How to build a sci-fi model in Blender

We chat to the winner of 3D Squirrel's Outpost Challenge and get the secrets of his success.

Starship Invincible by Alan Guyant

Starship Invincible by Alan Guyant

Earlier in the year, 3D Squirrel launched a unique modelling challenge for 3D artists in association with 3D World magazine. They invited artists to create either a single 3D model suitable for a remote Outpost or multiple assets that could be placed together to make "an intriguing scene".

Be inspired by these incredible examples of 3D art

This week on Creative Bloq we're bringing you the winning designs, along with some insights from the artists on how they were made, and tips for those who wish to follow in their footsteps.

Previously we heard from third-place winner Arlene DeCambre and runner-up, Frederic Bessy. Today it's the turn of Alan Guyant. His winning entry can be seen above, and you can view it in 3D here.

01. Where does your interest in sci-fi models spring from?

I love anything sci-fi. Every single one of my favourite TV shows all belong in the sci-fi category. My bedroom is adorned with various models of the Enterprise from Star Trek. Sci-fi has just always been something that I've been interested in for as about long as I can remember, whether books, movies or TV.

Sci-fi is a big inspiration for Guyant

When I sit down to create something, it's hard for me to think of much else. In my mind, 3D modelling’s main purpose is to make robots and spaceships.

02. Why did you use Blender for this project?

I used Blender for this and nearly all of my projects mainly because it's free. I don't do computer art for a living as of yet, so I don't have a lot of cash to buy CG tools with, but I don't feel like I'm limited or disadvantaged in any way by using it. In fact, I feel far more limited by my own creativity and expertise than any limits Blender may have.

03. What process did you follow?

Blender’s texture painting tools and Gimp were both used for the build

I started with a very simple concept sketch on a piece of scrap paper, just to get the basic shape down, then I began by modeling the bigger sections.

Once the main hull of the space station was created I began filling in all the various areas with small details. I then textured the bigger hull sections using both Blender’s texture painting tools and Gimp.

04. How did you approach the lighting?

Usually with lighting I try and show off a decent amount of specular with the brightest light coming from behind the model.

I then use global illumination to light the rest of the model. For the main render, the lighting is not meant to be realistic at all, which gave a lot of freedom to illuminate each part of the scene how I felt.

05. What were the biggest technical challenges in building this model?

Accuracy was key to the success of the build

One of the biggest technical challenges would have to be accuracy. Because of the attempt at creating the illusion of scale there is a lot of very thin, very small parts to the model, there is a very fine line between having the edge of a polygon embedded nicely inside a wall where no-one would see it, and having it poking right through the hull of the space station.

06. What tips do you have for people entering similar competitions?

Make sure your project isn't too big or too small, don't decide you're going to work on a perfect model of entire New York and never finish it on time but also make sure your project isn't so small you'll be wasting half the contest duration just sitting there.

You can find more information about future competitions at the 3D Squirrel website.

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