It’s been a long time since I’ve gotten a chance to do some 3D modeling, in part because of my computer being a dinosaur (you can donate towards my new computer fund, here)and in part because I’ve been busy with other design projects. So it was a pleasant surprise on an otherwise busy weekend to get a chance to sit down and do a bit of work.

Pictured here, original ILM crew with finished AT-ST model for Star Wars: Return of the Jedi.

Like the TIE Fighter I finished previously, the AT-ST project is a remodel of a previously created model- however, this time with a bit of experience on my side I am remodeling the vessel in the most screen accurate detail as possible. Unlike the TIE Fighter, what’s surprised me the most is the lack of detail that the original screen used model had. Though there’s no doubt that the AT-ST looked good on screen (it’s one of my favorites) it’s also far simpler than the TIE Fighter. With less intense physical detailing and what looks like an emphasis on the painted elements that give the model a rough, worn, and battle hardened look.

For this weekend’s update, I worked on the third joint from the bottom. What many (including myself) originally thought was the final joint connected to the main chassis. As it turns out, there’s an additional joint hidden just behind the current joint I’m working on. Needless to say, progress has been slow as a result of few images of this joint existing. Many images appear to show the walker face on, with few non-blurry images of the sides. As a result, it’s required a lot more analysis on my end and tweaking of various elements to ensure both quality and accuracy. Looking from the current ‘cylinder‘ joint at the top and working your way down to the second, you’ll note a number of improvements on this joint, including armor paneling and what looks like ball bearing tracks (or something?).

In addition to the actual detailing on the top leg section, the majority of the work was centered around the scaling of the leg itself. Multiple angels are in play, with the leg itself divided into multiple parts, each with their own independent shape. In order to ensure the scaling has been accurate, it’s required a fair amount of adding a new element, tweaking, reviewing, and more tweaking. But there’s also been a few blessings, for instance the top of the leg segment is lined with rows of bolts. Since these bolts are all the same size and spaced, this creates a ‘yard stick’ I can measure the length of the leg from. It’s been a happy surprise and aided in creating a better model as a result.

With the top leg getting the blunt of the work, I’m pretty excited to finish this leg segment in the near future. As mentioned, there’s only one smaller leg segment remaining before I can begin work on the main chassis. Which in itself is a huge undertaking, but it should prove to be pretty fun. More importantly, it’s going to be an easier model to work on. Curved surfaces, or ones built at an angle (like the leg segments) makes for a bit of a headache from a technical perspective. So the chassis will be a bit of a relief in that regard.

A few more details worth mentioning, it’s a bit humorous that while the model itself improves so too has my process. Previous images I’ve rendered of this model were typically rendered at like 800x600, but now I can’t believe I didn’t take the opportunity to render them in HD! Not to mention my file setup for a project like this has completely changed to a more focused organization setup. It’s small details, but it’s nice to see a personal improvement on top of a design’s improvement.