how to add greeble to a spaceship?


after a year or so of blender absinence (yet again out of lack of time… :frowning: ) I’m trying to finally finish my spaceship.

But I am struggeling where I left of: Adding greeble to the spaceship. Meaning: doors, lights, hullplating…etc. just little stuff, that make the hull look not so flat and helps to judge the scale of the ship…

The artistic part is not the problem and I will have to come up with the ideas for myself, my problem is how to add the small stuff?

1.) I tried to do it the proper way and extrude parts of the orignal mesh, which quickly led to frustration. My main problem is how to add the small void between the hull plating!
When I try to model it out of the base mesh, I have to add lots and lots of ne edges and faces, to avoid the subsurfing loking aweful.

Will it look better to just add independant meshed for each plate nad just leave the space between those individual meshes or will that lead to chaos along the way, when I want to change to base form of the spaceship?

2.) Even trickier is adding holes (for weapons, etc) into the hull? How do I cut holes into the hull with the least amount of destruction to the whole form of the spaceship?

I hope you can understand what I am talking about… Otherwise I will have to add some screenshot to highlight my problems.

What you need may a detail normal map and textures.

Thats the conclusion I reached yesterday. However, I would really rather model the plates, mainly because of shadow-casting…

Is there a possibility to create a new mesh with a defined distance to another mesh?
The effects would be if I move a vertex of the parent-mesh I move the corresponding vertex of the child mesh?

normal/tangent maps are your friends :slight_smile:

Normal maps are just bumpmaps, right?
Tangent-maps are normalmaps with additional direktion of the normals, right?

Both do not cast shadows, I guess I will have to try displacement modifier? But that only works fast with multires and multires destroys all my hard subsurf-edges… :frowning:

Btw: how can you quickly create tangent maps?

I’m not quite sure on the limitations of bump maps, as I haven’t had the need for them yet, but I think they should suffice for your first problem; some dark lines on a greyscale map should translate to fairly effective plating and if not, you can convert the map to a normal map, which I think will get you the desired effect. Bump and normal maps don’t cast shadows, but I wouldn’t worry about that on the hull plating for a second.

For the second part, I know it sounds like terrible advice, but with enough edges, you can make any shape out of a subsurfed mesh. A common problem with ugly subdivision is that people don’t have enough divisions in their base mesh.

If I were you, I think I would model each part separately, kind of like a space ship is built in real life. Then I would put it all together, like pieces of a toy.

I think a good way to make fast normal maps is to make a plane, and bake floaters on to it. Unwrap your plane. Then make a separate object, like another plane, and model whatever you are looking for… You can make some dents, or whatever. Once you made that object, you can hover it above your plane, and duplicate it, or make an array, or whatever you want to make some details. It might look something like this:

Then you can select all the objects, and bake a tangent space texture map. The bake is in the render panel, if you are unsure how to do it, I’ll explain further. Make sure you save before you bake, blender might crash, and that would be frustrating.

You may end up with something that looks like this.

I don’t think it will work for plating, but for many other details it will.

Have you tried the Discombobulator script?

I don’t like Normal Maps for such things either. The Discombombulator is one option, doing it manually is another. It takes time and patience, but it is possible. You can add small detail with the script and add important structures manually with Alt+D. That helps to create a “flow” within the greebling (to make it interesting) and to add objects which are not only cubes.

I have used the discombulator-script. However, it creates a too chaotic or too simple look for my taste. At least for use as greeble. Also it uses small cubes for the greeble which dramatically increases the vertex-count in the scene and makes rendering very slow (especially when using AO!)

I think I will use a sperate mesh for the major plates and appliances and I will try to use normal/bump map for the small stuff…

Thank you for your constructive replies.

There is one question open, though:

How can I cut organic holes in a organic mesh without destroying the structure of the mesh and without letting subsurfing run into trouble?
If I would add enough loopcuts to make it look good, there are way too much “useless” edges there, which mess up the topography at other places… :frowning: