View Full Version : The most loved and hated image in Lightwave! (B5 Story)

01-29-2014, 09:16 AM
"Textures can hide a multitude of sins. I reckon that’s rule 1 of page 1 of my guide to model making…….. at least it would be if I had one.

There’s no two ways about it though, the quality of the textures on a 3D model can make or break the desired illusion – and those used on B5 are one of the things that helped sell the idea of CGI at the time – giving the models a more realistic appearance. It’s an art form in its own right.

As someone once described it – “The most loved and hated image in Lightwave!”.

It’s probably something which the Lightwave users on here – and anyone who has ever built a B5 related 3D model - are well familiar with. It’s also the B5bighulgrey which Paul Bryant is referring to in this post. A remarkably simple, yet effective, idea.


A generic all purpose texture map like that, though not ideal of course, did a pretty good job of it at the time, and was originally created on…….. actually I’m not sure what software was used – Dpaint, ToasterPaint, help me out here those among us who know a hell of a lot more about this stuff than I do. : )

Whatever it was, I know it wasn’t Photoshop as that was only available on Macs when the show was first being made. As the hardware and software began to improve, so did the quality of the texture maps being created. The first ship to have custom made maps was the rarely seen Icarus, that had Sheridan’s wife on it when off to visit the Shadow home world. By the time you get to season 3 and the White Star, the textures where getting a LOT better and some quite remarkable effects where being achieved – especially when you consider stuff like UV mapping was still a few years away. Here’s a couple of extracts from the interview with Ron Thornton.

“The Icarus was special for me because it was the first ship where I was able to make custom image maps for the whole thing. The previous generic maps looked quite good for moving shots, but fell apart on the stills. I look at them now and retch, though they were good for the time. But I was never able to expand on this idea as at the end of season 3 Netter decided he wanted his own FX facility. (But that’s another story)………….

……………No, it wasn't bump mapped. But there was some hefty specular maps used on the White Star. It was made with a color layer, a spec layer and a dirt layer that was very very subtle on that one because it was supposed to be a fairly new ship.

The basic pattern came from a piece of software called Kai’s Power Tools. It was a procedural pattern generator, and I was looking for something organic that was somewhat like the Vorlon ship but wasn’t just a noise pattern – something a little more sexy. So I generated a repeating texture, got it into Photoshop and airbrushed all the veins onto it. That became the base for each of the layers, which were further processed. The white surfaces ended up looking somewhat pearlescent, which was on purpose, because I wanted to try and recreate the same kind of look that was on the movie version of the Enterprise.”