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Da Clumsy Noob's Spaceship Modeling Part 1


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Posted · Da Clumsy Noob's Spaceship Modeling Part 1

Term: "Greeble".

"A fine detailing added to the surface of a larger object that makes it appear more complex, and therefore more visually interesting. It usually gives the audience an impression of increased scale." Been used in model making since forever.


It was requested that I show how I do the greebling and design of my spaceship models. Basically a form of 'hard ops' to added details that look modeled in, but are not directly modeled sometimes. The idea is to pick and choose what works in the moment as well as planning.


The following will take you through the steps in broad terms using 3DS MAX as well as 3D Coat. I use the combination because I am very facile with 3DS MAX and can make certain geometries quickly, but modeling things on a mesh level is not always easy or the way to go. I can then then take that into 3D Coat for detailing and making use of voxels for painless and fast booleans as well as being able to stamp in details quickly as well as use their built in set of nice greebles. It is also flexible enough that I can even add additional super structures in very quickly or discard the attempts are I go along.


The first thing that happened with this model is that I got an idea from a pic I saw of an unfinished airplane surfing the web one day. On the left is the quick modeling in 3DS MAX from memory. I liked the idea rather than try to make the actual object.



This is the actual base model in all its simplicity in 3DS MAX. Yep, that is all the polygons I started with.



Then I added a subdivion modifier called meshsmooth to take off the hard edges. Some tutorials say to use the 'Turbosmooth' for this. I differ in that for modeling purposes. Meshsmooth offers more options as well as better visual feedback when doing real details. Turbosmooth is designed to be a lightweight modifier that can be used for animation without draining the system. You can see how it rounded many edges. But, since it is a subdivion modifier, it takes on polygon and makes four for every iteration you apply. It grows exponentially as you apply iterations. One becomes four, fourn becomes 16, 16 becomes 64, etc. The idea is to be very careful in mesh based modeling as it can quickly outrun your memory and crash the program or, even your system. I try to keep it at 2 iterations, but will go to three on occasion.



As I developed the idea further, I abandoned symmetry for a slight bit of asymmetry in overall design. This will become more apparent as we go along here.



In the back end, I used 8 sided cylinders to start to make the engine exhaust and vent controls. I used a series of bevels of polygons going into the cylinders and individual polygons for the vent controls going out from the edges of the cylinders. Now, to make things easier, I used instances of the cylinders. They are all the same, but the center one has been turned just to remove monotony.



I also started to add in details like these  purple things that would just be a bit of a pain to model in. This is a good reason for planning what you will do in MAX vs. 3D Coat or any voxel based program.



This is the beginning of the asymmetry I spoke of. More will come as the idea develops. I try not to get to wedded to an idea in detail at the beginning as I am designing on the fly here and no real plan. Overall form, yes, but I prefer for the details to flow organically as I go along. I approach it rather like sketching.



Underneath, I made a hangar bay. The idea is that this area is for personal shuttles while the giant long part on the side above is for actual loading and unloading of freight. At this point, I was going for a Deep Space Freighter in concept.



Here I am still adding pieces that are being made separately. The light blue will be added to the model while the green will become subtractions for windows. Even the windows on the bridge are asymmetrical in layout.



Other side as I further developed the idea. Since I was thinking deep space runs for the ship, the big honkin' green box on the lower rear of the ship is for an arboretum while the other windows are not following the exact same path. They have a different set of geometries to work around. But, the arboreatum was a thought of giving crew a place to relax in a bit of contained nature.



Then before leaving MAX, I made copies of the engine ports and inserted them further to subtract and provide surfaces for  further detailing once I get to using voxels in 3D coat.



Now, we are in 3D coat. The pink plane in the middle is for symmetry operations. I did want a certain amount of symmetry, with minor deviations to accommodate the overall design. On the left side is my tool set and on the right side are a group of brushes that I purchased off Gumroad. I found them looking for cool stuff for Blender; whenever I get around to learning it. And, brush packs like this can be used in 3D Coat as well as other programs. they made great 'stamping' details. In this case I am using a pack called Scifi hard ops. At this point, I have added the engine ports and the, at one time, purple boxes to the ship just below the bridge area. Voxels make this very easy and fast. I have reptile scale patterns, ornamental designs and other brush alphas to facilitate a variety of design needs.



