09/06/2021 – Well that was quite a break, wasn’t it. Sorry for the delay there! When I last left off, I had finished up the Freespace fan fighter Achilles, busted my back, drew a Homeworld fan frigate, and gotten off to a good start on it.
The problem there was with the belly module – I never could get it looking quite the way I wanted on its intersection with the main hull. Click the screenshot below to be taken to a p3d of the frigate as it stands currently. Sharp-eyed viewers will note a teeny tiny radar dish hovering in space right under the nose, that’s a detail that will make its way onto the bridge at some point.
I fully intend to finish the ship up the ship at some point. The belly module issue started from that row of four hatches but as I tried to square away my concept with my model, I quickly realized there were a number of flaws with the concept itself. Take a look at the comparison below:
The frigate is by no means unsalvageable, but a lot of decisions have to be made about what component goes where before it can be resumed. But, that’s only part of the story.
A variety of projects filled the intervening time – the biggest of which was another Freespace fan fighter. This time it was a bomber, as opposed to a heavy interceptor like the Achilles. This bomber is called the Marathon – like the Achilles, it’s a mix of modern inspirations and classic canonical Freespace ships. Leading with the goods, click the image below to view it, completed, on p3d! Or here for an alternate dark environment, showing the lit interior.
Unlike the Tron and anime inspirations for the Achilles, the Marathon draws the most from the SSV Normandy from the first Mass Effect game. Click the image below to view it on the source site.
The Normandy SR-1 is a personal favorite of mine for its sleek dynamic profile that efficiently conveys speed. I never was a fan of how they lengthened the main hull without increasing any of the other proportions for Mass Effect 2 and 3. The biggest influence on the Marathon is the four limb structure and general arrowhead shape.
The other big influence on the Marathon was the canonical Freespace stealth fighter, the Pegasus. Click the image for higher res.
This is where the Marathon gets all its glowy blue pipes, pink lines, and dark red striping. The Marathon is meant to be less of a transformative breakthrough of new technologies like the Achilles, and more of a maturation of Freespace 2 era technology. The four large bays are meant to be shielded bomb containers – in the animated p3d preview of the Marathon, you can see the custom built bombs it carries.
The Marathon allowed me to really apply a lot of lessons I learned from the Achilles when it comes to the UV mapping, but it also let me stretch my legs and try several ambitious things. One of which was a much more detailed interior compared to the Achilles! Here you can see the modeled pilot’s station, interior status displays, fire extinguishers, and just barely visible is the hatch that leads to the living area inside.
One of the key lessons from the Achilles was that if I want to use decals and labels, I need to ensure that some parts of the UV map aren’t mirrored. So to accomplish this, I ended up unwrapping the Marathon’s wings and interior first, doing them as a single substance project. This was critical because Substance actually makes it very difficult to texture interior surfaces, so several different projects were required anyways.
The front half of the ship including the fuselage was unwrapped without mirroring. This enabled me to paint on various blowout panel and access panel decals, which was quite fun. It was also quite fun to paint in the details for the main airlock behind the chin turret. The remaining rear half of the ship is mirrored, like the Achilles – which is why it has a lot less warning text.
The biggest breakthrough came from changing up how I was doing edge weathering and dust on the main surfaces. I used a lot of techniques in this excellent video, and those were easily reapplied back to the Achilles. To end on a high note, one of the earlier projects this summer was taking advantage of p3d’s GLTF file format to upload animated previews. I’m sure you’ve noticed that the Marathon has animations showing its various missile bays opening and the wings animating – in addition to updating the Achilles textures over the course of about an hour, I was also able to produce a fully animated preview of the ship on p3d – click the image below!
I’m in the midst of a move, so updating will be sporadic going forwards. But it will not be as dead as this summer was. Next time, I’ll be discussing the next project!