No worries, Psion! I've been having some rethinking over the last little while myself. Not necessarily going to chuck any of the stuff done to date, but there will be tweaks here and there.
Take that cockpit-as-lifeboat idea earlier on. I may want to...appropriate that one. Also, wondering about how and where to place the stairs, turbolift(for cargo "dumbwaiter"-style, maybe? Or crew accessibility?), and so on.
Thanks, DEWLine. And I know exactly what you mean about Arkady's cockpit. Unfortunately, there's little I can do with that idea on my design, so I just need to charge ahead on full impulse and hope the end result is good enough.
Interesting work, Psion. I like the nacelle fronts, and the idea of having exposed components is interesting and based on sound reasoning. Keep in mind, though, that we're pretty much assuming the craft is capable of atmospheric entry and planetfall, which would require some degree of shielding and structural bracing. Although there's no certainty on that point; the book never really specifies. I'd be fine with it if you chose to take yours in the direction of a strictly spacegoing design while others went with landing-capable approaches. The variety in the designs is really cool.
I'll update my blog entry to include this new image.
She doesn't know it, but when I hand my wife a story I've written and ask her what she thinks, if her first words are something like, "Well, it was interesting
", I put that story back into the heap and work on something else.
In this case, though, I'll take it as a compliment and ... well, let me show you:
I'm gonna say we're done with big changes to the overall shape of the vessel. Saying that gives me the ability to finalize the mesh and start removing "modifiers" that do things like mirroring one half to the other. I'm now in the process of separating the major sections of the ship from each other so I can begin building a more believable skin.
In the view above, I've decided to start with the antimatter pod. Since it's jettisonable, it has natural demarcation lines separating it from the rest of the hull.
So here we see Cleo's Needle (this version at least) missing that "smudge pod". The opening is a suggestion for a small hatch that connects the ship to the pod. During normal operation, the hatch is open and feeds from the pod's antimatter supply fit through it on a retracting umbilical and connect to the reactor. During an emergency, the umbilical retracts, the hatch closes, and the entire pod unlatches and accelerates away on small thrusters.
Perhaps normally on this class of ship, a small shuttle pod is docked to this spot. Or maybe that's an opening for supplies. Or maybe the manufacturer intended this to be a convenient location for job-specific modules depending on the customer's requirements.
That would make this type of ship a natural choice for Picard when he spec'd out the mission; make some changes to the blueprints for an existing design and then have the ship built to spec. The manufacturer then only has to figure out how to fit the extra antimatter supply into a custom mission module.
Anyway, now that I've pulled the module off from the rest of the ship, it's easier for me to start adding details without cluttering up the mesh.
There's a rear hatch on the pod that's about 1.5 meters high and wide. This is to allow a refueling arm to enter and also allows access for people. The pod is broken down into several distinct sections now, visible from the panel lines. I find modeling in these details makes a mesh look much more realistic than painting them in as textures ... and since we aren't talking about a model intended for television or movies where rendering times might require cutting corners, we're free to go crazy on the details. A few hand/footholds and an access keypad finish the accents. Maybe before we're finished, we'll put some lights on it and lifting hooks, but this looks good to me so far.
Re-attached to the Cleopatra's Needle, the pod gives a hint as to how to proceed with the rest of the ship. A similar paneling technique will separate the top and bottom halves of the ship. The nose will have its own panel, and the dorsal teardrop will have seams as well. This spoils the smooth finish of the ship, but not too severely, and will be implemented on a scale that will be hardly noticeable from a distance. Think of it like the paneling on an automobile. That, after all, is where I'm borrowing the technique.
The detail under the fantail is temporary, but good enough to leave for a while, and the impulse engines clearly need work. So do the warp nacelles, they're so sloppy that there are rendering glitches at this distance, but I'll save them for last.
EDIT TO ADD:
I just rendered this image and thought I'd share for purposes of this discussion:
If you squint, you can just
make out the panel separation lines on the smudge pod. I don't think they'll do much to mar the finish of the Needle. Someday, I'm going to build the original Enterprise