Building A Babylon 5 Style Crew Transport... Part 2

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By: Alexander Shareef

Last time, we build the foundation for our Babylon 5 style shuttle. This time round we'll continue to add details and nurnies to shape the ship. In this lesson, I'll assume you know a little more having followed the first part, and so common modeler tools/functions won't be explained as much as before.

Let's jump right in were we left off!


1) Previous Step | Next Step

Open up modeler, and load up "Shuttle_Assembly_2.lwo", which you should have saved at the end of the last lesson.

Let's start this part off by building the mid-section.

Click on the pen tool, and then in the face view, draw out the following pattern:

drawn using pen

Select the polygon, and make sure it's facing away from the ship (i.e. to the left), then extrude it by 1.7m. You'll end up with a nicely shaped box sticking out the back of the ship.

Okay, now here's the tricky part. What we to do is to bring an extension of this over the top of the ship. We could simply continue extruding it further, but there's another way which will give us more control over the shape of the extension. Basically, what this method entails is taking the polygon we want to extend, and simply split it into two pieces.

First, select the polygon on the right:

selecting the polygon

Now, without deselecting the polygon, switch to the points mode. The two points we want to select are:

points selected

With these two points selected, use (Polygon\Split) to effectively cut this one polygon into two. Deselect the bottom half, and then with only the top polygon selected, we'll bevel this out twice using the following settings.

Inset 0m
Shift 7m
first bevel
Inset 300mm
Shift 6.7m
second bevel

Before deselecting this front polygon, lets just move it down a little, so it lines up with the rest. Select the move tool, and move it -300mm in the Y-axis.

One last thing to do to this box. Deselect the polygon, switch to points mode, and lets select the two points on the very top front. Move these down by -600mm in the Y-axis. You should now have something looking like this:

preliminary midsection

Let's quickly clean this up, and remove unwanted polygons. Basically, anything which will not be seen should be deleted:

delete these polygons

2) Previous Step | Next Step

Before continuing, lets just give this an appropriate surface. As you can see in my image above, I've already done this, so here are my settings:

Name Hull_MidSection
Colour R.110, G.110, B.100
Diffuse 100%
Smooth On
Smoothing Angle 10
surface settings

3) Previous Step | Next Step

With the basis of the midsection in place, lets refine it with more detail.

Use the box tool, and create a box as follows:

  Low High Segments
X -660mm 660mm 1
Y 4m 5.2m 1
Z -8.2m -1.2m 1
settings for box

In the side window, select the bottom front points, and move them 1.1m in the Z-axis. Without deselecting these points, use the stretch tool with the following settings:

  Factors Center


Y 100% 0
Z 100% 0
stretch settings

Since the bottom polygon will be inside the top of the ship's hull, we don't need it. We also don't need the back polygon. Select both these polygons and delete them.

deleting unwanted polygons

I decided to add another box to this part of the midsection, simply because I felt it needed something extra. This is optional, but if you want to, here's what it looks like:

the midsection

4) Previous Step | Next Step

Right, as you've probably gathered by now, most of the details we're adding are simply modified boxes, so from now on I won't go into detail on how to make them. For more complex shapes, however, I'll take you through step by step.

Using boxes, I added the following. I probably added a bit more detail than was needed, but it always pays off to put in the extra effort. You can either use mine as a guide, or do your own nurnies - experiment a bit.

lots of details added

Remember to delete unseen polygons!

The back of the midsection still looks a little sparse, so lets remedy that. We're going to make some vent like structures out of boxes. Draw out a box, and move the points so you have the following:

beginnings of the vent

Select the two outside polygons as shown above, and then bevel them using the following settings:

Inset 100mm
Shift 0m
first bevel
Inset 10mm
Shift -10mm
second bevel
Inset 100mm
Shift -1m
third bevel

Now you'll have a pretty good vent, but let's clean it up. Take the bottom points of the last polygon of the vent, and move them up so the vent is level with the top of the ship. We'll now surface the inside of the vent, so select all the polygons on the inside, and press q then name it "Vent_Inset".

Name Vent_Inset
Colour R.100, G.100, B.100
Diffuse 100%
Smooth Off
surface settings

Press Shift+' to select the inverse of this - i.e. the outside of the vent, and give it the following surface properties:

Name Vent_Hull
Colour R.110, G.110, B.100
Diffuse 100%
Smooth On
Smoothing Angle 10
surface settings

Now all we have to do is clone this twice, to create three vents along the top of the midsection. Select the clone tool and use the following settings:

Number of Clones 2
Z Offset -1.2m
clone settings

You should have something like this:

the finished vents

That's it for the midsection. You're welcome to continue adding as many more details as you like - I decided to cut a hole in the top of the midsection, and fill it with some pipes. Here's my final midsection added to the rest of the ship.

our ship with the midsection

5) Previous Step | Next Step

The top of the ship still seems a bit sparse, so lets add those pipes we can see in the screen grabs.

