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Designing ships [possible BFG scale]

Projects using digital modelling and 3D printing

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Re: Designing ships [possible BFG scale]

Postby Malika » Fri Nov 07, 2014 9:34 am

mangozac wrote:Looking good. I still feel that the cruiser sized ship is a little on the blocky side, but not unbearably so...

I know what you mean. The bottom of the main hull (where its cargo is located) needs some serious rework, and then the rest of the ship would need more detailing to match its smaller counterparts.
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Re: Designing ships [possible BFG scale]

Postby Malika » Fri Nov 14, 2014 12:00 am

I got a little bit distracted last night...

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A raider escort, armed with boarding pods and two frontal cannons. It's still a very early WIP and still needs a lot of work. I was a bit influenced by more conventional ships, combining it with elements of Ottoman architecture, hence the dome.

Besides the ship I've also started work on a boarding pod, kinda inspired by a familiar design. I'm not sure yet if the existing BFG rules allow for an escort to carry boarding pods, if such an option isn't possible, the 'boarding pod launchers' could just count as (missile) weapon batteries of a sorts.
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Re: Designing ships [possible BFG scale]

Postby Malika » Fri Nov 14, 2014 8:14 pm

First of all, the boarding pod is (as good as) finished:
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The width/height of the pod is about 6.3mm and it's 6.2mm long. I tried making the design look a bit cruder than the ships, but at this scale that sort of thing can be a bit tricky.

The new ship in the meantime has gotten a lot of work done, including a bit of a resize.
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The design philosophy of this ship is rather different than the previous escorts. Whilst more than capable to go on the offensive, the design of those ships was more oriented towards defense rather than offense. The escorts were meant to protect the larger transportships from attackers. This new ship however was created for the sole purpose of war, attacking rather than defending. Hopefully the shape of the ship has kinda managed to reflect that.

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I'm not fully happy with the engines and the prow yet, so both will still need some tweaking. Beyond that it's checking out some of the details again and see if they still work now that the ship has been resized.

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As you can see, the new ship (48mm long) is considerably larger than the destroyer on the bottom (36mm long). I'd love to expand on this range, add a few more escort sized ships and then a light cruiser or something.
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Re: Designing ships [possible BFG scale]

Postby Malika » Mon Nov 17, 2014 3:00 am

Ordnance time!!!

Well, mainly boarding action oriented stuff...

The Trade Guilds (faction of which I've designed the Corvettes, Destroyers and giant transportships) use normally use shuttles to board ships for inspection. However, when attacked they can deploy their own security forces to board enemy craft. Soldiers of the Trade Guilds are carried in Assault Pods that can be launched from various Carrier craft.
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It's basically the original assault pod I designed a long time ago. It's dimensions are 9.46mm long by 4.5mm wide by 2.25mm tall. I'll be making some small modifications to it in an attempt to fit more to the aesthetic of the faction.

You've already seen this Boarding Pod, a common tool used by the various military factions. The Boarding Pod is a rather crude vehicle. Upon impact with enemy ships the pod's claws dig their way into the prey's hull. The pod then burns a hole through the ship's armor, unleashing its deadly cargo...
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As you can see I haven't really changed the design since last time. The only thing I did now was to include a variant of the pod, basically the same design but with its claws more opened up. Thought it to be a nice touch to have them both. The closed pod is 6.3mm wide/tall by 6.2mm long, the opened pod is 6.98mm wide/tall by 5.14mm long.

Whilst ships have their own sensor arrays to guide their weapons and detect enemy craft, military vessels often deploy Sensor Drones to detect hidden targets and scout ahead of the fleet.
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Like the Boarding Pod, the Sensor Drone has an 'open' and 'closed' variant. Also, it's exhaust is the other way around compared to the pod, making the Sensor Drone almost look like a reversed Boarding Pod. The closed pod is 5.94mm tall/wide and 9.21mm long. The open pod is 8.52mm tall/wide and 8.13mm long.
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Re: Designing ships [possible BFG scale]

Postby mangozac » Mon Nov 17, 2014 9:48 am

Malika, your modelling skills are definitely improving, but there is still something that to me just doesn't sit quite right with your designs. I spent some time thinking about it in order to formulate a constructive answer for you.

