C-21 Dragon Assault Ship from AVATAR.

Discussion in 'Science Fiction & Fantasy' started by Haereticus, Feb 9, 2012.

  1. Haereticus

    Haereticus Member

    Hello everyone -

    Sorry if this is the wrong place for this.

    I'm pretty new to the forums, although I've been doing papercraft for a while. I enjoy building my own 3D models from scratch using Wings 3D, a free, open-source program which is quite simple, but I find very intuitive. I'm pretty much self-taught. I've made several models which I intended to publish online (as papercraft), but I've got very little experience texturing, and that's always a major impediment to ever bringing my project to fruition - I work on a Mac, so couldn't use Pepakura, and I didn't have Photoshop. I've been trying to teach myself Inkscape and Gimp but without terribly nice results so far.

    Prior projects that never made it past the completion of the mesh include the Planet Express building from the TV cartoon Futurama and the incomplete version of Space Station V, from 2001: A Space Odyssey. Incidentally, if anybody wants to have a look at them or collaborate in completing either of them, drop me a PM. They're both build from the ground up to be converted into papercraft, including a internal supportive structure where necessary.

    My most recent endeavour has been the C-21 'Dragon' gunship from Avatar. I'm nearing completion of the mesh, and I wanted to show you guys my progress, partly so that you could give me helpful advice on completing it, and partly to give myself some motivation to actually finish it and publish it for the enjoyment of all. It has been built from reference shots from the film, video game, 2 books and some fortuitous and extremely useful pictures I found of the 3D model being used by Fantastic Plastic for the production of their resin kit.

    Here are some pictures of the mesh so far:

    Top view

    Rear left view

    Front view (I'd have given orthogonal projections but for some reason they're appearing weirdly)

    Front right view, hard edges selected.

    Right view of pilot's cockpit.
    Checklist of parts for completion:
    Gunnery cockpit
    Various armaments (detailing of rocket arrays, addition of weapons sponsons and turrets)
    Manual Boolean subtraction of geometries to ensure the final paper parts would fit together.
    Rudimentary optional interior and interior strengthening/shaping structure
    Minor detailing
    Revision of fore and aft rotor attachments
    At this stage my main questions are basically how I should go on from completing the mesh - whether it's best to texture before unfolding or if I should just take the Pepakura output and work with that, and whether I should go vector or bitmap. I think I'd like to publish it in PDF format, for its universality, and I think 1:144 scale would be about right - at 41.5 metres long, it should come out to be around 288 mm long. I've now got access to Windows 7, which I will be installing using Boot Camp when I've cleaned up my HDD, and an old copy of Photoshop Elements that I know my way around with reasonable skill.

    I'd be fairly happy to distribute a 'beta' copy of the mesh for any long-standing member of the forums with relevant expertise. I intend to publish the final mesh as well as the PDF online, for free, under a Creative Commons license.

    So, comments, tips and constructive criticism of my progress so far would be most welcome.

    TL;DR - I'm a novice and terrible at finishing projects, but I'd like some help texturing and publishing this one. What do you think?
  2. Rhaven Blaack

    Rhaven Blaack ADMINISTRATOR Administrator

    It looks to me that you are doing a really good job on it so far.

    Are you planning to do any of the other AVATAR ships as well?
  3. Haereticus

    Haereticus Member

    Thanks for the encouragement! I'll probably have a stab at the Samson afterwards, if I can get some reasonable references. I think I saw that someone online made an impressively detailed mesh for one, which was of much better quality than I would be able to achieve. I believe I saw a post of his somewhere that indicated he may not have been totally adverse to letting people use it, so it's possible that he would let someone work on converting that into a (less detailed) form that could be unfolded.

    EDIT: He's called liamk887, a freelance 3D artist, and his stuff is awesome. I suppose it's possible that he'd help if somebody wrote him a very nice email, but as a professional it's possible that he wouldn't want to get involved like a hobbyist might.

    EDIT 2: I did write him an email and I'm eagerly awaiting a response.
  4. Dented Rick

    Dented Rick Human

    I was thinking of doing the Space Ship seen at the beginning of the film.

