Category Archives: CG Space

You’re Not Actually Going Into An Asteroid Field Are You?

AsteriodFieldNew2014A copy
At long last I am working in Lightwave again. I’m excited about doing art again. My computer is back on. Also after not having the the Web or Cable at home for several years the net has made a long awaited return to our home.

I have been wanting to do an asteriod field image/shot for some time. I started the asteriod field sometime ago. I wasn’t happy with it though. Now with life settlinv down again I thought I’d get back to it. Evil Genius a great modeller at 3D Gladiators posted a convinentally timed tutorial for an asteroid field. So i tested it out and this is whst I got.

Now when I get time I’ll refine my asteroid field and add the ship I need to build and a few other things.

You’ll see.

Gerry Anderson 1928-2012


Gerry Anderson was the man behind  “Thunderbirds Are Go”“Thunderbird 6” “Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons,” “Stingray,” “Supercar” and “Fireball XL5, ”“U.F.O.,” “Space 1999.” who’s work I greatly admire passed away. 

A visionary that will be missed.


So the images are by me.  My tribute I did the other night. Just a couple hours on them  There was another image I did first but the Hypervoxel smoke looked odd.  I turned on motion blur for the other two images.  Flares are just flares with central glow on and anamorphic streaks and  anamorphic distoration.  Royaltie Free cloud stock image.  Matched lighting.  Just three lights.


Ugh.  That’s me too many projects. 

I have started work on a scifi ship for a project.  I will be building the models and animating the space scenes.  Right now I’m working on the main ship.  I am building it off a practical model built by the writer/director.  I’m not posting pics of the ship or the practical model until I get permission from the writer/director.

On  hold now is the Alien Derelict, but I will get back to that.  Also a shot per shot remake  the space shots from the beginin of The Black hole.

Also another project of my own that I am still working out.


Looking Back

I have been rewatching
“Roughnecks: The Starship Troopers Chronicles” and “Babylon 5”.

I always loved “Roughnecks”  and was impressed by the quality and quantity of the animation.    Just was a well done fun show.  I pretty much don’t complain about anything in it.  Because after all it was a weekly tevlevision series for lack of a better word a cartoon.  Well thats how it was viewed.   And being a  Lightwave user at that time I knew what went into the show.  Although people through around the words dated alot now days I think it holds up well.  

“Babylon 5” which also gets battered with harsh critisms of bad or wooden soap opera acting,. cheap set, make up  and dated CG.  All reasons I couldn’t get into the show at the time.  Even though I loved the ship designs.  The Starfury being one of my favorite all time ships.   The show just didn’t work for me.  I wanted it too sense it was done with lightwave. 

As far as the CG with the show I think people don’t get that it was 1993.  Lightwave was on 3.0 and 3.1 and still on Videotoaster.     Lightwave made its first official pc version in 1995 Lightwave 4.0.   So in 1993 program and computer memory issues limited what could be done.  There were so many features that had not been introduced yet.  No UV mapping.   Image maps had to be small.   No radiosity.  Render times were crippling.   We could go on and on. 

I’m watching  it now and plan on watching the whole series and the movies.   I’m enjoying the show.  Yes it’s dated.  Yes the CG is overlit.   There is plenty wrong with the CG.  Looking at it through the eyes of 1993 it was impressive.    I still love the watching the CG space scenes.   

It does inspire me to play with the Babylon 5 universe in Lightwave.    Babylon 5     Roughnecks

Focal Length

One thing I struggle with and is not used enough.  Is changing the default  focal length of the Lightwave camera. 

This is important in Sci-Fi Space shots to give your ships a sense of scale.  If  there is a 5000 ft long battleship it should look like it.  

 Wide angle lenses are going to make your ship look bigger and show more of the surrounding space i.e. your pretty nebula.  They give your shot more depth.   As you move into normal and telephoto lenses from a wide angle lens your field of view becomes smaller and the subject appear more shallow.  Bringing the objects in the scene closer together.

I have some images I did today of the Rodger Young to illustrate this and some  long time ago when I was testing focal lengths.

The Babylon 5 shots really illustrate the importance of using different lenses. 

The Rodger Young images you can see how the length of the ship becomes squished as I moved to telephoto lenses whereas the wide angle shots make the ship look much longer.  The nebula also goes from being a sprawling nebula to a blue blob.

They all have there place in your space battles.

Space Lighting

First I want to say I don’t claim to be an expert on lighting space scenes.  Far from it.  I have a love hate relationship with it. 

Lighting CG space is a daunting task.   It’s overlooked or done poorly alot.   Personally I like a less is more attitude.  Although I believe in a real world approach I can’t just stick one light in and say its a sun or nearby star and call it a day. 

My lighting usually depends on what I’m doing.  Star Trek, Star Wars, Babylon 5 and so on.  I use techniques from all those as well.  Often I use a nebula’s to silhouette the ships as they did on Babylon 5.   Which  also gives u a secondary light source to give shape to your ship and mood to the scene.  

Star Trek lighting evolved over the years.  First with studio models and blue screens.   Which is why they were so brightly lit and lit from the front.  Eventually the Key light made its way to the other side of the model and much more pleasing and dramatic lighting scheme began. 

The Voyager model above is lit by four lights.  A key, fill, kick and a copy of the key light with everything off but Specular the original Key has affect spec off.   Although I have known about this for ever I didn’t bother doing fo the longest time, but now that I have  started doing it I have found it works great.

On Voyager they would put a Spotlight under the ship aimed directly up at it with using  shadow map with a fuzzy edge around 10-20 which is what I did here.  It fills in the crooks and gives it a pleasant look.

Okay so I hope none of that sounded pretentious.   I usually don’t write these kinds of posts.  I been thinking about writing a Space Lighting Tutorial, but I probably won’t Kier Darby did some brillant ones.  And I learned most of what I know from him.  Also from “Mojo” and John Gross and others through Keyframe or Newtechniques magazine way back and “The Lightwave 3D Book”.

P.S.  I know there is a hole in the Sarod Voyager mesh.  And my title “Error of the Gods” is referencing an error with Lightwave not Sarods model.  His model is beautiful.

Mr. Worf, you do remember how to fire phasers?

About 100 feet from my door on the way home I thought HEY! I’ll do the phasers with the phaser arrays lighting up.  So here are some stills from the vid.  Was doing it from memory. 

P.S.  In the vid the phaser sweeps across the screen.  Oh yeah.  The Voyager model is by SAROD.

“Streaming Stars”

Ok so at warp in Star Trek they aren’t really stars.  What you see is space debris  lit up by the passing warp bubble. 

The thing here is that I did this effect a billion years ago and had no issues.  however every time I have tried to do it again I couldn’t get it to work.  I found the old tutorial I used and it didn’t work.  I’d periodical try it again.  Same problems.  I could tell what was going wrong, but couldn’t fix it.  Finally I figured it out again and what was wrong with the tutorial.   Point is SUCESS!

This is from a 10 second AVI I did.  The effect looks really good in the video.

Up and Running

… This is Ripley, last survivor of the Nostromo, signing off.

Got my computer running again.  So I played around a little yesterday.


Cavorite Sphere

Last night I was sitting at my computer and thinking of what I wanted to do when I ran across a drawing on my hard drive of the Cavorite Sphere from First Men in the Moon (1964).  So I hammered it out and made up a couple renders.  


I’d like to model it again taking my time instead of speed modelling.   Really work the textures too.

Fun movie by the way.  I watched it again only a few months ago.  I was going to get it from the library, but silly me it is in one of my Ray Harryhausen Collections.