I believe that the problem is that your designs still betray the basic geometric shapes they're constructed from. I can see where you've added a rectangular prism and then bevelled the edges.

In my opinion, what sets apart a good, modern space ship design form the bad (and from the extremely uncreative designs of early sci-fi) is the layering of the model. It needs to feel like the ship is comprised of many layers: the base structure, the armour plating, the protruding weapons, sensor and other elements. Most important however is the mix of these things in the same area so they provide contrast and visual interest. Come to think of it I may have given this advice before!

The perfect example of this (other than obviously Vaaish's work on the BGH designs) is the Sulaco from Aliens. The distinction between the outer armour plating and the substructure is clear but without making the design look too fragile.

One of the main reasons I think you're shying away from this is a fear of undercuts and inadequate understanding of the limitations of casting. It would be like me trying to design electronics without ever testing anything. Sure, there are circuit simulation tools but even they don't account for all of the real world factors. You need to physically build the design, test it out and discover any potential issues. Only then can you improve your skills for the next design.

I appreciate that without the casting facilities you are limited in what you can do, but by continuing to pump out new designs without having actually tested the last design you are not improving your skills properly. Get a design printed (preferably in a resolution greater than Shapeways FUD, but it will do the job for educational purposes). Get a small trial pack of silicone and some resin and learn some gravity casting. Dust the mould with talc, and slosh the resin all around a bit and your results will be acceptable. You'll have a few bubbles and the like but for personal use it's no big deal - just fill them with some putty.

That is my recommendation. I trust that you know me well enough to not take offence to any of it - all I want is to see our members improve their skills and I'm not afraid to speak what I think is the truth to see it ;)
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Re: Designing ships [possible BFG scale]

Postby Malika » Mon Nov 17, 2014 8:04 pm

Thanks for the feedback! I was already kinda getting that feeling that I was going 'too fast', meaning that I ended up overlooking something rather fundamental.

Thing now is that all I can do is see those basic geometric shapes in my designs, all of them, from the latest ordnance to the more previous escort ships. It's kinda frustrating, since it really tempts me to throw everything away and start from zero. However, the thing then becomes on how to start such a thing, especially since the way I've been making things is indeed simply taking basic geometric shapes and beveling the edges, almost like a sculptor who cuts the pieces of a large block of granite into the shape of a human.

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When comparing it to what Vaaish and you are doing, it feels as if I still have a long way to go to get near that level. To speak in game console terms, the Battlegroup Helios ships would be akin to a contemporary game system, smooth shapes that look realistic, whilst my own ships have that almost 90s CGI, Virtua Fighter, quality going on that make them look rather blocky.

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The whole issue of (my insecurity regarding the models') castability is something that is more of a 'parallel problem'. At least, that's how I see it at the moment. So on one hand I need to learn to play more with the shapes in such a way that they're not just clearly your standard basic geometric shapes with some adjusted edges, this kinda leads to the multi layered nature of awesome models, like you said: base structure, armour plating, and the protruding stuff (sensors, weapons, etc). I remember you once gave me that advice when I tried to make some robots. On the other hand there's the whole casting thing, which I need to start practising in order to get some grasp of the possibilities. At the moment I'm very much working from your most basic assumption that even the slightest undercut makes any kind of casting impossible. So I'd need to experiment a bit with that. :)

And whilst my ship designs have come a long way since their humble beginnings, there's still a long way to go. The learning process is never ending! :)
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Re: Designing ships [possible BFG scale]

Postby Islacrusez » Tue Nov 18, 2014 6:38 am

Can't really add much on the modelling approach myself, you've certainly overtaken me!

