Airboat Aviation - Development and Concepts

Hey there!

Sorry for being more than a **week **late to post this, but I was busy with things and I thought I’d post sooner but here it is…

Airboat Aviation

*2 planes fly over the small island in a violent dogfight with onlookers watching in suspense as the planes duke it out in the sky. The single-prop airboat plane, the “Vodka”, makes its maneuvers as the larger two-prop airboat plane, the “Thirsty”, engages the Vodka with it’s melon cannon, taking a lucky pot shot and evidently hitting the rudder.
The original idea for this spawned from a desire to construct functional aircraft that used the HL2 airboat as the main part of their construction, since the airboat looked like it was part of a seaplane and it always made me think of how it would look if it had wings…

I had made many previous attempts at building functional airboat planes, but alas, I’m not very good at getting things to work so I thought of using the idea in a different way. I was very inspired after digging into the Facepunch forums after all this time of using it as merely a place where I go to get more models to collect. Vioxtar’s images are prime inspiration with his Garry’s Mod themed scenebuilds, as well as some classic material such as Robert Stoneman’s *War Of The Servers.

I first started making the first prop plane on the map I was going to be shooting on, doing so because I tried to use the environment and atmosphere to influence the process of the design. I built the thing in the flat space in the skybox, welded it together and duped it. I posed the ricketty and messy dupe and produced a few test shots to see how well it turned out…

I was not very satisfied with the lighting I was getting and it was difficult for me to fix certain things if I tried to edit the images (blurs, bloom, lighting, etc). I then compiled a collection of images that included some of the ideas I had for a second plane design and some more detailed shots of the “Vodka” airboat plane. They can be seen in this imgur album. It was mostly hastily pasted together to get the ideas across. The truck plane was scrapped in favour of a more compatible aircraft, but aspects from it were used to develop the second plane.

The way I made the rest of the scenebuild was a bit ham-fisted. I didn’t know what the poster command was, let alone the more advanced and precise ways of lighting and editing for the best effect… I had no idea that poster was the way to create high-resolution renders and to this day I still haven’t tried it. I ended up taking a really silly approach and that was to use an image stitching program, Microsoft’s ICE, to create a 1440p sized image taken from multiple screen shots to make the backdrop for the two planes.

I realised that using green for the background was actually bad as it leaves a fine trace of green on the anti-aliasing on the edges of the objects, requiring more more intensive editing to remove from the image.

After all this, I finally uploaded the complete version and submitted to the Community Screenshots thread a day before it closed.

A few hand drawings were made during the construction, one being that of another idea I had which was a scrap HL2-prop-based IFV…

Any comments, critique and advice are greatly appreciated. Tell me if you want to see more of any particular part of the development and I could show you. Thanks for reading.

I can’t help but be truly impressed by your dedication to the concept, design, and thought behind all of this. The entire process of planning, drawing it on paper, fitting it to an environment and giving it a story shows how much thought you put into it. It seems like you haven’t just created the aircrafts’ concepts but also introduced a new world through them, one I’d very much like to see more of as well as more of your work. You nailed the airplanes, and just by looking closer at it can you really see all the details and thought you put into them. I would frame them (each) into a picture of their own.

Technically speaking I, there are three things I would change in the finalized picture:

  1. Give it some more atmosphere (literally volumetric atmosphere) to the picture. Right now the planes merge with the landscape in the background because it lacks fog. Even adding the slightest bit of it just on the city would make them stand out a lot more and capture attention. SonOfBrim explains how to do it here, and I also wrote about it more here on page 57.

  2. I see that you did consider putting up a smoke trail on the melon at some point, and later decided to take it off. I would definitely keep it as it helps explain what exactly is going on in the picture, but make sure to tone it down considering it’s a melon being shot after all.

  3. Probably most important is shadow levels. While the lighting in the finalized picture is decent, it seems the airplanes only have a single level of shadowing to them (aside from map-related shading). Right now you can categorize exposure levels to two categories: partially lit, and partially shadowed. While this is okay, more shadow levels would help really bring out those small, evasive details that you worked so hard to put in, as different lighting levels hugely impact our ability to perceive the depth and shape of a 3D object more than anything else. Here is an example of something I made way back that only has two exposure categories, and here is an example of the same bit with 5x times more shadow levels (just a proof of concept, but you get what I mean)

I love seeing this kind of stuff on the section, great job dude

Not much input here, just that this reminds me of how I found a cool flatgrass server a few years ago, the admin was like “if you want any cool shit installed on the server, I’m down.” So I got him to install fin tool, then I just slapped some doors onto an airboat and flew it around. Soon enough everyone else built their own doorplanes and we had dogfights and shit. It was super fun while it lasted.