On the far right of the picture on the face of the engine area, you can see the first of the stampings I am doing to create a greebled effect of machinery and panels on the surface of the ship. In this case, I am using the extrude tool and use it to either raise details or cut in details. I am also going to use them to add more superstructure to the ship.



This is just another view of the rear of the engine compartments as I am starting to add details.



This is further down the road, still using my toolset on the left and the brush alphas on the right to add more detail. If you look just fore of the engine in this picture and the same area on the image above, you can see that I have actually used the stamping tools to create whole new geometry just forward the engine area. This is one of the advantages of using this method. Voxels are very 'plastic' and, you can up the amount used as you go along as it stretches them out. But it offered me a great deal of freedom in furthering the design on the fly. You do not have the limitations of mesh when operating this way.



At this point, I got rid of the silly thin piece down the middle and added a thicker, more robust structure and then used some of the 3D greeble models that came with the program. One of the flexibilities is that I can also make my own 3D greebles, brush alphas and such and import them into the program and use them the same way. But you can see where I put in details that look like giant cooling tubes down the middle if the top portion aft of the bridge area. I have also pulled out and added an extra compartment attached to the bridge. Then after making a certain amount of details by stamping and such, I bring in some of the things I did make in MAX for additions to the model. That would be the dark blue things on the Starboard side of the ship 'wings'. On the port side, I used stamping again to add a different set of details on the Port side of the 'wings.' An advantage of the symmetry plane is that when I add things like the greeble models on one side, they get added perfectly on the other side. But, I can turn it off when I want to devote details to just one side.



 Just the other side. You can see the amount of symmetrical details, but also the asymmetry in them as well to work around the areas of different surface structures.



I am also starting to really focus more on the engine area and the raised section in the middle just fore of the engines.



In the 'nose' and hangar area, you can see the parts I made in MAX and brought them into 3D coat to add them soon. 3D Coat can bring them directly in place without having to worry about putting them back into their proper locations. Just bring it in and zap it into the main structure.



This is where I bring in the window cutouts.. I colour code things to keep additions and subtractions to the main structure easy to recognize.



Now I have added and subtracted out all the parts that were differently coloured above.



Then I bring in the ships logo I made in MAX. Since I named the ship Ulysses, I added the 'Bow of Apollo' to it.



This is the close up details of the engines. Using the symmetry really helped this to work much easier than it could have been. Now, do not think I just grab any old brush and go with it. If I stamp in details, and do not like it, I undo and then go back and try another until I like the way it looks.



This is the direct front. I have not added the logos yet, but I do have them colour coded for port and starboard.



Topside. And, here you can really see the asymmetry I employed. It is really mostly 'near symmetry.'



Bottom details, but not fully finished.



This is where I stop for this part. In the next part I will add more details, and prepare it for mounting (including base design) and lighting. This means hollowing the model out and then cutting the windows out properly. I want the lights to shine through the open areas.


Part two coming up soon.

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Posted (edited) · Da Clumsy Noob's Spaceship Modeling Part 1

Thats some read right there...and i though my posts were long! I regret never getting into poly modelling, keep up the good work! You certainly know your stuff!!

Edited by cloakfiend
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    Posted (edited) · Da Clumsy Noob's Spaceship Modeling Part 1
    1 hour ago, geert_2 said:

    @kmanstudios: out of curiosity, how long did this take you? Hours, days, weeks?

    Kinda hard to say because I worked on it on and off between things and I played a bit. I started with one goal and it just kept expanding until it became a fully lighted and vacuum formed part or two piece. Plus the base design which will be covered in Part three. Part two is how I finished up the ship and cut out windows for the lighting. Part four will  document a slightly difference design approach and the hollowing process. I am basically making models that are like model kits in that they are shells. So I had a bit of trial and error on that too.


    44 minutes ago, cloakfiend said:

    Thats some read right there...and i though my posts were long!

    Yea....and this will be four parts long....


    44 minutes ago, cloakfiend said:

    I regret never getting into poly modelling,

    Next time we meet up, I can show you some things that will get you squared away on poly modeling. It is actually easy, and with your talent, no issues. And, if I am correct, you are able to import and convert that in ZBrush to work on.

    Edited by kmanstudios
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