David’s Stargate Stuff

Discussion in 'Fan Art' started by David cgc, Jun 10, 2020.

  1. David cgc

    David cgc Admiral Premium Member

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    A while back, all the Stargate talk over in SF/F gave me a hankering for some 3D modeling. The Stargate was my first (and second) real from-scratch 3D model, and I've thought about making a third version occasionally pretty much since I finished the second one, which I realized was too wide almost immediately after I finished it.

    There's a lot more reference material available nowadays compared to when I made my second model in 2006. HD screencaps are plentiful, production diagrams and blueprints were put up for auction with low-res, but very usable, thumbnails, and, most importantly, a fan group called Les Enfants de Mac Gyver has been building a full-scale reproduction of the SG-1 prop, using castings from pieces of the original props that were also put up for auction, and have taken a lot of high-res, close-up photos of all sections of the prop and the molds they made of it (which are more helpful than you might expect, especially when it comes to figuring out the shape and depth of all the engraved details).

    I'm pretty far along in the modeling already. Since the SG-1 and movie versions of the Stargate are 95% identical, I've been modeling with making both versions in mind. The props have some seams and asymmetries, so I've been idealizing them slightly, as well. The Atlantis version of the Stargate was clearly based on the SG-1 prop, but it has a lot more differences than it seems at first glance (including solving one of those seams in a totally different way than I did), but I've been making a lot of iterative saves of the model as I go, so it shouldn't be too hard to adapt what I've already built to make that version too.

    20200608_ShowcaseSG1_002.jpg 20200608_ShowcaseSG1_009.jpg

    20200608_ShowcaseSG1_000.jpg 20200608_ShowcaseSG1_007.jpg

    And, as a bonus, the movie version:
    20200607_ShowcaseMovie_000.jpg

    One other fun thing I'm doing with this model is that I'm planning to have fixtures for the lights on the SG-1 version of the gate. When the chevrons lock, the top "block" portion reveals what's underneath it. In the movie, this is just a smooth piece, while the series version is a bit rougher, and you can see into the hollow interior of the prop. For the SG-1 version I added some greebles inspired by the inner workings of the Dial Home Device we see from time to time on the show, and the light itself is a large control crystal, along with some text in the language of the Ancients, the aliens that built the Stargates. The last part was something I was looking for a way to sneak in, since it's a little weird in the reality of the show that the Stargates are so drenched in ancient Egyptian detailing, but weren't actually built by the ancient Egyptian aliens. It's easy to explain, but it still feels odd that the Ancients' signature device has so little in common with anything else they built, so I wanted to put in something a little more Ancient-y in an inconspicuous spot.

    ChevronGreebles.jpg
     
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  2. Atolm

    Atolm Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    SWEET! Looking so good :)
    Love stargate!
     
  3. tomalak301

    tomalak301 Fleet Admiral Premium Member

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    This looks amazing. Well done. :)
     
  4. Michael

    Michael [ˈmɪçaːʔeːl] Moderator

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    Loved the Stargate movie as a kid, but never got into any of the TV shows. The design of the stargate itself always intrigued me and I suspect it and the movie are the reason why I'm still fascinated by ancient Egypt and its imagery.

    Your recreation looks spot on and I'm looking forward to see how you'll progress with this. :bolian:
     
  5. publiusr

    publiusr Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Do the Ori ships
     
  6. David cgc

    David cgc Admiral Premium Member

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    It's not dead!

    I stalled out a bit working on the tile mosaics along the outer rim. There was enough photography of those pieces from EMG for me to feel like I could get them right and didn't want to just make something up, but with the mosaics being laid out on a curved shape, and some parts not being perfectly clear in the photos, it took a long time to get everything traced out. Honestly, I'm not sure if they ended up quiet being accurate enough to justify the amount of time and effort it took up (I'll say that every tile probably has the correct shape, but the sizes and proportions might be iffy), but they're done now.

    20201120_ShowcaseMovie_000.jpg
    20201120_ShowcaseMovie_007.jpg
    20201120_ShowcaseMovie_005.jpg
    20201120_ShowcaseMovie_012.jpg

    The Atlantis stargate uses a different (and much, much simpler) mosaic pattern, so I hope I won't have the same problem when I start working on that one.

    But for now, I'm about to start working on the movie version of the symbols on the inner ring of the stargate (the symbols were redesigned for the series, and were extruded, rather than engraved). In the movie, a plot-point was that the two stargates had different sets of symbols based on the constellations of the planet they were on. I've never seen anyone try to recreate the alien stargate from the film, so I went through the movie and tried to find every symbol you can see. I quickly realized that the "different" symbols were actually the same ones from the Earth stargate, just with parts of them filled in and painted over to disguise them. By my count, 1 symbol was replaced entirely, 13 were modified, 8 were left unchanged, and 17 weren't visible in the movie. I'm hoping some never-before-seen set photo or diagram will appear that'll shed some light on the missing symbols, but since that probably won't happen, I'm just going to modify the corresponding symbols from the Earth stargate, just like they did on the film, and hope I end up with something close. Attached is a chart I made showing the symbols as they appear on a production drawing of the coverstones the stargate was buried under that's been floating around on-line forever, the best view of the symbol on the Earth 'gate, and the best view of the symbol on the Abydos 'gate.

