Tutorial – Making a CGI Ringed Planet

Level – Intermediate:

Introduction:

This is a fairly old tutorial, as you may notice by the version of Lightwave used! However, the principles are exactly the same in newer versions, and indeed you should be able to apply the ideas presented with pretty much any CGI software.

Original introduction

I have seen many rather poor attempts to make convincing ringed planets, and thought it might be a good idea to tell you how I do it. I rate it as intermediate in level, as I am not going to explain mouse click and numeric values. You should be familiar with making spheres and disks, and applying image based texture maps. I have done this tutorial as one long page, so it is easier for you to print. It should work with any version of Lightwave from 5.6 onward, and the ideas should also be easy to adapt to any other modern 3D graphics package.

The planet has 2 main components, the globe of the planet itself, and the ring system. Continue reading “Tutorial – Making a CGI Ringed Planet”

Orbiting the planet Saturn, in ultra high definition

This one was really quick to conceptualise, and took months to complete.

Mainly because I kept trying to cut corners with render settings that were not high enough, or assuming that I could fake a join between runs with different render settings, and it would not show…

Saturn, still image from the video...

Saturn, still image from the video…

Continue reading “Orbiting the planet Saturn, in ultra high definition”

How to do edge renders in Lightwave 3d, a brief tutorial

This is a short blog post, which will describe how I go about edge renders in Lightwave 3d. It’s really easy and I find it a great technique for renders that are not photorealistic.

I am using Lightwave version 11.6, I’m not sure how this works in other versions. But it’s probably almost identical.

What do I mean by edge renders?

This is an effect that runs a line along various edges and boundaries. It can be used to emphasise fine detail, or to give a diagram effect. It works with transparency, and animates nicely.

Here’s an example.

Hale Telescope Edge Render
Hale Telescope Edge Render

Note how features of the telescope are highlighted with fine white lines.

Ready to start? Continue reading “How to do edge renders in Lightwave 3d, a brief tutorial”

The Frank Tinsley “Lunar Unicycle”

I recently came across the Frank Tinsley illustration of what he called a “Lunar Unicycle”, which might be better described as a monowheel.

Lunar Unicycle Illustration
Lunar Unicycle Illustration

Despite the lack of many illustrations, the design seems clear, and I decided to do a 3d version of it in Lightwave. Though I did later find a couple more pictures… Continue reading “The Frank Tinsley “Lunar Unicycle””

The Slabship / Fury – Development and finished renders

An unusual one for me, as I take a crack at an original science-fiction design.

My objective was to  get something seriously large, primarily for use in Vue. My thinking is that I notice many great concept art pages have fairly abstract ships that are so big the more distant parts are afffected by haze, giving a great sense of scale. And as volumetric effects are a strength of Vue, I figure model in LW with Vue in mind. In practice this meant:

  • Keep the number of different surfaces low
  • Avoid clever effects that I don’t know how to do in Vue, including advanced surfaces
  • Avoid elements that would give a clear idea of scale, such as windows, hatches, stairs
  • Make it a long design so it’s easy to get the most distant parts lost in fog

Continue reading “The Slabship / Fury – Development and finished renders”

Tutorial: Importing Blender 3d content into Lightwave or Vue

One of the frustrations of working with CGI is that you sometimes find a brilliant free model, but it’s not for your software. And a specific example that has frustrated me is that there are some great models available in Blender format on the NASA 3d object library site:

NASA 3d library
NASA 3d library

Now, whilst I have heard of Blender, I’ve never tried to use it, and 3d packages can be very difficult to learn. But I decided to give it a go. Maybe I’d be lucky! Continue reading “Tutorial: Importing Blender 3d content into Lightwave or Vue”

Some new Soviet Lunar program renders – N1 L3

After chatting to Matt, co-author of “N1 for the Moon and Mars“, I decided to dig out the meshes I did for that, and come up with some new renders. It was a mad dash to get it all out in time for publication, and I didn’t have time to explore all the options.

N1-3L at the launch tower
N1-3L at the launch tower, against a threatening sky.

I decided I have a bad habit of using good weather for most of my environments, this one is different! Continue reading “Some new Soviet Lunar program renders – N1 L3”

The Blitzspear – Nemesis the Warlock – 2000 AD

I was rummaging around my hard disk, and found this project, which I don’t seem to have blogged before…

After I finished Uni, I was a huge fan of 2000 AD comic, which was really hitting it’s stride. Many writers and artists went on to become the best, and best known in the industry, and 2000 AD was original, witty, and utterly wonderful.

There are not many vehicle concepts that really made a mark, but the one I remember best was the Blitzspear of Nemesis the Warlock.  An arrowhead, shaped like the characters head, it was menacing, and looked really fast! Here’s my CGI version.

Continue reading “The Blitzspear – Nemesis the Warlock – 2000 AD”