Click on the disc tool, and drag out a pipe along the top of the ship like below.

the beginnings of the pipe

Give the pipe the following surface properties:

Name Pipes1
Colour R.192, G.192, B.192
Diffuse 100%
Specularity 50%
Smooth On
Smoothing Angle 75
surface settings

Select the polygon on the farthest right, and we're going to bend it in shape. First however, we need to add some segments to bend. Press f to flip this polygon, then use the extrude tool with the following settings:

Axis Z
Segments 5
Extent 1m
extrude settings

The end of the pipe should now look like this:

end of pipe

Select all five segments at the end of the pipe, and then click on (Modify\Bend). What you need to do is place the cursor in the center of the pipe in the "face view". Then, while holding ctrl, move the mouse to the left - this should bend the end of the pipe left. Use an angle between 80-90.

twisted into shape

Select the end polygon again as shown above. Flip it with f, then extrude it exactly the same as before to create another five segments. Use the bend tool the same as before, but this time bend the pipe round to the right. You may need to change the sense to minus.

second bend in the pipe

With the end polygon selected, hit the bevel tool and use the following settings:

Inset 0m
Shift 3.5m
bevel settings

That's it for this pipe. The rest of the pipes on the top are easy, they're just straight pipes. For the other pipes, I gave a different surface setting:

Name Pipes2
Colour R.95, G.95, B.95
Diffuse 100%
Specularity 50%
Smooth On
Smoothing Angle 75
surface settings

I also added some boxes at the ends of the tubes to add some realism. It's all easy stuff.

The complete top piping

Now this thing's really starting to take shape!

6) Previous Step | Next Step

Let's give some attention to the engines, and rear area of the ship. For starters, the shuttle has those Starfury style engine shields attached to the back, so lets make those first.

What we need to do is select one of the four polygons on the side of the ship which are diagonal. The easiest way to do this is to select the bottom right polygon - make sure you only have 1 polygon selected:

selecting the bottom right polygon

Now press + to hide everything but this polygon. Don't worry, the rest of the ship is still there, it's just hidden - press \ to reshow everything. Anyway, with this one polygon selected, lets switch to point mode. Select the two points which faced the back of the ship, then press + again. This should hide everything except these two points.

select two points

We're going to use these points as a guide to creating an engine shield which fits with the rest of the ship perfectly. Mirror these two points, with settings something like this:

Plane Z
Position -19.1m
mirror settings

Right, we now have 4 points. We'll use these to create a flat plane. De-select everything, then select - one by one - each point. Make sure you start at the top right, then go left, then down, then right. That is, we're selecting the points in the shape of the box we want to make. Now, press P to create the polygon.

Cut this polygon out, and paste it into a new layer. You can go back to the ship layer and unhide everything now. Basically, we'll use this polygon to create the shield by beveling and shaping it. This should be quite easy by now - I used a thickness of 200mm for the bevel:

engine shield box

You can add some details to the shield if you want. This is what I did:

finished engine shield

Now we've finished the engine shield, it's simply a matter of mirroring it - once on the X-axis, then on Y-axis - to produce four exact replicas all exactly in the right place.

Repeat the whole procedure to create two side engines shields:

mirrored shields

Simply cut these out and paste them in with the rest of the ship.

7) Previous Step | Next Step

With the engine shields done, lets model the engines themselves.

This is relatively easy, as it's just a few boxes modeled to look like an engine. As such, I won't go into any detail as to how to do these. Just apply the techniques you've already learnt - it's easy really - to twist and shape the pipes and boxes into the following:


Remember to give the engine surface a different name - i.e. "Engine_Glow". Give it the same properties as the "Windows_Glow" surface has.

8) Previous Step | Next Step

The final part of the modeling phase is the nose of the ship.

Select the very tip of the nose. The easiest way of doing this is to select all surfaces called Hull_Body. Hide everything else, then it's easy to select the front polygon. With this polygon selected, bevel it using the following settings:

Inset 150mm


first bevel
Inset 100mm
Shift -100mm
second bevel
Inset 0mm
Shift -250mm
third bevel

With the polygon still selected, press q and give it a surface name of "Hull_Front", with the following settings:

Name Hull_Front
Colour R.100, G.100, B.100
Diffuse 100%
Smooth On
Smoothing Angle 10
surface settings

You should now have something like this:

beveled nose

Okay, time to fill this in with details. Do anything you want again - it's all modified boxes and tubes. Check out Kier Darby's tutorial on adding detail for further insight. This is what I did:

beveled nose

9) Previous Step | Next Step

All we need to do now is create some pipes and boxes to add to the sides at the front. It's the same old stuff of pipes and boxes again - by now you must have realized that making models really isn't that difficult... it's just a lot of hard work.

nose pipes

The final touch is to create a colored band across the nose. In the show, this color has sometimes been red, sometimes green. It's easy to make - just switch to another layer, create a box which runs across the nose.

Switch back to the ship, select all the polygons which have the main surface, and hide the rest. Now, with the second layer in the background, use (Tools\Sdrill\Stencil) to stencil in a new surface across the nose.

Stenciling the nose

That's it! No more to do!

The modeling phase is complete. Sit back, take a rest, and pat yourself on the back!

the finished model

Save your model as "Shuttle_Assembly_3.lwo".

© 2000 Alexander Shareef and Alternate Perspective 3D Ltd.