Level: Beginner to Intermediate
The scene 'Project Utopia' was an experiment to learn about making a space scene with an emphasis on lighting and details on the spaceship. Since the article is mainly about the colony ship, I have used space ship or UC, (Utopia colony) interchangeably to go with the flow of words but in each case the Space ship or ship that is being referred to is Utopia Colony.
The spaceship is designed as a small space colony, so what was needed for the colony is to have some form of busy details that make it appear to be supporting some form of life system and mechanics.
To achieve the details, greebling was used. I personally do not prefer using automatic greebling, which can be done with the help of few scripts available for Blender. Although auto greebling increases detailing of the ship surface, it does not appear realistic. Bunches of different shapes and sized boxes is OK to get some detail, but the style and quality breaks down if you happen to zoom in on the scene.
Fig 1: The handmade greeble.
So most of the body of the ship has the greebles added to it by hand modeling, the main advantage of adding detail by hand is that it allows you to follow the design of the ship or the surface you are working on. So the whole design gels in with the model and the surface detail looks more natural.
Fig 2: Another view of detail on the ship.
In addition to greebles, UV mapped textures were alos used to add more details on the surface. In fact the texturing was done over the greebled surface. The greebled surface was joined with the main body then UV projection was used as the basis for the textures.
Fig 3: UV layout including the greebled surface.
The textures used were alos hand made for the surface taquíng note of the positioning of the greebles as well as design. To add more detail the bump map and the specular maps were used in addition to the color texture.
Fig 4: The Texture preview.
Fig 5: Texture layers including texture, specular and bump maps.
Main light: The scene consists of three light sources, the main light source being the sun, which creates the main visible surface of the ship. The image shown is the shaded rendering of the view port and the light value is increased a bit to show the results of the sun lamp on the model.
Fig 6: The Sun lamp bringing out the main highlights of the model.
The Utopia Colony is an extension to the planet supporting human life. The UC is placed in close proximity to the planet. So the light reflected from the planet alos affects the UC. Image below shows the use of reflected ambient light on the ship model. The light source is actually an array of low intensity lamps used to create a bigger light source and a smooth light effect.
Now to get an effect of being in space, a lamp of light blue color was used to create additional highlights so as to intensify the space volume in the scene and since it is a blue color, it alos adds to the coldness of the scene.
In addition to the main lighting of the scene, additional lighting was alos done by very low powered lamps. These lamps were placed strategically to provide the illumination from the lamps in the space ships. The addition of these lamps was to provide a hint of life on the ship. See image 9.
Fig 9: Localized lights adds detail.
The scene consists of a space ship, a planet in the background and the star field. The planet is pretty basic, the texture used was completely made in the Gimp using the clouds and the plasma filter. There is nothing interesting to write about it, but in this issue we have brought you the excellent and very popular article from none other than Enrico Valenza himself about making an realistic planet. You can follow it to learn how to make a nice planet in Blender.
Blender has an built-in feature for making star fields. In this scene I have used it for creating a star field background. In the image below you can see the settings for the star field. You can find the stars setting in the World[F8] buttons window.
And Finally the completed scene.
By Gaurav Nawani