Arcane Game Lore

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3D Modeling – CSS Nightwind

This is another model of my own design.  I originally designed the Nightwind back in 2012 for the Star Frontiers Virtual Con were it featured as the center piece in an adventure I ran.  It later appeared in the inaugural issue of the Frontier Explorer with complete deck plans and descriptions.  I’m planning on running that adventure again in the upcoming Frontier NetCon 2015 if you’re interested in playing.

As I mentioned in the post on the engines, the work on this model started there.  Once I had engines of the appropriate size, I began working on the rest of the ship.  The design of this ship is fairly simple so I was expecting it to be fairly straightforward.  However, the decks at the top of the ship are not all cylindrical and that may pose a problem.

Main body

The majority of this ship is just cargo space.  So the main fuselage of the ship is just a giant cylinder, 95 meters tall broken in to a few engineering decks at the tail and four large cargo bays.  This was the easy part, just a single object to make up 95 of 130 meters of the ship.

Neck & Head

Here things started getting complicated.  If you look at the deck plans for the airlock deck and upward in the ship, you’ll notice that very few of the decks are circular.  They all have various flattened or bulged out parts that deviate from a circle.  Thus I couldn’t just use a few cylinders and cones to make the head and neck of the ship.  I had to take these various shapes into account.  Plus I wanted the outside of the ship to flow smoothly between these variously shaped decks.  I didn’t want them to just be sitting willy-nilly on top of each other.

The solution here was OpenSCAD‘s hull() command.  What this command does is takes two or more objects and creates a bounding shape (a convex hull) that just encloses them.  The images to the right show an example.  If we create two circles with the commands:

translate([15,10,0]) circle(10);

We get the image on top.  If we then enclose the commands to create the circles with the hull() command:

hull() {
   translate([15,10,0]) circle(10);

We get the shape in the second image.  Thus we can take two arbitrary shapes and create a shape that seamlessly merges the two.

Now my first thought was to just put in the top and bottom of each deck and wrap one big hull() command around them.  This almost would have worked.  The only problem was the neck of the ship, that smaller airlock and vehicle deck.  The hull() command makes a convex hull and since the top of the cargo deck and bottom of the crew deck are larger than the airlock deck, it just made large cylinder over that section and didn’t put the narrowing neck in as I wanted.

So in the end I made the head of the ship in a series of small hull sections, alternating between the decks them selves (3m tall) and the machinery spaces between the decks (2m tall).  For each deck, I just created the deck shape from the deck plans with a 3m height.  For each machinery space section I would take the shape of the deck below and the bottom of the deck above, each set to 10cm high, and join them via the hull() command.  This gave me the smooth transitions between decks that I desired.

The crew section starts with a cylindrical base that narrows down to a small neck and then flares back out to a roughly cylindrical shape with small flat and protruding areas until the tip tapers like an inverted cake cone style ice cream cone.

The crew area of the Nightwind without the weapons added to show the effect of the hull() command

Doing this for each layer resulted in the shape pictured to the right.  You can see the transition between the various decks.  This was really cool to me when I finished it as I had never really drawn out exactly what this looked like and so this was the first time I had seen the exact shape of what the head of this ship would look like.

Attaching the Engines

Since I had already created the engines, it was just a matter of attaching them to the ship.  The Nightwind has three class B engines so I copied the class B engine code into a for() look and rotated them each 120 degrees apart.  I added a simple strut to connect them to the main ship and then shifted them (via the translate() command) to the proper position in the model.

External details

Now that I had the hull of the ship complete, I needed to add in all the doors, hatches and weapons.  Similarly to what I did with the sathar destroyer, I started by removing a little bit around where I wanted each door or hatch to be.  This was done primarily for printing purposes to allow the doors to stand out better when printed at the small scale.  Once that was done, I added in all the doors and hatches.  These consisted of numerous small bay doors for all the vehicles (3 launches and 4 work pods) as well as the two airlocks (in the neck and on the engineering deck) and the for massive cargo bay doors along the body of the ship.

Finally I added the ships weapons (3 laser batteries and a rocket battery and added them to the model as well.

This image shows the complete model as described in the text.

The complete Nightwind model

Final model

The final model is displayed to the right.  You can see the cargo bay doors lining the main body as well as one of the laser batteries (mid right) and the rocket battery (lower left) on the head of the ship along with several of the hatches and airlocks on the bottom of the main body and neck of the ship.

The body of the ship is 132 meters tip to tail and the engines extending out behind it add another 12 meters to the length for an overall height of 144 meters.


The final step was to print the model and see how it turned out.  Since I’m printing these at 1/3000 scale (i.e. substitute millimeters for meters and divide by three), the model ends up being 48 mm tall or just under 2 inches.

Amazingly, the printing went off without a hitch.  I printed it with supports and a raft as it would need the support under the raised fuselage and the raft helps keep it on the print bed.  Both the supports and the raft came off without a problem.

Unfortunately, I don’t have a good picture of the unpainted model at the moment.  I had taken some but they are all blurry and you can’t see any of the details.  I’ll post actual pictures when I do the next post on painting this model.

Until then feel free to comment below.

Categorised as: 3D Modeling/Printing

One Comment

  1. [...] and painting of the Nightwind model.  For details on the creation of the model, you can read my first post from last [...]

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