I will say that I think the sensor pod and boarding pod look too much alike - remember, such things should be instantly recognisable...
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Re: Designing ships [possible BFG scale]

Postby Malika » Tue Nov 18, 2014 6:53 am

I know, it's probably because the Sensor Drone started out as a variant of the Boarding Pod. I'll probably tweak the drone a bit so it'll be a pod for another faction. But I might just ditch that one altogether and redo it.
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Re: Designing ships [possible BFG scale]

Postby mangozac » Tue Nov 18, 2014 8:54 am

Islacrusez' advice is very valid too. Such tiny models need to be instantly recognisable from a distance.

If you already sensed that you were going too fast then you're more attuned than you think! Trust me you've definitely come a long way, but even Vaaish and myself would never suggest that we have nothing more to learn. Much like your final comment, I'm a big proponent of self improvement (and not in a Tony Robbins kind of way) and I strongly believe that the purpose in life is to continually aim higher with each consecutive thing we do.

I like where you're going with this latest update, but let me suggest this way of thinking: there's nothing wrong with working like a marble sculptor and subtracting from basic rectangular shapes to achieve your goal. But eventually you need to introduce some more interest. I believe one of the techniques I use is a great example:

I am not good at visualising designs. This is one of the reasons why it takes me so long to create models when I'm not working from existing artwork. Like my Centurion project. So what I do is when I'm creating a new part of the form I grab a lump of clay and slice and prod at it until I come up with a shape I really like. Then I can replicate that shape in styrene and putty. But the important thing to note is that the clay is a very solid form, whereas when I'm making the actual parts they will be made in layers, building up the detail.

Back to your latest update: you're starting to develop some interesting details. I like the cylindrical piping in the recesses on top. But the engines look like they are tacked onto the end. You need to scallop out a section in the rear of the hull and have the engines protruding from that.

Here's my other suggestion: forget about designing for casting. Design ships that look great first and foremost. When you get to the stage of actually doing some casting you'll find out what does and doesn't work. It's kind of like learning backwards, but in this case I think it will be more beneficial for you. Restrictions for casting really are nowhere near as bad as you seem to think ;)
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Re: Designing ships [possible BFG scale]

Postby Malika » Tue Nov 18, 2014 8:15 pm

Islacrusez' advice is very valid too. Such tiny models need to be instantly recognisable from a distance.

Very true, which is more than enough reason why that whole Sensor Drone would need a total redesign! :)

Back to your latest update: you're starting to develop some interesting details. I like the cylindrical piping in the recesses on top. But the engines look like they are tacked onto the end. You need to scallop out a section in the rear of the hull and have the engines protruding from that.

I agree, I'm tempted to take out big chunks out of the back, to really make the engines look as if they're part of the ship. After that it will be some more detailing on this craft. Looking at the project as a whole, I think that after finishing this ship, the transports and the command frigate, I'll ship them off to the guy in the UK who was interested in casting them. After that I'd really like to start off fresh. So far all these ships have been part of the same 'evolutionary branch', meaning that I've been regurgitating my previous models in the designs of my latest stuff. I'd really love to do something that follows your previous advice: base structure, armour plating and then the protruding elements coming out of the base structure.

Lets see where this will take me! :)
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Re: Designing ships [possible BFG scale]

Postby mangozac » Wed Nov 19, 2014 7:46 am

Malika wrote:Lets see where this will take me! :)

I look forward to finding out!
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Re: Designing ships [possible BFG scale]

Postby Malika » Wed Nov 26, 2014 12:25 am

A little teaser...

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Re: Designing ships [possible BFG scale]

Postby RageofAchilles » Wed Nov 26, 2014 2:00 am

Well done Malika! looking good :)
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Re: Designing ships [possible BFG scale]

Postby Fleafa » Wed Nov 26, 2014 2:48 am

Looking good. Whose printing?
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Re: Designing ships [possible BFG scale]

Postby horizon » Wed Nov 26, 2014 2:52 am

Cool. They look good from what I can tell.
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