Tuesday, October 27, 2015

New Turrets on Palatine Cruisers Make Life Easier for Crews

THIS WEEK on Pew-Pew Weekly:

Is that comet flying through space giving you problems?  Is collision imminent?  Everyone knows that striking a piece of rock at relativistic speeds can give your spaceship crew the shakes (and don't get me started on those exploding consoles).  Well, worry no more.  Here is the solution to rowdy interstellar fragments and debris (and any foolhardy pirate looking to avoid having to face that boring legal system):  The PY-280-Z heavy cannon turret!

A spectacle of destructive potential!

With a full 180 degree rotation on the z-axis and 90 degree cannon rotation, this reciprocating octo-barrel laser cannon turret provides the ultimate answer to the question: Do laser cannons really work well against rocks in space...or anything else, for that matter?  At these levels of power, the answer is an unequivocal YES!

Warning: It is inadvisable to take selfies in front of these turrets

Capable of being loaded with several types of charges, these cannons can fire both ionized plasma and particle beams capable of delivering over 25 petajoules of destructive power per barrel.  That's right, that's 200 petajoules per turret, per shot

To give you an idea of how much that would be in pure awesome might: 200 petajoules equals the same amount of energy as 47,801 tons of TNT.  To give you humans a chance to understand, your laughable nuclear Tsar Bomba, the largest nuclear bomb ever tested in your history, released 210 petajoules.  That's right, just one volley from one of these turrets releases the equivalent amount of energy from your largest nuclear bomb ever! HA! Take that, puny earthlings!

Do ya feel lucky, punk?
These new turrets will be installed on all ships in the Thrassi Navy large enough to support them.  Since that's only the Palatine and Aventine classes, those are the ships that will receive these beauties!

Here is a mock-up of a typical Palatine class cruiser with the turrets mounted.  Seriously, you don't want to mess with this ship.

It was as if millions of pirates suddenly cried out in terror and were suddenly silenced...

If there was ever a bad place to find yourself, this probably qualifies

Sal Marcus, the Scan Officer aboard the Adamant had this to say about the new turrets loaded onto his ship, "I'm just glad they're not pointed at me!"  That seems to be the general consensus of anyone who has to face these things.

I'm just glad they're not pointed at me! -- A very wise man

Here are the statistics for these lovely turrets for you tech-heads out there:

Kilim & Blastem PY-280-Z Heavy Laser Cannon Turret

  • Type: Dual quad barrel reciprocating cannon turret
  • Power Rating: 25 petajoules per barrel
  • Rate of Fire: 10 shots per minute
  • Deliverable Energy Rating: 2,000 petajoules per minute

Remember, if you're a space rock heading for an Aventine or Palatine class starship of the Thrassi Navy, it might behoove you to avoid it.  If you're a pirate, get your will in order!

Friday, October 23, 2015

Adamant Remodel Progress Renders

Changes to the overall shape of the structure have been completed.  The nose is considerably more discreet and narrower than before.  Also added a gentle slope to the lower bow region.  It's now swept back slightly to improve the curved look of the entire ship's overall motif.

I'm much more pleased with the elevation orthograhic shots.  Gone is the jarring sharpness of the dropping bow, replaced with a gentler curve which matches the rest of the ship much nicer.

The bridge section is also greatly simplified and more curved, making it much more sleek and even a bit menacing, I think.  That was an unforeseen effect of the changes--the ship looks more "wicked" than before.  Sometimes you don't know what the result will be until you try it, I guess?

Still to do: the forward deflector/shield dish section.  Finish out the panels and greebles (some are still not right--hovering greebles or whatnot).  Add windows and lighted interiors, including the hangars and their doors, and create the new quad-cannon turrets.  Also, need to re-do the insides of the main engines.  I was never quite happy with the mechanism that spun.  It was way too small to be noticeable.  I'd like to make it bigger so that it's visible from medium and perhaps even wide shots.

