Monday, 26 March 2012

Tura is building a balloon.

This is the canopy. The texture is just a placeholder, with repeats and offsets set to align it with the underlying structure. The real texture will be rather more bright and colourful. Tura is a daylight person. I admire the crepuscular Bryn Oh, but my own preference is for space, light, and air.

This is the canopy design in my head.

When I build 3D models I find myself frustrated by the tools. I cannot make something like this by modelling it like a piece of clay. It has a natural structure: 8 identical lobes, circularly arranged. So of course I want to make just a single lobe and replicate it. And then, if I decide to have 10 lobes instead of 8, I want to be able to change a single number, and instantly have a 10-lobed design. Or if I want to make the cross-section of the lobes different, I want to change the cross-section and again see the instant result.

Then there are more subtle things.

You can see from the texture how the horizontal cross-sections of the lobes tip upwards above the centre and downwards below. This is intentional. A simple lathe or extrusion tool won't do that.

The overhead view shows the lobing becoming less pronounced at the top, converging to circles. I went through a few iterations of the build to get this result, but I never had to rebuild anything from scratch, only adjust mathematical formulas and add new ones. In-world tools like Rokuro or SculptyPaint cannot do this. Basic 3D software like Blender or 3DS Max doesn't do very much of this (although maybe they can with scripting -- I don't know those tools very well). Maybe the higher-end modelling software costing $10,000 a seat has this degree of non-linear workflow built in, but they're beyond my means.

That's why I don't use any of the modelling tools. I write my own code to place every vertex exactly where I want it.

The next step is to design another sculpt for the cables running down the grooves separating the lobes.

I've made a start on this.

There's also modelling of the structure that carries the passengers, passenger poses, and vehicle scripting.

This is the first vehicle I've tried making, and Jopsy Pendragon's Vehicle Laboratory has been enormously useful for learning how to script them.

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