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Local TutorialHow to build the Starship Enterprise in TrueSpace 3

scifiericscifieric1122 Posts: 1,497Member
edited January 2016 in Tutorials #1
Hello. A couple of users here at SciFi-Meshes have asked about the free version of TrueSpace (version 3) and how to use it to build a simple to moderate 3D model like the USS Enterprise.

I'm not an expert but I can pass along a few tips.

Let's get acquainted with your new application. I may use my own terms for a lot of this, so bear with me.


The defaults for TrueSpace should be pretty much as you see in the image. I'm going to call the main screen your main work area/screen or window. The toolbar in default configuration will open along the bottom of your work area and the viewing options are on the lower right hand side of the screen.

I'm going to use Alan Sinclair's Enterprise blueprints because IMHO, they are the best out there but you may use whatever you choose.
Alan Sinclair
Charles Casimiro
Franz Joseph (I think these are the plans Vektor used for his excellent Constitution Class starship!)

We're going to start with the spline tool, object subtraction tool and lathe tool create the saucer section hull. There are multiple ways of doing this and mine is not necessarily the best but it will give you ideas as to how to use these toolsets in TrueSpace 3.2.

To use a set of blueprints, you could map the plans to a correctly proportioned primitive plane and tell TrueSpace to render everything with textures in place in 3D mode so that you can see the entire set of plans at once but if you're working with little RAM, this might be a rather sluggish option.

I started by viewing and making a screen capture of Alan's drawing of the saucer section.


After cleaning up the image, I saved it as a .bmp and right mouse clicked on the Show Background icon.

This will give you access to the Show Background toolset.


Click on the blank input box to the right of Background, click the Show Background button and select your correctly proportioned plans. I run my monitor at 1280 x 1024 so the background image I use is 1280 x 1024. This avoids distortion.
Post edited by scifieric on


  • scifiericscifieric1122 Posts: 1,497Member
    Next, choose the spline tool.


    Now, when you draw a spline in TrueSpace 3, you have several options. You can make your spline have sharp curves, smooth curves or VERY smooth curves. To draw this spline, I'm just going to leave the default but change the number of spline points throughout the drawing. So, to start, I set the number of spline points to "1".

    I click in the upper left hand corner of the drawing to place a green dot on my background. Make sure that the grid mode is toggled off or your point will not be in the place you want.

    I think click at the end of the straight line that starts the upper hull and then change my spline points to 5 and keep clicking at the beginning of every curve change in the hull until I get to the bottom. Dont' worry, I know it won't look right yet. Neither did mine!


    Argh. I just realized I skipped a step. How am I viewing my plans? Simple, where you select the plans for the background is also where you tell TrueSpace you want to see the background at all times.


    Now I open up three New Perspective Views and position them around my work area and make all of them Top views.


    Next, I zoom in on the largest trouble spots and change how the splines act. Such as, the top left area where we started, the very upper curve of the bow of the ship and the lower curve to the saucer hull.
  • scifiericscifieric1122 Posts: 1,497Member
    Once you have your spots "targeted" you can start changing the spline points.

    By clicking on the "Move spline point" button, you can switch into edit mode. That's the top left button on the Spline Toolset.


    Ignore the fact that the screen grab above shows the "New Spline Point" icon highlighted, you want the left most! LOL!

    Now, when you click on the green point on the top left, you will be shown "handles" for your spline.


    We want this area to be a right angle, so you can right mouse click on the spline tool icon in the toolbar and you can choose the "Hard Angle" tool if you like.


    At least this one shows the Change Spline Point and the Hard, Smooth and Very Smooth tools! ;)

    I jump from here to the bow of the ship because this sort of thing worries me no end.
  • JedilawJedilaw0 Posts: 0Member
    Nice tut, should be moved to 3d questions and answers, not sfm support.
  • scifiericscifieric1122 Posts: 1,497Member
    I haven't clued you in to the fact that we're basically making a template and we have to figure out how to fix this strange loop.


    Make sure you are in Spline edit mode by clicking on the Move Spline Point icon.

    Next, grab the end of the lower green spline handle and push it until it lines up with the front of the saucer, then make it shorter and you will see the curve of the transition start to line up better. Repeat with the top end spline point. When I made this section, I chose 10 spline points for the curve so that it will look like a curve and not a sharp edge.


    This is a little closer to the result we want.

    If TrueSpace has gone freaky on you and made everything a Hard Angle, just click the point you are going to adjust and choose something else. When I edited these two points on the curve of the bow, I choose the Very Smooth option.

