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.

Happy New Year 2014

Hello to you! Well I haven’t been here in forever. Have had some hurdles this past year. Health issues, job issues, and all that fun stuff.

This year I shall try to be more active on here and with my projects.

Writing projects, CG projects and Film projects.

I meant to post a thing after Ray Harryhausen die but I never did. That was a big blow. I had met him before and he was up there in age then. New it would come was still sad. had just seen “20 Million Miles to Earth” at the Stanford Theater just before his passing. Then after his passing some of his otehr films showed at The Castro Theater in San Francisco.

My recent visit to the Tech museum for the Star Wars Experience was awesome and insipiring.

More from me soon.

Old School Lighting Update


Temporary cover for my Old School Space Lighting Tutorial.

Yesterday and today I have been working on some lighting stuff.  Some on lighting ships and some on basic rigs for ship lighting.  

I have to figure out the scope of  what the tutorial will cover.  Also if I will include a scene file with lights, stars and nebula meshs.  I’m not sure about that part.  I am also not sure how much I want to cover stars and nebula’s since those topics are covered elsewhere.  In a way though I feel I should cover the whole topic of space scenes.  We will see.  Might just use background space image.  Which as I have said is not my favorite.  Although I will talk about it as well as texture environments.

That’s it for now.

Lighting Tutorial…Another Topic.

Another topic I want to talk about in the Space Lighting Tutorial will be the importance of Diffuse, Specular Maps on space ship models.  How lights  interact with Specular Maps most importantally.

I used 3 of Fabio Passaro’s textures from his Star Fury to create this image.


The image is a composite of three texture maps.  The specular map breaks up the specular highlights, the diffuse map give different tonal levels to the color map. 

Plan on going into a detail on that since it’s crucial to Lighting Space Scenes well.

WIP: Space Lighting Tutorial

SlaveOne A8Final AStarfuryFinal extra Fill

Today I started writing my first draft of the space lighting tutorial as I walked through setting up my lighting.  I was kinda rambling.  Getting an idea for what I’m doing.  Putting a bit of it here.  I want to try and cover alot of stuff and give tips etc.  Lost of the tecniques will be old school. Which I hate to use that phrase.  Anyway.  It’s a start.  Here is some of it.

“Art like many other things is like jazz.  You need to know the rules before you can break them.  You have to master and undertstand how to play before you can improvise.  In CG you have to understand what you can do, that sometimes coolest way isn’t the best way.  You need to know when and what you can fake.

In space scenes we know the reality of lighting.  There is one light.  The sun. The sun is best represented, in my chosen CG package Light Wave 3D, by a distant light. The beams of light from the sun are parallel which is how the distant light works in LW3D.  That being said we will be using mostly spotlights.

I am not a fan of using a backdrop image. Nor do I like using textured  environment.  I prefer using the curved polygon mapped with a nebula. How to do that is explained in Kier Darby’s Space Tutorials.  Along with lighting techniques we will use here.  The curved nebula polygon is also explained as well as other Babylon 5 and Star Trek techniques in The Lightwave 3D Book published in 1997 with techniques from Mojo and others.  Oh while I’m thinking of it I want to thank Mojo, John Gross, Dave Jerrard, and others for there tutorials in Keyframing, NewTekniques, HDRI etc with out whom I would never been able to do what I do.


So right now I’m Staring at my local space view. If you dont already have one make one.  Local Space is a conveint LW scene to have.  You may make a collection of them.  A Local Space scene is a file containing your models and images for u basic space setup.  Models of stars and ur nebula.  It is your basic setup.  You can always open it and replace the nebula or us image editor to change its colors.  Nebulas should be subtle so you can lower the transparency.  Make sure to have additive transparency on the nebula and stars. This will eliminate errors caused by brighter color stars in front of bright white spots on the nebula.”

That’s it for now.

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.