    Great job so far on the Dragon, Haereticus :thumb:
  5. Rhaven Blaack

    Rhaven Blaack ADMINISTRATOR Administrator

    Are you talking about the "MOTHER SHIP" or the "SHUTTLE"?
  6. Haereticus

    Haereticus Member

    I'd really like to build a model of the ISV Venture Star, Dented Rick, so I'd definitely encourage that! It'd be incredibly fragile (they mention that the structure would collapse without weightlessness). I guess you could print a lot of the fine structure onto transparencies to reduce the delicacy somewhat.
  7. Dented Rick

    Dented Rick Human

    The mother ship. Not sure how well it would translate to paper, but the 3D rendition would be exciting to say the least :)
  8. Haereticus

    Haereticus Member

    Thinking of all these large models of spaceships kind of makes me want to start an amazing DVD/video game store that has them hung from the ceiling - you could do a sweet diorama with uhu02's Discovery One, EVA pod and a giant monolith, or the beginning of Star Wars IV, or Avatar, all rendered in paper models on the ceiling. If anyone here owns a video store or knows someone who does...
  9. Tirick

    Tirick Member

    Texture, then Pepakura. At the minimum, UV map, then export and open in Pep. Pep can import replacement textures so long as there is an existing UV map on the mesh.

    Absolutely brilliant, BTW!

  10. Haereticus

    Haereticus Member


    Hi all,

    Just a quick update. I've got started on parts of the texture - although the mesh isn't finalised, most of it now won't undergo any changes. I ran an ambient occlusion and have been exporting the colours into large 4096x4096 textures, which I've been editing in Gimp, of which I think I've got a fairly good understanding. At this rate it will take me quite a while to complete!

    Here's a picture of my first complete part, the duct around the rear right fan (equally applicable to all 4 fans, fortunately).

    Screen shot 2012-02-11 at 07.09.35.jpg
  11. RocketmanTan

    RocketmanTan Well-Known Member

    Looks great! My first design on this forum was that ship, I believe. Oh god was that a pile of crap! sign1

    Can't wait for this one!


    I'm likin' it! :)
  13. Zathros

    Zathros Guest

    If you never got past the C.G. model, it would still be quite an achievement!! :)
  14. F131

    F131 Member

    I'm digging this model. Great modeling work!
  15. Haereticus

    Haereticus Member

    Thanks for the feedback! I hope that I can keep the rest of the textures up to that standard. I was just wondering a couple of things - would you prefer an (optional and not very detailed) cargo/AMP bay to be included? Would it be good to include several options for the pilot decal (Quaritch has a yellow Chinese dragon, but I could potentially design others and a blank one) and numbers (Quaritch's is 887)? Also, what would you recommend for the internal supportive structure?


    depends on how much interior detail you're putting in it. If none, just use either box segments (like Jan's Sulaco) or ribbing.
  17. Haereticus

    Haereticus Member

    I've never actually built a particularly sizeable model - how much in the way of supportive structure actually needs to go in? Will 3 ribs along the length do the trick?

    I've finished texturing the rear engine and ducted fan setup - pictures below. The white lines are just an artifact of Wings 3D struggling to render it all, not flaws in the texture. I'm afraid that judging by the speed it was running just showing the engine and the turbine I won't ever see the whole model textured unless I scale the textures down significantly.
    Screen shot 2012-02-13 at 11.08.04.jpg
    Screen shot 2012-02-13 at 11.08.54.jpg
  18. Zathros

    Zathros Guest

    I would plan on doing some crosswise formers also. I might laminate on some interior pieces to prevent the frames from showing. This looks fantastic!! :)
  19. splicer2400

    splicer2400 New Member

    Very cool. Look forward to seeing more of this
  20. Haereticus

    Haereticus Member

    Another quick update

    Thanks for the feedback, guys, it's really encouraging.

    I've just been brushing up the odd bit and piece on the mesh. Here's a couple of bits I've added; a weapons sponson, a turret, and the gunner's cockpit. All that remains is the missile sponsons on the side that Jake falls on to, the internal details for the cockpits, and to touch up the geometry to ready it for unfolding. Then texturing will start in earnest.

    Screen shot 2012-02-19 at 12.15.10.jpg

    Can anyone offer any advice as to whether I should publish this in 1:100 (415 mm long) or 1:144 (288 mm long)? Or both? (Or all three?) Should I leave the miniguns as cylinders?

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