Monday, December 30, 2013

Lessons Learned in a Fictional Laboratory

I'm a second generation small business owner.  My father owned a cleaning business back in Maine.  One of the things he taught me was professional pride is a healthy thing and that if someone doesn't take pride in their work, its quality will suffer.

My previous job as a house painter here in Florida a few years ago helped drive this lesson home for me.  The owners of the company weren't afraid to absorb cost if it meant that it would save their company reputation or add to it in some way.  They say that they lived by an old Hebrew proverb, and I believe them. 

"A good name is better than good oil."

I finally learned this lesson first-hand with my own business.  And especially in the laboratory set I recently built for Nem Gate. Lesson learned: Don't be afraid to absorb cost for a customer if it means getting the job done to your satisfaction.

As it was, the client did not indicate he was happy with the completed set, but was unable to spend any more time or money on getting it to spec.  This left me with a conundrum: do I want to go the business-first route and put out a product neither the customer or I was happy with, and potentially could lead to embarrassment if it was released to the public? Or do I go the artist-integrity route and absorb a chunk of money and make sure the final product is up to snuff?

I chose the artistic-integrity route, I guess.  I can only hope it pays off in the end.  If not, I will have to be content with the fact that the client was happy, and I'm more satisfied with the results, though there's always room for improvement.

Make the day of death better than the day of birth.  When you're dead, you can't enjoy the money.  But if you leave a good reputation and people speak and think well of you after you're gone, well, then I guess it's all well and good.  I'm never completely satisfied with any of my work, anyway.


Tuesday, December 24, 2013

On the Nem Gate Machine, and Artist's Resistance

A large machine for Nem Gate. Work on this thing gave me a headache!  It was very difficult to get the ideas flowing on this.  But in the end, I think the result was okay for the most part.  I just wish it hadn't been such an ordeal for the client and I to try and drag it into existence.

It wasn't the client's fault, mind you.  He's always understanding, patient and cooperative.  It was me, struggling to actually see how to make it work.  The room came relatively easy, but I do rooms all the time.  It's become second nature.  The frame and the reactor, on the other hand.  Well, I've got to work on my skills in that area, I guess.

Even then, however, it goes to show you that even with years of experience, if the idea doesn't want to come, it's not going to.  Artist's block can come from stuff like family or personal issues, stress from having to help loved ones, just not getting enough sleep one day, your blood sugar dipped too low, or sometime as simple as someone cut you off in traffic.

Resistance immediately sets in at that point.  If you're an artist with unfinished work on your hard drive or in your studio somewhere, you've experienced resistance.  And resistance, which is when you're working on a project and lose interest in it or it just won't go any more and you want to give up, is the worst thing for a professional artist.  We're under contract to finish a work for someone. We're getting paid for this.  We don't finish it, we don't eat.  We don't eat, we get irritable! 

There are exercises, they say, which help with combating resistance, but in my experience, it literally comes down to just forcing yourself to sit at the computer and start making geometry. Any geometry.

So, I plug in "chill" on Pandora Radio, and get out my tea and a few snacks and start working.  I add a greeble here, or a panel there.  Then it just starts coming, but it's always a struggle to get art to thrive.  Art for me requires peace and clear thoughts.  Nowadays, those things are getting rarer and rarer.  So, we adapt as best we can to the changing times and hope for the best.


Thursday, December 19, 2013

"Yep, it does fit..."

One of the questions I get asked the most is: "Do your interiors actually fit inside your ship exteriors?"  The answer is always, "Yep, it does fit."  No weird MMO-style it's-bigger-on-the-inside stuff.  I am nevertheless a Doctor Who fan, mind you.

What the current set looks like without the ship around it.  We're nearing the end of the architectural modelling phase here.  Next, we're into the detailing phase, where we add props, furnishings and other stuff.  Then materials and we're done.

What the chunk of rooms looks like inside the ship, and what space is taken up.

What each section is, by color, with future additions pointed out, as well.

Rendering up a video walk-through overnight.  Hopefully I get to work tomorrow instead of watching the computer render.


