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Texturing the Enterprise Saucer

tobiasrichtertobiasrichter333 Posts: 0Member
edited July 2012 in Tutorials #1
Since I received a couple of requests for a small texturing tutorial and I had a bit of time at my hands, here is a small, hopefully helpful, example...

This is the example of how I textured my TMP-Enterprise, focusing on a part of the top saucer.

First is of course the UV layout. The top saucer including the rim is split in two texture sets, each 4096x4096. The whole ship has about 7 of these sheets, plus all the registry and decals. Of course not every ship needs this large amount of textures, but I love to get pretty close to my ships and hate it when textures get blurry.

You can see that I did not just map the saucer from the top, but rather cylindrical (in fact, it is done with a spherical projection). This way, you get sharper textures, no jaggies on the small panel lines and the aztec pattern.

Also, you get a bit more texture space for the elements. The downside is that itA’s not that easy to get battle damage and such stuff on a specific point on the texture. I usually use transparent extra geometry/textures for that, like the NCC registry.

IA’ve coloured some example areas. The lighter areas are the same as the darker areas, they get reused.

Once this is done and all nicely layed out, the next step prior to actual texturing is baking out an ambient occlusion pass. For one, this provides a nice guideline when texturing - plus I tend to mix the ambient occlusion part to a certain degree (about 30-40%) into the color pass.

EDIT: The uploader swapped the pics, so the first pic is always on the right, the second to the left. Just to avoid confusion when reading the text...
Post edited by tobiasrichter on


  • tobiasrichtertobiasrichter333 Posts: 0Member
    Now you fire up your paint program and load the ambient occlusion pass and the UV layout as helper in seperate layers. The pictures here are just 1/4 of the resolution, so some detail might get lost.
    Below the AO and UV layer, you add a color layer and color the sections of your texture the way needed. I found that subtle colors work a lot better in terms of a realistic appearance then very saturated ones, but that depends on your ship.
    The next step are some basic panel lines - in the case of the Enterprise the main paneling. This is a seperate layer as well.

    The aztec pattern is the most tedious part in creating Trek ships. I usually make a basic pattern with the main and second pattern, then duplicate that and use it as guide (IA’ve included it in a small section). The bigger lines will serve as small panel lines as well as borders or darker plates. The finer lines will serve as borders for the subtle plating applied later.

    Once the lines are done, the areas that should get darker are selected and slightly darkened. This will work for most ships already. But if you want to get further, you can add the subtle plating as well...
  • tobiasrichtertobiasrichter333 Posts: 0Member
    Apart from the small Aztec detail, I also add very subtle darker and lighter plates - sometimes randomly, but I tend to check that the plates do not go over a panel line of a color area, where a natural border would be.
    As you can see, there is not much difference in the actual color sheet, but these plates will come out very nicely in the specular map.

    In the final stage, some underlying structure is added (I tend to use some metal plates photograhics that are made tileable and very much toned down) as well as all sorts of small decals (arrows, red rings around position lights, warnings, red stripes, and so on) and some dirt (e.g at exhaust ports) - all again on seperate layers.
  • tobiasrichtertobiasrichter333 Posts: 0Member
    Once the color sheet is done and tested on the model, on we go with specularmap and bumpmap. This is rather easy, as I rely on Photoshops Layercomps for that. You have to get use to working with them, but they an enormous help. With them, you can set each layer on/off, how much you want the layer to be visible and in what style. And the good part is - if you have to change something, it is automatically changed for all comps.
    For the spec pass, I increase the contrast and saturation on the plate layers with an adjustment layer, add more of the underlying structure and tone down the color map.

    Same approach is used for the bumpmap - here, mostly the panel lines are used, with a very subtle amount of plates and even less structure.
  • tobiasrichtertobiasrichter333 Posts: 0Member
    HereA’s a picture of the final Photoshop file with all the layers in colormap-configuration. In some cases, more layers are added - e.g. if some technical stuff is added.