    [​IMG]
     
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  7. Psion

    Psion Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Not to distract from your incredible work, but I thought you and others in this thread might enjoy it if I shared a yearly treat from my local neighborhood. A few streets over from my house, there lives one of those neighbors who tend to get totally whack-o when it comes to one of the holidays. You've probably seen the ones who over-enthuse over Christmas on the local news ... the ones who light up their yards with enough lights and ornaments to be visible from space ... on a cloudy night!

    My neighbor is a Halloween "buff", and every year, he fills his front yard with enough collected kitsch to satisfy the Halloween appetites of the rest of the neighborhood. Honestly, I kind of wish he'd do different themes each year, since he's got so much junk out that it distracts from the really good pieces. But that's his choice, and I'm sure the smorgasbord of junk has something for everything and is a decorating style unto itself.

    For me, the prize of his collection is a full-scale mock-up of the SG-1 stargate. Lit, but not quite fully operational.
    [​IMG]
    This shot, from November, 2011 is one of the few, clear photos I can find of it. I know I have more, buried somewhere on some hard drive, but it gets the point across of the magnitude of this guy's Halloween problem. And this is after he's already started dismantling it for the year!

    He's been putting this prop out since at least 2011. At one time, he had a fog machine built-in with some kind of laser projector for lighting effects, but I think that was damaged by hurricane Sandy. Either that, or he simply didn't think the effect worked well.

    I wish I could find my close-up shots! He used hundreds of plastic forks around the circumference for the detail work. While not especially accurate, it was a cheap, labor-intensive approach that works well until you recognize what he's done.
     
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  8. David cgc

    David cgc Admiral Premium Member

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    That looks really good. I'd probably plotz if I was walking down the street and saw that in a neighbor's yard!

    It's been a while, but I've gotten a few emails about my older stargate model from people wanting to use it as a guide to build their own reproduction. Sometimes they just wanted permission (which is thoughtful, but it's not like I'm going to use my amnesia ray to scrub the fan-art they found on Google from their memories before they start working if I disapprove), sometimes they had a question about some specific part (to the point where I made a page with tips and information about how I built my Stargate on my website, which I should really take down until I'm ready to rewrite it, since I know now almost everything I said on it is wrong in some way). I don't see any that seem to be from this person (though I also remember getting more than I'm finding, so it might be a failure of my email archiving), but it's still possible that might not be as unrelated as you think. Even with my old model being fifteen years old, it's still on the first page of Google Images results for "stargate model."
     
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  9. publiusr

    publiusr Vice Admiral Admiral

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    I always thought the Ori ships should have been the Ancients ships— they look like Stargates!

    The Cylon resurrection ships? That should have been Ori
     
  10. David cgc

    David cgc Admiral Premium Member

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    Got slowed down by some computer trouble, but I finished drawing the movie version of the stargate symbols, including the ones I had to make up that we didn't see on the Abydos gate. The complete version of the chart I posted before, and some more information, is on my blog.

    20201227_ShowcaseMovieEarth_002.jpg 20201227_ShowcaseMovieAbydos_002.jpg 20201227_ShowcaseMovieEarth_006.jpg 20201227_ShowcaseMovieAbydos_006.jpg

    I'm deciding if I want to double back and do the SG-1 version of the symbols now, or finish up the movie-gate model. The big question I'm mulling over is what to do with the engraved arcs that are carved into the 'gate. Last time, I just used a quick bump-map, but I'm thinking I might want to model them in this time. I'm not sure what the best way to do that would be in terms of modeling techniques, and I'm also wondering if I should duplicate the pattern of the original (with repeated over all nine segements of the setpiece), or do something that doesn't repeat. I'm leaning towards duplicating the original patterns, both because it's easier and it's more authentic.
     
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  11. David cgc

    David cgc Admiral Premium Member

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    Because I am a crazy person, I went with modeling the engraved arcs. They're actually not too bad to work with... so long as they don't continue across a corner. That ended up being the deciding factor of where I went with unique arcs, versus the canonical repeating arcs. The "wings" and "blocks" above the chevrons, as well as the "conduits" on the rear of the 'gate all had bends that required a lot of fiddly adjustments and repair, so I matched the patterns from the original setpiece. The inner ring and main ring only had the arcs on flat sections, which were much easier to apply and clean up. I did match the pattern of the original set-piece for the main ring for the bottom-most segment, so I'd still have it available if I changed my mind or doing the whole ring ended up being more difficult than I hoped. I also realized while working on them that I was wrong when I estimated how many arches were on the main ring; I was off by one per segment, which I should've realized, because it turns out they align perfectly with the pills-and-dots just above the inner rim. Luckily the difference was slight enough I could just squeeze the arch I had a little and didn't need to remodel it.

