Monday, 19 May 2014

Steam Locomotion: Empire State Express 999

For one of my end final year projects I decided to produce a realistic project. I wanted to focus my skill on producing a high end model that would show my ability to work to references. I knew wanted to produce a vehicle of sorts but was unsure what exactly i wanted to produce it was a choice between a tank or a 4x4 land rover initially. Then I sat down and thought what can I do that is a little different and I came across this image of an old Steam locomotion and I knew straight away this was exactly what wanted to try and replicate.

As this was my last of my projects I decided that I wanted to time myself to see how quickly I could produce the piece and and how accurately I could get it within a shorter time frame.
I allocated myself a week to finish the project then a further 3 days to try and get any improvements form feedback implemented.

I got really excited to start the project and decided that liked the contrast of the material on the trains and the black and gold theme worked well, the train required lots of fiddly sections and I collated a lot of defences  to try and help break down the design into more manageable sections.

It was fairly difficult to find the exact blueprints for the train and unless I took a impromptu visit to the museum in america where it is hosted I struggled to get very clear images. However I decided to look in to model versions of the train and found better results to work from.

I started by blocking out the design and worked out proportion  and basic shapes and basically what details were repeated through the design and what could be replicated.

The main details such as wheels, Pipes, Rivets, and the drive shaft would be symmetrical and exact copies so rather than filling all these detail in at once I worked out what details I could unwrap and use singular texture sheets for and  this helped speed up the modelling process. 

The were distinct sections to the model and I worked out the main engine needed to be unwrapped in such away that allowed for the correct amount of detail. As for the rest of the model it was just a case as ever, looking into the details and working out the proportions.

The rough block process took about 4hrs, which seems a bit long but once I was happy with the scale size and correct structures I used some of the blocked out details and refined them and it sped up the process.

Once I got to a Stage that I felt happy enough to continue I started to look at the details that would really sell the deigns and I worked into details further and looked at how each detail would interact with different components and whether it made sense to the design and whether it looked as though it belonged.

After quite a bit of fine tuning I got to a stage where I thought it was getting quite near completion and I went to back and started looking at the topology of the design tried to reduce the poly count where able to try and optimise the design, and lower the over all final count.

The train took a little while to unwrap but I managed to blast out the modelling part of the project in under just over 3 days. The unwrapping  process took a day to do properly and lay them out correctly and try and get as much out them as possible.

The texturing was quite fun but tricky at the same time. As the limited colour scheme was primarily black and metallic i tried to get simple shades of colour and work with shaders within MSTB2 to try and get the best replication of the matte metal effects.

Below are the wire frame render and the finished colour model and overall I am happy with the way its turned out and I learned a lot more about shaders and continued to improve my textures and process of modelling. There are a few areas that I would like to revisit and try and add some dirt and duct layers before the final submission

As always c&c are always welcome, and not long left of the course now but looking forward to having free time to play with past projects and develop them further.