    ThatA’s how it looks in the final render. I hope this insight was a little helpful.
    Ad astra
  • aohnelandaohneland0 Posts: 0Member
    boahhh, thank you. This is definitivley helpful! This will increase my skills!

    and now... I have to work ... ;)
  • AvindairAvindair0 Posts: 0Member
    WOW! I've been texturing ships for a while, but this approach is mind-blowing.

    I so have to try this method now.

    Thanks, Tobias!
  • StarshipStarship311 São Paulo - BrasilPosts: 1,863Member
    Thank you very much Tobias! To much helpfull.
  • BrandenbergBrandenberg1562 CaliforniaPosts: 1,877Member
    The only part missing from the tutorial is the font used for the numbers and lettering and how they are applied.:D
  • tobiasrichtertobiasrichter333 Posts: 0Member
    The decals are put on a seperate geometry that hovers slightly above the hull, drops no shadows and has a color, spec and alpha map with the lettering. The base font I mostly use is called "Federation Bold" - itA’s basically a Microgramma variation, sometimes some adjustment by hand is necessary. Hope that helps...
  • BrandenbergBrandenberg1562 CaliforniaPosts: 1,877Member
    I wasn't sure you would notice my post, so a heartfelt thanks. The information was much appreciated and added to my Word file with the tutorial in it. By separate geometry, do you mean you made appropriate letter and number-shaped meshes to drop each letter / number on?
  • tobiasrichtertobiasrichter333 Posts: 0Member
    That would be one way, but I tend to just copy the mesh (e.g. the saucer), delete the polys that wonA’t be needed for the decal, adjust it for "hovering" over the mesh and make a texture with alpha. That way you can rather easily and quickly make changes to the registry just by changing the texture.
  • VALKYRIE013VALKYRIE013439 Posts: 1,434Member
    Very interesting! Thanks for this Tobias! Guess I need to looks up texture baking and see how to do it! :)

    ... could you tell me how you do the occlusion on the lights again?? Please... :)
  • tobiasrichtertobiasrichter333 Posts: 0Member
    To bake the occlusion map, make a standard surfaceShader material, connect a "mib_ambient_occlusion" node (in the mentalray bin) to the color. Turn up the Samples from 16 to 64 or higher to get rid of the grain. Then apply the material to the object, select the object and use BatchBake (mentalray) - I think with the Color mode "Light and color" - to bake out the ambient occlusion map.

    Hope that helps...
  • TallguyTallguy185 Posts: 398Member
    Thanks so much for this look into "The Mind of Tobias Richter"! I've picked up bits and pieces over the years, but it's great getting it all in one place.

    I noticed that with this and the Kelvin that you break the saucer into several distinct sections. I can see the advantage of this for TMP and TNG ships. But what would you do with a TOS saucer (or secondary hull) where you have a large smooth surface without obvious places to hide texture seams? Thanks in advance.
    Bill "Tallguy" Thomas All I ask is a tall ship...
    Various Work: U.S.S. Constellation - Matt Jefferies Concept Shuttle
  • tobiasrichtertobiasrichter333 Posts: 0Member
    Sure, this could be done to the classic E as well, you just have to be careful when doing the textures that they are seamless.
  • gmd3dgmd3d222 DublinPosts: 120Member
    Great Tutorial..... my biggest weakness is textures.... but helps a lot
    “You become responsible, forever, for what you have tamed.”
  • JedilawJedilaw0 Posts: 0Member
    Very nice tutorial, Tobias. Many thanks for your input.

    Regarding your spec maps, if I am understanding your tut correctly, you are using maps for spec intensity but not for spec color. Is that the case? I ask only because the painter of the original model has written that he used pearlescent paints that had about seven different specular colors, ranging from green to blue to pink. Did you do anything with spec color, or just spec level? Or are you duplicating ILM's redone paint scheme?

    Thanks in advance.

  • IRMLIRML245 Posts: 1,993Member
    you can see his spec maps have colour in them, so I would assume he is
  • JedilawJedilaw0 Posts: 0Member
    D'oh! Was looking at the thumbnail while reading the text. You're right, of course.
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