Thursday, February 11, 2010

But it's such a lovely boat... ship!

Time for some stuff, from THE THIRD DIMENSION!

*sci-fi music*

So we've been starting our classes in Maya this semester, and I'll be putting up some shots of the first real project from that eventually. But before that, I'm putting up an example of some of the modelling work I did with an entirely different computer program back in high school.
Lot's of text ahead, so I'll draw you in with a single-view render!

Quick history, about middle of grade 11 I decided I REALLY wanted certain units to play with in the PC game Civilization 3 (cause I love that game). In order to do that, I needed to make a 3D model, animate it, and import those animated frames for the game to use. An advantage with Civ3, because the game uses images of models and not an actual model (unlike Civ4, where the models are 'rendered' in real time with the game's engine) you can use any 3D program you like to make the animation frames. 3D Studio Max, Maya, Blender, whatever. One guy on the largest site for the Civ series ( was using this program called POV Ray (Persistence Of Vision Raytracer, from to model and animate his own custom units. Because POV Ray was free, I decided to try making my own units with it.

A few months later I was pretty good with it. What surprised me was that even though POV Ray modelling is entirely code based (ie: sphere {<0,0,0>,1 pigment {color Red}} is the code to create a red sphere with a radius of 1 unit at the center of the scene), which one would think a barely-passed-math guy like me would be hopeless with, I actually understood how this program ticked (of course a calculator helped), at least enough to make any geometry I wished. Animating got a little tricky, but then again I hadn't taken any courses at that time to know about things like key poses, follow through, etc.

So by April of 2005 (having started about November of 2004) I decided to tackle one of my favourite subjects, the RMS Titanic. I had a plastic model and a fantastic book at my side to get as much detail in as I wanted. After a month I had the modelling done, and in a week or two I had the basic animations necessary to put it in the game. You can grab it for yourself here:

I modelled in POV Ray for about 3 years after that, right up until I got into Animation, you can find all that I made over at civfanatics (mentioned this in the blog's first post I believe). The animating ranges from kinda bad to decent. I could definitely do better now, but the render times required to fix everything, or even just the stuff I really care for, would be like, a month solid. But the modelling jobs I'm quite proud of, for example the Highwind from FF7, the Ragnarok from FF8 and The Flying Dutchman from Pirates 2. There's a LOT of boats. I like boats.

Anyways, what this all led up to is that I was very confident starting up with Maya this year. I had fiddled with 3D Studio Max as well, so I wasn't entirely clueless about Polygon modelling that most programs use. So even though the POV Ray code-made models are entirely incompatible with Maya or 3DS Max, model-making concepts like booleans, co-ordinates, hierarchy/attachment, do transfer. Getting back to model work made me all nostalgic, so I decided to 'raise the Titanic' from the depths of my computer and pump out a render of the model rotating, so here it is!

Quality doesn't quite do it justice, but you get the idea, and I can't make it better without another render, which would take about 4 hours. This doesn't have every porthole, but it does have the big windows in the top decks, propellers and rudder, lifeboats, anchors, stuff. The code to make this is extensive, basic in concept but to get some of the shapes with just cylinders, cones, boxes and spheres one has to get quite fancy with booleans (subtracting, intersecting and merging shapes).

For anyone who scrolled to the bottom right away, and those who read in full (thanks!) I'll be getting my new models up here sometime soon, and might make a few detail renders of this one. Might. Anyways, till next time!

No comments: