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Old 8th Sep 2013, 11:38 AM   #1
McC
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Default SciFi - UEDF Illustrious Defender (née StarCom Starbase Station)

So many irons in the fire right now.

Anyway, this is a guiltless-pleasure (don't feel guilty about pleasurable things!) project that I've been tinkering with when trying to muster up the willpower to continue UV work on my Ambassador.

Story time!
As a kid, I had a bunch of toys. Often, I would play with these toys "as intended" -- X-men would be X-men fighting evil mutants, Star Trek micromachines would fight space battles against other Star Trek micromachines, and so on. But sometimes, I liked to repurpose the toys into something original. That gave birth to the Defender universe. Using aforementioned micromachines, coupled with a handful of other larger toys, I concocted huge space battles between the heroic UEDF and their genocidal alien enemies.

Always at the center of the chaos was the UEDF Illustrious Defender, which was originally an old StarCom toy called Starbase Station. The toy itself was actually intended as a vertically-oriented, multi-level play set for the StarCom toy line, but if you detached the middle level, removed the base-level's gun turret, and flattened the whole thing out, it looked something like a large spaceship, especially compared with the other micromachines in question.

Over the years, I've taken several stabs at modeling Defender, using the original toy as a real-world reference. I made my first attempt in trueSpace, which accurately captured the original shape but lacked a lot of the toy's surface detail.


My second attempt, done in LightWave (or it might've been Inspire), kept the overall shape intact, but retooled a lot of the details to make it a more original piece.


My third attempt, also done in LightWave, went back to the idea of doing an accurate detail capture, this time with a lot more surface detail.


This marks my fourth attempt, done in Blender, which continues to attempt the accurate detail capture, but with an eye toward the end goal of representing the toy as a massive starship. To that end, I'm modifying the details here and there to bulk out shapes, depict armaments, and so on. I've got a nice set of digital calipers for measuring things, so this should also be the most accurate version (excepting the bits I'm deliberately changing) I've ever done.

Enough with the background, on with the model!


I call the front section the "Gun Head," since it houses the enormous main railguns and, if you think of Defender as resembling a giant banjo, it's where the "machine head" would be. I repurposed the design of the toy's middle platform's guns to be smaller turrets and placed them on raised daises that house clips for the top-side's magnetic plate on the toy. This time around, rather than mounting the guns on top as I have in the past, I decided to mount them beneath,


That detailing along the edge is an accurate capture of the same detailing on the toy, as close as I could make it. I elected to treat a couple of the toy's flat decal colors as physical objects, namely the three round observation towers.

I need to put a bunch of windows and smaller machinery in to give it a better sense of scale, but I think I'm going to come back and do that once the rest of the major shapes are in place.
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Old 8th Sep 2013, 01:52 PM   #2
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I like seeing how a model evolves over time with a person's skill (and software upgrades).

This latest version is looking very nice.
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Old 8th Sep 2013, 08:01 PM   #3
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looking good
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Old 8th Sep 2013, 09:08 PM   #4
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Thanks, Rigel and Treybor!

Started in on the neck. Various notes and thoughts scribbled into the images themselves.



Current length, not including the main guns: 336 m. I might scale the model up once it's done, or I might leave it where it is. Right now, it's a direct 1000:1 scale-up from the toy (1mm on the toy = 1m on the ship).
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Old 9th Sep 2013, 10:41 PM   #5
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A bit of neck detailing.

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Old 11th Sep 2013, 10:27 PM   #6
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A bit more neck detailing.

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Old 12th Sep 2013, 08:04 AM   #7
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Your modelling looks very clean.
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Old 12th Sep 2013, 06:25 PM   #8
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Thanks, Rigel!

Finished off the detailing on the neck!


I'd been adding microbevels to all the asymmetric details, but I hadn't done so on the mirrored elements of the neck, so I went back and added those, too. Redid the lighting setup, as well; Blender's "sky" lighting is great for giving something a good "sitting on the ground outside" lighting, but not so much for space.

Besides, I needed a more oblique light to show off my fun new textures! They're just temporary, but I had this idea (which I've been experimenting with on my Ambassador -- yes, I'm still working on it, too!) about using a very small image filled with multi-color noise and then scaling it up using Nearest Neighbor resampling, rather than bilinear/bicubic. It keeps the "blocks" hard, rather than smoothing them, and provides a neat base from which to make metal paneling! It still came out looking a bit too uniform, but for just a few minutes dinking around in Photoshop, I'm pretty happy with it.