Viminal Interior Adjustments

Still deliberating on the furnishings in these lounge areas.  Also, for some reason, I find these windows so incredibly beautiful, I'm seriously considering adding more of the things around the ship, particularly in the flat areas around central ring of the ship. 

This has a potential two-fold benefit. 1.) I was never pleased with those greebles.  2.) It'd give me more compartments on the ship with an awesome view.


Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Another Viminal Update

Still working out the details on these rooms.  I'm not sure what purpose they serve, but it's likely some kind of crew recreational area.

Was thinking of deleting the walls between the two rooms (the walls form the corridor in the middle of the ship visible in the center picture) and simply making one, large, open lounge area with windows on either side.  That would be an interesting space for filming.  The problem is, if that room were holed by enemy fire, it would effectively cut off the bridge from the rest of the ship.  Probably not a good idea in the design of a military vessel.  Of course, in the civilian versions of this class of ship, I'd imagine the owners would tear out the walls and create that lounge area.

Weird place to find resistance: the end walls of the rooms.  Still have no clue what I'm going to put there...


Monday, December 16, 2013

Viminal Update

Update on the work on the interior of the Viminal gunship.

It's funny as you go along in the process of making one of these things, where your eyes are drawn.  These areas are usually ones that stand out as different from the rest.  In this case, my eyes are drawn to the place where there are no greeble details.  It's really annoying to see those big, open spaces.  Will probably have to go through once I'm all done and see one last time where everything needs to be filled in.


Thursday, December 5, 2013

More Commercial Work

Got an email the other day from Museum Victoria in Australia.  They've apparently finished work on the exhibit my work is featured in.  Very proud moment for any artist, to be featured in a museum.

In other news, still working on the Nem Gate project.  Here are some renders of the modelling thus far on this latest set.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Plagarus Bike Travel Unedited Establishing and Wide Shots

An unedited compilation of the wide angle and establishing shots from the bike travel montage from Plagarus Part II.  Not very exciting, I'm afraid, due to lack of editing and sound, but this gives an idea what's going on so far with the great project that'll never be finished.

Without proper editing, such as cuts to close-ups, or different angles and perspectives, the scene seems to drag.  At least with proper music, it doesn't seem so bad, but the initial shots can be very long, at about 500 frames a piece.


Tuesday, November 26, 2013

The Escort Tactics of the Republic

The original intention of the Palatine cruiser was to have it like the starship Enterprise from Star Trek, in that these starships operate more or less without escort and are solo most of the time, just cruising around and cataloguing star systems.

Then I discovered that while the Lathkos Sector universe I created is not as militaristic as, say, Battlestar: Galactica or Star Wars, these ships are very much still military assets and would require escort, considering they're huge investments.  Plus, if one ship is cool on screen, how much cooler is multiple ships all maneuvering in formation?

And, of course, it also gives a ridiculous excuse to show these ships in comparison to each other.  Size comparison is a very important way human beings denote importance, as well as become more familiar with objects.

All of this destructive power in this small tactical group is under the command of one man, the captain of the lead ship, in this case, Adamant.  There is little wonder that captains of Palatine cruisers are known for their serious, almost solemn personalities.

Smiles and joviality aren't really an option when you're controlling a platform with enough fire power to obliterate a planet flying at 10,000 meters per second.


Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Viminal Gunship Interior

Started working on elements for the interior of the Viminal class gunship.  The key is to create interesting shapes which are very modular.  The more these shapes can be copy/pasted throughout the model, the quicker the modelling process goes.

For the rooms and compartments next to the outside hull (especially with windows/portholes), more specialized modelling has to happen, but usually most of the same bulkhead modules can be put into most of the room.  This greatly speeds up modelling time.

 After that, I just hope it all fits inside the ship when it's done.


Thursday, November 14, 2013

Viminal Gunship

Working on a name for this class of gunship.  Keeping with the tradition I started with naming the Thrassi ships after the seven hills of Rome, I'm probably aiming for a name like the Viminal class gunship.

