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Parchment Background Image for My Projects: My Adventures In SketchUp: Conceptualizing An Airship, Page 4 on


All the airships I've seen never appeared to have enough length built into their dimensions so to start I wanted my airship to be long.

I also wanted to create a very large airship. Early on in his design of airships Count Ferdinand von Zeppelin observed that as he increased the surface area of any airship's outer fabric skin the interior gas volume increased by an even greater proportion. This means that a gigantic airship would provide an incredible amount of lift, lift that is further magnified by Intrepid's hydrogen being heated and by the number of hot air ballonets included in this ship's design.

I settled on the pulled dodecagon shape early on in this airship's development. While the reasoning behind the 180 faces that make up this shape appears to be poly economics, this shape and the number of polys used to make it up is intentional. Less than twelve sides would have made the airship look blocky while I believe that more than twelve would not have given me the look I was going for. At the start I envisaged Intrepid's overall shape made up of these huge, straight-edged flat planes being lit by RCT3's game engine without the transitional shadowing that would have come with an outer skin made up of thousands of polys. In support of this I have not softened the longitudinal lines on the ship's outer skin.

While we wouldn't build an airship today by stretching fabric over the inner supports and then painting that fabric with aircraft dope I have used a texture style in the Importer with a Specularity50 value to imitate the reflectivity of the finish used on the final Zeppelins that were actually built, with the assumption being that the titanium and carbon composite material used to build the exterior of Intrepid could be manufactured and seamlessly assembled to give the same finished appearance.

My Adventures In SketchUp - Intrepid: A Revolution In Design - A Distant RCT3 Screenshot Showing Half Of Intrepid. The Image Displays The Gradations In Shading And Specular Texture Style Along The Outer Skin's Longitudinal Planes. The Viewer Is High Above Starboard Fore Looking Diagonally Port Aft.

Specularity in RCT3 is a little different to the way it shows up in real life. Although the texture style and specularity I chose does go some way towards imitating the aircraft dope outer skin finish of late model Zeppelins I don't believe I've quite achieved the specularity effect I wanted. I'm tempted to re-import Intrepid using a Specular100 texture style but am pretty much already convinced it would be too bright.

My Adventures In SketchUp - Intrepid: A Revolution In Design - A Close-Up RCT3 Screenshot Showing Most Of Intrepid, With The Rear Stabiliser Fins Taking Up Much Of The Foreground. The Viewer Is Slightly Above Port Aft Looking Fore.

When I added the stabilizer fins during this project's development I was pleased to see that their poly count nicely matches the poly count of the ship's outer skin. The outer skin's 180 flat faces also worked well with the concept that the on-board CCTV cameras would require a clear line of sight along flat surfaces in order to outwardly scan Intrepid's exteriors. Once I completed the general shape of the hull I spared no expense with the poly count when working on the remainder of the ship.

At the time this became a full-blown project I didn't wonder for too long what purpose this airship would serve: it was easy to decide that it would be a passenger liner. Of course, a ship so huge built for passengers required lavish interiors so I went all out with my imagination and with my textual descriptions.

Intrepid in its entirety is made up of over 150,000 polys with nearly half this amount taken up by the CCTV camera glass housings, and most of the remainder taken up by the winglets which required a very high poly count so they'd not have any jagged edges at the places where they were mounted on to Intrepid's outer skin.

Before I began painting this model I was concerned with the 31 textures/texture maps limitation presented by the Importer but I need not have worried. Intrepid is made up of only about a dozen textures. The tire sidewalls are a 512 x 512 and there are two solid color 64 x 64's which have been used for all the glass and for the shadowing inside any openings. Because the outer skin of Intrepid is either the grained aircraft dope texture or a texture that suggests it's paint that's been touched up by the handymen, the completed size of this project required the largest possible textures for clarity so the remainder of the textures are 1024 x 1024's, with one of those being a texture map, again, for the tires.

For the first time since I started creating CSO's, except for the glass on the ship I also aimed to have the texture finishes used on my model to appear lived-in instead of brand new. I'm happy with the results I've achieved.

My Adventures In SketchUp - Intrepid: A Revolution In Design - A Zoomed In RCT3 Screenshot Displaying Intrepid's Branding In Addition To The Texture Detailing Used On The Forward Port Cyclone Prop Engine And On Intrepid's Outer Skin. The Viewer Is Alongside Port Looking Fore.

