Scout Ship Update

A busy and productive day, today. I’ve been going through the first two-thirds of my treatment for my next book, got stuck in the rain while I was out for a bike ride (and completely drenched, he-he), I’ve been up to my elbows in fish poo while cleaning out my fish tank (and the two angel fish that the guy at the aquarium promised me wouldn’t grow bigger than an inch and a half are absolutely enormous), and I’ve even had my mud coated bike in the bath for a scrub down (so that’s what it looks like!).

I’ve also had chance to set some test renders of my scout ship running. The exterior is mostly textured and almost finished, bar some flaps and the texture for the exterior air lock hatch. The interior of the main deck is now almost completely modelled, with just the control panels, displays and lighting to be modelled – which will be quite a lot of work, and great fun.

I spent a lot of time over the weekend looking for free UV mapping software, but to no avail. I even tried to download Blender to help me UV map the outer body of the ship, but I just don’t have the time to learn Blender at the moment. Then it came to me in a flash! … and yes, the moment was pretty dramatic for me. I carved the pieces up into UV islands in Maya and then used GoZ to import the model into Zbrush. Zbrush’s UV Master only allows you to ‘suggest’ where the borders of your UV will go, but thankfully you can set it to respect any UV islands that are already in place.

I unwrapped the pieces in Zbrush, then took the model back into Maya for some fine tuning… and discovered that I suddenly understood how to unwrap things in Maya. No time lost, but perhaps taking the model into Zbrush was unnecessary; I’ll have to see how I got with the interior UV mapping to say whether I’ll need Zbrush for the job in future.

The exterior was textured mostly in Photoshop, with some dirt and scratches textured in Zbrush – Zbrush’s Lightbox makes it so easy to import textures and photographs and paint them directly onto the model; most importantly, you can paint without having to worry about how texture-strokes match up across UV islands.

Here, then, are the latest test renders.

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