Pursuant to the discussion going on in deg3D's TOS.5.2 thread
, I decided to try a couple different self-illumination schemes for lighting the ship's name and registry.
First, here's what they currently look like with the proper colors applied:
I liked the idea of the lettering having some thickness to it, like plates welded to the hull rather than just painted on. It also allows for the possibility of a back-lit or edge-lit self-illumination scheme, as shown here:
This makes for a cool effect but I think it needs further refinement. The glow effect probably wouldn't spread out as much in reality and it could use a greater suggestion of actual light sources beneath or along the edges of the letter plates. I'm not ruling it out just yet, but I'm not at all dead-set on using it either.
Incidentally, this effect was accomplished with a simple targeted spotlight and a mask map in the shape of the name and registry with some heavy blur applied. The name and registry objects themselves are excluded from illumination and shadow casting by the spotlight so the glow appears to be coming from behind them.
Here is the more traditional self-illumination scheme:
I've cheated a little bit here as well. As I mentioned in deg3D's
thread, it's hard to get a good, even scallop of light on the front of the saucer from a light source positioned on the front of the B/C deck module because of the low angle of incidence and the convex curvature of the hull. You get much better results with a "magic" light source placed at a higher, more direct angle. That's actually what I've done here, but the spotlight creating the scallop is set to produce no specular highlights. In other words, you see the light cast upon the hull but you don't see any reflection of the light source itself.
"But wait!" you say, "There are specular highlights from the two
light sources on the front of the B/C deck module clearly visible in the rendering!" Indeed there are. Those are from two additional spotlights positioned where the light appears
to be coming from, but those spotlights are set to produce specular highlights only
with no diffuse illumination. They are also used as targets for the video post glow/streak/star effects that make them look like intensely bright little floodlights. In other words, there are three spotlights at work here: One to provide the actual illumination on the hull and two more to provide the specular highlights and visible sources. Just one of those little tricks you can use to tweak a realistic but not-entirely-satisfactory result to be more to your liking.