Saturday, 14 March 2015

Turning Star Trek Online Characters and Ships into Star Trek Attack Wing Playing Pieces


If you’re using the Attack Wing miniatures then this isn’t an issue as they don’t have registry markings on them and you just need to mark it clearly in other ways.
However, if you, like me, are using larger models then this is how I changed the markings.

The models I’ve been using are the ‘Round 2’ 1:2500 scale kits. I decided to use my own models after seeing the, shall we say, highly variable quality and scale of the official minis. I’d prefer 1:5000 scale models but as nobody produces them, I went with 2500 scale. I’m strictly a 23rd century man which is just as well as at 2500 scale later ships can get a bit unwieldy as you can see by the size of the Excelsior here:


The nice thing about this particular set is that the registry markings come as separate decals from the hull panelling which makes it much easier to change.

As I also have the Constitution Refit in the movie set (that also includes reliant and a movie D7), and as that one has the markings as part of the hull panelling,and as I don’t really want two refit Enterprises, I decided that this one would be named something else. I went through a variety of options before suddenly thinking that it would be cool if it was my refit from the Star Trek Online game. That one seems to have a sort of brushed steel finish like the NX-01 for some reason but it was more the registry that I was interested in replicating.

The Process

So, first thing I did was scan in the decal sheet at 600dpi. 300dpi is probably enough. That’s the standard professional print resolution but I figured some of the details are very fine and at 300dpi would still be very pixelated and difficult to replicate.

Once I had the sheet scanned in, I took it into Photoshop and cut out the registries and aligned them properly.


From here I was able to overlay the relevant text and adjust the size and spacing and use an arc text distortion to fit the size and shape of the original:

 Custom Decals.jpg

The fonts I used were free ones from the internet:

Starfleet Bold Extended - for movie registry

United Federation of Planets Regular - for TOS registry

Of course, if you just want to change the registry on the TOS Constitution then you can get a custom made decal sheet with a number of options from here: 

Once I had the graphic done and I was happy with it, I copied it several times onto an A4 sized, 600dpi blank image in Photoshop. I copied it several times so that I had spares in case anything went wrong (which it did). I then printed it on to Inkjet Water-Slide Decal Paper. There are a variety of brands available from a variety of places. The one I specifically used was this one from Crafty Computer Paper:

Once printed, you give it a light coat of clear acrylic. I use Humbrol’s ‘Crystal Clear’ in a spray can but I think any clear acrylic will do it (a lot of modellers actually use Klear floor polish!). I’d avoid a matt varnish, though as it tends to leave a milky sheen desaturating the colours and lowering the contrast of your printed decals.
This done, you can cut out the decal quite close to the actual printed image, dip it in water and apply it to the model as you would normally a wet-transfer decal on a model kit. If the ink starts to run then apply another coat of clear acrylic to the rest of the sheet and try again (remember to have multiple copies of your decals on the sheet for this reason). I have yet to experience water damage to printed decals even with a very light spray coat.



This was the easy bit. I already had a fairly large screengrab of my STO Captain that I use as forum avatars:


I don’t feel qualified or experienced enough in the game to invent rules, so I decided to simply redress an existing card. As my captain is a Science Captain, I decided that Captain Spock from the Constitution Refit expansion would be ideal. So I scanned in the Spock Card at 300dpi, increased the contrast as the scan was a little grey and washed out and then fit my character’s image over the top of Spock:


Next I used a black gradient fill that transited between opaque and transparent on a small area to blend between the graphics and the image as the official cards do and had to erase a small part of it to stop it covering over the circular symbol on the top left:

Finally, I placed a small black square over Spock’s name and used a similar font to write in my character’s name.


Done. For the Captain Tokens I did a similar thing in that I scanned in a Captain Token at print resolution (300dpi) and placed my character’s image over it, erasing any part of my character's image that overlapped the token and also the area that covered the number. I also applied a ‘Stroke’ layer effect to create the yellow outline:

Wednesday, 21 May 2014

A concept painting for a level that I’m planning to put together in UDK primarily to practice with the software. It’s the mysterious pyramid complex from the Shadows module from the classic tabletop RPG, Traveller.

Modelled in Maya and painted over in Photoshop.

Monday, 24 June 2013

Mawddach the Magnificent (Pathfinder Character Portrait)

Presenting Mawddach the Magnificent, apprentice to Master Wizard, Tywyn the Terrible (deceased - well, he was terrible!)

My new 1st level Hobbit-Wizard character for Pathfinder. Painted entirely in Photoshop.

Tuesday, 4 June 2013

Angry Little Pepperpots

A WiP for a long term personal project. A MkIII and a Special Weapons variant.

The MkIII (on the right) was completed a couple of years ago and I've recently flitted, butterfly-like back to the project and modelled and UV mapped the Special Weapons Dalek (on the left).

Only the MkIII is textured yet and I am aiming for a Clone Wars style finish - colour and normal maps with very basic specular. The colour map has visible brush strokes in it and the surfaces are roughed up in the normal maps to add some interest to the surfaces rather than going for hyper-realism. It's faster, simpler (due to CW having a TV budget and production schedule) and, I think quite striking.

