For a while, in my spare time, I have been working on this small spaceship. The idea was to create Low Gravity Utility Vehicle – designed to do different work (maintenance, survey and surface crew support) in low gravity environments – like on moons and asteroids. The ship has excellent maneuverability thanks to 6 variable vector thrusters and integrated high power Q-Drive for extra lift.
The ship is designed to be operated in different conditions – including tight spaces between rocks, like in asteroid mining operations. It has protective frame for the cockpit and external bumpers. The cockpit has excellent visibility due to large windows.
I will post more work in progress pictures as I proceed.
Fun stuff happened! It took a long time. I changed three countries where I live during this time (seriously), but for last couple months I was working hard to finish this piece once and for all. At the end I made a small environment – set on a moon of some gas giant where mineral prospecting operations are starting to take place. Background was done in 2.5D by projecting matte painting layers on 3d geometry in Fusion. At the end I turned this into imaginary corporate advertising of a space mining company of the future “Beltcorp”.
All compositing was done in Blackmagic’s Fusion – really nice and most important free application. This project was a nice opportunity for me to learn basics of Fusion. Here is a little breakdown video:
All modeling, animation and rendering was done in Blender/Cycles. For me it was a nice test to see how well blender works for more complicated projects and what are it’s limitations.
It has been a while. I did not have much time lately to push this forward, but I guess I’m done with pilot now. Some areas are very simple but for the purposes I need I think it is good enough. Now I need to add a quick rig and then finally the fun stuff will happen!
Quick update of Pilot model. I’m still working on basic shapes and proportions.
Not much.. Continued working on pilot, but did not accomplish much. Proportions are a bit off – need to make him bulkier. Wider shoulders so all the suit joints and pressure garments fit. Otherwise it looks more like some sort of bio-hazard suit.
Today I threw together quick pilot concept and started to do some modeling. Not much yet. Also I need to remind myself constantly that the pilot will be almost invisible, so I don’t need to get crazy on details.
Good things happened with the ship also! I don’t know why, but I was using normal maps on the ship before. As this is quite high poly model, I actually can use bump maps and get almost the same result (And in cycles – actually better, because there are some weird shading artefacts with normalmaps). Long story short – I switched from normal map textures to single channel in my combined roughness and metalic textures and voila – memory consumption went down big time.. so now I can easily render with both GPUs and render time is down 2x. Yay!
I am slowly finishing with all the cleanup, model organization and texturing remaining parts. Spent quite some time rigging things up – adding necessary controllers for all the engines, lights etc. I think I’m going to do small one shot animation piece – probably liftoff from the surface of some sort of planetoid. I am still amazed by Substance painter – during this project it has been updated several times – each time bringing more cool features and speed improvements.
Recently I bought second GPU – Gtx970 to get faster previews in Cycles – it works amazing with two GPUs. Gtx 970 has 4GB of VRAM so I can finally render the whole ship with GPU, although my older Gtx 780 has only 3GB and runs out of memory, so when doing full renders, I have to turn it off which sucks. But even one GTX970 is still a bit faster than my i7 6-core CPU. If only there was a way to reduce Cycles memory usage?! It eats mem like crazy – I have already scaled down all textures, merged different maps in single texture (roughness, metalic, height as R,G,B values in one texture), but I still can’t get it to render on my 3GB gtx780 even if it shows the max memory used was about 2300 Mb. I tried rendering from command line and even switching my screen resolution to lowest possible, but still nothing. I wonder where are those 700Mb spent?
I started doing some fx look development and tests for the engines. Here is the first result I’m quite happy with.
Finished texturing some more parts – I still have not decided about some details – especially in the back side. I think I will have to make some changes there in the 3d model.
Did some texturing tests for couple of larger hull pieces. I have found a nice texturing workflow using Substance Painter. Although it is meant for low poly game models, Substance Painter is so awesome that I could not resist using it also for this project. It is also quite easy to replicate PBR material that uses Substance Painter output textures in Cycles, although Cycles output seems to be not as sharp and detailed. The bad thing is that I ran out of 3GB VRAM very quickly and had to switch to CPU rendering which is like a million times slower than CUDA on my GTX780.