During these past days, besides finishing the rendering and comp of The Huntress, I kept refining and adding a bit more resolution to some parts that would otherwise look too toy-like. Most of the external fuselage and overall visible things are fine as they are, since there will be a lot of textures and specular maps and whatnot. They should hide the lack of resolution in some parts pretty well.
So first I worked on the “backpack” and the hidden struts and connection pieces that link those inner parts together. I figured if I had that right, that would be most of the hard stuff and I would move on to easier changes.
While I was doing this, I happened to watch a transformation sequence from the Macross Plus movie frame by frame on Quicktime. And I found out the crotch plate came out from underneath, rotated and moved into position, instead of being already below the plane. That allowed for a more aerodynamic profile in plane mode, without the big triangular crotch plate that broke the plane feeling. This, of course, happened because I copied the toy mechanics, which have to cope without the “anime magic”. But I could make this work! So I set myself to figure out the way this happened, created the new set of pieces and the transformation sequence, and tweaked it until it worked.
Trying to come up with inner mechanisms that made sense made me go back to the nose piece. That part is really not explained and changes scale and shape over and over during the movie. But my biggest challenge was not to intersect the cockpit with it (I need a scene from the POV of the pilot of the transformation so it’s a big no-no if the plane comes crashing through the virtual reality screens while that happens.) I made a set of pivots and a few pistons to follow along the transformation action, and did runs until it didn’t intersect anymore.
Then, a small detail I saw in a small scene where the YF-19 does a taxi at night, that prompted me to do some research about navigation lights in fighter jets, and specify the correct position for it.
There are parts that when the plane transforms look very odd and empty, so my solution was to add moving covers that hide that, and look pretty cool while doing it. So for the point where the backpack comes out, I invented a system of plaques that rotate and form a cover.
While doing that, I decided to add a few things to the head, like the inside of the visor with some geometry to show the different sensors and cameras that form it and that would be visible through the greenish glass. Unfortunately the material for the glass is behaving weird now because… well because I don’t know how to make materials yet.
I’m also trying to at least base anything I add on some piece of reference, be it from the movie itself or from the Hasegawa scale model or from the Arcadia toys. I added a small cover (the one in yellow) behind the backpack to cover the connection struts and give it a sturdier, closer to the shape of the design look. It can’t be the same shape and size of the backpack because it would intersect the plane while in plane mode and stick out in nasty ways through the belly, so I had to compromise a bit there.
Compromise one thing, be faithful to another. That’s how you build an anime mecha.