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Spaceship design thread - To boldly go - hopefully
show user profile  Davious
Ok so my old PC died, so I was "given" another system, faster than my old one. In exchange for the C and a bit of cash, so this is kindaof a paid job :)

So the 'client' is designing a spacesim browser game with unity. He initially asked me to texture up some ships he already had the models for, Later deciding he didn't like them anymore,

He showed me a pic of one of the ships from eve, a "fenir" I think, his brief was "blocklike, square, with armor plates with some areas exposed, we also looked at the "sulluco" from the aliens film.

I think it would be useful to me, and others if I detail my progress here in this thread, the bulk of the work will be hapening when I get back from hols March 21st, but heres some PS stuff of work so far.

I initally sent him this scratch sheet of 10 shapes to see which he liked,

He wants 3 ship classes, a frigate , a cruiser and a destroyer, each will have different custom guns/missiles , shield etc.

He liked "A" , "G" and "H", we don't have the time luxury of lots of back and fourths!

So I than sent a size comparison chart, as well as the scratch sheet, it contains some other designs because at this point he hadn't chosen, this was just so he could see the different scales.

I based the destroyer on a semi-fish shape. Still sketching at this stage, blocking out shapes and getting that "missing pieces" look

Finally for now , I took his favourite for the "Frigate" class , letter "A" from the scratch sheet and did a more detail drawing schematic, I have noticed some errors on the technical drawing of it, but again , this is still WIP, design will be nailed down in 3D.

EDIT: heres the correct link

I know I'm going to be limited to around 10K tris for the in game model, so will be using normal mapping and baking textures, something I have done rarely. I'll be checking on Groteys Turtle tut a lot for this, and of course be posting lots of questions here!

" Difficult, yes. Impossible , no..."
read 1369 times
2/21/2011 9:10:20 PM (last edit: 2/21/2011 9:13:58 PM)
show user profile  P357
your frigate looks just like Serenity from the show Firefly. *ttp://

read 1359 times
2/21/2011 9:19:44 PM (last edit: 2/21/2011 9:19:44 PM)
show user profile  Garp
For the 'missing pieces' look, if you can get your hands on the movie Serenity, there are great examples in it (reapers' ships).
I like your sketches :)

read 1334 times
2/22/2011 12:37:16 AM (last edit: 2/22/2011 12:37:16 AM)
show user profile  9krausec
Looks like the cruiser in the second picture is ready for action...

- Portfolio-

read 1320 times
2/22/2011 1:16:15 AM (last edit: 2/22/2011 1:16:15 AM)
show user profile  Cloak
What a great exchange - good luck with the project Davius, just out of curiosity, who's the dev? Did you meet him through the unity boards or?

some other 'composite' or piecemeal ship designs for inspiration - district 9, aliens' nostromo, red dwarf

read 1317 times
2/22/2011 1:23:11 AM (last edit: 2/22/2011 1:23:11 AM)
show user profile  inxa
Good going.

The link that you posted were superb. Am sure they are a great resource for this project as well.

3D ArchVis
Photography blog
Facebook Photography page

read 1300 times
2/22/2011 5:01:21 AM (last edit: 2/22/2011 5:01:21 AM)
show user profile  MrWhite
Nice to see your exploring many concepts. What I would recommend is to do an image search on an assortment of creatures (perhaps sea creatures) and study their proportions and forms. Most designs (art & engineering) are inspsired by the beauty of natures 'natural' solutions to problems of flight and transportation.

Also think about prominant geometric shapes and experiment with them in relation to each other. This may help your spaceship designs become more 'grand' and as awe inspiring as ones from top games and famous films.

I hope that didn't get to much Arty baffle!



Simon Gibson

Lead Vehicle Artist - Forza Horizon

read 1273 times
2/22/2011 1:24:04 PM (last edit: 2/22/2011 1:24:04 PM)
show user profile  Davious
Thanks for all the replys

@p357 yes I can see that now you posted the ref, I think I'll change the bridge section to make it different.

@garp The reavers are great! I do have a coy of serenity, so I'll check out their designs.

@9krausec err.. ok

@cloak This developer is a friend who used to run a gaming centre, I have one of his old PC's its a few years old now but still better than my old one.

@inxa thanks, I will be doing a lot of plane modeling based on those tuts, they are great.

@mrwhite agreed on the research bit, unfortunatly we have to nail down designs fairly fast as there is a time constraint, isn't there always. Your advice was great and not at all arty.


Using max 2010

I am now modeling a gun turret, it will be applied to all of the ships, depending if the player wants it.
I want to use it as a pipeline exercise for the final ships. So i need some advice here.
Will I model the high poly, then create a low poly based on that mesh to apply the normal map to ?
or will I block out the thing as low poly then shift copy and make the high poly from that ?

I have seen a vid where peeps create the low poly by drawing it out in quads on the high poly, never used this , is it a plugin or included in 2010 ?

