With the fuselage surfacing done, and the main greeble collages done, I roughed-in the wings. Having 1/12th scale wing donors wasn’t mission critical at this point because Jason wanted to get a few 1/24th scale birds under his wing before making the jump to 2x, and the studio scale wings are mostly brass tubing and sheet stock peppered with donors that are less rare than most.
We did, however, start lamenting how the original studio scale models had dodgy cockpits. Naturally, if we’re gonna make the jump to 1/12th scale, the cockpit should be featured as-seen-on-screen. I had experience with modeling the Falcon cockpit so I had a pretty good idea what a Star Wars cockpit entailed. But once again, this was an underestimation. The ANH Falcon is largely the same half-dozen switches and lights arranged in non-uniform grids. Yeah – there are some vent thingies, and other greebles, but they are few compared to the repeated bits. Not so on the X-Wing.
I started with the seat. It’s pretty organic, but not unlike the Falcon buckets; another third-party after-market sports car seat. My Falcon buckets were modeled in Alias using NURBS surfacing techniques. Since then I’ve switched to Fusion 360 for a lot of things – so this seat was done using T-Spline sculpting. Arguably, these types of things could be done in Blender, or Maya, or some other sub-d poly modeler, but having a manufacturing background, I embrace CAD tools that have infinite resolution and scale easily. I keep encouraging Jason to go full-scale with this. Ha.
The seat went quickly and was done in an evening. Then I realized what I got myself into. Dang, there’s a lot going on in this thing. And of course – there were two different filming versions – one in the Yavin hangar, and the other that was used on a gimbal for the trench run. Similar but not identical. We eventually cherry picked the best bits of each for an “idealized” X-Wing cockpit that captured the spirit of both.
Next the greebles got their rough-ins; getting a sense of overall proportion and layout, working big to little, constantly referencing archival photos. This was all being done at 1/24th scale to fit the existing fuselage model. We’ll scale it up later.
Little-by-little it started to fill in. I worked front-to-back; filling in the instrument cluster and dash area.
Working with the pinstripes directly in the CAD file was something I also did on the Falcon. It helps to properly space elements and get things to line-up (or not line-up as the case usually is with these set pieces) as they should. It’s largely a proportion game – like and artist holding up their thumb to gauge relative scales of things at different distances.
Image reference for the side panels was very limited, but I think we got close. Scale was sometimes hard to determine. For instance, the white “chicklet” keys are typically one inch, but the blue ones along the sides appear to be smaller and closer to 3/4 inch. Fuzzy photos can only reveal so much. The above shot also shows how we only modeled the upper back of the seat. On the studio scale models, the armature prohibits having a full depth cockpit. I’ll show more of this in the next post.
As I came around to the bits behind the seat, I jumped back into Alias to layout all the hoses. I just like the way Alias handles free-form 3D splines and hope that one-day Fusion 360 will be on par with Alias for this type of thing. We also started making some editorial decisions here. One of the most visible differences between the two live-action set pieces are the Trench Run cockpits don’t have the pneumatic piston’s to open the canopy. There are some greebles that compete for real-estate here, and so we had to make some hard choices about what to leave on the cutting-room floor so to speak.
Back in Fusion, I continued with the detailing of the rear cavity greebles.
Sometimes when working on this stuff I get fascinated by a specific part. That Monogram transaxle was one – this funny little circuitboard-looking thing shown above was another. It’s tucked way in the back of the cockpit like two little bug-eyes.
The targeting computer was one of the last things to model. Again, not a ton of good reference for it, but we had already built some of the greebles elsewhere in the cockpit, could use them as reference for a few of the unknown greebles, and we build-out from there. Everything’s a yardstick eventually.
And of course, a few beauty renders of the completed cockpit…