Updated: December 24, 2007; April 30, 2011
After the aircraft cometh helicopter ... so the popular saying goes. If you recall, I bragged about creating a number of aircraft and helicopter models several months ago. Well, it's time to show one of the rotary-wing creations.
Like the two aircraft, it has no clear design. It borrows elements both from Western helicopters, mainly Apache and the South African Rooivalk, and from the Russian gunships, Mi-28 in particular. I very much enjoyed creating it. Helicopters are unique in having no limit to ugliness. Anything goes. This allowed me an almost complete freedom of thought when sketching its lines, knowing that even if my ideas failed the imagined concept, the product would still look real enough, as long as it had a rotor somewhere. Speaking of the rotor, I did invest my time into making one, straying from simple symmetry. You will see.
Time for proper fun ... This is where boys become men, or rather digital artists.
Here's the same model, only re-created using Kerkythea, after exporting the model using SketchUp Importer for Google SketchUp and rendered with photons and ray tracing and magic and whatnot. You will like this. My dream of making near-realistic models is coming true, finally. Nirvana. Spledidski.
An aggressive frontal side view. Notice the engine nacelle reflection in the cockpit window.
A zoom on the rotor and its fancy mechanism:
A top shot:
A dramatic isometric image from the rear:
In mid-air hover, with an early morning sky backdrop. Notice the elaborate missile pylons.
A few dramastic close ups:
I need to work on blurring those rotors.
Now, a few screenshots with even more realistic materials. The helicopter has a brown skin, somewhat similar to Apache. The background is an infinite plain, once with a calm and once with a slightly hurried water texture.
Looking good, eh? Now, some even more imposing images. Here's one that you might call a Kodak moment. The helicopter is taking off, with the front landing gear just inches off the ground. There's a lot more work to do, like creating realistic ripples caused by the rotor wash and maybe blurring the rotor blades. Remember the Hercules image I so much admired in my Kerkythea intro article? Well, I'm starting to feel cozy and confident.
Zooming up on some fancy details:
A front shot, taking off. From this angle, it looks like the South African Rooivalk. Again, notice the slightest gap between the tires and the water surface. Not quite as realistic as you may want, since helicopters don't normally hover inches from a vast water surface, but fairly decent, plus it leaves room for a sequel full of artful goodies. This specific view took about 25 minutes to render at the reasonable 1600x1200px resolution, medium settings, four cores at 100% CPU on my HP laptop. Not bad, not bad at all. And still, there's room for improvement.
And here's one with the tires planted firmly on the ground. I even tried to create the slight impression of weight, not sure if I pulled it off, but you be the judge of that.
And some more dramatic close ups ... the engines really look posh! Damn, this is good.