Starbase Colony

Revisiting Landscapes

An experimental attempt to capture some sky charm.

Though based on matte paintings for Starbase 11 from Star Trek: The Original Series’, I’ve recently wondered if maybe this colonial outpost (which I’ve tinkered with on and off for 11 years) could be the surface of the world which Star Station India will finally orbit.  Until I decide however, I figured I could revisit the starbase/colony scenes I’d dabbled in earlier, and play around with some new fractal landscape renderings I’ve been experimenting with, given some newly downloaded software.

This above image’s background is actually one of my earlier Terragen shots from 5 or 6 years ago, but I still love those shots even though they are a bit small in the pixel range.  The image quality survived a bit of resizing to fit a newer, larger, Lightwave render though, so afterward I decided to embellish the weak clouds in Pixelmator while adding in a screen overlay of  a newly rendered ring world.  I wasn’t really sure how apparent such a ring system would be on its dark side, at least in normal visible light.  But since the Cassini probe has provided several remarkable images of Saturn’s rings opposite the sun’s pouring light, I figured I would invoke the artistic license.  The above image seems admittedly dark in the shade, even for the long rays of a sun approaching sunset, but it manages to highlight the rings.

(Minor Update: 

Rendered again with a slightly brighter skydome.  Looks a bit better, but there’s so much contrast lost, the effect is a lot of washout.  Of course there isn’t a great deal of detailing or texture variation either, so that will have to be worked on.)

One thing that has swayed me away from Starbase 11 portrayals (aside from just needing a planet for my station), is the nature of the ringed world in the sky itself.  In both the original and remastered versions of the TOS episodes where the SB 11 locale is depicted, the ringed world is a firm terrestrial with a visibly hard and cratered surface.  My versions have always been of a larger gaseous planet: a Jovian or perhaps lesser ice giant.  Another issue is the use of structures.  My first renderings of any surface designs were based more on the PC game Star Trek: New Worlds than any other inspiration.  With that game’s ideas and my first 3D rendering softwares, I depicted these some 11 years ago:

These earliest renderings (done with KPT Bryce backgrounds and Raydream Designer foreground structures) were a blast to work on, but the outcome was very primitive even for the time.  I still have a fondness for them though.

At the time, I actually felt the TV depictions of Starbase 11 were rather dated, though my attitude since has altered drastically.  Years later, after my first use of Terragen scenery generator, I jumped onto my Lightwave platform to recreate all the buildings I had previously constructed in Raydream designer and then some.  The tall angled towers reminiscent of a space needle from the TOS series had grown on me by then, so with a combination of my purplely-pink  alien landscapes, and a need for filler architecture, Starbase 11 just seemed a natural subject.

Starbase 11

But now I need a planet, and one could argue that Federation “style” is prominent on any colonial world.

Some other recent renderings are now sporting landscapes from the Bryce 7.0 software I recently downloaded.  Though I tend to prefer the Terragen method, the freeware version I have is somewhat limited.   Since my first landscape software (which I bought mainly for space scenes) was actually a Bryce product some 14 years ago,  I thought I would download the latest version and give it a 21st century test spin. 😀

Making use of a new Bryce landscape render.

An older render of the ringed planet incorporated into another new Bryce landscape render. 

Most of the models are extremely simple and meant to be seen at a good distance.  As a result, most of the models are undergoing upgrades, and I’d like to improve the textures all around (still not my strong suit).  A number of the designs are borrowed from the Trek franchise either directly or stylistically in general, while some are based on actual buildings I’ve seen near home or on travels.  The building closest on the right (above) was inspired by a building used as an establishing shot for a scene in a Smallville episode I saw years ago (or was it Lois & Clark? – It’s been so long).  I rushed to construct it at the time, but never did anything with it.  Later I thought it would make a nice complement to the long pyramid buildings across the way, themselves inspired by Federation Headquarters in Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home.  Here it was when I first modeled it in Lightwave, next to the pyramid buildings.

UPDATE 1/16:  While skimming the web for images of potentially interesting architecture, I discovered this building was in fact based on the City Hall in Dallas, Texas, and that the TV show I remembered it from was in fact Lois & Clark (see, it was wiggling my memory 🙂 ).  The building was apparently a stand in for S.T.A.R. Labs on the series.  Amazingly, there is a whole interesting backside of the building I’ve never seen. 😀

A number of the buildings are based on the PC game Star Trek: New Worlds which I used to enjoy.  It was an opportunity to develop colony worlds for the Federation (or Klingons, or Romulans if one wanted).

Star Trek: New Worlds screenshot

I don’t think it was very popular, and though I thought the overall plot and storyline were pretty silly, I simply enjoyed playing it as if it were a Trek version of Sim City.  😀  The music was pretty cool too.

The buildings I derived from that game’s Federation play are the central hub (which looks like a giant mushroom when completed), a hanger bay, a mineral refinery, and some shield generators.  I always meant to build a few more of the game’s interesting structures but I’ve never gotten around to it.  I’m currently upgrading my earlier version of the central hub.

I’m very pleased with the way things are progressing, but it’s going to take a lot more detail in all elements to help bring these images to life.

Most of these images have older rendered versions in several different software media.  Of course, some only ever made it as rough low-res experiments even as my software improved.  These two shots were the basis of a few above.

I haven’t come close to working with human forms or any such dedicated software yet (I currently have DAZ 3D), hence all the little, red, stand-in figures for scale in the images, both old and new.

This was a another attempt at some familiar Starbase 11 angles, but was mostly an early experiment in grass with the Lightwave plug-in, Sasquatch.  I enjoyed cranking out the fountain, sculpture and wall, and this scene is the reason I constructed the space needle buildings.  The background clouds were a complete flop however, and I never managed to try another render.  I’m sure I will eventually.

And the last of the Starbase 11 experiments,  a simple light test, before I began the final rendering attempts at the classic sunset angle.  Heck, there isn’t even a ground surface in this one. 😀

This is some old stuff, but it was a fun toy box to play in. 😀

Some other older images I posted a few years back can be seen here including Starbase 11.


~ by starstation on January 11, 2012.

4 Responses to “Starbase Colony”

  1. Ah…makes me long for things that might have been.:) Seriously, gorgeous work- I would go so far as to say beautiful. Everything looks fine. the sky you have got going, the buildings, everything. Nice work!

    • Thanks so much! Of course, nothing is ever finished. Hopefully I can get some work done on it this weekend. 😀

  2. ooh! nice sir! i do alot of interiors, and only a few exteriors, and I always mess up the horizon.. >_<

    these look great! keep it up!

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