I mentioned in my post a month or so ago for Progress that I have several robot/mecha style projects on the go. So here is another of them: Prototype.


Some time in 2013, when I still bothered to subscribe to Daz3D stuff I got a freebie model of some sort of hanger for Mecha's which looked interesting. I thought that it could be useful for something and so filed it away. By chance, later the same year, I came across an mecha with a cool design and so filed that away with the Daz freebie. Then forgot about them for 3 years (I am fairly certain it came from Turbosquid - but after a few searches can't find it there now. However, I wasn't searching for mecha or similar when I found it… Usually I'm looking for background scene elements that I can't be bothered to make myself. So, it must be up with an odd description).

Watching the recent Ghost In The Shell (animated) movie made me think about doing something with a mecha in it. Ghost In The Shell movies always have great hardware, including armoured vehicles and mecha and I was interested in doing something along those lines.

Hunting through my snippets folder for ideas, I found the Mecha bay/hanger/workshop thing and mech walker thing. I could see the image straight away - which wasn't what I ended up with!

The original idea was an shot looking up at the mecha from low down, so that it towers over the viewer, the hanger around it. So, firstly I built out the hanger - gave it walls, ceiling, fluorescent fittings around each floor and the main ceiling. I put in an open lift/elevator at the back and then started fleshing out mainframe computers and so on, on each level. There are ceiling air ducts… You name it.

The mecha model was good but too spindly. Also, I wanted to give the impression that it was being assembled as a prototype with parts being supplied from different manufacturers. So, the first thing I did was add a new rotator for the legs and body, as the original was too spindly/lightweight. I Also added more armour around the top of the leg joints and replaced the feet. I then altered the cockpit a little so that I could get the pilot seat in there, put a hinge mechanism on the cockpit cover and so on.

I played with various weapon combinations, including some rotating turrets and a Gatling gun, but eventually chose a classic combo of missile launchers, "hand" cannons and some front facing machine guns.

To make the mecha look like it was being assembled from different sources, I textured them in various colours. I went through dozens of iterations of this. For example, the mecha shown on the screen on the ground level, comes from a period when I had some parts of the mecha in jungle camo, others in flat grey paintwork.

I could never get this idea to work though and gave up, settling on digital camo - though even that went through several iterations.

After all of that, I could not get the image to work with the camera looking upwards. I tried every possible angle, I tried all sort of focal lengths… But it simply never worked. Then one day when I had all but given up, I was whizzing around with the default camera and stopped pretty much as the render image.

Lights. The scene has LOTS of lights. There are 20 lights over the ground and first floor, each for the fluorescent tubes I put there. Then a load more for the upper level. All of the lights are tinted the colour of a cool fluorescent tube.

Textures: the mecha's digital camo is mine and in the Downloads section for you. A lot of the textures used for the hanger are Philip K and available from his ace website.

The mainframes are all simple shapes, again sporting textures by Philip K. A lot of the desktop computers and screens are supplied with C4D. Other scene elements are by Dex or freebies from TF3DM. The mecha control screen and one computer screen use textures from Total Texture Scifi pack.


I'm not sure why, but I have become a little bit fixated with robots recently…. I have 3-4 projects that I have been tinkering around with that feature a robot or mecha of some description.


This project, actually, wasn't ever intended to see the light day - it was a personal project for exploring volumetric lighting. Following the problems had had with volumetric lights in both Gold Rush and Wreck Of The Shuttle Peredur, I have continued to look for answers/solutions. This project was just a plaything for fiddling round with volumetric lights. I did discover some Sample Distance tricks which I need to try in both of those old projects.

Anyway, as this was about playing, I modelled absolutely nothing in this image. The robot is a freebie from PIxelLab (I did give him different hands). The pallet comes with C4D, the barrel, tools, cat and soft drink tin are all from TF3DM. The grass is by Nobiax on DeviantArt.

Part of the trick with this image was dirt; everything - including the cat - has dirt added in to the diffuse layer of the material. The yellow door material and red/white chevron are mine… The concrete is from Total Textures. The textures on the robot are built from images I found around the interwebs and created the additional layers in Photoshop and CrazyBump.

So eventually I ended up with this image and thought it actually worth sharing… In the end, it became as much about telling a story as it did learning about volumetric lights.