    So far, I've done the arcs for the movie version of the inner ring, the chevron blocks, the chevron rings, the rear inner ring, and the rear main ring. All that remains is doing the arcs on the front and the "calipers" surrounding the top chevron. I also remembered, looking at this latest batch of test renders, that I skipped over beveling the edges of the rear inner ring, and it looks noticeably pointier than the rest of the model. I should probably do something about that. And, of course, filling in the random missing polygons and other tiny errors I missed while modeling, which is part of the reason why we do test renders. At that point, I think major modeling operations will be concluded for the movie version. I'll need to decide if I want to model physical connections for the chevrons or just leave them floating since whatever arms they're connected to aren't ever visible anyway, and then... I think I'll continue to model for a while and make the changes necessary for the SG-1 version (which is basically just a different inner ring), though I'm not sure if I'll hold off or not before doing the more drastic work to make the Atlantis version. On the one hand, modeling gets old, but on the other hand, I don't want to delay either lose interest, or forget how and why I did certain things.

    ETA: You know what, looking at these, I think the engraved arcs on the main ring are too fat and too deep. I'm going to take another shot at them. Thank goodness I'm a big believer in iterative saving.

    20210125_ShowcaseMovieEarth_000.jpg 20210125_ShowcaseMovieEarth_002.jpg 20210125_ShowcaseMovieEarth_007.jpg 20210125_ShowcaseMovieEarth_009.jpg 20210125_ShowcaseMovieEarth_010.jpg 20210125_ShowcaseMovieEarth_013.jpg
     
    Last edited: Jan 27, 2021
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  12. David cgc

    David cgc Admiral Premium Member

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    I've finished modeling for the movie version of the stargate, barring any more little single-polygon errors hiding from me, and I'm ready to start texturing!

    That's what I expected to say four or five days ago, before I spent the weekend fiddling with and redoing the "chevron blocks" after seeing how the entire thing fit together in my test renders, and being bothered by how it was all fitting together. Last night, I realized I was missing the forest for the trees, because I was ignoring a pretty fundamental thing; the entire block assembly, both the mount and the part that elevates/lights up, was apparently not one of the pieces that could be recovered from the movie setpiece and was built from-scratch for the SG-1 version of the 'gate, so I'd been driving myself crazy trying to perfectly match one object to two subtly different objects. I'd initially modeled the piece based on a couple of diagrams of from construction of the movie version (which, in retrospect, may not have been perfectly accurate, I think the outer rim came out a little short), but all the photos I looked at that time were of the SG-1 version (or the EMG recreation thereof), since I assumed the only difference was the presence or absence of the bars dividing the front and back at the very top.

    Fit_and_Finish.jpg

    I was making a deliberate choice to incorporate more of the fit-and-finish of the movie setpiece into the SG-1 version of the 'gate, and aside from the seam between the nine primary segments of the main ring, the biggest place where the SG-1 version is sloppy is the whole chevron assembly. As designed for the movie version, the three sub-assemblies (the chevron, the "slot" it sits in, the "block" above it, and the "wings" extending out) all line up perfectly. In the SG-1 version, the chevrons are mounted higher, the blocks seem to be a bit smaller and narrower, and the wings drape much more loosely off the sides rather than being aligned to the whole thing. But last night, when I noticed the overall shape of the block and how it fit into the mount was wrong for the movie version and was contemplating remodeling it to fit, I realized I'd lost the forest for the trees. The model of the movie version is a fun curiosity, a chance to do something that I hadn't seen done often in fan-art (or at all, ever, with the recreation of the Abydos glyphs), but the real meat, the model I'd actually be using, would be the SG-1 version. So, you know what, it's fine that, along with bringing some of the movie setpiece's sturdiness to the SG-1 version, the SG-1 version also influenced my model of the movie version. Plus, the whole thing is modular and and has a lengthy trail of in-progress saves, so if I decide it bothers me that much later, I can redo it then (an excuse I've been using every time I hit a wall with my perfectionism). For now, it's just holding me up. Besides, it's way truer to the movie setpiece than the one they built for "Origins."

    Anyway, enjoy the last of the clay renders, at least until I move on to the SG-1 gate. I've popped the chevrons open as they were when the movie-version was active, so we can see how they look both open and closed. Final weigh-in is at a bit under two million polygons.

