The Space Dart

Dashes into chaos…

Abbe_015dFar left- Lighting setup reveals smoothing errors?

In this latest post, I had every intention of pointing out why I like this Abbe class design so much; mainly because it reminds me of a cute little projectile dart that can zoom quickly into hot tense situations and save the day for Starfleet and the Federation.  Alas my desire to focus on that concept was slightly derailed.

I had some extra time so I added a bump map to the deflector rings along the saucer’s outer rim, and thought I would do a few renders to test the results.  The ensuing chaos was rather unpleasant for such a short little diversion.  I haven’t posted the worst examples here, but most of the images that resulted managed to steal my thunder a bit.

The primary or “key light” has been a “distant light” since I began with these WIP renders, as has the secondary or “back light” (there are no other true “fill lights” to speak of yet).  While I know it is not an actual realistic lighting setup, it’s useful for some far distant star fakery and it served its purpose.  I didn’t think too much about it until this curious apparition manifested itself: some exceptionally-weird, phantom shadowing along the saucer’s rim, apparently where the two light elements were crisscrossing paths along the structure’s curved surface.  I decided to transform the main light to a spot light and pulled it back quite a bit, but that only invited uglier, more noticeable apparitions, so I chose to significantly alter the light’s angle.

Abbe_014fChanged the type and angle for the principal light with partial success.

That new lighting angle from a different perspective certainly had things looking a little smoother for the rim, but it lost some sense of depth and left some new, very dark shadows in places I would prefer they not be, most notably on the warp nacelles. I was unable to recapture the overall direction of the original setup without some major time devotion, but I can worry about that later.

Abbe_014eAltering the light settings for the back light also has its pros and cons.

I also thought about changing the back light as well, first set as another spot light, and then set as a “dome style” light. This too had benefits and handicaps.   The softening of the light was certainly compelling, but in addition to taking twice as long to render, the effect almost seemed too soft.  It literally became a fill light, filling in every nook and cranny with a soft glowing wash.  It was as if some of the ship’s surface detailing vanished in this new ghostly appearance. Having multiple renders with both settings, I decided to blend them together to see if that helped any. Those results were further promising.

Abbe_014fxA blending of both settings.

I am wondering if the bump or overall texture settings themselves don’t need to be altered somewhat, to help reduce this effect where the lights tend to crisscross.  It simply wasn’t there without the bump map applied, but I’ve also realized that the rings themselves shouldn’t be a raised feature at all, but actually flush with the saucer’s edge proper.  Apparently on the Enterprise movie model, those ring features only stand out by merely being  linear recessed interruptions, regularly spaced over an essentially smooth surface (with the exception of the view ports and other features), rather than being dark raised bands inlaid with textures themselves.  I’ve noticed this multiple times in the past, but I can never seem to remember it when I am building one of these ships.

Abbe_015eEven with the altered lighting, original angle continues to reveal the smoothing errors.

Here the feature is still having some trouble along that edge where the principal and back lights appear to cross paths.  I’m looking forward to revamping the deflector rings entirely, to see what results that yields with the new lighting scenario.


~ by starstation on January 24, 2014.

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