Originally posted: July 3, 2014
I thought I would consolidate all the posts from this project into one post and ramble about the process, or workflow involved. This is in large part an excuse to do some housecleaning, but also to highlight the workflow that emerged from this project.
What made me tackle this model in the first place? A whim, really. A whim that ultimately shed light on my ignorance as to the work involved. I thought “This will be easy. The ship is symmetrical, so I would only have to model half of it. There’s no organic shapes, it’s all geometric.” I was wrong about the easy part. It proved to be a challenge, but one that was worth confronting in the end.
Managing a bigger project like this was something that snuck up on me, tapped me on the shoulder and punched me in the face. I realized that you have to constantly think ten steps ahead, so you minimize the chance of making a mistake that sets you back a few steps as it is corrected. Planning (on paper) the next few things you want or think would be best to work on helps minimize frustration. Planning out your next few step, or even the whole project for that matter can also shed light on any problems that may occur down the line.
What follows is a rundown of the process as I tackled this project. I didn’t plan on producing a proper journal like this when I began modeling this ship, so the renders here are just cobbled together from the test renders I did throughout the process.
I hope that there is something here that you can find useful as you embark on your next project.
I started with in-game screenshots from the Star Wars The Old Republic MMO. I took as many angles as I could and that I thought I would need. These are just a few.
Orthographic views weren’t necessarily needed, but they proved helpful. I could only find a couple of low-res views on the Star Wars the Old Republic website. I used the orthographic views as background images to use as a guide. Modeling the rough shape of the body and the wings required some guesswork. So with some tweaking, guessing, adjusting and pondering, the rough shape came together.
Details, Details, Details
Getting down to the larger details brought the final shape and proportion to a final state for the most part. There are always tweaks to be made throughout the course of a project. Some necessary and some need to be made only to satisfy some weird perfectionist itch.
This is where the fun, frustration and tedium begins. It’s fun to come up with all the little details, pipes, panels, wires, hatches, etc. It can be frustrating laying out and arranging the bits to look how you would like. And it can be tedious because there can be so many parts involved.
A simple clay render so the newly created detail can show off.
UV Unwrap & Baking Ambient Occlusion Maps
I think that UV unwrapping should be classified as a form of torture. Well, it’s not really that bad. (yes it is) but it is well worth pushing through the pain. It does provide more control over what details go where when creating textures and materials for a model.
Baking AO maps for your model is not a necessary step, but it’s good to have baked ambient occlusion maps on hand in a folder just in case. Applying these maps to your model, even without any diffuse color, adds some depth to your details.
In this case, the textures were a few layers of tweaked metal and grunge images. The ambient occlusion bakes can be useful. By multiplying or overlaying an ambient occlusion bake over the layers you add the detail shading of the model to the texture. It may look good, it may not–trial and error–tweak and test.
With the textures made and in this case a crude lighting setup, the fruit of your labor is revealed. You breathe a sigh of relief and vow that you will never attempt something like this again. That is until you start your next project and the vicious cycle begins again.
You can download the complete Sith Fury model from blendswap.com