Norm Koger's Image Gallery

I have been experimenting with Caligari trueSpace, MetaCreation's Ray Dream Studio, and Corel Photo Paint for a few years now. This stuff is addictive, and I'm spending way too much time with it. Ray Dream Studio and trueSpace were roughly comparable tools with differing strengths, although Ray Dream is no longer available. Both were good midrange 3d graphics tools. The thumbnail images below all lead to larger versions on separate pages. In most cases these are jpg's so they don't look quite as good as the originals, but they do fit in the rather limited space my ISP allows for web sites.

Two Moons

2moons.jpg (167k) 2moons.jpg (800x600-167k) is the result of my first attempt at a scene using trueSpace2. I devoted perhaps 30 hours to it as a learning exercise and I am very pleased with the result. The good folks at Caligari seem to agree, since the image was judged runner up in their December '96 image contest. Some bump maps and textures are modified from original bitmaps included in the Corel Graphics Pack. The partly cloudy night sky is a blend of a procedural texture fill and a light Gaussian color noise pattern generated using Corel Photo Paint 6. The glow effects around the lighthouse and stern lanterns are semi transparent radial fills, also added in Photo Paint 6. Somehow, lens flares just didn't seem to fit the mood of the image...

The scene shows a small merchant ship leaving port under the light of two moons. Two moons? Well, this image is drawn from a Dungeons and Dragons campaign I ran years ago. For those who were involved: the ship is Mike Laird's Mordecai Fae, and the port is Hand to the Sea


vision.jpg (58k) vision.jpg (640x480-58k) comes from an evening of experimentation with Photo-Paint 6 and some simple rendering in trueSpace2. I used a QuickCam image as a transparent overlay on an Age of Rifles screen shot. The composite image was used as a texture map for a monitor screen surface in trueSpace2. The computer monitor and keyboard are from the Caligari trueClips collection. I rendered from a couple of angles to get the perspective I wanted on the keyboard and monitor, then cut, skewed, and pasted the images as objects in Photo Paint. The background image is a 19th century battle painting converted to sepia tone, blurred and feathered into the picture.

This is my reflection in a monitor as I try to focus on something behind the screen. I don't really have the proper background to describe what I'm trying to get at in this image without sounding like a pompous ass, but folks who play my games probably won't have much difficulty figuring it out.

China 39

china_39.jpg (152k) china_39.jpg (800x600-152k) was my second trueSpace scene. This one took about 8 hours, quite a bit less time than 2moons.jpg above; but rendering it severely taxed the 32MB Pentium 133 I was using at the time. The only bitmaps are the red star and Hinomaru "material rectangles" on the aircraft. All of the other textures are procedural, either from trueSpace2 or Photo Paint 6. This time I gave in to temptation and added a lens flare, centered off screen to the upper left.

If you can name the river in this image by identifying the aircraft flying above it, you read way too much military history.

In August of 1939, as the Germans prepared to invade Poland, an "incident" occurred along the border between Russian occupied Mongolia and Japanese occupied Manchuria. As near as anyone can tell, the final combined losses ran about 50,000 troops. This was a major news item at the time, but it was soon overshadowed by events in Europe.

I have a fondness for obscure history and a jaded wargamer's aversion to some more popular topics. While I will pass over a new "battle of the bulge" book every time, the rare volume on something like the Nomonhan Incident is certain to draw my attention. This is why I take such pleasure in including scenarios like Omdurman, 1898 in my games.

Oh, yes. The aircraft are Polikarpov I-15's and Nakajima Ki.27's.


panthers.jpg (67k) panthers.jpg (640x293-67k) This trueSpace scene didn't take long to model; but rendering the wheat field almost choked a 96MB Pentium 200. If I try to do this kind of thing again, it will have to be rendered as two separate scenes and combined in Photo paint. All of the textures are procedural, either from trueSpace2 or Photo Paint 6.

Wargamers and military historians will recognize a column of Panther tanks rolling past a wheat field, ca 1943.


helium.jpg (156k) helium.jpg (800x600-156k) Modeling this trueSpace scene took about 16 hours, and by keeping the polygon count down I managed to keep rendering time reasonable. All of the textures are procedural, either from trueSpace2 or Photo Paint 6.

A dawn patrol sails past the towers of the twin cities of Helium, Barsoom, ca 1870.

I was 12 years old when I discovered Edgar Rice Burroughs' "Mars" series (A Princess of Mars - 1912, and others) in the summer of '69. It seemed magical at the time. I can still close my eyes and conjure up an image of the Heliumetic fleet, sailing off to battle to the bloodthirsty cheers of the citizens of Helium, banners streaming in the feeble Martian wind.

That same summer I also discovered Ralph Milne Farley (The Radio Planet - ca 1925) and George Allan England (Darkness and Dawn - 1914). Some of their writing seems a bit insensitive in today's politically correct climate, but I hope that when the time is right my sons enjoy it as much as I did.


calabash.jpg (147k) calabash.jpg (800x600-147k) Calagari released trueSpace3 in May of '97. I wanted to play with a few of the new features in version 3, and this is my first finished rendering using the new version. The image doesn't break any new ground. It makes very little use of the new features I wanted to experiment with. Still, I managed to have fun with it.

Here we have a calabash pipe, leaning against a leather bound book. The pipe is a reasonably true model of a real calabash in my personal collection. Because of the transparent smoke, this is one of those rare images that looks much better on a 24 bit display.


toryu.jpg (147k) toryu.jpg (800x600-158k) Fractal Design released Ray Dream Studio 5 in August of '97. I had tried Ray Dream 4 earlier, and found it to be much less capable than trueSpace 2. With the '97 round of updates though, Ray Dream temporarily caught up with trueSpace. This image is the result of my early experiments with Ray Dream Studio 5. Photo Paint touch up in this case was limited to the application of a motion blur filter applied through a distance gradient mask.

