After the Cylon Centurion, the second homage to Battlestar Galactica is done. Viper Mark II is finally over: it is "the Colonial Fleet's primary space superiority fighter / attack craft during the initial Cylon War. 40 years later, they are used by Galactica to effectively combat the Cylons and their more advanced fighters during the exodus from the Twelve Colonies".
The model is highly detailed and was totally redesigned: browsing the internet, specifically flickr, I found out these terrific photos of the original Starbuck's viper. aharvey2k's hi-res photos were a great start to understand and model all of the details and to extrapolate textures and the original font. I used Maya 2011 Hotfix 2 to model the Viper and Mental Ray to generate some test images:
As for the shaders, I used mi_car_paint_phen to simulate the unique characteristics of a mild car paint. I decreased the weight for the primary specular color and modified the parameters for the flakes to match the aharvey2k's photos. A mia_exposure_photographic was plugged into the MR lens shader slot of the camera. This shader is a tone mapper that converts actual pixel luminances (in candela per square meter) into image pixels as seen by a camera, applying camera-related parameters (such as f-stops and shutter times) for the exposure, as well as applying tone mapping that emulates film and camera effects. mib_blackbody light shaders were connected to the color parameters of the light shaders. I used a light probe image to illuminate the viper with measurements of real light. Below a couple of quick render tests.
I made an attempt to plug layered textures into dirt_color and dirt_weight to cover the underlaying paint and clearcoat layers in order to to get variations in the dirt across the surface. The dirt texture was painted over the UV map in Photoshop. The focal length is obviouslly wrong but this attempt helps me to notify some problem: probably I have to decrease the reflections and, in any case, the image should be modified into a compositing package.
Last, but not least, homage will be the Cylon Raider.