If I eventually texture the Special Weapons Dalek, I'll post an update.

Monday, 13 May 2013

Fringe cover for Avalon Games

This is the cover I did for Avalon games for their forth-coming RPG, Fringe. It's a space opera extravaganza encompassing space travel, aliens, beasties and ancient ruins. I tried to encapsulate all these things in a single image. I'm quite pleased with how it turned out.

Screen res image produced here with kind permission of Rob Hemminger, one of Avalons top bods.

Check out their stuff:

Saturday, 27 April 2013

NCC 2000 C Excelsior

Talking of Star Trek. This is something I did for the Excelsior Audio drama a couple of years back:

Done in Photoshop, painting over a basic 3D mesh:


Okay, so I've been making and creating but I can't talk about any of it yet, so I'm afraid this is more old stuff.

My Bat'Leth that I forged from MDF a couple of years ago.

I made a pair of these years ago, even before I was a model maker and learned the tricks. They were terrible. Cut from Plywood, there was no attempt to hide the wood grain and they were sprayed car silver which is essentially just shiny grey and they were bound in string!  Still, I was proud of them at the time and my mate, Darren whom I made the second one for treasured his.

Anyway, for years I've been meaning to make another one and do it properly, so using Dan Curry's original sketch and some TV ref I made up a 1:1 drawing and printed it out.

Once I had the printed drawing, I taped it to some standard 9mm MDF like so.
It was originally going to be 6mm MDF but once I actually picked the sheet up in B&Q it felt unbelievably flimsy, so I opted for 9mm at the last moment.

The basic shape was then jigsawed out of the MDF thus:

 Next, I created a spacer by taping two pencils and a pen together side by side and used it to draw a parallel line around the blade edge of the weapon. I then drew, by eye, a line along the centre of the actual edge.

Once the blade edge lines were drawn, I cut the edge into the blade by hand with a stanley knife.
I now have the basic shape ready for sanding and refining.

Sanded smooth and sealed (1st pass).
MDF has fluffy edges, almost like pulp cardboard so it needs to be sealed somehow and this was a bit of a headscratcher. I know at the Model Makers we used to use a yellowy solution, but I couldn't for the life of me remember what.
The only advice I could find online was to use expensive, environment-rotting chemicals that required an NBC suit and a lead-lined container. So that was no good.
It seemed reasonable to me that I just need something non-soluble that dried solidly but started as a liquid so as to soak into the fluffy edges and clog it up ready for sanding. I did a test piece using slightly watered down 'no-more-nails' and it seemed to work fine. It's still a bit fluffy and will need at least another pass - if not two or three - but eventually it should be ready for priming. Then it's a case of Sand, fill, prime. Sand, fill, prime. Sand, fill, prime. Sand, fill, prime. Until it's glassy smooth and ready to be sprayed silver.

KBO! So I gave it three or four coats of watered-down-no-more-nails and that seemed to do the trick rather nicely.
Once that was done, I gave it it's first coat of primer. Then I located all the 'dinks', marked them with a pencil, then filled them with a dot of P38 Car Body Filler. Once that was done, I sanded the whole thing virtually back to the MDF with 120 grit and then went over it again with 360 to give it an almost glassy smooth finish. I've just applied the second coat of primer and it looks spanking gorgeous. This makes me happy.

Nearly done. The second coat of primer looked pretty slick but a tiny bit coarse, so I've run over it with some 1200 wet and dry to make it shiny and smooth. I'm not entirely sure this is a good idea. I can't help feeling that the primer would be better off slightly rough to help the final coat adhere better but as it's silver paint, I think the shinier the surface it's sprayed onto the more 'metal' it'll look. I mean, it's still going to look like wood sprayed silver but short of getting it electroplated it's the best I can do. To be fair, this is probably far more finished than the actual screen props were :)

Talking of sand paper, 1200 is pretty fine but at the Model Makers we used to sometimes use 6000 grit. It felt like a sheet of rubber and was apparently used to polish the MFD screens in Tornado fighter planes!

.....aaaand, SILVER! Unfortunately I'm a little dissapointed with the finish. The silver ramps up the contrast of the lighting and exaggerates the blemishes in the surfaces. So all the little dinks that were barely perceptible in the primer layer are now much more visible. Equally the uneven blade edge that was barely noticeable on the primed version now looks quite crude and clumsy :( - All of this, however is only really obvious on close inspection. From a few feet away, it actually looks quite impressive. So now I have to decide if it's worth the effort to try and sand back a few areas and re-do them. I've also got to find some (fake) fur, leather and suede from somewhere to bind the grips.

Q'apla! It is done. Having sanded it right back, resprayed it and left it a couple of weeks in the loft to dry, I finally took a stab at binding the grips. The silver paint is already starting to get scratched and worn away on the points and that's from really quite light contact with random surfaces (even though I've been really careful not to make it contact anything - sigh) but it'll have to do. Short of machining it out of steel or spraying it shiny grey (what normally passes for silver) I don't have much of a choice.

I'm not entirely happy with the grips. I was hoping the variety of materials would give it a more primal, tribal feel but it just looks more like a sort of brown rainbow :( I might add some bits of cloth, lace and beads to give it some character, though.