    Next, I scrolled down to the lower section of the bow. This angle is too jagged for our purposes.


    I adjusted the size and angle of the handles until the curve looked a little more reasonable.

    At this point, you can look at your overall view and you may find that many of your spline points are close, but not on the outline exactly as you wish. Make sure you are in spline edit mode and move each of your controling spline points (green) until they are on your outline.

    TrueSpace 3 has a strange artifact that occurs here and leaves "chalk marks" on your "board" or work area. You can get rid of them by left clicking on the window's "WireFrame Display" icon.


    The chalk marks will disappear.
  • scifiericscifieric1122 Posts: 1,497Member
    Jedilaw wrote:
    Nice tut, should be moved to 3d questions and answers, not sfm support.
    Thanks! Aceman is creating a new section and I thought I would just get started and then ask him to move this thread when he's done.

    Something along the lines of "Modeler's Workshop". I can't wait.

    Sorry for the wrong forum. You're right, I should have put this elsewhere.
  • scifiericscifieric1122 Posts: 1,497Member
    Thanks to Aceman and Jedilaw for putting this thread in the correct spot! I appreciate the opportunity to post here.
  • TallguyTallguy350 Posts: 467Member
    Nice start SFE. Heh. Most models of the E tend to peter out after that first saucer spin. I hope this tute isn't that same way. :)
    Bill "Tallguy" Thomas All I ask is a tall ship...
    Various Work: U.S.S. Constellation - Matt Jefferies Concept Shuttle
  • backsteptbackstept2130 Posts: 934Member
    Nice tut :D
    now where's the rest of it!? haha
  • scifiericscifieric1122 Posts: 1,497Member
    Now that we've moved the spline edit points around, the spline curve matches the outline of our plans a little closer.


    However, it is certainly worth looking at each point before continuing. I use one of the three smaller windows since I don't want to loose my plans and changing back to the correct viewing size would be difficult if not impossible.

    It was well worth it. Along the top of my spline is another artifact from overlapping spline edit handles. Here is what it looks like:


    Enter spline edit mode again and click on one of the surrounding spline edit points. Shorten the handles and correct their angles. Check your main workspace window and erase chalk marks to view your progress.

    When you are done, you should have a nice, smooth surface curve.


    When you are satisfied with the outline of your template, you want to convert your spline outline to an object. Simply click the object selection tool SaucerLathe17Object.jpg but once you do this, you can no longer edit with the spline tools! You can still edit the template but you will have to do so point by point and that takes a LOT longer.

    This would be a good point to save your scene to preserve all your hard work and if you want to be extra careful, safe the template as an object.

    Next: The Dreaded Lathe!
  • scifiericscifieric1122 Posts: 1,497Member
    Tallguy wrote:
    Nice start SFE. Heh. Most models of the E tend to peter out after that first saucer spin. I hope this tute isn't that same way. :)
    Thanks for looking Tallguy. I can't compete with your Enterprise but I might help a couple of the newbies.

    Nah, I'll outline as many points as I can. It's a nice diversion since I'm having such a set of problems with the asteroids for my Doomsday Machine.
    backstept wrote:
    Nice tut :D
    now where's the rest of it!? haha
    Working on it! (Hears the sound of backstept's whip cracking through the air.) Working on it, SIR! LOL!
  • scifiericscifieric1122 Posts: 1,497Member
    You can make several decisions as to how to proceed. When I made my ship, with my limited understanding of texturing and modeling, I split my template into two pieces, a top half and a bottom half that seperated at the lower edge of the lip of the upper saucer. (Confusing, no?) LOL

    At this point for an intruduction to general modeling and for the purposes of this tutorial, we are just going to go straight to the lathing. That should put fear in your hearts! :quaking in boots icon:

    Actually, before the lathing, we need to cut holes into our template.

    I used plain circles for the first two attempts at this hull template in the past but for this tutorial, I want to show a slightly different method. Either way will be good. I wanted to line up the cutouts so that they would be the same each time so I loaded a simple plane primitive and then created a 20 point regular polygon.


    Regular Polygon almost looks like a six-sided stop sign in the same tool selection where you found the Spline tools.

    I positioned my 20 point polygon so that the top half of the polygon was positioned above my primitive plane and selected the Object Union tool.

    This makes your cursor into a glue bottle. If your plane is highlighted, glue your polygon. If your polygon is highlighted, glue your plane. You get the idea.


    If you glue something else instead of what you wanted, click the Undo tool.

