A L I E N Narcissus

Discussion in 'Studio Scale Models' started by NS4, Nov 15, 2017.

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  1. NS4

    NS4 Well-Known Member

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    I am currently working on a digital model of the studio scale Narcissus from the 1979 Alien movie and thought I might share some of my work.

    I have spent the past few years collecting reference images and information and I now think I am at the point where I have the info I need to create a very exact replica.

    The initial issue with trying to build this particular model is that of reference.
    The ship went was meant to go over to the US for display with a number of other models and props to promote the movie, but before it even left it went "missing" and was never seen again.
    This means that there is a zero possiblity of getting any photos or reference that aren't at least 30 odd years old now.
    Thankfully, the guys in the model shop were pretty keen to document thier work and there are dozens of WIP photos "out there".
    I have been scouring the net for the past few years and have what I believe are all the publically available references.

    For this build, I want to make it as accurate to the original as humanly possible.
    After seeing a number of projects utilising photogrammetry, I was keen to see if I could use the technology for this build. Unfortunately, with the model no longer around and the existing photos not of a high enough quality and quantity to be usable and the fact that they are film based images (which have probably been scanned/cropped/modified), it means that it is just not a viable option.

    I took another approach... I built a base 3D model, and then used the known kit parts as reference for the initial scaling. Once this was done, I then imported the model into sketchup and attempted to match the exact angle and focal length of the photos to the model (using it's rather niffty "photomatch" utility). Having done this, it was then a matter of tweaking the model a fraction of a mm at a time and re-matching it to the photos. All sounds simple, but I have "tweaked" hundreds of "versions" of the model now over the past year, BUT I do have it matched very closely to 24 separate reference images. As it current sits, this is only for the main "body" of the ship, but its amazing how much I am able to pick up regarding its geometry and how it was constructed. You can see areas of the model which should be symetrical, but clearly were not - not surprising considering this is a hand fabricated model made 30 years ago!. BUT, this technique will allow me to match even these "oddities" exactly.

    Now that the main body is complete/matched, it is now a fairly simple (if time consuming) exersize of adding all the styrene/plasticard and kit parts to the model and adjusting the sizing and positions to align with the reference photos.
    When it's done, I don't believe it would be possible to get it any more accurate without actually having access to the original model.


    Some screen shots of the 3D model (in yellow) photo matched and overlayed on the reference photos to illustrate:


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    Last edited: Nov 16, 2017
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  2. Lee S

    Lee S Sr Member

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  3. NS4

    NS4 Well-Known Member

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    Cheers Lee.
    Love your Flickr photo set - bookmarked!

    I actually started the model a while back now, so I'm a little more advanced than the above post.
    Will post more shortly.
     
  4. edspaged2

    edspaged2 Well-Known Member

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    Very nice!

    i took photos of a Narcissus model at the Seattle MOPOP museum a few months ago. Does anybody know the history of that one?
     
  5. NS4

    NS4 Well-Known Member

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    Thanks!
    The one in Seattle is from Aliens (1986).
     
  6. NS4

    NS4 Well-Known Member

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    Adding the plasticard/styrene plating and a few kit parts to the model and carfully matching them to the references.


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  7. joberg

    joberg Master Member

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    Sub! Will follow your thread with interest!!
     
  8. NS4

    NS4 Well-Known Member

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    Next up - the main rear engine cowls.
    The originals were cast from a master made by Martin Bower constructed from cut up sections of ABS pipe, but you can see from the rear view that the casts were quite warped.

    Capture13a.JPG


    This leads to the age old "do I replicate the asymmetry and inconsistencies, or build a more idealised version?" question...
    I think I will go with 4 identical copies as was originally intented by the model makers.

    Modelled and matched to the reference photos:


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  9. NS4

    NS4 Well-Known Member

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    All the styrene has now been added to the ships frame and matched to the reference photos.
    It has taken many tweaks/revisions/iterations over the past year to get the this stage!

    The model overlayed over the references:

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  10. joberg

    joberg Master Member

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    Looking very good so far!
     
  11. NS4

    NS4 Well-Known Member

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    Thanks Joberg!
     
  12. NS4

    NS4 Well-Known Member

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    Quck youtube clip showing the overlayed model and references:

     
    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 8, 2018
  13. joberg

    joberg Master Member

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    Looking very good. Eager for the next update.
     
  14. EE89

    EE89 New Member

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    VERY impressive!

    Regards,
    Marc
     
  15. Lee S

    Lee S Sr Member

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    Wow, you're zipping along!!
     
  16. NS4

    NS4 Well-Known Member

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    Thanks Joberg.
    Don't get too used to the rapid updates as they are about to slow down!

