Back to Basics with the Enterprise-G

A few days ago, Marc Bell released his CG model of the Titan-A/Enterprise-G from the final season of Star Trek: Picard. I’ve been acutely aware for the past… fifteen years… that I don’t just hop onto the computer to mess around and make some fun spaceship pictures like I used to. Despite my attempt to get back into the groove a few years ago, it didn’t quite take, possibly because I was scratching the 3D itch at my job at the time, and then Lightwave 2018 came out and my library of models assembled over the years and tweaked to my liking became more-or-less useless.

I recently started rebuilding a new, PBR-based set of models in Lightwave 2020, mostly thanks to the models of Chris Kuhn, Marc Bell, and Alexander Klemm, but I hadn’t really done anything with them yet. This new model was a good chance to, and since it hadn’t been officially converted into Lightwave, I got to dip back into my roots a little when I had to convert anything I wanted to use. Downloading a cool new model that was just mesh and textures, and really digging into it to get it to look right. I spent the weekend building out the lighting rig and doing various minor modifications and tweaks, like breaking out the formation lights and impulse glows so they could be animated, and found picked an angle to run a test render (a good thing, too, I found a tiny sliver of window-box sticking out of the hull). I thought it looked pretty good, so I did a final version adding a basic Sun/Earth/Moon three-point light setup, and that was that.

I tried to think of something more dramatic, and thought up a concept for another image, with the Enterprise-G over the Founder’s Homeworld seen in Deep Space Nine, returning the renegade Changelings who’d infiltrated Starfleet to their own people. Luckily, my prep came in handy, and I already had a Jem’Hadar fighter and a Defiant ready to go for a suitable escort. I spent a bit of time making new decals for the Defiant-A (I know in-canon the second Defiant had the same markings as the first one, but Ron Moore wanted it to be the Defiant-A, I wanted it to be the Defiant-A, so I made it that way). I was pretty far along before I remembered the Defiant was a museum exhibit now, so I just went with it, not having any better idea what ship Deep Space Nine might have assigned to it in the PIC era (or if there’s even still a DS9 at all). Maybe they flew it out as a goodwill historical thing.


Enterprise-G by Marc Bell, Jem’Hadar Fighter by Chris Kuhn, Defiant mesh by Chris Kuhn, textures by Marc Bell, and Lightwave conversion by Matt Christou.

Star backgrounds in both images are NASA’s Deep Star Map (though I should’ve been used the fictionalized version without recognizable constellations for the second render). The Founder homeworld is NASA photo ISS048-E-010018, recolored in Photoshop to match the planet as seen on the show. Both images had compositing and post work done in After Effects.