    I resized my new object. This is a drill bit for all intents and purposes. We will use it to carve out those round circle lines that appear on the lower saucer hull of the Enterprise.

    Line them up so that they are in the correct spots according to the plan image. (Okay, so if you're sharp, you noticed I have moved to a new background, smartie.)


    The uppermost circle is aligned directly with the lower edge of the saucer.

    Now, I zoom in on each one to make sure I've lined up the cutouts correctly. Use one of your smaller windows.


    Rotate each copy of the object until it lines up with the hull.
  • scifiericscifieric1122 Posts: 1,497Member
    Okay, you are ready to cut holes into your beautiful template.

    Choose the object selection tool and left click on the template to highlight it.


    Now, select the Object Subtraction tool.


    You get a glue cursor again. Choose one of your circle cutout objects and a neat little divot will appear in your template. Repeat until you get three cutouts.


    "What the bleep is that?" You may ask. You'll see. You'll see.

    Now, you are finally ready for The Lathing.

  • scifiericscifieric1122 Posts: 1,497Member
    Okay, you've created a template of 1/2 of the saucer hull out of a spline line and cut the lower saucer circles into your template. Now you want to right mouse click on your Sweep Tool icon and move your cursor up to the Lathe Tool icon. Let go.


    You now have the lathe tool selected AND you've brought up the lathe tool options window.


    Here you choose how "dense" you want your mesh to be (well, this tool and how many spline points you used to create your template, but I digress). It will never hold up in a movie theater but I want to be able to move the result around in 1 Gig of RAM or less but I want the edges of the saucer to appear smooth so I choose 100 Segments.

    The Angle must be 360 degrees or you will not get the lathe to run in a full circle. The Radius should be set automatically if you started in the same spot I did to create your spline line but what you need to check is that the Radius handle is positioned directly over the rear of your template.


    I used one of the smaller windows to make sure that the handle lines up perfectly:

  • scifiericscifieric1122 Posts: 1,497Member
    Okay, if you didn't get the above selections, check to see if your template is highlighted. All the spline points should have gone green when you selected your lathe tool. If it didn't, left click once on your template after selecting the lathe tool. The spline edit points should all turn green in unison.

    Now make sure your lathe options have been set as we discussed earlier.

    When you have everything all set up, left click your lathe tool once.

    Your template will be replaced with a saucer:


    While your points remain green, you can undo if you wish or if you spot an error. If not, left click on your object selection tool (arrow) and your whole cage turns into an object.


    Now I have applied a quick yellow/brown texture with zero brightness, full diffusion and no shine to see where the errors are. It's not perfect but if you saved your template, you can go back and move the individual points where you see errors. Then, save and lathe your resulting new template.

    Congratulations, you have the major saucer component of the USS Enterprise.

    What do you want to see next?
  • TallguyTallguy350 Posts: 467Member
    scifieric wrote:
    What do you want to see next?
    The BC Deck.
    Bill "Tallguy" Thomas All I ask is a tall ship...
    Various Work: U.S.S. Constellation - Matt Jefferies Concept Shuttle
  • scifiericscifieric1122 Posts: 1,497Member
    I should mention that if you are going to "optimize" your hull, you can enter point edit mode on your template and remove extra segments on your hull. On such a curvilinear surface, you must be careful as the result may become too jagged or squarish.
  • scifiericscifieric1122 Posts: 1,497Member
    Tallguy wrote:
    The BC Deck.
    You have to go right for the jugular, don't you? LOL!
  • scifiericscifieric1122 Posts: 1,497Member
    Alright, let's see if I can go make one. I'll report back!
  • TallguyTallguy350 Posts: 467Member
    scifieric wrote:
    You have to go right for the jugular, don't you? LOL!
    Because that's the part where most people give up.
    Bill "Tallguy" Thomas All I ask is a tall ship...
    Various Work: U.S.S. Constellation - Matt Jefferies Concept Shuttle
  • evil_genius_180evil_genius_1804256 Posts: 11,034Member
    Thanks, Eric. Now I'm going to have to build a new Enterprise model. :D
  • scifiericscifieric1122 Posts: 1,497Member
    That's the nicest thing I've heard all day! Thanks eg180!
  • BrickheadBrickhead176 Posts: 0Member
    OK let's pick up the pace, so far so good.
  • scifiericscifieric1122 Posts: 1,497Member
    Ewww! Deformed!

    Well, get used to it cause that's the only way I know of to make anything close to the B&C decks. I think Franz Joseph labeled these as the Science Labs and Photon Torpedo Launchers. In any case, this is one of the more difficult areas to model and I've never been satisfied with any one method. So, here is my best shot at it especially for any newbie.