    Cheers Marc! :)

    Thanks Lee. Unfortunately the thread is a little deceptive as its taken the past year to get to this stage.
    I have another post to make shortly and that will have me all caught up.
    I'm hoping to put some more time into it shortly though.
    I might have to bug you for some part ID's at some stage - if thats OK?
     
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  17. NS4

    NS4 Well-Known Member

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    After a lot of work and much tweaking, I have managed to get the underside engine bay done and matched to the references:


    Capture17.JPG

    Big thanks go to Keith (Astrocat) and Lee S for a lot of the ID's (from the old Narcissus thread) :thumbsup

    That pretty much bring the thread up to date.

    The next step is to continue adding kit parts to the rest of the ship, a section at a time.
    Most of the parts are modelled, but I do still have some left to do.
    I will post another update when I get the next section done.
     
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  18. NS4

    NS4 Well-Known Member

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    Work continues on fitting the rest of the kit parts to the underside of the ship.

    Overlay:

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    Render:

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  19. NS4

    NS4 Well-Known Member

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    Chipping away at it slowly - rear underside detailing bewteen the engines done.


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  20. srspicer

    srspicer Active Member

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    Outstanding!
     
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  21. vfxsup64

    vfxsup64 Well-Known Member RPF PREMIUM MEMBER

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    I totally dig your work-flow...!

    Very nice work - looking forward to seeing more!



    apb
     
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  22. NS4

    NS4 Well-Known Member

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    Thanks Srspicer - much appreciated!

    Thank you Andre,
    It was your Falcon thread (and SteveStarkillers) that planted the seed for the idea to attempt doing this in the first place - so thank you very much!
    I would have loved to have done it with photogrammetry, but with the model "gone", it was just not possible unfortunately.
    This was the next logical step.

    I'm currently locking down kit part ID's.
    Will post more progress when I can.
     
  23. NS4

    NS4 Well-Known Member

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    Working my way around the ship, I have been modelling each of the kit part as I have needed them.
    What I didn't do at the time, was give each of those parts a meaningful name *Doh!*

    So, for the past week, I have been going back over all the kit parts and IDing them to give them a name that includes the kit manufacturer, scale and model name.
    This will help with part maps later, if I need them.
    It's really quite deceptive how much detailing is actually on this model (250 different kit parts modelled so far).

    With the majority of that now done, I have managed to finish off most of the underside:

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  24. joberg

    joberg Master Member

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    Beauty!! Eager to see the rest; it's going to be epic!
     
  25. NS4

    NS4 Well-Known Member

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    Thanks Joberg.
    I hope so - I have put more time and effort into this than any sane man should!!
     
  26. joberg

    joberg Master Member

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    I should know about "insane":D I've built that 2001 Space Station by myself for 4 years! I hope you'll keep the up the great work and that, all in all, it'll be less years to accomplish.
     
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  27. NS4

    NS4 Well-Known Member

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    lol Joberg - I guess you're right! (LOVE your build by the way).
    I suppose the RPF isn't really representative of the sanity of "normal" folks anyway :D

    I will definitely keep working on it.
    I'm hoping to start a physical build sometime in the new year, once the digital model is done.
     
  28. vectorzero

    vectorzero Well-Known Member RPF PREMIUM MEMBER

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    I love your build. I love even more the need to label each part with its provenance! Its threads like these that keep me coming back day after day. Brilliant work.
     
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  29. NS4

    NS4 Well-Known Member

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    Thank you so much, I really appreciate the kind words Vectorzero.

    Currently still working on kit part modelling, ID's and placement on the ship.
    Heres a snapshot of some of the 250 kit parts I have modelled so far:

    Capture26.jpg

    Will post again when I have made some more progress.
     
  30. srspicer

    srspicer Active Member

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    wow, amazing attention to detail!!!
     
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  31. NS4

    NS4 Well-Known Member

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    Thanks! :thumbsup
     
  32. joberg

    joberg Master Member

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    Whoooot:eek doesn't seems like it, but the number of greeblies is fast approaching maximum velocity;)
     
  33. NS4

    NS4 Well-Known Member

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    :lol

    I'm going to be adding even more shortly, as I start detailing the area in front of the lower engines:

    Capture28.jpg

    Here is my current progress:

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    It's taken quite a few hours to dial in just this single piece, as I needed to match the way it has been modified/cut - which as it turms out is just off square and also rotated (not by much, but it is defintely there).

    After all that work, it's reassuring to notice that it's location is verified on another reference shot (which I hadn't even noticed that you could see it from):

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  34. Decky

    Decky Active Member

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    Looks great. Nice job.

    Thinking of 3d printing any of the parts for the physical build?
     
  35. NS4

    NS4 Well-Known Member

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    Thanks Decky.

    Yes definitely.
    The engines and cowls primarily (these were hand sculpted and then cast on the original) and the non kit parts (rear side jets and wing "clamps").

