Sunday, 18 November 2012

Developing The 'Whale Ship'

From my loose designs, I found an image I was happy with. I decided on the vessel seen from behind. I simply took this image and produced a turnaround sheet to take into maya and use as reference:

As I mentioned in previous posts, our team is having to generalise and span out of our comfort zones as   our skill sets don't comfortably span across all areas of the process. This meant that I made a very messy first attempt at modelling this vessel:

As you can see from the screenshot, the edge isn't too great. Some of the shapes have more than 4 sides, a law I didn't quite grasp when creating this first effort. Also when smoothed, you can see some small gaps indicating that some of the edges are not merged. The modelling here is generally scrappy and untidy.

For my second attempt, I started simple, blocking out the basic shape of the shuttle. From this I began adding edge loops, constantly keeping edge flow in mind . I added in more edge loops on edges I wanted to be square, and when smoothed, the results were much better. For the unwrapping process, I used methods taken from our previous alien workshop. However, I found that as the ship is less organic than our biped, some of the flat faces required projecting separately. For the texture itself, I added in wet media brushes from the photoshop presets, along with the smudge tool set to a scratchy nature brush, to try and create the illusion of dints and scrapes on the shell of the vessel:

When considering the animation of the ship, to some extent I wanted it to move like a large water dwelling mammal. I didn't design the ship in segments, as I didn't want to make it seem too organic and move away from the idea of a space shuttle. This means that all the expression is in the fins. I made a quick you tube visit and found footage of a whale swimming for reference:

I created three animations: An evasive manoeuvre where the ship banks quickly from side to side, a swimming motion where the ship propels itself forwards with it fins and a simple animation where the ship is cruising using the jet engines on its rear. I wanted to keep the animation slow and graceful like the Humpback whale in the video. After completed the animations, I exported an FBX file into Unity and created a turntable. Initially I had a problem with the right set of fins. Although in Maya after checking all of the faces were facing out correctly, when exported some of the geometry flipped. To fix this I simply reversed the culprit faces in maya, causing them to be flipped the correct way when exported. I experimented with some specular bump mapping, which I only wanted to be applied to the cockpit shield. Using a normal map, I found I was only able to control how much bump was added to the desired area. As the main ship is all one piece of geometry, I will have to figure out a way to make only glass appear reflective. For now, here is a turntable of the animated ship:

Unity Web Player | Whale_first_turntable

Unity Web Player | Whale_first_turntable

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