1945: The sun rises as a Kawasaki Ki.45 Toryu (allied designation "Nick") of the Imperial Army's 53rd Sentai flies over the Japanese coast. I have always respected the men who flew aircraft like the Japanese Toryu and the German Uhu. These large, relatively unmaneuverable interceptors were very effective against WW II heavy bombers, but they usually did not last long in the presence of enemy fighter aircraft. As the war developed, interceptors became defenders of civilian populations. Granted, some of their crews were flying for the wrong side. But given their specific mission, it is difficult to find much fault in their actions.


dungeon.jpg (179k) dungeon.jpg (800x600-179k) In mid '98 I picked up a digital camera for use in my game development business. As an experiment I decided to image a few of the 25mm fantasy miniatures I painted during my Dungeon & Dragons days (mid '70's to early '80's), and I was pleasantly surprised to find that the macro mode of the camera was more capable than the documentation specified. My latest game project was finally settling down, leaving me with a bit of time to play around with art software. It struck me that the digital images of the miniatures could be combined with a rendered background - something with implications for future game design. So I modeled a simple "dungeon" scene with a couple of giant spiders and light sources in the appropriate places. The miniature images were scaled and color / contrast shifted before being pasted into the background. Then the light sources were picked out with simple gradient fill "glows" and simple shadows were added under the pasted images.

A party of adventurers takes on a powerful wizard in his lair. This is a typical scene from a fantasy role playing game session. All the spell casters are throwing spells as fast as they can while the fighters and monsters hack away at each other. This kind of thing seems to work best with a group of players sitting together around a table, throwing dice and screaming at the top of their lungs. So far, nobody has managed to capture the feel of this kind of game in software. Perhaps in a couple of years...


cmrf.jpg (98k) cmrf.jpg (800x600-98k) In September of '99 I found myself working up a concept / specification document for a new game project (announced as Star Leader and later cancelled), and I decided to have a bit of fun along the way. trueSpace had added a number of interesting features with version 4, and I wanted to try them out. Two of the most useful are volumetric lighting (the blue "exhaust" cones behind the ship) and a "magnetic tool" that forces objects to slide over one another. Both were used for this scene. The background is an image created in Corel Photo Paint 9 before I began modeling the trueSpace scene. After rendering in trueSpace, engine area glows, a lens flare, the text and logo were all added using Photo Paint.

Some time in the distant future: This is a recruiting poster for a military outfit called the Colonial Marine Reaction Force.

Savo Island

savo.jpg (94k)savo.jpg (800x600-94k) This was a test of 3d models created for the Chrysanthemum project in March of 2000. Nothing much is new here except for particle effects generated using the Primitive Itch Primal Particles plugin for trueSpace. trueSpace Volumetric lighting was used to fill in searchlight cones from some of the nearby ships, and a Gaussian blur was applied to the particles used to render the brightly lit gunfire "smoke ". Almost all of the lighting in this image radiates from the flash of firing guns and hits on a distant target. Except for the flash lighting, the image would be very dark.

Near Guadalcanal, 0151 hours, 9 August 1942. This picture gives a pretty good idea of the general scale of a typical WWII surface naval action. Mikawa's battle line of heavy cruisers (Chokai, Aoba, Kako, Kinugasa, and Furutaka) have just opened fire on the American cruisers Vincennes, Quincy, and Astoria at a distance of about six miles - just visible. Astoria is illuminated by searchlights from Aoba, and has already been hit by fire from Chokai and Aoba. Vincennes is illuminated by Kinugasa's searchlights, and Furutaka has just fired on Astoria. The battle of Savo Island was not a particularly bright moment for the U.S. Navy. The Imperial Japanese Navy managed to sink 4 heavy cruisers and a destroyer, killing or wounding almost 2000 American and Australian sailors. Japanese losses were fewer than 100 killed or wounded. As with the carrier battle of the Coral Sea though, the Japanese managed to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. Fearing possible retaliation by American aircraft, Mikawa ordered his force to retire rather than advancing to destroy the defenseless transports supplying a US marine force that had landed only two days before.

Vladivostok Squadron - 1904

s_vl_sq.jpg (154k)vl_sq.jpg (1024x768-154k) This is another 3d model test, created for a Russo-Japanese War game project in April of 2002. The ship models are medium-polygon count final game models in directx "x" format. Each is around 1000 polygons - quite a bit simpler than most of the 3d models I've created in the past. I have omitted most of the details smaller than masts and main battery guns. The water and smoke effects also use current experimental game engine textures. For graphics reasons, the ships are spaced only 500 yards apart, about half the distance they actually would have maintained. While the final will probably be different, the real time tactical naval game screen should look a lot like this on a GeForce3 or later graphics system with the interface overlay (buttons, etc.) turned off. Unlike most of the other images on this page, there was no post-render processing in Photo paint. The image is a direct output from trueSpace 5.

The Russian Navy's Vladivostok cruiser squadron sails into the Sea of Japan, early 1904: Most people don't know very much about the Russo-Japanese War (1904-05). Those that do tend to have a low opinion of the Russian navy. But the Japanese officers who fought the Russians had a great deal of respect for them. One of the reasons was the performance of the cruiser squadron the operated out of Vladivostok for most of the war. Time and again these four ships: Rossiya, Gromoboi, Ryurik, and Bogatyr, gave the Japanese fits. By the end of the war, Rossiya and Gromoboi were damaged, Bogatyr had run aground, and Ryurik had been destroyed. But the direct wartime contribution of this squadron outweighed the efforts of the rest of the Russian fleet.

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