sing a song about it for enormous amounts of money.

It's a song, about boobies? the ones belonging to women in the audience? Eh, whatever, I'm sat in a state of the art Federal Reserve warship anyway, lets get it over with and cash this cheque! - Mr Sulu, put that mic down and plot a course for the neutral zone, you know, Switzerland, where we all hide our earnings from the IRS!** 
Did you like this article? Hated it but feel unexpectedly generous anyway? Please share and like this post on social things like Google+ and Facebook, thanks! 

*I apologise for the possible mis-use of a semi-colon.
**I have no idea where he hides his earnings.