I hope everyone had a good weekend. I’m back this week with a chat about how I concept, and an early look at the Nythian Colony Ship/Orbital Station.
My concept method progresses in three steps. First, I do rough sketches of the object in question, very quick and fast, until I get a basic design that I’m happy with. Next, I’ll take those sketches and translate them to 3D with a basic model (what you see below). I take into account not only how the object looks visually, but in the case of ships for RogSys I also have to keep their functionality in mind. Once I have the basic model built I’ll do a render of it and, in Photoshop, do a proper surface study (types of materials, aging, lighting, paint, etc) and add fine details (conduits, cables, antennas, etc). Thus, this creates the final concept piece that serves as a guide for final modeling and texturing.
So, as I said, what you’re seeing here is the second step–the render I’ll use to create the final concept.
As you can see, the Orbital Station is actually one of four sub-elements that creates the entire Nythian Colony Ship. When the colony ship arrives at its destination, there are several reusable lifting vehicles (the blue/green objects) that detach from the aft section. These carry the equipment for the new colony, as well as the colonists themselves, down to the planet’s surface. When needed, they can lift produced materials from the planet back up to the station, as well as carry supplies down to the colony.
Colonies depend on materials produced at other colonies for their survival. One way they get these is via the Cargo Hauler. The bulk of this ship is the aft section of the colony ship. Several cargo lifting vehicles can be attached to it, and the entire aft section is then detached from the Orbital Station. The secondary bridge is also detached from the Station and mated to the aft section. This newly formed Cargo Hauler can then carry supplies to colonies in other systems.
You will see plenty of these Cargo Haulers coming and going. Sometimes you will see the aft section mated to your Orbital Station, other times not. Plus, several of these colony ships never reached their original destinations (and I’ll leave it at that for now).
The Orbital Station itself makes up the bulk of the colony ship. It has four internal hangars, each able to hold many small to mid-sized vessels. To give you a sense of scale, NASA’s Space Shuttle with its landing gear extended (about 17.5 meters tall) could easily fit through the hangar entryways. Midway down, you’ll notice some nodules extending out from the main body–these are external docking ports for larger ships too big to fit in the internal bays.
Lower still, there are two LARGE, aim-able, solar panels for backup power, as well as two emergency radiators. There’s also two docking ports where cargo lifting vehicles can be loaded and unloaded.
So, for the Orbital Station I actually had to design four individual ships. With each I had to consider where thrusters are located so that thrust forces are balanced, where fuel and reactant tanks are, the basic layout of the interior, etc. Much more thought has to go into these designs than simply “does it look nice”. I don’t believe in making something pretty for the sake of pretty, or having a bunch of moving bits for no reason other than “they are cool”. I don’t like to create designs and scale them to what “feels” right giving no regard to the interior. I prefer to let function drive aesthetic.
I mean, the Space Shuttle looks the way it does because it HAS to. It has to be able to fly in the atmosphere and so it needs wings and rudder. It is the size that it is because that’s what is needed to house all of the equipment within it. This is what I want to capture for RogSys. I’m after designs that you can look at and say, “OK, I can see how that could work”. Of course I want each ship to have a style, but just as important is that they are what they are because the HAVE to be.
I think this sort of aesthetic will be far more effective at drawing you into the sim….