This ship is very Thrassi in its design mantra.  The Thrassi Republic (or, TR) has always been strapped for cash, so it decided to invest in a million little ships like this one over having a few large ones.  The Thrass also have the most planets to patrol, so having a multitude of small ships was smarter for them.  I imagine they built a lot of these Viminal gunships, probably numbering into the tens of thousands of them, to patrol backwater systems and provide escort for larger ships, such as the Aventine destroyer and Palatine cruiser.

These gunships were basically just lightly armored, yet extremely fast and deadly heavy sluggers, meant to carry as much fire power as possible right into the enemy's face.  While the TR never designed multi-person ships to be expendable, this ship probably had the highest casualty rate in any of the skirmishes the Navy had with pirate factions or with the Trisst Empire.

As the years wore on, however, these ships were probably retired from naval service and sold off to the private sector for either scrap or to be used as patrol boats for major corporations or personal ships for private citizens.  Really, the only ships that remained in use for any length of time in the TR were the Palatine cruisers, and even then, only five of the original twenty built were in active service after thirty years.

They probably kept building new Viminal gunships over time, however, to replace the older ones.

The upside to building ships for the same fleet is that you can reuse certain greebles and detail geometry in the new chassis.  This is a huge time-saver, as evidenced by the fact that this ship's exterior is nearly done already, despite me just starting a couple of days ago.  As the greeble library expands, and my familiarity with the hull plating technique gets better, I'm glad to see that the time to build these ships is decreasing precipitously. 


Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Gunship WIP

Started work on a gunship.

The round spots on the top and bottom are where the gun turrets will go. Probably will have the warp drive winglets fold up and down like on the Palatine class. This ship was designed to be just a fast, powerful slugger with minimal armor. Its speed and atmospheric capabilities are its best defences. Its main armament is six heavy blast ionized particle cannons, the much smaller version of what the Adamant is armed with. It was designed to fly into enemy lines and pick off turrets and exposed hardware.

They were designed and built around the beginning of the 20th century of my universe, however, and as such, their age is now very evident. As such, they were sold off to private contractors and owners beginning around the 80's. Now they're mostly just owned by private merchantmen and mercenaries. To fly this ship in Thrassi space, however, you have to have a license for all those guns. Unfortunately, some of these have found their way into the hands of pirates in the outer systems. They're usually easily destroyed, though, if the Navy sends in a Palatine class cruiser to deal with those pirate scum.


Monday, November 11, 2013

Adamant Command Deck Two Interiors

Still tinkering with these two rooms.  The third in the set, the conference room, is unchanged from the original, so I decided to not show it.  The bridge itself is still very much a WIP.  I'm struggling with the consoles and really dislike them.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Commercial Work

Well, normally I can't show my commercial work that I've done with the public, as typically I'm under a non-disclosure clause.  But I've received some leeway in this to show that while I'm not updating this site, I'm indeed working.

These shots are from my interior modelling I've done for an independent film called Nem Gate

I'm just a modeller on this, so I'm showing my work only (without final materials).

The third model, the large lobby, was a model I received partially built, but I changed it enough that it barely resembles what it used to look like.  The only things that remain from the original model are the pillars, part of the exterior wall and the floating sculpture in the center of the room.

Please bear in mind that all of this is definitely work in progress, as the textures and materials haven't been added in these images.  Also, additional changes to the geometry may be made sometime in the future to some of these models as the director changes his mind or needs some object moved for continuity's sake.


Additionally, I've got some work being hung in Museum Victoria in Melbourne, Australia.  My work ended up being featured in an exhibit they're putting up about the future of space flight.  The exhibit isn't up, yet, I don't think.  It should be up sometime next year, they tell me.

Always thought an artist had to die before his work was put up in a museum. I don't know if I'll ever be able to make it there to see it in person, but if anyone ever is in Melbourne, please stop by the museum and take a picture of the exhibit for me, if you can.  I'd really appreciate it!

There is also more work than this, but I've spent a lot of time on this post already, so I'll let you all go.  Happy Blending!

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