Page 635: air -44-

The last page of the chapter, and the debut of two new vehicles – the Peregrine surveillance and patrol vehicle (lower middle, above the word balloon), similar to a VTOL E-2 Hawkeye and currently serving as an executive transport, and the Bodkin (the pointy ship, bottom left), an optionally-manned fighter equivalent to the F-16 or Starfury.

The original script was laid out as a Loki launching with a Banshee escort. When I finished the last batch of pages with line art I realized I had a lot of time between completing the Daedalus scenes and needing material for the Astra‘s appearance – I started with the Astra, spent a little over a week on it, and still had time to spare – time enough to replace the Loki and iterate on the Banshee if I kept my priorities straight. The new material didn’t need to be high res (yet), didn’t need interiors (yet), and did need to be easier to maintain and edit than existing assets.

The Bodkin was generated in two days and uses the same decaling method used on the Castores and Astra – it’s a simple design that looks good at a distance and could be a great example of dialing down CG assets from Total Overkill to Good Enough, at least for now. It’s also flying civilian aviation navigation lights, mostly for the lulz.

The Peregrine took three days to model and is intended as a Loki replacement – for screen time if not for functionality. The Loki was modeled in 2005 and is huge; not just the rasterized geometry but also the physical size, It is not small. The Peregrine was modeled in October and is less of a nuclear-powered inappropriately-turbined monstrosity specialized in low atmosphere and more of a reasonably sized technologically feasible transport aircraft designed for space first and atmosphere second. The airframe is a bit more detailed than the Bodkin and the engines are designed for more believable VTOL capability. Like other recent vehicles it uses decals, and like the other vehicles in the render none of the decals are presently visible.

Like the pod – which also hasn’t received much screen time this chapter – both vehicles have RCS ports and use shaders for detailing. The Peregrine has working landing gear (because of course it does), though I managed to skip that detail on the Bodkin. Both are carrying missiles; the Bodkin has rocket pods and the Peregrine has nose and tail guns along the lines of the Loki’s nose turret. Both have interiors – the Bodkin has a rough draft of a Starfury-style cockpit and the Peregrine has interior bulkheads, decks and hatches. Then the BUILD BUILD BUILD OCD ran out and I moved on to rendering.

A lot of work for one page. Less than the current record holder – less of a struggle, too. Evolving the design process with an eye towards rapid development – dialing down the overkill. Getting surgical. Just enough kill, if you will. 3d assets just can’t take weeks apiece going forward – that means more efficient designs, less emphasis on texturing, and more time spent on getting the essential shape or statement of a vehicle established. Also lighting. And in this case, tactical use of ambient occlusion to do work that would otherwise be burned in with maps.

When I built the environment for the current record holder I thought I was making a one-off, though I did eventually reuse part of it. There’s nothing one-off here. Well, technically there’s a bit, for the chapter. For the book and for ATC, however, we’ll be seeing more of the Astra, the Bodkin and the Peregrine. We’ll also be seeing less of the older designs as I phase them out.

Speaking of phasing

I haven’t started on the script for Transitional Voices chapter four – the last chapter of the book! – yet. It was on the to-do list for awhile, but successive attempts to get rolling on it slipped and then my trip to the ER took it out of contention entirely (though I did use it as a research opportunity for the Sabrosa sick bay), and after that panic passed I got to work on commissions with an eye towards rent and bills and December in general. There was a period of roughly eight weeks between Water and Air so if TV.4 resumes in later January or early February I’m fine with that.

Heck, maybe by then the new IRC comic I’ve been working on will be more complete than it is now. The new All Your Pants – sequel to the old All Your Pants, which predates ATC – entered into service a few days ago. I’m technically making comics right now. Or rather, my art and art direction could be running through a hubot right now. Horrors! :D

Next week: Probably this page, again. In fact, almost certainly this page again. The script and asset prep are going to take awhile. In the meantime, feel free to buy DCR #1A – the print comic has two pages of glorious filler strips that aren’t anywhere to be found on the ATC website! :)