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.

Stargate 2020 (Pegasus Version)

Orthographic diagrams of the model1Atlantis Expedition Logo by CmdrKerner
Showcase animation of the model and effects

“Stargate 3.1 (Pegasus Version)” for Lightwave 2020, Released July 30, 2021 (CC0) —53 MB

Conversion Kits:

After over a year, I’ve reached the end of my 2020 pandemic modeling project with the completion of the version of the stargate used in Stargate Atlantis. Alongside the movie and SG-1 versions, that makes a complete set for this basic design.2The Universe version being a totally different design, and the Origins version being intended to match the movie version, even if it didn’t quite hit the mark perfectly. While I don’t think I’m quite done with Stargate just yet, I’m probably done with modeling actual stargates for a while.

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1 Atlantis Expedition Logo by CmdrKerner
2 The Universe version being a totally different design, and the Origins version being intended to match the movie version, even if it didn’t quite hit the mark perfectly.

Stargate 2020 (Milky Way Version)

Orthographic diagrams of the model1SGC Logo by mikepjr
Orthographic diagrams of the model with chevrons omitted
Showcase animation of the model and effects

“Stargate 3.0 (Milky Way Version)” for Lightwave 2020, Released March 28, 2021 (CC0) —80 MB

Conversion Kits:

Main Model

Inner Rings With Alternate Origin Symbols

Continuing with my work on building a new stargate model, and in advance of the Atlantis-style ‘gate, we have the flagship version, the stargate as it appeared in the series Stargate SG-1, give a take a few alterations and enhancements.

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Stargate 2020 (Film Version)

Orthographic diagrams of the model
Alternate views with the chevrons locked, and unobstructed views of the Earth and Abydos versions of the inner ring glyphs
Showcase animation of the model and effects.

“Stargate 3.1 (Film Version)” for Lightwave 2020, Released March 22, 2021 (CC0) —44 MB

Conversion Kits:
FBX Version (CC0)—78 MB
FBX Animation Templates (CC0)—0.1 MB
OBJ Version (CC0)—87 MB
Texture Reference (CC0)—24 MB

Since last summer, I’ve been working on a new 3D model of the stargate in Lightwave, my third attempt. Since I last built a stargate model in 2006 (with small updates afterward), my skill as a modeler has increased, and reference material is far more plentiful. That includes behind-the-scenes photos, low-res but still useful construction diagrams from auction websites, HD home video releases of the movies and television shows, and, most importantly, high-res photos from Les Enfants de Mac Gyver, a group creating a duplicate of the SG-1 stargate setpiece using pieces of the screen-used version purchased at auction as well as their own copious research. There are many sections of this model where I simply wouldn’t have been able to even guess at what went where without their detailed and plentiful photos of their stargate being assembled, disassembled, and otherwise worked on.

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100 Days, 100 Renders— Day 94

Full-Sized Image

“It was an early Earth president, Abraham Lincoln, who best described our current situation; ‘The dogmas of the quiet past are inadequate to the stormy present. The occasion is piled high with difficulty, and we must rise to the occasion. We cannot escape history. We will be remembered in spite of ourselves. The fiery trial though which we pass will light us down in honor or dishonor to the last generation. We shall nobly save, or meanly lose, our last, best hope of Earth.’”