Thursday, February 25, 2010

Day 13 "Coordinates, Circumference, CAD and CG"

Drafting is an art unto itself and has been around for many a millennia. For the most part, I've focused on drafting things out by hand. We've used various methods to get our points of intersection, plotted out points along a curve and have used pantographing and rotoscoping to get our basic shapes for the profile of the Enterprise. Adding to this let's move onto more advanced methods and increase what we have and build upon it. The Cartesian Plane, or coordinate system has been used in mathematics for a very long time and is the basis for AutoCAD and computer graphics. We can use this plane to plot our points and lines, plot out hemispheres and for scaling the ship. For further edification on the subject, go here.

I stated earlier that the Enterprise was not much more than a collection of cones and spheres, with the exception of the primary hull, of course. However, when broken down, the primary hull can be expressed as conical and hemispherical shapes as well. I've focused on the Engineering hull thus far, because it is the place where everything begins and is what everything is attached to. The Engineering hull of the Enterprise consists primarily as a cone. Going back to one of the early photos posted here I cleaned up my plot lines to get a more accurate outline in reference to the center line.
Referring back to one of Alan Sinclair's prints we can see his engineering hull with plotted cutaways. We can use this an as example of how to take this profile in two dimensions, plot it out on a coordinate plane and turn that into a 3 dimensional cone. Each one of his cutaways are essentially diameters, these diameters can be turned into linear measurements, layed out on a sheet, cut and rolled into a cone.

Go to this link for a discussion of circumference, diameter, radius...

As you can see for cutaway "C" moving back along the horizontal from left to right we have a cone. If you decide on a size for your ship, or you just want to try and check this, print that photo up, measure each of the lines from C going back and plot that out on a separate piece of paper and roll it into a cone, you should have a conical representation of that section of the engineering hull. It follows that the more lines you plot and the closer you plot them, the more accurate the over all construction will be. Since Circumference equals.... C=(pie)d where C is circumference and pie 3.14 and d is Diameter. Start with a horizontal line, do your math for each section, divide all measurements by two, measure up and down from the horizontal, plot your lines up and down the intersecting points, cut and roll into a cylinder. This is the hard way of creating templates for conical sections of a whole. The easy way is to use the prints that you've established and take them into cad, or some other program and let the software do the work.

In my previous post I linked to a tutorial using a small, but powerful tool for working in CG and for creating card models using blueprints.

Card models, or maquettes are a valid tool for visualizing the project that you want to create and deciding what changes, if any, are required. This same method is used in Hollywood by some Art Directors to "Pre-Visualize" what models they are going to make for a film. A maquette was made of Starbase 1 before the full scale model was made for the Star Trek movie "Search for Spock." I have to laugh at this point, because when I began building my 1/350th TOS Enterprise, I started with a card model and blueprints. Some little girl said it was made of toilet paper rolls. LOL, just shows their ignorance I guess? The model was eventually made from fiberglass and bondo as well as vac formed poly-styrene, but it was visualized with a scale maquette that was made from a card model and that model was eventually resized and the templates used to create the fiberglass hull, neck and nacelles.

Moving forward.... ;)

There is a very good tutorial here, for working in LightWave and building a TOS Enterprise. Again, in CG we are using the Coordinate Plane, or Cartesean Grid.

Thus far you can see that there are many ways to skin an Enterprise and one is just as valid as the other and most are based on old techniques that have been around for centurys. You can machine one, use wood working tools, use drafting techniques, card models... Your imagination is your only limit, that and the willingness to do something more than think about something, or talk about it. I'm fond of saying "Don't talk about it, Do it!" That's because you can think and talk all you want, but you will not get out of the theoretical and into the practical until you actually do something. Anyone can be a critic of someone elses work, but it takes drive and initiative to actually try something and I might add a certain degree of confidence in your own skills. You also have to be willing to make mistakes. Mistakes are not failures, the only one who fails is the one who doesn't even try.

Anyone can be a critic. ;)

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