After that, it's the materials and light schemes and I think we're done with the remodel.  The model will be ready for import into whatever project I think up for it. :)


Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Reworking the Adamant (Part 1)

Reworking the Adamant model.  Looking back on the two years I've had her, she's been a great ship, but now that I look at her with a more critical eye, there are some things I would have done differently to the geometry and model.  But, as it is, she's still nice.  Here's the original picture she appeared in:

The videos she's appeared in:

Her interior was seen in these images:

Redesign Plan:

1.) Update and finish the thing. Many new tools in Blender (such as retopo and ngons) are now available, or have been improved since the model was started nearly 3 years ago.  This makes it possible to build geometry that otherwise was much more difficult to do back then.  Also, my skills as a modeler have improved since then.

2.) Redesigning certain key elements and shapes. I was never happy with certain aspects of the ship's exterior (or interior, for that matter!).  Here are some of the changes I wanted to make:

  • The aft section of the nose, in particular wasn't very successful in my mind.  Currently, it's just too sharp a transition, especially in the orthographic elevation view.  Its line dips straight down, while the lines of the aft lower sections are far more curved and flowing.  This needs to be fixed in some manner.
  • The width of the lower forward section.  The forward section's lower area is too wide.  I've been wanting to give her a more sleek, narrower profile on the lower section for a while, to match the aft section's width more closely.
  • The aft landing bay, which I changed already, was too sharp and didn't fit with the motif of the ship very well.  The lines leading up to it are relatively curved and flowing, and the sharp 90 degree end where the door is just didn't seem to fit very well.  
  • There were also several areas where angles were visible instead of smoothly curving surfaces.  Going back and remodeling those areas is better than staring at them and cringing every time.  
  • Building new turrets. Instead of the extremely low-poly versions that I had previously, I hope to have specially modeled turrets which all work and can be fired simultaneously or in groups, without the need for a lot of extra work.
  • Interior remodel.  I'm planning on remodeling the all of the current sets.  I'm just not happy with currently, in particular the lack of detail.  The floors and color-scheme may remain, but the lighting is so flat and even that it's very difficult to make interesting images using them.  Cycles has come a long way with interior lighting these past two years, so it's time to build out geometry which takes advantage of that.

3.) Materials! Cycles renderer now has some pretty nice procedural materials which will be useful on the Adamant.  The issues with UV unwrapping such an incredibly complex model are too daunting for someone like me with almost no free time on his hands.  Proper UV unwrapping really takes a more dedicated texture/material artist than I am.

4.) Prep for the big screen. Getting the ship ready for HD renders, up to 4k resolution and above will ensure her usefulness for years to come.  I'm hoping to include Adamant or one of her sisters in a film in the future.  We'll see.

Work done so far:

Here's the in-fiction lore for the Palatine Class Cruiser.

THE PALATINE CRUISER is a starship class in operation from the late 20th to mid 25th centuries in the Thrassi Republic. The first ship of this class, Palatine (SSC – 001) was launched on 10/16/1,981 M.E. The last ship of the class, Adjudicator (SSC - 020), was commissioned on 10/18/2,000 M.E. They are the largest ship class ever used by the Thrassi Navy. The original design of the ship was produced by Lethmarp Industries, and was considered revolutionary for its time

There are still 5 Palatine cruisers in operation as of this printing (2,500 M.E.), all of them still being used despite being in space for some 500 years.

Known for their signature shape and design, as well as their traditional white paint (called “Armor White 1a” by the Thrassi Navy), they were called “White Ghosts” by many Trisst and pirates for the fact these were often spied upon by a Palatine without knowing it, and were often apprehended by them with no warning.

Palatine cruisers are the only starship in the Thrassi Navy with the “SSC” prefix for their duty numbers. SSC is an acronym which stands for “Star Ship Cruiser”, and was intended as a special designation reserved for Palatine class cruisers alone. All other ships of the Thrassi Navy employed the traditional TSS, short for “Thrassi Star Ship”

With the introduction of the Trisst Doruus class battleship in 1,940 M.E., and its continuing reign as supreme spaceship of the Lathkos Sector, the Thrassi Republic found itself in need of a flagship vessel as well-armed as the Doruus. When it was discovered the cost of building a rival to the battleship was so outrageously expensive that it would bankrupt the dwindling Thrassi coffers, the Thrassi government sought instead to build an immense fleet of smaller, more nimble space vessels as part of its defense force. It was thought that a huge array of small ships could elude the ponderous and relatively rare Trisst Battleship, should war break out. The Thrass also focused on building a fleet of nimble fighter craft, choosing speed, maneuverability and sheer numbers to counter the Trisst fleet, which focused on only 100 gargantuan Doruus battleships and only a few more thousand support craft.