    I've assembled reference shots from Alan Sinclair's blueprints of the USS Enterprise into a backdrop collage and loaded it into TrueSpace, just like in our first lesson.


    I've decided against creating a spline for this particular tutorial. You could, if you wish, create a spline of the deck area and make a sufficiently dense object that will withstand deformation with relative ease.

    Right click on the add sphere primitive tool to access it's properties. I have made a very dense object.



    Now, left click on the sphere primitive tool to actually add the sphere to your work area.


    I have moved the sphere into place so that the front of the center of the sphere is in the midline with the bridge and the saucer hull and resized the sphere to fit the area.

    Next: Object Subtraction (Yes, again!)
  • scifiericscifieric1122 Posts: 1,497Member
    Brickhead wrote:
    OK let's pick up the pace, so far so good.
    Oh god! I make the objects, capture images every step of the way and then write how to do it! That takes a while! LOL!

    Thanks for dropping in brickhead! Long time, no see!
  • scifiericscifieric1122 Posts: 1,497Member
    Okay, now to call up a cube primitive and position it in the lower one third of the sphere.


    Now, highlight your sphere and then select the Object Subtraction tool. Glue it to your new cube.


    Now, make sure your remaining sphere is still highlighted and select your Object Deformation tool.


    Your sphere will change color and acquire green grid lines to show you where you can deform your object.


    Left click in the center of the sphere in a top-down view. A handle should appear.

    Next: Deforming the primitives (Man that sounds bad!)
  • evil_genius_180evil_genius_1804256 Posts: 11,034Member
    I built the saucer for my Connie by deforming a sphere for the main hull. It took a long time to do and I have no plans to replace it. I would, however, like to do some form of variant or refit (not the one from the movies) and your tutorial will definitely come in handy. It sounds like a better way to do the saucer. ;)
  • scifiericscifieric1122 Posts: 1,497Member
    Go to a frontal or lateral view (front to back or side projection) and pull straight down. Keep an eye out that you don't deform the sphere too much. You can control accidental left-or-right movment by turning off the X and Z plane movement on the control console for the Object Deformation tool. Just right click on the deformation tool to access the control panel.

    When I got the remains of the sphere (wasn't that an Anthony Hopkins movie?) to the appropriately squashed level, I lowered the sphere to fit the blueprints and left clicked on the rear green line intersection at the back of the sphere.


    Next, I selected the side view and turned off the deformation motion for the Y and Z planes and turned ON the X plane. Then I pulled the green intersection back until it met the curve of the deck plans.

    This next one is a little strange. I changed one of my small window views to New Perspective. Using the Eye Move and Eye Rotate tools, I moved the view to the underside of the erst-while sphere.


    Now, in my new view, I left click once on the lower lip of the primitive where the green line meets the lip. You will get a new handle.

    Go back to your side view and pull this section back to meet the curve of the rear of the deck plan.

    Turn all 3 deformation planes back on. Use ONLY the handle that is pointing up. You can pull back or push forward on it or lift it to perform a local deformation of the sphere. The further you pull the handle from the point of origin, the greater the deformation of the object. Go back to the first point and do the same thing, making the deformed sphere conform to the deck plans.

    Check the top view from time to time but keep in mind that since you have sphere LOWER than the curved surface that it will meet, the outlines of the sphere looking from top-down will seem too large from left to right and too short from front to back. You are just using this for general shape.

    My B&C deck is too uniform and pointy but it is as close as I'm going to get in this tutorial.


    Left click on the Object Selection tool to transform your deformed sphere into an object.


    Next: Step One (Yeah, I know, I've put it last ... again!)
  • scifiericscifieric1122 Posts: 1,497Member
    I built the saucer for my Connie by deforming a sphere for the main hull. It took a long time to do and I have no plans to replace it. I would, however, like to do some form of variant or refit (not the one from the movies) and your tutorial will definitely come in handy. It sounds like a better way to do the saucer. ;)
    Thanks eg180!

    My first attempt was completely different. I think I created a large, round polygon and used the Sweep tool to create my first saucer. Worked great right up until I rendered it and found massive errors! LOL!
  • scifiericscifieric1122 Posts: 1,497Member
    Here's what my workspace looked like before begining the Deforming the Primitives tutorial.


    And here's a nice set of reference shots from Mike Trice. I love his photos!

  • scifiericscifieric1122 Posts: 1,497Member
    So, what do you want to see next?

    I feel like a Microsoft commercial ...
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