3D Practice

I’ve been trying to grow my skill with Blender, and a big part of my approach has been to re-model some stuff that I’d previously modelled in SketchUp.

And, yes, there’s more Star Trek stuff, ’cause that’s what I was mostly toying with when I was playing with SketchUp.

An early re-model was this wire-framed chair that shows up in some of the later TNG movies.

Blender has some different approaches to particular modelling tasks. In this case, I was using curves to get the frame of the chair. Basically, I draw out the lines that the frame follows, and then give those lines some substance, making it seem like it’s made of metal tubing.

The lighting, here, is fairly blah, and because I haven’t rendered it in an environment, the reflective metal frame doesn’t have anything to reflect, so it just looks dark. Whatever. I’ll figure out good renders later.

The next thing I played with was the replicator. Again, this was something that I’d modelled in SketchUp, but the thing I was most trying to learn was using custom materials — in this case, the LCARS panel and the back splash. I created both of those materials in Inkscape, and then went through the weird process of getting them into model.

The LCARS panel took forever to figure out: because it’s only rendered on a small part of the geometry, I kept getting only a small part of the panel showing up. And often that small part was all-black, which made it seem like nothing was appearing. Anyway, that was my first foray into UV unwrapping.

I also made the two UV-mapped surfaces fairly reflective (’cause on Trek, they usually have a piece of clear plastic sitting on top of a printed design, so it looks like a glass-covered control panel.

Lastly, I recently played with a cargo barrel, the likes of which we see in TNG. Unlike the previous two items, I hadn’t previously modelled this in SketchUp. But I was trying to get to an a-ha place on Subsurf (Subdivision Surface) modelling. It’s a good thing to try Subsurf on, because it has a lot of rounded edges. Subsurf seems like a good thing to have on anything that’s fundamentally round, cause roundness in 3D is a lie and subsurf lies well.

I used a reference picture from a shot from TNG to guide me. I mocked up the simple blue and yellow pattern in Inkscape and UV-Unwrapped that onto the model (I still have a number of annoyances with this stage of the exercise, but I got to a not-terrible place with this). The render doesn’t show it well, but I also played with reflectivity: the yellow parts and the red lettering are actually more reflective than the blue, making it seem, subtly, like they’re painted on top of the blue material.

Then, to match my reference model, I decided to try my hand a mixing in some noise to make the barrel look less evenly-coloured. I’d say that exercise was only moderately successful. But the goal is learning, so that’s cool.

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