Space Scene in Blender – 2017

Space Scene in Blender – 2017


At the time of making this image in Blender, I was still struggling with space scenes and was determined to improve.

I also set myself the very ambitious goal of trying to emulate one of my artistic heroes, Chris Foss, whose works cover so many science fiction books from the 1970s and 1980s.  Foss’s spaceships were marvelously shaped, often like giant insects. He also used bright colours with stripes and checkers.

Building the scene

To create the spaceship I used some basic shapes (mostly cubes) and then distorted them. The “chassis” itself was three cubes split and flattened.

I then unwrapped the two main elements of the chassis and set about creating skins that I hoped were Foss-like.

I set about adding some greebles to cover parts of the surface. So some tank-like structures and antennae. The propulsion was a distorted torus shape below the chassis. Inside the backend end of the torus I placed a sphere and set that as an emission object using fire settings.

The test render was pleasing. While nowhere near Foss quality, at least I did not feel that it was as amateurish as my previous attempts at spaceships.

The next question was the scene construction. As you will note from my first screenshot, I had already figured a standard planet and star setting and had created two spheres to represent these. Both spheres I set as emitters, but one I also added a combustion-style animation on. This was the nearer sphere – the planet. I also added two spot lights to try to making the lighting a bit more dramatic.

The subsequent test renders made me notice a few things that I wanted changing. I felt that the ship needed some windows. So, I added rows of tiny cubes set as emission objects.

I also wanted an exhaust plume and more stars. After I did the final render I added my name and was generally pleased with the output given my level of skill at the time.

Lessons Learned

Failing to plan is planning to fail

An oldy but a goody. As anyone who has read my previous posts knows, I usually (not always, but usually) like to have some sort of plan as to what I am designing. In this case, I was a bit weary from struggling with the art nouveau door and wanted something “fun”. I had always felt that my last spaceship had been a disappointment. So I just leaped into Blender and threw together a spaceship, with the vague inspiration of Chriss Foss book covers. Once I was half-way through, I started changing things because I really had no idea where I was going. The final product is, therefore, a bit of a hodge-podge. I like to believe that I should have come up with a 2D design/blueprint and then worked from that.

Model objects in a separate file to the scene file

When I started changing the design, and later adding greebles etc, I had already positioned the ship at an angle. This created all sorts of irritations for me as I tried to fit to the angle at which the ship now floated. Had I left the ship at the original angle and placement then adding objects would have been a lot less painful. So in future I will model ships, create environments and then bring both into new Blend files.

Version control

Back in the late 1990s, I was a computer programmer and I used software that managed each version of my programming files. This meant that if I stuffed things up, then I could easily look back at an earlier version. I wish I had done that with this project. At least twice I stuffed things up but could not look back. The worst time was at the end. Just after this render I decided to radically change my lighting settings (not placements, just settings). I ended up with a really crappy render. But when I tried to undo those settings I realised that I could not remember my original settings and I had overwitten.

Thanks for reading.