Oooops, I Need a Yardstick…

Some minor scaling adjustments made.


Abbe_040f2aWas forced to shrink the shuttle and the inner bay’s large corridor access hatch.


(Quick synopsis- I learned to diagnose and fix a problem with incompatibly scaled models. Read no further unless sleep is your objective. 😉 )

My self imposed procrastination bit back the other day, and I had to make some minor size adjustments so everything was more accurate in scale. I tend to be a throw-it-together-and-measure-later kinda person (in my art anyway). Although I’ve always tried to match and follow proportions, I’ve never truly concerned myself with knowing the exact dimensions of a thing (especially since I rarely have those on hand). I’m quite used to shrinking or enlarging objects in order to fit them together only after it’s been necessitated, whether it be in Modeler layers or Layout scenes. Often I’ll simply use one “universal” object or geometry to help match different models to a compatible scale. The Starfleet docking ring is one of the best features for this task, and this is how I usually get all my ships (and any borrowed models) to match each other and my space station. I realize now there are several tools in Lightwave for this exact purpose, but I have rarely availed myself of them since I would have to adjust SO many previously modeled objects and scenes if I ever wanted everybody at the same scale. I’ll admit, I wasn’t thinking too far ahead when I began modeling some years ago.

For this Abbe class hangar, I’d quickly borrowed some elements from my Ranger class scout to fill in certain details, most notably: the shuttlecraft, those angled heavy doors within the inner bay that lead to the corridor, and for scale purposes… a docking ring.

My Abbe class doesn’t currently have a docking ring (yet), so I had to copy the one from the bridge module of my Lancer class to use it as measuring stick, since the Lancer and Abbe classes are perfectly matched in scale. They originated from the same baseline elements (primary hull and nacelles) and I’ve been trading parts back and forth ever since I began the Lancer. That original baseline was also proportioned early on to match (as closely as possible) downloaded copies of Dennis Bailey’s Enterprise and Kevin Riley’s Phobos models, primarily by way of their docking rings.

I somehow thought the Ranger class was properly sized, but I was eager to get some trinkets in that bay and do some rendering, so I just shoved them in there.

Still, things seemed amiss, and I wanted to check some stuff to be certain. Alas, the Ranger was in scale to itself, but no one else. Once I had the Lancer docking ring for comparison, those few Ranger parts turned out to be some 84% larger in scale than on the other vessels. Ooops.

It’s likely that I swelled things up early on so I could more effectively zoom into higher detail when modeling procedures (like point welding) demanded it, I just never bothered to correct it after the fact. Luckily, I still had a nice reference hiding within the model itself: a rectangular structure composed of 6 consecutive box units, designed to be precisely 1 foot tall each. I switched modeler over to a scale of feet (it was in some metric system default mode) and created a new box with the same unit proportions but with numerically exacting dimensions totaling 6 feet tall, basically a new “yardstick” (or technically two)! It took a bit of trial and effort, but I took that original reference geometry and was able to size it alone to match quite perfectly (close enough to actually merge points). This told me the entire model needed to be shrunk by 91.3227%… So I did just that.

This raised concerns for my other ships so I decided to do the same test on them as well. Turns out… 6 feet in their world was HUGE! Bigger than the android Ruk! When I saw that measuring base alongside the edge of the ships’ primary hulls (two decks tall mind you), I was reminded of Kirk and company having to “bend low” in order to beam over to Balok’s cramped Fesarius in “The Corbormite Maneuver.” Both the Lancer and Abbe class ships had to be increased by a little over 7%.

Deliciously, four of my modeled ships are now in perfect scale to one another, and can now trade parts back and forth with little fear of scale issues. I may eventually do the same for more of my models, but that is another project in itself. All the Abbe hangar components are now much better to scale, and now that the shuttle is a bit smaller than previously thought, the Corsica might actually have enough room now for a multiple shuttle scenario (though that’s still iffy).

I also added some registry markings back to the shuttle’s sides. I thought it looked rather blank after removing a prominent “3” from the original. “3” seemed a little silly, given the current space allocation, though I suppose it would be possible if “1” and “2” were the size of shuttlepods (or lawnmowers).


~ by starstation on July 13, 2015.

3 Responses to “Oooops, I Need a Yardstick…”

  1. I’m anal retentive about scale. I build everything at 1:1 scale to avoid these type of issues.

    Unfortunately, Star Trek can really bite you in the butt sometimes when it comes to scale, especially when you’re building canon models. Sometimes, it’s like “Hm, do I put the windows where they have them and make it as accurate as possible or do I make them to where you can actually fit decks there?” Then some models are just hopeless. Fixing the scale issues requires completely changing the size of the ship. That’s why, when I’m designing stuff, I work all of this out as I’m making it. I didn’t always do that and did things pretty much how you say you’re doing them and some of my older stuff has massive scale errors.

    • Oh, I totally understand. I used to be a tad retentive in every endeavor myself, until I simply realized I didn’t have the time for it any longer. It’s still a tease though. I caught myself on the computer last night for an entire hour after midnight, and it barely felt like 5 minutes had past (and I STILL didn’t get done what I’d intended!). Most of the time I’m just trying to see “if it’s possible” and by the time I’ve discovered how hugely invested in a project I am, it’s either too late to turn back or start from scratch.

      I’ve also bashed my head upon a desk or two over the years, as a result of the inconsistencies in Star Trek scaling, but have learned to release that one too. I aim more for “style” these days, and since I don’t frequently build my own personal designs (of late), I’m usually steering for that accuracy thing. I will certainly ruminate and marinate for long intervals on how to fit something into a particular space, which can be far easier if said subject has never been seen on screen or visualized in any canon manner. But for those canon designs that laugh in the face of dimensional mathematics, I’ve learned to chalk it up to (if this is familiar to you)… that adult sensation of stepping into a room you haven’t visited since childhood, only to discover it had never actually been as big as your personal memory asserts.

      Still, I grunt and grown all the way to the rendering program, but nonetheless I adore applying the concept of modularity to the art and style of Star Trek. They are indeed the Lego blocks of my adulthood 😀

      • Funny, I was up until after 3 AM working and getting nothing accomplished. Add to that the past hour or so of work that I just sent to delete hell and I’m getting a whole lot of nothing accomplished.

        For canon designs, I just build the damn thing. If you take a ship like the original Enterprise and try to fix things like the size of the teardrop and saucer edge so that two decks will actually fit there, you’ll wind up rescaling the whole ship. I did it once and, if I remember correctly, it wound up being over 350 meters long, to keep the same proportions. I’ve also tried (and failed) to fix the windows not lining up with actual decks issue. Nope. Leaving that one alone too. If you go around trying to fix the issues on iconic designs, they cease being iconic designs. Now, for something like the Constellation class, of which I only have photo references, I’ll make sure the edge windows on the saucer/main hull line up with actual decks. But, that’s one where it’s not going to matter as much anyway because there are no blueprints for it and you have to eyeball place everything anyway. And, of course, when I do my own designs, I make sure that everything lines up. But, I also have a wonderful resource on my side in the form of CGI software. I can make sure everything is to scale much more easily that I could if I were drawing the ship.

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