    I'm also toying with the idea of doing up sprues for some of the kit parts and having them printed too.
    Once I have finished the model I can compile a complete list of all the parts required and decide which way to go from there...still a little way off before I get to that stage though.
     
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  36. joberg

    joberg Master Member

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    Yes! Very detailed work going on here:cool
     
  37. NS4

    NS4 Well-Known Member

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    Happy New Year All!
    Hope you're having a great break.

    I took a little time off myself, so not much progress to report.
    I did manage to finish off modelling and positioning the last of the kit parts for the underside of the ship (apart from the Tyrell P34 shrouds, but I'm awaiting arrival of the kit to scan - more info on that below).

    Here is a simple rendering of the ship as of today:

    Capture30.jpg

    I'm currently in the process of acquiring the kits needed for the ship.
    As it stands, I have a list of 30 (not including any that are used on the cockpit).
    Unfortunately, some of them are quite rare and hard to get.
    I will be looking at around $2K for just one copy of each (and multiple copies of some kits were used).

    I have a side project currently on the go which has seen me construct (cobble together) a photographic light tent/box.
    The purpose of which is for me to 3D scan all of the kits (by way of photogrammetry), and create exact digital versions of the parts used (well, thats the plan anyway)
    My current methodology, of using calipers is fine and works, but I want them to be exact.

    More to come soon.
     
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  38. joberg

    joberg Master Member

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    Lots of work in perspective! This model is more complicated than meets the eye;)
     
  39. NS4

    NS4 Well-Known Member

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    Hey Joberg - It sure is!
    Its crazy how much is crammed into this little ship.
    I really have to tip my hat to Phil Rae - he did any incredible job of the detailing on this ship - love it.

    There are around 300 kit parts on the underside of the ship alone

    ...and here is the model overlayed over an underside reference photo for an indication of where we are currently:

    Capture31.jpg

    Thanks again to LeeS for some kit part ID help :thumbsup
     
    Last edited: Jan 2, 2018
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  40. joberg

    joberg Master Member

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    300 parts!:eek Greeblies Central:)
     
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  41. EE89

    EE89 New Member

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    Very impressive!! Since you will have it all modeled in CAD, you could also create an extremely accurate scaled replica just with 3D printing. Any plans for something like this?
     
  42. NS4

    NS4 Well-Known Member

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    Thanks EE89.
    A 1/2 studio scale version via Shapeways would be pretty cool.
    Not sure if it would be cost effective though, and unfortunately offering it for free inevitably ends up with it being stolen/recast.
     
  43. JoeCS

    JoeCS Active Member

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    I think people would even be interested in a tiny version, just a few inches long -- at least I would. It'd certainly be more cost effective than 1/2 studio scale. And even if this would run the risk of recasting, your personal studio scale version would still be protected. Not to tell you what to do or anything, just dreaming ;)
     
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  44. portland182

    portland182 Active Member

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  45. NS4

    NS4 Well-Known Member

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    I guess thats true Joe.
    I'll look at uploading it to Shapeways once the model is done :thumbsup


    I did see those, but thought I'd go for something a bit bigger.
    I used left over PVC reticulation pipe and tracing paper I had lying around in my shed with some cheap IKEA lights.
    Cost was minimal and ended up being around 24"x24"x30". Seems to work pretty well too :)
     
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  46. NS4

    NS4 Well-Known Member

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    For the past few days I have been working on the underside engines.
    As it turns out, this has been no simple task...

    The original engines were hand carved by Martin Bower in Jelutong wood, and then molded and cast in fibreglass.
    Trying to match all the different angles of this hand carved element has taken considerable work (and many iterations).

    I'm at a point now though, where I believe that they are a good representation of the originals as they fit nicely over the reference images :


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    The detailing on the engines is still to be finalised.
     
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  47. thorst

    thorst Well-Known Member

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    It looks like a really good match. It seems to be a really difficult shape. May I ask, which program do you use for this work?
     
  48. joberg

    joberg Master Member

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    Fantastic job...it's looking great from where I stand!
     
  49. NS4

    NS4 Well-Known Member

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    Thank guys! :)

    Any organic shape is a challenge (for me anyway!).
    The only way I could see to do it was to produce "profiles" at strategic locations where I could determine the shape (eg panel lines).
    I then blend through those with guide curves to finesse the shape.

    Here is a screenshot, one engine solid, the other showing the profiles and guides:

    Capture36.jpg


    I use Spaceclaim for the modelling - not really mainstream for this kind of work, but its what I'm familiar with.
    I use Sketchup for matching to the reference photos.
     
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  50. moffeaton

    moffeaton Master Member RPF PREMIUM MEMBER

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    Doing just that in Rhino was a mind bender to learn, lol!
     
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