The maximum sized park in RCT3, at 256 x 256, is 1,025 x 1,025 meters (3,350 x 3,350 feet). With the length of Intrepid being over 1,200 meters (nearly 4,000 feet) this airship extends beyond the largest park terrain possible in RCT3. In fact, with Intrepid centered in a 256 x 256 sandbox I was hard put to get far enough from it to take some of the full-length screenshots. Another problem that developed when pulling out too far away from the airship was the unexpected exposure of the game's default gray background color at the horizon where the water surface ended and where there was no backdrop in place to hide this.

Intrepid is a specialty CSO, there will never be more than one in any park, I wanted it large, I included a Shared texture folder when importing it, and as seen in this article it will never be publicly released. In view of this I am not concerned about any of the filesizes, the number of polys, or the size of the textures. In the future I may consider creating and releasing a set of smaller, simpler airships. Such smaller, lower poly airships with smaller filesizes and smaller textures are more likely to be better received as public downloads.

At a glance it could be said that there are a large number of protuberances on Intrepid's hull. This airship was never designed to travel at the standard passenger jet speed of 1,000 km/h (620 mph). With Intrepid's cruising speed of 144 km/h (90 mph) and a never-exceed speed of 281 kph (175 mph) such protuberances are of little consequence. For those who may have been wondering, Intrepid's landing wheels never fold up into the ship. They are always poised outside the base of the gondola.

Notwithstanding the amount of care and interest I've taken in creating the outward appearance of Intrepid and the amount of time I spent on research I didn't have years of uninterrupted time that I could put by for this project so I've chosen only to describe Intrepid's interiors, suggest what take-offs and landings would be like, indicate how baggage and supplies are boarded, and propose docking facilities along with outlining what the main hangar would be like. I might have been able to track down suitable stand-in images on the Internet and have dotted my article with those but the character of the downloaded images would likely have been different from the rest of this article and I'd have probably needed to request permission to use some of them. I have enjoyed coming up with mental images of Intrepid's interiors and then putting my images into words. I can think up ideas and put them to words infinitely faster than I could put them to drawings and it would have taken an incredible amount of time to draw any representation of Intrepid's interiors in SketchUp. My goal after all was to draw what I thought an airship in the sky could look like and I've achieved that but I do regret that my main limitation on this project was that the amount of time I could give it limited my 3D model output to Intrepid's exterior only. I have no plans at this time to make any SketchUp models showing Intrepid's interiors.

My Adventures In SketchUp - Intrepid: A Revolution In Design - A Distant RCT3 Screenshot Showing Most Of Intrepid With The Rear Stabiliser Fins Taking Up Much Of The Image. The Viewer Is Slightly Below Starboard Aft Looking Fore.



My Adventures In SketchUp - Intrepid: A Revolution In Design - A Close-Up RCT3 Screenshot Alongside Intrepid In The Vicinity Of It's Branding. The Viewer Is Alongside Starboard Looking Port.

While developing Intrepid I had to consider what it would look like if it was built today so I needed to come up with a drawing design that appeared updated which at the same time emanated the spirit of airships that had been built early in the last century. This is the primary thought behind my choice for the main hull color. With my exterior images and along with the text in this article Intrepid is the most romantic interpretation of an airship that I can imagine.

After the initial building of the outer skin, while adding to this project I needed to consider what might be included inside the airship of today, whether the interiors of my airship would have some bearing on the ship's outward appearance, and how or if I would draw these features. At the start this required researching airships that had actually been built and further resulted in my gaining knowledge of Count Ferdinand vonZeppelin, the history of airships, Hugo Eckener, The Hindenburg, the history of air travel, the operation of cruise ships, and ultimately Howard Hughes. Unfortunately none of these topics have anything to do with RCT3 or SketchUp so they have no place on this website. I do think, though, that after viewing this article our visitors will certainly benefit by reviewing this little sub-domain I created where I've collated all my airship research findings, in addition to one or two other aviation related topics. This sub-domain is factual rather than presentational so instead of its having the same appearance as this website it's not made up of much more than web pages containing text.

Anyone who likes reading or who enjoys recreational research will find it interesting material for a look-over.