Texture baking , when I bake out the gun, do I bake the items and their textures seperatly, or all together ? I will go hunting for tuts on this.

I'm gettin an error on using the shell mod on an epoly, when I try to render I get the message

"object plane 1 has a mesh with invalid texture vertex indices - can't render" any idea why ? I can render if I kill the shell.

thats it for now. thanks for the feedback.

" Difficult, yes. Impossible , no..."
read 1259 times
2/22/2011 1:45:42 PM (last edit: 2/22/2011 1:45:42 PM)
show user profile  9krausec
@Davious- The cruiser looks like it has a giant phallic piece implemented into the design, I should have gave more of an explanation...

I do like all of the designs very much with the exception of the cruiser. I would like to see some of these completed. It would be nice to find how you put in mass amounts of detail (paneling and such) for a larger project like this. I assume you aren't going to use too complex of geometry since this is going to be used for Unity.

I have been watching too much Battlestar Galactica and am excited to watch this project grow.


- Portfolio-

read 1247 times
2/22/2011 3:44:22 PM (last edit: 2/22/2011 3:45:26 PM)
show user profile  Davious

ahh, ok its a dick ship , I get it.

luckly that design isn't going to be used.

The idea is to make a low poly ship around 10K tris and a high poly version to get the normal maps off, then apply these to the low poly. It's going into unity , which I know nothing about. However I think you can swap out maps depending on distance from the camera, so when the ships are a long way away, no normals used and low 256 maps could be used , when they get closer you can switch to higher res diffuce and implement normals, if it's not too obvious. I'm feeling my way through this method and have a lot to learn! So stick around and we should learn some stuff!

" Difficult, yes. Impossible , no..."
read 1228 times
2/22/2011 5:35:52 PM (last edit: 2/22/2011 5:35:52 PM)
show user profile  K-tonne
good luck on this- looks like a cool project
just a heads up about unity- as far as i know, uses parallax mapping

you swap the red channel to the alpha channel and the height map goes into the red
then delete the blue channel and save as DDS DXT5

this dude knows more about it and can explain better than i:

but then i cold be wrong- been a while since i've had access to unity so 'grain of salt'

Website and Portfolio

read 1219 times
2/22/2011 7:13:37 PM (last edit: 2/22/2011 7:13:37 PM)
show user profile  Davious
thanks k-tonne

An issue has come up , im following this tutorial here for normal mapping

I however can't see my cage expanding even after I selected 'shaded'

I am running direct x 9 , max 2010. Problem with direct x 10 was it showed tris on my faces using epoly, and also wouldn't show selected edges. So I switched back to 9. Any idea why I cant see a shaded cage ?

EDIT EDIT: I have solved the above issue, I couldn't see the shading of the cage becasue I had set the viewport to activeshade

EDIT in the interest of shared learning , heres a good tut I found as well on baking normals, this guy uses a dirext x shader in the window because it gives you what a game engine would show more realisticly than the max render engine. He has some good PS tricks as well,

EDIT again.. I checked my smoothing grous were all set to 1 on the low poly, and I have unwrapped my low poly. Do I need to unwrap the high poly ? I'm gettin a weird application of the normal , doesnt look mapped right.

EDIT EDIT: I have solved the above issue, I hadn't check the box to use existing channel , under mapping coordinates. Max was doing it's own auto unwrap which didnt match the unwap I did of the low poly. You don't have to unwrap the high poly.

Last question : how do I see the bump may in the viewort? I turned on active shade but still can't see it. does max 2010 support it ? I'm moving a light around and can see the normal bump working in the renders but not in the viewport .

" Difficult, yes. Impossible , no..."
read 1175 times
2/23/2011 3:59:32 PM (last edit: 2/23/2011 5:49:35 PM)
show user profile  K-tonne
you don't need to map the high poly no
got a pic of the problem area?

Website and Portfolio

read 1150 times
2/23/2011 5:45:51 PM (last edit: 2/23/2011 5:45:51 PM)
show user profile  Davious

solved that problem area , well sort of, what I'm learning is that in the low poly unwrap, you need to space your elements for a clean bake. It really doesn't like sharp edges, I couldn't get it to work so I started on a plane, and that works , apart from the real time shading (see above). What it seems to be is a trade off between chamfering everything and adding to your tricount, and having sharp edges which screw up your normal map. I'm experimenting, it feels like crawling through glue.

" Difficult, yes. Impossible , no..."
read 1142 times
2/23/2011 6:18:01 PM (last edit: 2/23/2011 6:18:01 PM)
show user profile  K-tonne
sharp edges should be uv seams too, uv islands for every different smoothing group
great tut on this very thing is:

he's mapping here but the info you need is around here- maybe a couple of pages on, not sure

Website and Portfolio

read 1137 times
2/23/2011 6:30:56 PM (last edit: 2/23/2011 6:30:56 PM)
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