Still need to decide what I'm going to do with the PDL emplacements in the neck's weapon pods, and I'm leaning more and more toward treating the toy's greebles as "layer one" of the ship's greebles, with an additional layer or two required to really provide the necessary sense of scale. Also need to fill in that currently-blank strip down the middle of the neck. I think I'm going to go with the idea of a smaller bay at the far end, with the long run-up used as a sort of catapult that boosts smaller craft away from the ship before they fire off their own engines.
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Old 13th Sep 2013, 03:30 PM   #9
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I loved the Starcom cartoon when I was a child. My Brother had a bunch of those toys. It wasnt uncommon to find those little figures stuck to the fridge.

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Old 13th Sep 2013, 09:41 PM   #10
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Ha! Nice find, Sakura Takeda! I don't recall ever actually watching the show. Looks like it was only on for one season, and well before the era of prolific DVD or on-demand viewing. :/

Roughed in the engineering section!



The extensions near the neck are almost 2D on the toy, but I decided to bulk them out. I tried shrinking their vertical height so that they were more inline with the neck, but it didn't look as interesting. Perhaps they're docking spars for ships too large to land in the internal hangar bay, which roughly coincides with that area.

I've always conceived of the round middle section as the location of the ship's main reactor. Its circular shape kind of implies some kind of Tokamak fusion reactor design to me, or at least a large circular particle accelerator of some kind. I suppose a particle accelerator could be an antimatter reactor, too.

None of the stuff in this section (or the gunhead, come to think of it...) has microbevels yet, which is part of why it looks a little bland compared to the neck. It also just has substantially less greebling in general, but I'll probably mirror the top details down to this side once I put them in.

I'm sort of tempted to do a master systems display-style cutaway of this ship when all is said and done...

I'm also having a lot of fun with these wacky camera angles. Can you tell?
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Old 14th Sep 2013, 05:39 PM   #11
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Added in the beginning of the dorsal surface details. Main reactor in the middle (orange), fuel pods toward the bow (the three capsules on either side).



The toy is asymmetric in regards to these two sections, but one of the sections is a control console of sorts. It doesn't make visual sense if translated directly, so I've mirrored the fuel pods instead. However, I'll be lifting some of the edge-on detail from that side and re-purposing it as edge-and-overhang detail for the area beneath the fuel pods.

The gunhead now has microbevels, as do all of the railguns. Some of the elements of the core/engineering section have microbevels, but not everything does. The main body geometry itself doesn't, for instance, but the fuel pods do.

Overall ship length for those curious: 510m. I'm not sure if I want to double/triple this for the "final" scale, or just leave it where it is. 510m is small by, say, Star Wars scales, but it's still larger than any existing aircraft carrier. I suppose it'll at least partially hinge on the size that the bay doors need to be.
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Old 15th Sep 2013, 07:33 AM   #12
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This is really starting to take shape. I like the fact that it's not aerodynamic; it's one thing that clearly states that this ship operates in space.
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Old 17th Sep 2013, 06:16 AM   #13
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Thanks, Rigel!

Added some additional detailing around the fuel tanks. Been pretty busy the last few days, and have been investing some of my Blender time into continuing UV work on my Ambassador.



That texture does not hold up well at this range! I need to revisit it for a number of reasons, the biggest of which is more varied panel size and depth. The arbitrary cubic UVs aren't helping it look any better, either.

Still pretty happy with the shader, though.
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Old 22nd Sep 2013, 01:12 PM   #14
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Slowly getting the drive elements in. The main unit is, unsurprisingly, the big blue glowy bits. It's actually hollow in the middle (the angle doesn't quite show this).

Nerdy Stuff:
I've long conceived of Defender using a "Slide Drive," inspired (like so many other sci-fi fans) by the work of Miguel Alcubierre on how one might actually construct something resembling a warp drive. In this case, the "drums" are each responsible for generating a partial, localized field. (Note: this is almost certainly not how a "real" Alcubierre-style warp drive would work; I'm trying to shoe-horn the concept into the framework of the ship's existing design.) One of the neat side-effects of the Alcubierre drive is that the ship experiences no inertial forces while traveling; it's manipulating space-time rather than relying on Newtonian mechanics to get around.

Why blue? 'cause Cherenkov radiation is blue in modern nuclear reactors, as a result of high frequency/short wavelength. Most of it actually ends up being UV rather than blue, but you can't see UV.
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