    20210206_ShowcaseMovie_002.jpg
    20210206_ShowcaseMovie_009.jpg
     
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  13. Burning Hearts of Qo'nOs

    Burning Hearts of Qo'nOs Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    omg BEAUTIFUL! Very intricate work! Are all the details carved out with polygons or is it like a displacement map? Is this sculpted in something like zbrush or a handmade mesh in like Maya? It's been a while since I've tried to work in 3d and dunno what's hip anymore haha.
     
  14. David cgc

    David cgc Admiral Premium Member

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    My app is quite possibly the opposite of hip. I'm surprised I forgot to mention at the top of the thread, I work in Lightwave, and things are looking grim for the future of the program and the small cadre of fanatics like myself who haven't given it up yet. I'll probably have to move to Blender or something at some point, but until then, I'll wring everything I can out of it.

    The model is polygon-based, not sculpted. It turns out, most of the detailing aligns and repeats radially, so it was mostly a matter of modeling each individual little detail and slotting it into where it goes in the larger pattern (the ring is actually based on 666-fold radial symmetry, which I'm sure was a little joke by the designer back in '93). It's all polygons, including the arced grooves, which was definitely a mistake in retrospect, but now I'm committed, and, in truth, I actually really enjoy going over models and fixing tiny errors, so it wasn't so bad. I should make a set of renders with the wireframe visible so you can see the structure, it's actually very clean (or, at least, it was before I cut all those grooves into it). But for now, I'm actually running a test animation to demo my texturing job in a series of different lighting environments. It turns out, the movie version of the stargate is actually much lighter in color than the later versions, it was just filmed in dark rooms (or under a heavy yellow "desert dawn" color filter for the prologue scene of the movie). I dunk on "Origins" a lot, but I have to give them credit, I think they were right that the movie gate was metallic silver (though they didn't give it the coarse, rocky texture of the original).

    Here's the one BTS photo I found in bright white light that gave it away, though looking at the movie, I could sort of intuit the true color once I knew what it was supposed to be (for instance, in the dark-blue dialing scenes, the gate appears very dark, but you can also see it's the same color as the aluminum framework connected to it).

    Stargate-ring.jpg
     
  15. Burning Hearts of Qo'nOs

    Burning Hearts of Qo'nOs Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    Lightwave is definitely not what I was expecting, haha! When I was in school several years ago we were already being told not to learn because it was beginning to get phased out of the industry. That's wild! I would love to see a render of just the mesh itself! Even though I don't work in 3d anymore, I still really enjoy seeing how people tackle their topology.
     
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  16. David cgc

    David cgc Admiral Premium Member

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    I've been delayed a little, as always, by my big-ass test renders doing their job and helping me find little odd single-polygon errors (also, one case where I learned an important thing about Lightwave's new smoothing group functionality, which is that, while it overrides the smoothing setting of the applied material, it doesn't override it when smoothing is turned off on that material, which makes sense (since you might want to be able to easily, temporarily turn off smoothing), but isn't what I expected). So, my computer is chewing on the last set of showcase renders (assuming I find no more errors to fix) and a turnaround animation with the textured 'gate in several real-world HDR environment maps from HDR Haven (and one old one from HDR Labs, since Haven didn't have any dark industrial spaces like the movie gateroom), something I saw in a VFX breakdown for "The Force Awakens" which struck me as a great idea to confirm my texturing doesn't only look right under a single white light.

    But I do have one thing I've finished, and I thought I'd put it up here now as a preview for the final presentation of this version of the model: Orthos!

    Movie_Orthos_Sheet_1_half.jpg Movie_Orthos_Sheet_2_half.jpg
     
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  17. Donny

    Donny Commodore Commodore

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    I don't know much about Stargate, but this is great modeling work!
     
  18. David cgc

    David cgc Admiral Premium Member

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    Wow! Praise from Caesar.



    I don't have too much to say at this point, so I'll let the pictures do their thousand-words thing. I'm not ready to release the model publicly yet, but I have put up the final, textured versions of the test render angles I've been posting, as well as still wallpaper-sized front-and-back views of the gate in every lighting environment from the video on my blog.

    I've been going through behind-the-scenes photos, as well as episodes of SG-1, Atlantis, and Universe gathering reference of the SG-1 version of the inner-ring glyphs, so I hope to start drawing those fairly soon (I'm used to the film version now, so the TV versions look all funny to me. Too small, too large, pointed the wrong way...). And I just remembered I forgot to run those wireframe renders.
     
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  19. David cgc

    David cgc Admiral Premium Member

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    Here you are. The image is bigger than the 1mb file-size limit for board uploads, but I don't want to scale them down and lose detail, so here they are as links.

    Wireframe Front

    Wireframe Rear
     
  20. Burning Hearts of Qo'nOs

    Burning Hearts of Qo'nOs Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    So cool! Thanks for sharing!!