The ten most beautiful rockets!

Ok, this is bound to be highly subjective! But for what it’s worth, here are the ten most beautiful rockets, in my opinion.

10. Electron.

The shape is simple but the paint job wins the prize. New Zealand based, which is why we have what is effectively a rocket wearing an All Blacks rugby shirt.

I note they also claim to have the most beautiful launch site in the world, and having visited New Zealand, I am willing to accept that.

The AXM Electron Rocket
The Electron Rocket

Continue reading “The ten most beautiful rockets!”

The Cosmic Exploration Card Decks

My latest commercial project is the Cosmic Exploration Card Decks, which is running as a Kickstarter.

Each card in the deck features a spacecraft, modelled for accuracy and detail. We have had test prints done, and the whole thing is ready to go to print as soon as, (if?), the kickstarter completes successfully.

Continue reading “The Cosmic Exploration Card Decks”

Out of place astronauts

I have seen some rather good work which centres around astronauts being shown in situations they really don’t belong. It occurred to me that I had some rather good spacesuits, and a selection of settings, so perhaps I could have a go at images in the same style.

Then came a request for me to do something similar as an album cover.

This post shows the results so far…

In every case, a LOT of effort went into getting the lighting right. This led to high render times, but nothing too bad for stills. And it has to be done well to make the combination credible. Continue reading “Out of place astronauts”

N-1 For the Moon & Mars, a second edition.

I’m pleased to announce that we are going ahead with a second edition of the book, “N-1 for the Moon and Mars”.

The first edition has been pretty much impossible to get hold of for some time, with stupid money being asked for a copy.

Cover, 1st Edition, N-1 for the Moon & Mars
Cover, 1st Edition, N-1 for the Moon & Mars

What will be added in the new edition?

Continue reading “N-1 For the Moon & Mars, a second edition.”

A quick guide to getting good colour from old Earth photos

I notice that people often post old Apollo era shots of Earth, unprocessed, in some cases reproduced from faded prints.

Well, haze in the atmosphere dulls down all shots from space, but it’s REALLY easy to fix. I’ll be using Photoshop elements, but you can do the same with pretty much any image editor, including the free open source GIMP. Similar options are available on tablets and phones.

The same techniques are a good start in restoring scans of old family photos.

 Here’s the original image.

An unprocessed Apollo photo of Earth. Note how faded the colours look.

Continue reading “A quick guide to getting good colour from old Earth photos”

Modelling CGI rockets, part 2, worked example

So, in part 1 I showed you how to locate and work with references.

Here in part 2, I’m going to work an example, the Mercury Atlas. I’ve done it in one long part again so it’s easy to print. (Handy hint! You may be able to print to PDF to get a portable version…)

I’m not going to give blow by blow instructions to build the model yourself, but you should see enough examples of techniques used to address common elements in modelling rockets.

Now I have Rockets of the World, so I can use the dimensioned plans from that – small version follows, (deliberately too small to use, as its copyrighted).

Mercury Atlas
Mercury Atlas

But you can do a good job without. Using methods described in part 1, I was able to locate some perspective free views, at good resolution. Click for a larger image: Continue reading “Modelling CGI rockets, part 2, worked example”

Lunar Renderings

As it came up in a couple of different circumstances, I thought I’d write a post featuring some of my Lunar renderings. The Moon was one of the first things I successfully rendered in 3d – The simple shape made the modelling easy, and just adding a colour channel texture and a bump map meant I could produce nice views of the Moon from any angle.

The current model.

The current version of my Lunar Model has 46 million polygons, and the craters and mountains are modelled using displacement mapping. In other words, the features are done with proper geometry, so the crater walls cast shadows.The colour texture map is about 1 gigapixel, so really large high resolution views are possible. Continue reading “Lunar Renderings”

A guide to modelling CGI rockets, part 1, references.

Some of the most popular items I model are rockets, and to be honest – they are not that difficult. The basic shape is normally a series of cylinders and tapers, topped with a cone!

So I thought it might be a good idea to write a general guide on how I go about it. I’ve done it as one long article, so it’s easy to print if you wish. Continue reading “A guide to modelling CGI rockets, part 1, references.”

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”

Cheap and free ways to get started in CGI Astronomical Art

There’s no doubt that it is possible to spend vast amounts on graphics software – many of the industry standard packages run to thousands of pounds, and even image editors like the full Photoshop are very expensive, (and come with monthly fees too).

But provided you already have a computer, it is possible to get going for little or even nothing. This blog post will explore some of your options.

Be aware though, that this stuff is NOT easy, and whatever package you go for, it will take considerable time and effort to master.

Blender 3d.

Blender Website Screenshot
Blender Website Screenshot

This is a seriously powerful 3d package, with some highly advanced features such as fluid simulation, and hair systems. It is completely free, and open source.

You can find out more, and download it here:

BLENDER

Continue reading “Cheap and free ways to get started in CGI Astronomical Art”