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Modding Philosophy - Models

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There are quite a few people who have made models for FS.  This got me thinking.  At what point do you draw the line for complexity of the model?

From my experiences, making models can be at times easy and at other times hard.  In general, the more complex the model, the harder.  Reasonable enough.  However, when I start work on a simple model, often I will want to add details to it, as the model's polygon count will be significantly lowed than that of a   model.

However, I have also found that the more complex a hull model, especially smaller ones such as cruisers, the much greater the amount of time and effort taken to make it look good.  I could go on about exponential factors, but I won't.  However, these more complex models also, so far, pretty much always end up looking poorer than the simpler models.  You'd think it'd be the other way around, even if the more complex version was essentially identical in overal shape.  So what point does increasing complexity have?

Many people would say that it makes the model look better, by giving it a more rounded look, etc.  I disagree.  Clean, flat planes can have their own attraction.  To me, large flat surfaces give an impression of no-nonsense design, as opposed to more 'elegant' rounded designs.  That's not to say the two cannot co-exist on the same model.  The Deimos and Aeolus are good examples of this.  The Hecate is an example of a model that is essentially defeated by it's own complexity.

However, flat planes have a problem, in that while looking clean, they also look almost unfinished.  The answer to that, I suppose, would be to add details in the form of outriggers, boxes, lumps, etc.  On the other hand, this must be done carefully, in a way that gives the impression that these added sections are somehow integral to the model, instead of simply being added on to artifically raise the polygon count.  For a perfect example, look at the Orion.  This model is of the 'slab-sided' type, has large protusions that seemingly serve no purpose and are present with no rhyme nor reason, giving an asymmetrical, very random-looking model.

That brings us to another topic, asymmetry in the model.  While assymetry is a good way to bring character to your model, it can be easily overdone or done wrong.  I believe that when doning an asymmetrical model, it should pretty much be extremely asymmetrical, as in the Ravana, or not at all.

This concludes the philosophy discourse for now.  Comments?

Robin Varley:
On the part about adding extra detail to a model; It's also easy to add detail with good texturing, the Fenris/Leviathan and the Arcadia are good examples, they look a lot more detailed than they are.

The other thing to remember when adding detail, is will anyone look at it or see it?  Especially true for fighters and bombers, most of the time they'll be zooming past you at a rate of knots or exploding.  I was quite suprised when I had a good look at the Nahema and Taurvi (sp?) usually they were a distant fireball after my trebuchet had hit  

As to the overall design of the ship, it's probably best to try and keep it similar to other ships of that species,
Heres a few things that i've noticed

Terrans, the width of the ship is less than the height.

Vasudans, flatter, wider than they are tall.

Shivans, spikey, slightly organic, insecty feel though not Gieger'esque (ie Aliens) sense.

And remember that low poly counts are good!

Good points from both of you.

There is a line to be drawn between detail, poly counts, and asthetics.

I personally love the sleek lines of the Hecules Mark 2 and its extra engines give it a very unique look to it.  There are others who argue that the Hercules original looks better and is more functional.

In any case, the key to a good looking model is a compromise between all of these factors.

Sometimes not holding it previous style is good too.  Like with the GTF Ferret, it has a completely different design and texture job than anything else in the Terran fleet, for a reason - with technological changes come phiosophical changes in design

Did you say you wanted your head used as a soccer ball?

--- Quote ---Originally posted by Robin Varley:
Heres a few things that i've noticed

Terrans, the width of the ship is less than the height.

Vasudans, flatter, wider than they are tall.

Shivans, spikey, slightly organic, insecty feel though not Gieger'esque (ie Aliens) sense.
--- End quote ---

Artimus has a lot of these, and had a very impressive look at the design concepts etc. I'll get him onto this board.

Anyway, as a texture artist, I have read some tutorials on effective texturing. Texturing is a good way to add detail to a model which doesn't have detail on the model level, but it says that there is no substitute for modelling in detail. The panels on the Arcadia are just about completely flat, but the texture pulls off an impressive trick, making detail where there is none. A good model can be made into a great model with an effective texture job.


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