In Defense of Weathering Starfleet Vessels

Painting methods, display options and general tweaks.
arcticfox
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In Defense of Weathering Starfleet Vessels

Postby arcticfox » Sun Nov 12, 2017 5:40 pm

Hey all,

I saw a couple of threads about the question of weathering on Federation ships but they were on the old side and rather than necroposting I thought I'd post some thoughts on the subject here, on why I'm weathering my current Enterprise-D project and intend to continue to do so.

Before I start though, I'm not presenting my approach as the one true way or that there's anything wrong with the pristine approach. I'm just going to share why I think weathering makes sense for a "realistic" result.

Space is a Harsh Environment


When we say "weathering" we don't necessarily mean dirt and grime. Weathering is anything that makes the subject look like it's been out there, doing what it does, and the wear and tear shows. Paint chips and fades. Surfaces exposed to sunlight bleach. Metal can rust. Heat can damage surfaces in a variety of ways.

Now take a Federation Starship. What is the environment a starship exists in? It's exposed to every form of cosmic radiation that exists, including light on every wavelength of the spectrum. It's subjected to extremes of heat and cold. That's to say nothing about debris it encounters through the normal course of its duties. There's a lot of junk orbiting any world that has achieved even basic space travel.

Yes, Starfleet vessels have a navigational deflector, but the primary purpose of that device is to shield the ship from high speed particles and bits of debris that would rake the ship when moving at high speeds, even at sublight. Back in the '80s the Space Shuttle Challenger was nearly lost when a fleck of paint about 1/2" across from a satellite nearly penetrated one of the cockpit windows because of its sheer kinetic energy and the difference in orbital speed. That's significant, because those windows are something like 2" thick and it was spiderwebbed. From a fleck of paint. At orbital velocity which is slow compared to even impulse speeds in Star Trek.

So the Navigational Deflector is absolutely necessary to protect the ship from debris especially when the ship is at high impulse, and traveling at a significant percentage of lightspeed. That's why it points forward. It's like an E/M snow plow. There's no reason to assume the effect covers the entire ship like a blanket in such a way as to prevent particles and debris from contacting the hull.

Now imagine the ship traveling through a nebula, or even sitting still in one while hiding from Borg, hunting the Reliant or just taking a shortcut.

Consider also solar radiation, solar wind... Just being in a star system exposes the ship to starlight unfiltered by any atmosphere. The hull of any starship is exposed directly to the star's output the moment it comes out of warp. Federation ships tend to spend most of their time in stars' habitable zones so the amount of solar radiation will definitely be significant.

Combat Scars

In the first season of TNG the Enterprise encountered a Borg Cube for the first time. During that encounter the Borg used a cutting beam to extract a cylinder of material from the Enterprise like an ice core sample. That left a gaping hole in the hull that was presumably repaired at a starbase upon Enterprise's return to the Alpha Quadrant. By this point in the ship's history she'd been underway for about a year, and the hull itself had been in space (see the section above) for some time before that. That means the panels used to replace those that had been missing or damaged are unlikely to be a perfect color match for the existing panels. Anyone who's ever had body work done to a car can attest to that. Even though the Enterprise's hull isn't painted per se, the metal would have been discolored somewhat by exposure to space and just wouldn't look brand new anymore. And no, I highly doubt Starfleet would replace the entire outer hull of a Galaxy Class starship just to avoid that mismatch.

The same is true for any enemy weapon that penetrates the ship's shields. Panels need to be replaced and would be replaced with new parts.

On a final note, there's one more good reason to weather your starship... Uniqueness. One of the reasons I personally don't choose the pristine route is that if one builds a model of a starship to the exact specifications of the studio model, following the same technical drawings, color schemes, perfectly accurate decals and so on... the end product is a model that will look exactly like someone else's who put the same amount of effort into the research. I like my models to be unique, to be my own. I want them to accurately represent the subject, but I don't want them to look like anybody else's.

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Re: In Defense of Weathering Starfleet Vessels

Postby shiftdel » Mon Nov 13, 2017 8:07 pm

I totally agree with all above statements, in fact, no one can say the kind of weathering a space ship would suffer, as no one have ever seen a real one (not counting space shuttles and rockets, they are too slow to count), so I think that any kind of artistic license on weathering will be OK with starships.

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Re: In Defense of Weathering Starfleet Vessels

Postby MadManMUC » Tue Nov 14, 2017 7:52 am

Interesting post!

Whilst I'm in the non-weathering camp — except for vessels that can enter atmospheres (Voyager, shuttlecraft, et cetera) — I certainly don't subscribe to the idea of THOU SHALT NOT WEATHER THINE STARSHIP, NO MATTER WHAT, and I don't think anyone here does, either. Besides, one really doesn't know what the effect of long-term high-speed space travel would be on fictional hull plating alloys (duranium).

