Mass Effect dock scene



I love the Mass Effect series and I wanted to do something really cool based on that world. I loved every time you arrived at a new planet how you could see the Normandy docking. So that is where I got the idea from. It’s going to be a short animation.

Here is my current state. I just realized now that I was working on on of the engine/wings that my scale for the ship is way off, needs to be significantly bigger.


Here is more progress. Worked more on the ship. Added more catwalks and elements to add scale. Still the scale is off but working on it.


I like it so far, The Normandy looks cool.


I never played any of the Mass Effect games, so I don’t know how this compares to the source material, but going purely on its merits as a scifi scene, I think this is off to a good start. Is this the angle you’re planning on rendering from? Personally I feel that a lower POV combined with a slightly wider angle could have a more epic feel to it. I feel scale is a very important factor in scifi imagery like this, and when you bring your camera down to human eye level and widen the FOV, it brings the viewer into the scene and enhances the sense of scale to one of far greater grandeur.


@ Miked08 - Thanks!

@ leigh - Thanks for the comments leigh. Great suggestions I played with the FOV and lowered the camera to put it more at human level. It definitely adds more epicness to it. Now that I have a lot of the modeling almost done I decided to do a small animation but this will be the hero angle.


Yeah that’s definitely a cooler POV! It puts the viewer into the scene more easily, and enhances the sense of scale. Looking forward to your future updates.


I was unwrapping the whole scene and tweaking some more stuff but here is an update on the Normandy. It’s pretty much done. I have it on a separate scene but I will start ligthing the final scene to see the reflections there.


The ship is finished. There were some issues with the displacement that I fixed from the previous images. It was causing some extra roundness on the geometry but it’s not been tweaked. Here is an update with a first pass on ligthing and some textures. I will town down the fill light that I have from the planet so I get darker values.


I really like the slender look and the ship. Very sleek, good render… :thumbsup:


Here is another update with more things textured. I will work on that console to have FG object very detailed and help with the scale and also start playing with the animation for this scene.


Having not played the game, I don’t know how faithful you’re being in terms of the texture work, but I do think there are certain aspects of the texturing which are problematic, most notable the issue of scale. Having very large details like large scale lettering has the effect of miniaturising the scene - this is particularly true of the large stripes and numbers on the hangar, but also applies to the livery on the ship itself.

Also, be wary of having textures which are very monotone or samey. You’ve got panel work on the hangar structure but everything is the same colour, just with dark panel lines adding detail. Go in and subtly change the panels to differentiate them from one another - the Death Star in Star Wars is a good reference for this. From a distance, all the panels are slightly different from each other, which helps to break up the surface visually, reinforces the sense of scale and also makes things look more interesting.


yeah. Most of the textures in the game are monochromatic metal. So I’m struggling with that.
Thanks a lot for the panel color tip, I will start playing with that.


it seems leigh is right. and I’m not sure if this anywhere near the dock scene your replicating but I’m sure it looks similar.
EDIT: this image is right from the game


hey Ben,

I’m not trying to replicate that dock. I gathered some images from the game and I am using elements from a couple of docks from the game.

Here is another update. This would be pretty much all the light sources and elements. This are 2 angles I am testing for the ending of the animation. I will post some videos later to show what I’m trying to do for the whole animation.


Try focusing on one thing at a time. I’d say leave the lighting for now and just focus on getting those textures done. Trust me, after many years of this, I’ve earned that tying to do too many things simultaneously tends to end up with an unfinished project.

Just a quick note on the lights though - this structure would be getting a lot more illumination from the planet surface, as well as what appears to be a nearby star in your background. Your current lighting only appears to account for lighting installations on the structure itself. Space light is very harsh and very white. I know, because I recently finished up on a space project myself! A good place to look for references is NASA’s site - they have tons of photos from the ISS which show the structures in a lot of detail. The Japanese ISS module Kibo may be of particular help, since it’s also covered in metal panels.

Also, you have so many structural lines in your scene that it seems a waste not to exploit them for compositional effect. Do you know the artist Ryan Church? He does a lot of really cool, wide angle paintings that exploit converging lines to create really, really strong compositions. I think if you check out some of his work, you may get some ideas on how to strengthen your own piece. Remember that your lighting also aids composition because highlights become visual cues, so be sure to place your lights in such a way that they illuminate the focal points while reducing the background.

But for now, just focus on those textures!


thanks leigh. Great reference.

Here is my first take on the animation. I took a break from ligthing and shader work and did this. Tomorrow I will post some renders.

So the idea for the animation is to start looking at space and have a reveal moment for the Normandy, then you see it approach and it finally docks.



Here is another update. I played with a bit of comp with the last frame to see where I want to take this scene to look like in the end.

I still need to tweak some lighting things that I saw from this comp but just wanted to share the progress.


It feels as if there are way too many stars in the background. If I look up the ISS, you hardly see any stars at all in the background. Same with pictures taken on the moon.

So either dial it down a bit, or I might just be wrong :stuck_out_tongue:


Very cool scene.

Watching the animation you posted above, it feels like the camera is moving very fast for how big of an environment it’s in. It ends pretty abrubtly when it comes to a stop as well.

Maybe try a smaller more delicate camera move with a slight pan and less dolly-ing, it might give your ship and scene a little better sense of grandeur and perspective as well, just a thought! :slight_smile:


The first thing that caught my attention in your latest comp was the lens flare. I would suggest to dial it down a little and shift the focus to the spacecraft!

Also the planet behing the spacecraft doesn’t help to bring that focus. They are very similar in colour. The planet looks great though! Maybe play with the grade a little to give some contrast between spacecraft and planet.

Overall its good progress. Looking forward for the result!