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   Discovery Zone: Making Photon Torpedoes Requirements: 3D Studio Max R2.5   
Making Photon Torpedoes
by Mike Wright

Making a good photon torpedo-like effect is much less difficult than it looks. Some very simple geometry and a little fiddling with lens flares is all it takes, and Mike Wright has layed out all the steps you need. Please note that this tutorial refers specifically to the Superglo plugin from MetaMAX Productions, which can be obtained from our plugins page.


1. Create a sphere and place in near the Torpedo Launcher.

2. Left click and hold down on the Scale button until you get the Stretch scale function (click Yes on the warning popup). Change the restrictions to the Y Axis, and elongate the sphere into an elipsoid. (figure 1)

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Figure 1
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3. Go to the modify panel and click on More. Add an FFD3x3 modifier. Open the selection set by clicking on Sub-Object under Selection level. Then select the center three (actually its nine) points in the top view. Click on the move function and restrict movement to the Y axis. Move the center three points down to create a teardrop mesh. Close the selection set by clicking on Sub-Object again. Next, click back on the Stretch function (where scale should be... Make sure the axis restrictions is still set to Y). Right Click on the Front viewport to activate it without loosing the torpedo selection. Scale the shape down to make a torpedo like mesh. (Figure 2)

4. Now we'll build the material for the torpedo. Open the material editor and put a new material in one of the slots. Change the Ambient color to pure black, and the Diffuse color to a light orange-red. Set Shininess to 25 and Shine Strength to 50, and set Self Ilumination to 90. (100 tends to make the torpedo unrealistically bright, contrary to popular belief) Next, apply the material to the torpedo mesh. (figure 3)

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Figure 1
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Figure XXX

5. Close or minimize the material editor, and click on Edit, then click Object Proporties. Set the Object Channel to a random number that you can remember, I used 32 for no particular reason. (Figure 4)

6. Go into Video Post and add a Super Glow filter event. Change the color to a subtle red-orange color. Change core intensity to 3, and enter 32 into the Object area. (Figure 5)

7. Add a Lenz Effect Flare event. Make the Node Source the torpedo. For the settings, you will have to play with it, but the picture will show you how to make the star animated by checking random and auto-rotate. For the glow I made it that red-orange color, and the size to about 20. I forget the settings for Streak, but I know the size was 15. In Prefs, just click Glow, Star, and Streak as renderable. Thats all you need, the torpedo is ready to render (Figure 6). I have included my Lenz Flare .lzf file as an example.

figure 6
Figure 1

The torpedo is easy to animate, just treat it as you would any other object, the lens effect animates itself automatically. You can also try linking an red-orange omni light to the torpedo so it illuminates objects as is moves by them. No more quad patches with animated textures, these torpedoes are easy!

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