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How to build a SHIP -- chapter 4: Internal Spaces
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How to Build a SHIP -- chapter 4: Interior spaces

Due to requests made by fellow builders, we have chapter 4: Interior Spaces

Okay, so we have been working on the structure, the skeleton, of our SHIP. And, hopefully, we are following the hard work we did previously with design and are building a transport, science vessel, etc., just like we had drawn out on paper. Now comes a tricky part to the design/structure process -- the interior spaces. I am not talking about details like the captain's desk, or the pinball machine in the crew lounge, but instead we are looking at crew quarters, latrines (the head), cargo holds, atriums, science labs, and that most treasured and difficult room of all --> the shuttle bay.

Why is the shuttle bay so difficult? Unless you planned out the shuttle/fighter bay from the beginning, and you know exactly how long, how wide, and how high the shuttle or fighter is, then you are going to run into all sorts of problems. NEVER build a shuttle or fighter to match the space of a shuttle bay unless you are up there with Daniel Jassim, or you are building a POD shuttle of some sort like a spiff-craft. Because your shuttle or fighter will look small, provincial, and just pathetic all the way around. Build your shuttle or fighter first, and make sure it is a light interceptor or small personnel shuttle. If you build a hyperdrive capable mega-assault multi-vector fighter or shuttle, then your SHIP is going to be all shuttle bay, and nothing else. So what is the purpose of building a SHIP in the first place?

There was one MOC that I have seen where someone built a TIE fighter carrier, and actually had other things like a repair bay, crew quarters, engineering section, etc., and the thing was huge and did not look like it could be transported from where he built it and it used a large number of flat baseplates. I would not recommend going that route. His was cool, but only do this if you live alone. That TIE fighter carrier was like five or seven feet in length. Do you have that many Legos? Probably not.

If you are building a carrier, then make sure to have multiple decks. Just have the entire first deck as the hangar bay, and put in your shuttles and fighters (light interceptors or small shuttle craft). Have the second and third decks for your SHIP's crew. Now, if you are happy having just one small Star Trek like shuttle, then you will find it a lot easier to include it just about anywhere, almost like a cargo hold, only with a large hangar door/force field. The third option is to have an exterior shuttle/fighter platform. Richard Parsons built a fleet tender ship called the Sirius, and he did an excellent job of putting external fighter racks on his SHIP. His pilots exited the ship in their flight suits, climbed in, and the fighters were disengaged. It cost him very little in parts and space to do this.

More likely than not, your shuttle bay/fighter bay will be square. Why? because it is very easy to build large spaces internal to an MOC as a square. If you take a look at the crew quarters of many, many SHIPs, you will see that every room (bathroom, crew mess, atrium, science lab, etc.,) is square. This allows for ease of spacing internal things like furniture and hallways, and it keeps your SHIP structurally sound. I have only seen one MOC that attempted non-square hallways and crew quarters, and it was awesome. I myself attempted it, and it is very challenging and very hard to put furniture in, and it creates new problems in maintaining structural integrity. The best example I have seen for non-square internal spaces comes from Flail on Brickshelf. To this day, the term 'flailified' refers to what he did with the minifig scale Millenium Falcon which has served as an example for countless others on how to modify that set, and that term is even used when modifying other sets. For example, I flailified my clone wars gunship. Go to Brickshelf, check out what he did to the internal spaces of that set, and be prepared to be amazed. Search Brickshelf members, Flail.

Okay, back to internal spaces. Here are some basics to think about for ANY SHIP! Do you have a crew, and if yes, do they need sleep? food? a bathroom? Does your science ship need a science lab? Does your colony ship need an atrium and entertainment for the long haul between stars? Does your troop transport need lots and lots of crew bunks? This should almost be a part of the design phase, wait, yes it should be a part of the design phase. When you are laying out the skeleton, know exactly which plates will be for the bridge, the cargo hold, the shuttle bay, etc., When mapping out the shuttle bay, have your shuttle craft ready, and lay out your bricks and plates enough to accomodate that thing. It is going to be a challenge, always, to build square rooms and shuttle bays, and not have your ship coming out looking blocky, and thus ugly. But you know what? Practice, and don't let yourself be lazy. Slope pieces are the salvation for non-blockiness.

For internal space, EVERY STUD COUNTS! Adding so much as one more stud's length to a room has made all the difference from that room being a closet to being a captain's quarters. Seriously, every stud of interior space is crucial. DO NOT WASTE INTERIOR SPACE! Got a corner? Put some pipe in that corner. Keith Goldman would agree with me. Got a blank wall? That's a great place for an intercom, or to integrate a storage locker. Or put a clip there to hold a blaster rifle.

One of the best uses of blank wall space I have seen in an MOC was to hold the hunting trophies (weapons, skulls, chains) of past kills. This MOC was a Predator or Hirogen ship, and there were trophies of kills lining the walls of the interior spaces of this space ship -- totally awesome.

Anyway, try to stick to hallways that are four studs wide (perfect for good old R2-D2), and have your doorways and airlocks stick to Moon Base standards. There is a very lengthy article on Lugnet all about Moon Base standards. After reading that article, you will find that even Lego space sets (Star Wars, etc.,) stick to Moon Base standards. Why? because five bricks high is THE PERFECT height for Lego minifigs with just enough room for a headpiece, and the four stud width is perfect for R2-D2, and it does not eat up a lot of bricks. Also, it is simple and easy to build yet allows for a lot of creativity -- remember the guy who put hunting trophies on the walls of his SHIP? If you want to do something different, I challenge you to use the dwarf minifigs as an alien race, and build a ship that accomodates their height. Anyway, Moon Base standards are not the Biblical Law of MOCing, but they sure solve a lot of problems in terms of scale size for minifigs. The most common variation that I have seen, used a lot by Leonard Hoffman and Daniel Jassim and Keith Goldman, and by myself, is to actually make internal space six bricks high. To explain why is a whole 'nother article, and this one has gotten long enough.

BTW, I am not saying that I am anywhere near the building skill of Keith, Daniel, Leonard, or anyone else I mentioned; I just examine what they do, learn from them, and share with others what I have noticed. I hope it helps. As always -- go to Brickshelf, MOCpages, Lugnet, Classic-Space.com, Classic-Castle.com, and learn from what others have done. If you copy, give them credit. Yes, I said Classic-Castle.com, there is a lot to be learned from those castle builders that can be used for spaceships. I love using castle pieces in my spaceships! Just try to find them, I bet you can't.
Permalink
| May 26, 2009, 11:53 pm
I used this strategy again!!! I'm not THAT GREAT of a builder, but I can actually estimate how big the stud size of my ship is. Seriously!!! Like, when I was just starting to put in the interior for my Millennium Falcon, I found that almost everything fit PERFECTLY in place!!! And all the hallways and rooms are almost in perfect scale.:):):):)
Permalink
| May 27, 2009, 7:12 pm
And, Alan, could you PLEASE comment on my Millennium Falcon so you can tell me what I'm doing right and wrong. It would mean SO MUCH to me.
Permalink
| May 27, 2009, 7:13 pm
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