Xeelee Nightfighter spaceship

Some time back I started to model the ships from Stephen Baxter’s “Xeelee” novels. You can see my previous efforts here. Below is my latest ship, a Xeelee Nightfighter. I started it many months ago but have only been able to work on it occasionally.

Other views :


I still need to work on the edges of the wings - from here will deploy much larger structures for use in hyperdrive. My goal is to render a short (~30s) hyperspace jump animation and eventually use the other ships I have to construct a battle scene still image.

Very nice,The metal on the ship looks very ski-fi

Loving your deisgn mate, very well thought out, I also love the material.

A couple of comments though:

  1. The engine: yeah, I’m sure your going to get around to it, just make it as awesome as the rest of the model and i’ll be happy.

  2. The wings look like they only have very small attachment points to the main body of the ship, which would probably cause some fragility problems in a battlezone, especially with larger structurs mounted on for hyperspace. maybe add a support strut or somthing along those lines. Of course, this is based on a novel so the design may or may not already been set out, but if it being designed from scratch based on a concept, it might be cool to take a look at that. :slight_smile:

  3. where is the cockpit…or bridge…or whaaat? You should probably add a sense of scale to the ship, as of now it could be any size, fighter or capital ship. I’m probably missing somthing.

Other than that, very lovely works, keep it up. I’ll be watching :smiley:

Wow, that is a cool one!
The wings reminded me of the ones on the G’ould Death Glider…
Gd gob mate!

Cheers for the replies. Here is a little update, I worked on the engine glow (it’s not perfect, but better) and the wing edges.

iliketosayblah : (2) is a deliberate choice, the Xeelee are advanced to the point of manipulating galaxies and their construction material is virtually indestructible.

(3) Mmm, that’s an interesting one… currently the cockpit is supposed to be that glowing glass dome thing. The ships are described as being ~100m wide, but deploy wings of folded spacetime 100 miles across for hyperspace (obviously I’m going to take some artistic liberties on that one !) They also quite specifically don’t have any doors or access ports or anything else that would give a sense of scale, as they may or may not be living spaceships.

DDD : thanks - that’s exactly what I was aiming for. :slight_smile:

Ok, dang it. My bad.
I was under the impression that the dome was like some sort of highly advanced engines, and the back (the REAL back) was the front of the ship, hence i saw no cockpit. Looking at the latest render, I see my mistake. Sorry about that :smiley:

Now I see it, looks veeeery nice. Keep it up.

Hmm, making the ship go the other way… actually, that’s a really tempting suggestion. It would mess with my years of Xeelee imaginings though. :stuck_out_tongue:

Here’s a quick test showing the hyperspace wings (no attempt at doing a decent composition here, just an illustration of what the full ship looks like). Now I just have to work out how to animate their deployment. Not sure if they need a more interesting material or not. Ideally, to be true to the books, they should be more transparent at the edges which I’m not sure how to do (the traditional blend sphere mapped to the z axis does not work well for this geometry).

Here’s a first attempt at animating the wing deployment. It’s not shiny enough yet, probably needs some particle effects.


That was ridiculously cool. Not being an animation expert myself just adds to the mystery :smiley:

Try adding some glow via nodes, some light emitted when the glowy thing fires off, that sort of thing.

Thanks ! It’s a mix of relative vertex keys, a volumetric halo, animated materials and the good old warp plugin. Lots of little parameters to juggle.

Quick update but this one looks much better I think - made the wings more shiny as they appear, narrowed the spotlights so they’re not quite so overwhelming, added some glow… this is almost there, I think. Then it’s a matter of making a nice backdrop.


Great stuff as always. I would go with a subdued background, so as not to detract from the vessel.

Thanks, agree about the background - I need something just bright enough to show up the wings in silhouette. Probably I’ll use several different images since I want one continuous camera pan.

Here’s the first full sequence test including the hyperspace jump. I think I probably need to tone things down a bit - the glow effect, unsteady camera and especially the warp flash seem a bit overdone to me.


Your beggining to make me want to animate :smiley: cool as ever.

I don’t think all the glow and warp flash are overdone, you have to remeber, ripping holes in the fabric of space itself is a rather chaotic process :slight_smile:

Cheers, I think you’re right, so I’ve kept them as they are. Here’s a first test of the whole shebang :

Need to work on the camera motion a bit, generally it’s OK but I don’t like the pause near the start or the awkwardness of the swing behind the ship. Also still not entirely happy with the wing deployment, I think they fade in slightly too late. I also plan to add more of a distortion effect from the warp flash.

Great stills. For some reason couldn’t download the animations - would love to see them if you upload anything to a video site. I imagined the nightfighters a little different when I read the books - less mechanical and more crystalline, perhaps, but I love your version. You should probably drop Mr. Baxter a line at some point, sure he’d be interested.

I can’t even see the stills let alone the animation! I really want to see this.

Ask and ye shall receive :

scifigene : yeah, I imagined them as super-slick, almost featureless entities. Night-black sycamore seeds a hundred miles wide would be an impressive sight, but simultaneously really boring to model and really, really hard to depict on screen. So I decided to go with a more conventional version, but I’ve tried to keep the wings reasonably true to the books.

Not sure I’d want to know what Baxter thinks… one of my favourite authors, but seems from his books to be such an angry man… he’d probably sue me for not having the ship redshifted as it accelerates or something…


I like the hyperspace jump effect!
Not too crazy about the wings deployment, but that is probably cuz it is something new, and not standard to usual sci-fi ships.
I still like it though!