View Full Version : I want to model spaceships !!!

05-26-2014, 07:06 PM
Dear Friends:

I have Ron Thornton spacecraft modeling videos.
I really loved them.
My dream is to make beautiful spaceships like Ron Thornton makes.
I am willing to spend many years trying to learn.
Please give me tips on what to do to make great spaceships like Thornton's.
Any help will be appreciated.
Thank you !!!

05-26-2014, 07:14 PM
A great tutorial on Star Trek USS Enterprise.


05-26-2014, 09:55 PM
$40 tutorial, could be useful... >


05-26-2014, 10:04 PM
$35 tutorial, Fanboy District 9 >


05-26-2014, 10:11 PM
I have posted a few free models of mine, you can study them, (maybe even swipe a few parts...you know, for study.)

05-27-2014, 05:10 AM
hereīs an interesting article with Ron Thornton and also some info on the inspirations from Steve Burg who did the initial concept art of the prometheus ship in the movie prometheus...

Steve Burg on vimeo...

05-30-2014, 11:57 AM
That Creative Bloq link addresses the one aspect of Ron Thornton's designs that I remember from way back - food. He gave an interview once that mentioned many of the spaceships were based on food of one sort of another, or at least were influenced by. He mentioned garlic in that article, but I am pretty sure a burger was mentioned somewhere.

But let your own imagination run riot - start looking for inspiration elsewhere and you'll get something unique to yourself :)

05-30-2014, 01:00 PM
Food! WHo knew? I thought a lot of Minbari ships were based on tropical fish --- which are a sort of food.

Just shows that inspiration can come from ANYwhere. That'd be a good exercise: choose a noun, and make 3 spaceships based on that.

To the OP: I got an old picture book, a 'history' of Spaceships, that I intended to model from. I only did ONE, and it was very hard and very crappy, but also very educational (translating from drawn to 3d), so I encourage you to stick with it!!! You'll probably make a lot of bad stuff at first, but don't get discouraged, it'll only get better.

stiff paper
06-01-2014, 04:56 AM
You're all recommending other, different tutorials for the OP to watch. That's unhelpful and ill condsidered (though not deliberately so, I know). Still. Knock it off.

There isn't a better resource in all the world for learning how to model a spaceship when you're just starting out than that Ron Thornton spaceship modeling VHS. There isn't. Really. Many, many people have watched that VHS and at the end been able to model a simple spaceship in LW. It could very easily be thousands of people back in the 1990s who learned to make a spaceship from Ron Thornton. You already have everything you need right there.

What I suggest is that you try to analyze, properly and accurately, where you're hitting a wall in the process.

- Is it the individual modeling tools within LW that you're not grasping?
- Is it knowing which tools to use in sequence to get the result you need?
- Is it visualizing things in 3D space within LW Modeler?
- Is it simply everything and just not knowing even where to begin?

The truth is that some sticking points are more fixable than others. For simple technical things like how to use each tool in Modeler, you just have to sit there and doggedly learn how they work. You have to learn what each tool is useful for. For understanding how to string together the tools in sequences to get the right results, watch the Thornton video and repeat what he does. You'll never be able to string things together until you have a good understanding of most of the tools in modeler, so that has to come first.

The most important thing to remember about all modeling is that the big, complex, impressive things are always built with lots of small simple steps. Mentally, it's like Lego, one tiny brick at a time -plod, plod, plod- until eventually you take a step back and find you've built the Taj Mahal. Break it down. Break it down into smaller steps.

If you have trouble visualizing 3D in Modeler... I don't know how to help with that. I'd say "Just practice" but I've no idea if it would help.

If your problem is that you simply can't think of spaceship designs... again, that may or may not be something that can be improved. People who are good at designing things like spaceships get paid a lot by Hollywood specifically because it's not something that everybody can do well. If you want to improve at it, the only process I know that works is to sit there looking at every spaceship design you can find, analyzing the shapes and forms that everything breaks down into. Trust me, everything breaks down into component forms once you start looking. Then you can analyze the smaller details, the finish, if you like. And you'll have to start drawing them.

No ifs. No buts. Draw them.

It doesn't matter if you can't draw. It doesn't matter if your drawing is clumsy and ugly. Only you will be looking at your drawings. Most people simply don't process form properly unless they draw the shape out (yes, yes, there are some people who can process form just by taking one look at it. See what I said about Hollywood designers above). Drawing things out forces your mind to try to understand the form properly. Also, even people who make VFX spaceships for Hollywood work from drawings, it's very seldom that somebody gets to (or even can) build something like a spaceship right out of their head.

There aren't any secrets. It's just a process. Work out what each smaller part is that you can't do and slog away to get better at it.

stiff paper
06-01-2014, 06:27 AM
Food! Who knew?
You could have guessed. Didn't you ever see a photo of Ron Thornton back then? As a hefty, bearded man myself, I can assure you that hefty, bearded men are quite often thinking about food. Even when we're meant to be thinking about something else. Spaceships? Mmmmm. Burger. Vorlon transport? Clove of gaaaarlic...

choose a noun, and make 3 spaceships based on that.
Okay, here's your first noun: resentment

Hmm. Wait. Not sure that works...

06-01-2014, 07:11 AM
some sources ...
http://www.foundation3d.com/forums/showthread.php?t=1281 (mostly pdf)

you also got the old lightwave tutorials on the web..site, many links unfortunatly down...

liberty3d also had a commercial training of building the classic BSG viper, but canīt find the link to it.

and simply lightwave seem to have some in depth tutorial on creating the true thing..the space shuttle Discovery. (commercial)

a way to do really detailed weird alien structure ..like in district 9 and the alien vessel juggernaut, is to use uv mapping and baking of nurnies so to speak in to displacement maps...

06-01-2014, 10:19 AM
It's challenging enough just to finish a model, let alone DESIGN IT. So, take that off your plate for a while until you know the tools, and just create OTHER people's designs.

Plenty of 2d cover art out there to plager... EMULATE, yeah, that's the ticket. Hell, a lot of 1950's illustrations were never 3d-ified.

06-01-2014, 05:44 PM
Hi all !!!
I have an idea !!! I just remember reading an old newtekniques magazine, about starship troopers animated.
It said that the artists studied real bugs and insects to have an idea on how to model the cgi bugs.
I also want to model characters (not just the spaceships) so If I study real bugs, it might help me create
nice 3d models of them. I could also study other people's spaceships, and use what I learn to make
new original spaceships.
Thank you all !!!!