Rounding Third, Heading for Home…

Let’s see… Last time I posted anything here I was doubting the ability of my Dad’s Chicago Cubs to pull off a World Series win.  Of course, as we all know, they came back from their deficit with a vengeance and trounced the Indians.  I say good for them, and the folks in Chicago and, most of all, my Dad who, like a lot of other people, has been waiting for that moment his whole life.  I’m looking forward to the 2017 season and more competition between Chicago and my St. Louis Cardinals.

I thought Terry Francona deserved the AL Manager of the Year honors.  He seems like a great guy, despite his issues with his former Red Socks team.  We always get a kick out of watching him when he’s interviewed on MLB’s “Intentional Talk” show.  Now, why Joe Maddon wasn’t awarded the NL Manager of the Year award is anyone’s guess.  I didn’t think he deserved it in 2015.  It should have gone to Mike Matheney that year.  This year, though, that honor should have gone to Joe.

Ok, enough baseball talk.  Back to the plane…

Hard to believe I’m almost finished with the XB-51.  I’ve made several changes to the reflection and gloss levels in the shader for the model.  This entailed modifications to every texture map for the model.  Since my last post I’ve re-done the rivets in several areas on the wings and horizontal stabilizer.  I’ve re-done the rivet detail on the flaps and aileron spoilers, and also added the “Martin XB-51” splash that appeared on the nose of both of the experimental aircraft.  Here are a few images…

Martin XB-51 (© John Matthews)

The dark, grungy areas around the rivets were toned-down a bit (just lowered the output of those maps), leaving the rivet highlights as-is.  I think this made the model look a bit less video-game-ish in appearance and, hopefully, more realistic. I imagine that Martin, and the Air Force, kept it clean during flight test.  So, there isn’t any “dirt” to be seen on the plane (i.e. residue from the 20mm gun ports after being fired, residue from fluid leakage at panel seams, etc.).  That will be incorporated when I make separate textures for the model to make it appear as if it was an operational aircraft.  Pretty likely I’ll be getting inspiration from markings displayed on B-57s, since that was the aircraft chosen in favor of the B-51.

I changed the gloss and reflection values in the maps for the two engine pods as well.  I made the lower and inboard metal of the engine pods less reflective and glossy since they seem to be depicted that way in most photographs of the aircraft.

Martin XB-51 (© John Matthews)
U.S. Air Force/Martin photo

Here you can see some of the changes made to the textures on the wings.  It’s mostly reflection and gloss levels on different panels to give the appearance of varying shades of different metals used on the wing.  The lower wing spoilers and the outrigger landing gear doors stand-out in more-or-less subtle relief against the rest of the wing, with further definition provided by the rivets.  I used a layer of rivets in all white on the reflection and gloss level maps.  The darkened areas around the rivets (i.e. where dirt might gather around the rivets) was actually several layers of the rivets (this time in black), with progressively less Gaussian blur applied on each layer.  As mentioned earlier, those were toned-down to make it look a bit less video-gamey.  I made a set of panel lines, but they aren’t used in the final texture.  I’d rather let the lines of the rivets, and differences in reflectivity and gloss among the panels, create the illusion or the panel lines for a less cluttered appearance in that respect.

XB-51 (© John Matthews)
U.S. Air Force/Martin Photo







XB-51 (© John Matthews)
U.S. Air Force/Martin Photo



Aside from perhaps a few markings on various parts of the fuselage I can’t really think of anything else I can do.  I’m sort-of at a point now where I can either endlessly twiddle with different reflection and gloss settings and maps, or move on to making a pilot and getting this bird airborne in an environment other than the generic background you see here.  I think I’ll opt for the latter, and call this one “done”.

XB-51 (© John Matthews)


I’m going to come back and do an”operational” paint scheme.  For now I want to move onward and put a pilot in the cockpit.  See you in a few days, after work on the pilot.


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