The YF-19: Wrapping Up (Intro)

There will be a point in this project where I need to call it a day, wrap up and consider this is pretty much done. I could extend this forever, and I’m aware I’m really good at extending projects forever (*cofcof*procrastinating*cofcof*), so during the last render passes I did with the cockpit, the HUD and the outside looks, I reached this decision: I’m wrapping up this baby, and I’ll make a 3 parts series for it.

These past weeks I’ve been making my laptop swear and grunt with some cool-looking renders. I managed to make several tests of the specular levels I wanted, and finally got the levels I wanted. It took time and a lot of trial-and-error.


April 11 – Test with virtual cockpit and specular levels



Fuselage specular levels completed



Yet another test where I realized I’ve been putting the camera for the HUD in the wrong place, so my compass wasn’t showing right


April 13 – The fighter version so far


GERWALK version so far


Battroid version so far



April 16 – More fixes to the HUD, remodelled the arm rest for the Joystick to be closer to the movie’s


April 18 – Fixes to the cockpit specularity and HUD



I haven’t talked much about where this is going afterwards, since I know (kinda) what’s the next step, and the step after that one, and that’s it. I never had any deadline and I probably won’t have one, this is a fun project that I created to teach myself Blender, so I intend on keeping it that way. But I feel that I need to start calling it a day on changes, fixes and details that feel accomplished enough, given the current understanding of Blender (and basically, how good I’m at making textures, which is still not there but it’s closer to what I want).

So currently, this is what I still need to get done:

1.  Finish the HUD

This means making sense of what’s displaying on the Virtual Environment Cockpit (VEC for shorts and to make it sound cooler) from the standing point of a pilot receiving information of the plane. There are plenty of cool looking graphics that look cool, but can they make sense? What are those circles and triangles indicating? Is it orbital maneuvering trajectories, speed and altitude, a GPS map of the area, a radar?


Some of those indicators would be moving around as the plane travels and turns, just like I made the HUD’s different virtual horizons indicate the bank, roll and pitch, as well as the compass. Here’s what I came up with after a few nights leaving the laptop rendering:


This only took forever.

My guess is that the front circular indicator is an HSI (Horizontal Situation Indicator) which is basically a compass that shows the direction of the plane and the orientation of different signals, like radio towers, VHF and VOR posts, etc. This indicator would have to rotate just like the compass indicator, and have moveable components that go around it and that I can animate.


So I need to keep defining what is what, and eventually make them controllable and with a switch controller to turn them on and off.


Then, the main cockpit display with whatever it needs to display. Also controllable, animation-able and that can be turned on and off easily. So I’m gonna get very obsessed in making sense of as much as possible. Also, because anime is anime, it was never the same picture. So I need to get to a good point in between.

2. Lights

All the lights like the ones at the tip of the wings, the landing lights, the tail lights and the glow-in-the-dark panels need to be defined to look great and realistic, and to be controllable with drivers so they can be turned on/off, made to blink and flash at different strengths for different conditions. So this is a minor task but still important for the final renders and animations. I want them to be there and adjustable without having to render multiple tests to find out if they are showing correctly.

But the tricky part that I also need to figure out is the afterburners. I want them to be very very realistic without taking a lot from the performance. Transparency maps? Particle systems? I’ll need to make many experiments. Also they need to change colour and size.


3. Colour Schemes

The final stage is just for the fun of it. I had the OVA and movie’s YF-19 in mind when I began this project, but I purposely made my texture map file so I can switch the colour schemes to make it into a VF-19 (the Excalibur, which is the delivered plane after it won the contest against the YF-21, which became the VF-22 in Macross 7)


Next in line, the awesome-looking black version for the 25th Anniversary of Macross:


Then, the always-needed Skull version of pilot Roy Fokker:


A very USAF looking one:


And finally, even though it’s slightly different on the head part, I’ve decided to make the Macross Frontier VF-19 Advanced scheme:


So these five variations, plus the original Macross Plus one, will be the full spectrum of this plane’s majesty.

Organising the 3 stages

As I’ve learned from tutorials and from Adam Savage, the best thing to do is to come up with a list of tasks, and subdivide the hell outta it:

  1. HUD and VEC
  2. Lights and Afterburner
  3. Colour Schemes

So it would subdivide in a second level:

  1. HUD and VEC
    1. HUD main (pilot board)
    2. VEC indicators
    3. Controllers for all animations in the main control panel
  2. Lights and Afterburner
    1. Lights
    2. Afterburner effect
    3. Controllers for all of these in the main control panel
  3. Colour Schemes
    1. Macross Frontier Advance version (easiest)
    2. VF-19 Excalibur version
    3. Roy Fokker’s Skull version
    4. 25th Anniversary black version
    5. Low visibility version (gray)
    6. NAVY version
    7. Controllers to switch these in the main control panel

And the third level is the charm:


  1. HUD and VEC
    1. HUD main (pilot board)
      1. Flight instruments (turned on and off depending on landing, flaps, hover) (driven)
      2. Radio and comm (display only)
      3. Power/thrust ratio indicator (animatable)
      4. Radar indicator/back mirror view (needs to project an image sequence from a camera into a geo)
      5. ‘READY’ switch on sign (animation sequence)
    2. VEC indicators
      1. HSI indicator (driven by compass)
      2. GPS indicator (animatable)
      3. Orbital maneuvering labels and trajectories (animated cycle)
      4. Blinking bits of info (driven)
    3. Controllers for all animations in the main control panel
      1. Power/trust ratio
      2. GPS
      3. Speed/altitude indicator for Helmet (also pilot board?)
      4. On/Off controllers for everything
  2. Lights and Afterburner
    1. Lights
      1. Navigation (wing tips, tail lights)
      2. Stroboscopic (top, belly) (driven)
      3. Cockpit lights (warning indicators)
      4. Fluorescent for night flight
    2. Afterburner effect
      1. Mesh
      2. Textures and transparency maps
      3. Colour modifiers (red/blue/yellow
      4. Length and size rig
    3. Controllers for all of these in the main control panel
      1. Light individual On/Off
      2. Stroboscopic speed controls
      3. Cockpit light controllers (on/off)
      4. AFT On/Off
      5. AFT Length
      6. Fluorescent on/off
  3. Colour Schemes
    1. Macross Frontier Advance version (easiest)
    2. VF-19 Excalibur version
    3. Roy Fokker’s Skull version
    4. 25th Anniversary black version
    5. NAVY version
    6. Controllers to switch these in the main control panel
      1. Version control switch (also changes nose crystal to green for VF-19 Excalibur)

Will post Stage 1 soon!!



About Eduardo

I'm some dude with a huge love for animation and film. I've been working in TV animation for the past 6 years in New Zealand. I love dragons, pointy metal things that can cut dragons, and flight simulators.
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