Over the years, as the tenuous peace continued between the Thrass and Trisst, the Republic began thinking again of devoting resources to a larger, more general purpose space vessel, capable of an extremely wide array of deployments and missions. It was not until 1,976 M.E. that the Thrassi Republic finally mustered the will to build such a vessel.

Because of the Thrassi lack of experience for building larger starships, Lethmarp Industries, the famed Isusian shipbuilders who provided the vessels for the Isus Collection for millenniums, were tapped by the Republic to build the Thrassi dream ship. In 1,981, the first Palatine class space cruiser was deployed in space, SSC-001 Palatine. The Palatine class cruiser was sold exclusively to the Thrassi Republic.

Although the Palatine class excelled in sensor and weaponry, they were reportedly slow, heavy and extremely expensive. The Republic tried to cram as much technology into as small a shell as possible so as to make the Palatine as affordable as it could be. Despite these efforts, however, the Palatine project was still prohibitively expensive, and construction was discontinued after the 20th vessel, Adjudicator, was commissioned in late 2,000 M.E. The cause of its discontinuation was cited as being because of the ship's immense size and construction cost. At 750 stretches long, and over a killostretch in width, it was one of the largest starships ever put to space in the Lathkos Sector's history, despite the vaunted efforts of the Republic Fleet to keep the size of the ship down. Each ship cost approximately 1 trillion jaspers to construct, with an additional 800 million jaspers per year to operate.


Boasting a crew complement of over 1,200, Palatine class cruisers were manned by Thrassi naval officers who had at least 2 years' experience due to the ship being so valuable. 

Palatine cruisers were renowned for their extremely impressive firepower, as well as the impregnability of their armor plating. They were used to project the Thrassi Navy's strength wherever the Thrass had the stomach to risk such valuable ships.

Featuring a hammerhead front and extremely broad wingspan with retractable warp bubble generators on the tips of the wings, Palatine cruisers really have no similar design in the entire Sector. This was on purpose, as the Thassi navy wanted their best starship to be instantly recognizable.

Palatine cruisers are extremely well-armed. Featuring up to 20 quad-laser turrets, with each barrel able to project a 60 gigajam (gj) ion-particle beam, the laser cannon turrets alone on the ship have greater destructive power than almost any other ship in the Sector, save for the Doruus battleship.

In addition to the laser turrets, Palatines also feature 6 forward facing heavy torpedo tubes, and numerous secondary launch tubes dispersed around the hull. 6 heavy 200 gj orbital bombardment single barrel turrets sit along the forward neck area of the ship, just behind the hammerhead section. 8 forward facing heavy blast cannons are fitted on the ends of the wings. These barrels are capable of projecting 300 gj beams and are, by far, the most powerful class of weapons available on any Palatine cruiser. 

After 1,986 M.E., several modifications were made to the Palatine's weaponry. Banks of new point-defense laser turrets were added when it was discovered missiles could pose a danger to the delicate sensor and electronic warfare masts atop the ship. All subsequent ships of the class launched with these modifications, and the 6 existing ships were fitted with these turrets.

The ship also boasts the best sensor and jamming technology available. A sensor resolution of 40 nanostretches at a distance of 1 light-year makes the Palatine class's e-war capabilities second to none. Many enemies have expressed surprise at being spied upon by a Palatine from extremely great distance without knowing it. This, despite being a ship over half a killo long, and not possessing any specialized stealth capabilities.

After 2,010 M.E., all Palatine cruisers remaining (by then, Bellicose had been destroyed in Operation: Hammerstop) were fitted with warp-disruption bubble generators (known as “snagnets”), capable of jamming the warp fields of approaching spacecraft and forcing them to drop out of light speed.