So, it's like you said: it's your ship, after all, and you build it in the way that will make you happy. If it means leaving it alone like the studio model, great! If it means beating it up and weathering it a bit, also great!

No one here (I don't think!) shall cast you out or troll you if you decide you want to weather your ship.

All good, mate. :mrgreen:
DANGER. SPACE DOORS ARE CLOSED.

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Re: In Defense of Weathering Starfleet Vessels

Postby Tesral » Tue Nov 14, 2017 8:14 am

Scale: I work by the principle that if you cannot show a detail at scale, you should not show it. I agree that starship hulls even in the near vacuum of space are going to get dings and marks.

However, can you keep that to scale? At 1/14000 A detail that is one one thousandths of an inch that is 0.001" is 1.4 inches wide. A sheet of paper is 0.003 to 0.005 inches thick.

These scratches and marks are going to be tiny. Faded paint that can be done. Even panels that differ in wear showing repaired areas. Paint chips? I question that.
Garry AKA --Phoenix-- Rising above the Flames.
"I saw it done on Voyager" is no excuse for anything, even breathing.

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Re: In Defense of Weathering Starfleet Vessels

Postby kobayashimaru » Tue Nov 14, 2017 12:36 pm

cool perspectives;
I, much to the applause of model-makers everywhere I suspect,
think this is a perfect excuse to buy more plasticrack! :lol:

buy a few models - do one 'factory fresh',
one 'battledamaged', and a couple with different "space wear-n-tear"
do a few to recreate that ready-room in ENT D or ENT E
buy a few to kludge and bitzbash

in real life, naval ships and aircraft get a makeover at their overhauls
they look showroom factory-floor shiny for a while...
and at airshows, and that's about it.
They otherwise look a little worn,
and post-engagement, they look battle-fatigued.

-----
models are vignettes, maquettes, they're "moments in time" -
I think dioramas or different versions are awesome.
they all tell a narrative.

a few which come to mind I've seen;
Nemesis: Ent E vs Shinzon's warbird.
Nemesis: Ent E's refit
Year of Heck ST:Voy - Warship Voyager,

TNG: "A moment's rest" - Enterprise D has work-bee's and shuttles deployed to replace hull damage,
she's copped what appears to be a couple of torpedos to the stardrive and port nacelle...

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Re: In Defense of Weathering Starfleet Vessels

Postby arcticfox » Tue Nov 14, 2017 6:53 pm

Thanks for the kind words and feedback, everybody!

Tesral wrote:Scale: I work by the principle that if you cannot show a detail at scale, you should not show it. I agree that starship hulls even in the near vacuum of space are going to get dings and marks.

However, can you keep that to scale? At 1/14000 A detail that is one one thousandths of an inch that is 0.001" is 1.4 inches wide. A sheet of paper is 0.003 to 0.005 inches thick.

These scratches and marks are going to be tiny. Faded paint that can be done. Even panels that differ in wear showing repaired areas. Paint chips? I question that.


That's a great point and I definitely agree that you have to be more and more careful the larger you scale the subject. When I was a kid I had a guide for weathering models and it said something similar. The way you weather an F-15 is going to be very different than a B-52 because the same amount of weathering will make the larger subject look ten times more grimy and weatherbeaten.

It also made the point that some types of military equipment, like aircraft, aren't going to show excessive weathering because the subject is still a vehicle whose crew relies on it being in good condition for survival... How much more true that is for a spacecraft?!?!?

So when I do my weathering, unless I'm depicting a ship coming out of a battle, I'm not looking to represent damage or serious wear. Rather, I'm going for the small cosmetic telltale signs of the ship being in space for a while.

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Re: In Defense of Weathering Starfleet Vessels

Postby mophius » Tue Nov 14, 2017 7:27 pm

Like a leech on the secondary hull
There is no dark side of the moon really, matter of fact its all dark.

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Re: In Defense of Weathering Starfleet Vessels

Postby MadManMUC » Tue Nov 14, 2017 7:31 pm

Or a giant space hand (was it washed?!) grabbing your ship by the primary hull.
DANGER. SPACE DOORS ARE CLOSED.

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Re: In Defense of Weathering Starfleet Vessels

Postby arcticfox » Wed Nov 15, 2017 4:06 am

MadManMUC wrote:Or a giant space hand (was it washed?!) grabbing your ship by the primary hull.


Haha fingerprints of Apollo! :lol:

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Re: In Defense of Weathering Starfleet Vessels

Postby Tesral » Wed Nov 15, 2017 2:59 pm

arcticfox wrote:
MadManMUC wrote:Or a giant space hand (was it washed?!) grabbing your ship by the primary hull.


Haha fingerprints of Apollo! :lol:


And cleaning them off is a task of Olympian proportions.
Garry AKA --Phoenix-- Rising above the Flames.
"I saw it done on Voyager" is no excuse for anything, even breathing.


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