Thursday, August 21, 2014

New WIP - Vendian Sky-class Yacht (200 dtons, J-2, M-2).  Still needs a bit of work, stats finished, still needs deckplans and touch-up on the texture.  The ring of circular panels are covers for the ships escape pods.

This started off as a ship I had built up stats for quite a while ago, started laying it out in Max, and couldn't get it to gel into something I liked.  Yesterday, I had a bit of inspiration, and started tinkering.  This is the result after a few hours.  It was really nice to find a groove and be able to run with it.

Fleet Book 2 is in the pipe for finishing.  Hopefully in the next week or two, if things go well.  That will have all of the larger ships in it.

I'm also putting together an introduction video with some ideas to possibly set up a profile on Patreon.  If you're not familiar with Patreon, it's a new take on the concept of crowd-funding pioneered by Kickstarter.  There are two primary differences.  Patreon users can establish an ongoing income, rather than the feast-or-famine model of Kickstarter, and subscribers get access to ongoing content, rather than the start-to-finish style of a Kickstarter.  Patreon can also be set up with varying reward levels, much like a kickstarter, allowing you to choose your budget and level of rewards.  There are a couple of different ways that it can be set up - either a flat monthly subscription, or price per piece rate.

So, just as an example of the subscription model, let's say I produce one ship every month at a minimum, with all the bells and whistles - stats, deckplans, black and white line-art, full color renders, and interior renders.  For the sake of argument, let's say we have several subscription levels (these numbers are all totally arbitrary, and pulled out of thin air for the sake of the example).
  1. Bare Bones (2.00 per month) - At this level, you get access to the basic stats for the ship and the basic deckplan.
  2. Basic (5.00 per month) - At this level, you get the basic stats, basic deckplan, and black and white line art renders of the ship.
  3. Intermediate (10.00 per month) - At this level, you get basic stats, deckplans, the line art renders, and full color renders.
  4. Advanced (15.00 per month) - At this level, you get the stats, deckplans, line art, color renders, and black and white renders of the interior.
  5. Expert (25.00 per month) - At this level, you get stats, deckplans, line art, multiple color renders, multiple color interior renders, etc.
  6. Professional (50.00 per month) - At this level, you get everything from the Expert level, plus a copy of the 3d model in the format of your choice with a license for free personal usage in your own renders.
The beauty of doing it this way is that you, the end user, can choose what you want out in the way of final product.  For me, as a creator, I start off knowing what my supporters are looking for and supports me to do things I might not normally do - most of my ships don't have any interior work at this point, simply because of time constraints.  If everyone is pledged at the Basic level, I don't need to worry about color renders or interiors, which are both fairly time consuming.

The other way it can be done is per piece of content released.  Let's say I'm putting out how-to videos and tutorials.  Supports can pledge a given amount per release (and Patreon let's you put a cap on how much you're willing to spend each month).  Let's say over the course of the month, I put out 4 videos, a couple of tutorial PDFs, and as a freebie to my supporters, the finished deck plan that was covered in videos and PDF.  You're pledged at $1.00 per release (again, numbers out of thin air).  The videos and tutorials would be $1.00 each, and the finished deckplan would be at no cost to you - total for the month =$6.00.

The advantage to the second method is that it encourages me to be productive and keep new content flowing.

The current idea includes a ship of the month (with varying levels of output as above - stats, line art, deckplans, full color renderings, and possibly releasing the 3d model for personal use as well).  Another concept I'm playing with includes how-to videos on how I design ships and deckplans, basically tips and tricks for 3d beginners.

If you haven't come across DM Scotty and his 2.5 system for building terrain for fantasy games, I'll point you to The DM's Craft on Youtube, his Facebook page, and The DM's Craft Forums.  Many of his techniques are easily adaptable to a Traveller/sci-fi theme.  I've also been following the Starship Modeler on Facebook as well as the Starship Modeler Forums.   I've been thinking of trying to combine the two concepts into what I do with Traveller starships - pieces that are both functional for play as well as display quality without breaking the bank.  This would explore the how-to process with a wide range of techniques, from simple cardboard to resin/fiberglass to 3d printing.

Here's an example of DM Scottys 2.5D method, a model of my 20 ton launch I'm sure you've probably seen.  This is scaled for 28 mm minis, and was made with stuff laying around my house (card board, foam board, black spray paint, and an empty pill bottle.  As much detail as you want can be added to this, and I'd like to explore techniques for resin casting things like acceleration couches, lockers, etc. for use in play (or as a static display/diorama).  At some point, I'd like to have it built up into a true 3d representation of the launch with a removable top hull, some type of lighting, and whatever else strikes my fancy.

Similar projects have been undertaken before (this Sulieman-class scout was a good start as is this variant scout); I'd like to find a blend of the two- something sutiable for display as a model, but come game time, something you can drop in the middle of the table, open the top, and dive right in.  I'm no expert, by any means, but I'd be more than happy to take all of you along as I work through the techniques, tools, and methods to do something like that on your own.

Anyway, thanks for listening to be babble.   As I said, I hope to have a video put together by Sunday that will go into more detail about everything.  Thanks again for your support and taking the time to check out my work.

Donavan L.


  1. Okay, I've been mulling this over as I have never heard of Patreon before and the concept sounds pretty interesting. In fact the concept goes way back when artists had patrons like Popes and Royalty.

    I liked the flat rate for several reasons: I know that every month I get something. That was easy but the costs add up quickly if you have a high level subscription for example $600 per year for level 6. That being said I do like the option of colour renders so I would probably go for level 3 myself.

    I also would like to have up to level 6 for those ships that really take my fancy as I do like to play around with 3D models on the computer. So far I just use SketchUp but it has served me well over the years.

    So I would like to have the ability to pay a monthly rate with the option of paying for a higher level when the ship is one I really like.

    So your other "content", like tutorial videos, is another product I would like to see but on a "per piece" basis. I like the artistic style that you and another artist, Ian Stead of Biomass art, have developed and would love to see how you do it and what programs you use. All the tips and tricks! After all I have tons of ideas for my own ships of which I have already made several 3D models and would like to know how to make such nice stuff for myself.

  2. As I said, I was just spit-balling ideas. Over the last few days, I've pretty much settled on the monthly subscription format, with my goal being 2-5 pieces per month. I'm also tweaking the funding levels (downward, largely), and I'm looking to make sure patrons get their moneys' worth, at whatever level. It's mostly balancing it out so patrons aren't paying more in the long run. If I were to start doing the tutorial vids, I'd most likely set that up on a separate account and keep this one just for the 'output' side of the equation. I'm hoping to get the intro video shot tomorrow or Friday, and have the final details up over the weekend.