Interior Characteristics

The interior of the Palatine cruiser is luxurious, earning the crews of these vessels the reputation as “cruise ship passengers” more than naval officers. Following the traditionally clean styling the Thrassi Navy prefers, the ships are comfortable and warmly lit inside.

The ship's command deck, on the 12th level down from the top of the vessel, features some of the highest technology known to the Thrassi Republic, and even the Lathkos Sector. The Palatine was the first ship to employ holographic controls. This is especially of note in the helm console, which features a 3 dimensional hologram of the ship which the helm officer simply manipulates using his or her own hands. The ship's computer uses these inputs to fire the reaction control thrusters arrayed around the ship's hull. Palatine vessels were also unique in their use of robotic security sentries. These highly modified DLO-P robots had specialized software installed which made them formidable warriors, capable of successfully defending their vessel from boarding parties. They also served as bodyguards for any of the command staff who would venture to a hazardous planet's surface.The Palatine class cruiser had an official expected service life of upwards of 400 years, although with refits, it had a theoretically indefinite lifespan.

On 5 / 12 / 2,000, Bellicose was destroyed during Operation: Hammerstop. Because of the loss of the ship so rapidly to the Trisst battleship, many decried what they claimed as the uselessness of a such an expensive vessel.  Thus, many experts denounce the Palatine class as a mediocre vessel at best. This is not because of her design or manufacture, which were of the highest quality, but that the expense at which she was constructed and maintained meant she was deemed too valuable an asset to see any real combat situations, or situations where she would face peril or formidable odds. This is despite the fact that the ships were, in reality, extremely well-armed, durable, expertly designed and built, and more than capable of facing almost any threat posed against them, except, of course, a Trisst battleship.

Because of the loss of the Bellicose, and the severe damage Adamant suffered during the Drannica mission 5 years later, the Thrassi admiralty lost its stomach for sending their prized cruisers into harm's way.

Of all the vessels of the class which were constructed aside from Bellicose, 14 were later mothballed due to budget shortfalls, with 5 of those ships eventually being scrapped for spare parts for their 5 remaining active sisters. By 2,050, only Adamant, Reciprocity, Palatine, Harbinger and Truculent remained in active duty.

The ships were relegated to light mission duty, often being used to ensure the peace in outlying systems where there were no ships or weaponry which could ostensibly threaten them. They were almost never used to their original potential. Of all the ships in all of their missions, except Bellicose, Adamant sustained the greatest damage, during the Drannica mission. The damage done to her and the loss of Bellicose was sufficient enough to frighten the admiralty into sparing the ships from heavy military use, instead focusing on exploration or patrol missions in safe systems. Any pictures of the damage sustained by Adamant were suppressed so as not to anger the public over such a valuable and expensive vessel being used for a mission which they feared would be deemed meaningless.

The 9 mothballed Palatine class cruisers—known colloquially as “The Nine Ghosts”–are evidently stored in Koranna IV Construction Yards, their birthplace, under heavy guard, because of their obvious value to looters and ship thieves. If the Thrassi Republic ever needed them, these ships could be returned to active duty in less than 3 months, where they, despite their age, would still nearly double the amount of deliverable firepower of the Thrassi Navy's arsenal.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

New Tutorial In the Works

Working on a new free video tutorial.  This one is an answer to a request on YouTube, so I'm plannng on putting it on there.  Will hopefully be done in a week or so.  Going to try some new techniques in this tutorial to see how they go, including more interesting video effects and whatnot to convey the ideas better.  Whether they work or not, I'm not entirely sure.  We'll have to see when I release it...

Hope everyone is doing awesome.


Monday, October 12, 2015

Shuttle Pod

More work on Gingerbreed for the guys at HiFi 3D.

Still some work to do on detailing out the aft sections and other things.  But so far, so good, I hope.

This particular model has to have a full interior as well, for filming.  So a high res interior model for this, seamlessly integrated into the exterior modeling is necessary.  Fun times.

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