Updated: February 26, 2010; April 30, 2011
I will begin this gallery in a very unusual way. I'd like to ask you a question: Take a look at the image below. What do you think? Does it look real? Would you believe me if I told you it's a Google SketchUp model I created, some innocent grass behind my home, combined, creating this lovely illusion of a futuristic tank parked and waiting. Yes, that's the model I created. Now, if you're interested, let's take a look at the gallery.
This main battle tank was inspired by the American M1A1 model and the Israeli Merkava Mk.IV, heavy main battle tanks that share much in common: a squat, boxed appearance influenced by the use of modular, composite armor, a four-man crew, a big, fully sleeved smoothbore gun dominating the diamond-shaped turret. But I could not just make a cheap replica, so I went for some extras, which you don't normally see on a typical modern tank. Not necessarily practical additions, but useful and colorful nonetheless.
A few imposing pictures showing off the vehicle's profile:
The front view is rather Abrams-like, whereas the side shots give it a more of a Merkava appearance. Then, there's the yellow chevron on the track skirts, which is a very Israeli marking. I don't know what it means, but it adds spice to the images.
From atop, you can really appreciate all the little angles of the model, including the turret deflection angles, the robust design, the crew hatches. The commander sits on the left and has access to a top-mounted machine gun. The loader has no auxiliary weapon. The driver is on the right side, slightly offset because of the main gun, which too, is positioned in the right half of the turret.
Let's explore the different facets of this model some more, shall we?
At the back, I added some fuel canisters, because the rear ends of most tanks are dull and this little item can enliven the scenery.
The weapons electronics also deserve a mention. Similar to real tanks, I hid the sensitive ranging and sighting equipment in shrouded bulges on the turret, to keep them as little exposed to elements or enemy weapons as possible.
The weaponry on this model is definitely not off this world. Most main battle tanks only use the main gun and a handful of machine guns. I upped the arsenal with a quad missile launcher on the left top turret, which could be either wire-guided or laser-guided anti-tank rounds like TOW or Hellfire or heat-guided anti-aircraft Stingers.
The main gun is a 120mm Rheinmetall M256 smoothbore high-velocity high-pressure 3D-stabilized anti-tank gun, fed by standard NATO munitions, either a DU-APFSDS Sabot or HEAT-MP rounds. The main gun is coaxed with a 7.62mm anti-infantry and ranging machine gun and a 40mm automatic grenade launcher.
The commander's 12.7mm anti-aircraft gun is an unusual concept. I dispensed with the standard, boring piece and created a sniper-like unit, with wood stock and grip and a scope, which makes for a refreshing changed. Mounted on a sexy pivot, it looks darn good. Furthermore, notice the ammunition box; it shows a belt of rounds, an actual image of 12.7mm rounds, infusing the picture with a more realistic feel.
Opposite the quad missile launcher is a spare road wheel, so the crew can replace one if the tank strikes a mine. This is probably impractical in real life, but it adds character to the model.
For the tracks, like the ammo box for the commander's gun, I used a real image of tank tracks as a texture, which I believe helps make it look more realistic. Notice the very detailed tension in the front and the six little road wheels, plus the thick skirt.
With a crew of four, my tank, which I call Abramkava, weighs some 65 tons. Unlike the American vehicle, it's powered with a more fuel-friendly 1,500hp turbo-diesel engine, which grants it a decent 70kph road speed.
And now some super serious stuff!
Here's what you've been waiting for. The tank model, pasted onto some grassy slope background and GIMP-ed into perfection, with shadow, noise, slight blurring, overlaying of no less than eight layers, some NVG effects, and whatnot. Truly incredible and I'm amazed I actually managed something like this. First, a couple of simple, modest pictures:
Then, a bit of a zoom:
A sepia moment:
Now, some ultra-cool GIMP effects:
And with a small lighting change, so you can believe the tank is parked in a field base somewhere, and there's a projector somewhere to the left, sort of like Special Operations missions in Operation Flashpoint.
Looks like the real thing, does it not? Would you believe it that these images show a simple 3D model, created in Google SketchUp with some peaceful grassy slope for background? Here's the original , just for reference:
Damn I'm really, really good! I seriously hope you've enjoyed, because otherwise, my major GIMP effort has been in vain. I'm considering adding similar realistic-scenery mockups for several other models. Could definitely be interesting. Regardless, I'm tremendously pleased with the end result. The model itself, possibly a decent 9/10. However, with the addition of breathtaking effects, it becomes a pure 10. Well, I'm a genius, but I mentioned that once or twice already. Now, let me show you why I'm ever greater genius than you can imagine.
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.
Now, you may have noticed that my GIMP images of the tank model were extremely impressive. You might almost believe this was some kind of rendering stuff. Well, time to see what the model looks like with proper work. Well, I rendered the model twice, once in dark brown and once in lighter green-khaki.
Now here, it almost looks like an Israeli Merkava; even the lighting is all good and proper:
Just for reference, this is what it looks like with the natural material imported from Google:
Here's the vehicle shown resting on a hay-strawn ground:
Some black & white drama:
A very imposing, impressive front photo:
Now, with the darker brown camouflage:
That would be all. Have fun, people!