Making of Dreadnought

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  1. #1

    Making of Dreadnought

    Part I

    Hi! My name is Alexei (aka Karanak), and I’m one of concept artists working on Star Conflict’s( design. Today we’re starting a “making of” series with this post about one of the largest ships in the game. I’ll guide you through the work process.
    So, here’s the task: make a huge ship-carrier, which will serve as a clan dreadnought for the Federation of Free Planets faction. The ship’s in-game size is 10 km long. Naturally it’s a carrier for smaller ships, but it’s also armed with multiple firing systems. That’s what we’ll talk about today. But first, I want to say a couple of words about the whole idea behind the dreadnought’s appearance.
    As soon as I received the order to create this ship, I started to look for inspiration: digging through piles of previous sci-fi works and searching for something capable of sparking my creative thoughts about the monster I was after. No proper inspiration was found. Then I went through some special space fantasy blogs – still nothing. I hadn’t found anything that even came close to what I was looking for, neither with this enormous size nor with the firepower and functionality of a carrier. So, I turned to the classics. I came across some artwork and screen grabs from Star Wars, and they gave me precious inspiration.
    I started making sketches to get my rough ideas down on paper. After coming up with some variations I finally had something to choose between:

    Once the generic view was established, I switched to the ship’s weaponry design. I was expected to make several types of weapons such as mounted AA guns (which will be manned by the player); the main heavy caliber weapons (enormous laser turrets supposed to fire at enemy ships of an appropriate size); smaller laser batteries; and rocket-launching towers.
    Well, let’s start with the AA complex. I’d been thinking about the overall concept for a long time by then. The main idea was to design an automatically controlled turret with its own power generator, so it could be independent from ship’s mainframe. The sketches didn’t take much time to be made, and here’s how they looked:

    After that I started making 3D sketches with Google Sketchup. I began with the optical sensor section responsible for targeting. The sections had several mounted cameras on it, able to rotate in multiple axes.

    When that section was ready I switched to the body of the module, which had an elliptical platform in its base (since it was necessary for the module to contain its own power generator).

    Barrels were put into a system of magnetic receivers that were supposed to be able to slide around the curved side of the module’s power generator.

    And last but not least – I had to invent an appropriate attachment mechanism for the whole module. It was given a sliding lock to give it mobility in the horizontal axis.

    Finishing the model I copied it into a blank Photoshop layer and gave it some after-effects. I merged the material render from Hypershot and a screenshot from Google Sketchup to enhance the picture without spending much time on it.

    Maybe I’ll give more details on how I designed that module later, but for now let’s move on to the next object.
    Next on my list was a small laser turret. This module was designed to carry a lightweight laser gun. Such a weapon would not be able to saw a light fighter in half, but would still be capable of causing severe damage with its pulsing heat beams. This is the sketch of it:

    Then I returned to the Google Sketchup environment and began modeling a basic concept. I started with the “barrel”. It was given a pair of radiators to exhaust excess heat. The element emitting the laser beam was designed as a spiral-shaped block. When spinning fast enough, it would be able to channel a static beam generated inside the turret.

    The next step was making a box stuffed with electronic devices and a locator mounted on the top of the container

    And finally I made sketch of the turret base that holds the barrel itself. The base is capable to move in vertical and horizontal axis and has wide angle of fire. The laser battery is also installed on it.

    In conclusion I improved the look with small details and painted the dummy in slightly different color tones.

    Then – same as for the AA turret – I remastered it in Photoshop and composed a concept list.

    Now it’s time for another gun.
    his time it is a heavy laser weapon of enormous size. Basically it has something in common with main caliber cannons mounted on nowadays line ships. This gun is obviously supposed to be the main attack unit designed to destroy enemy spacecrafts of similar size. By design, these lasers will be dreadnoughts killers.
    This is how the first sketch of it looked like:

    The weapon has two barrels. A large independent generator is placed between them. So, I began my work in Google SketchUp. I started with one of the barrels.

    After that when the basic shapes of the barrel were ready I began creating the central part - the portion of the gun which contains the generator and all necessary attachments.

    Then the base of the turret was made. I took the smaller laser turret base for beginning, made some changes in the whole module’s design. Added some geometry and small details.

    Next step – adding even more visual features. This is a gun that requires a lot more details to be shown so I had to dig in and make these details.

    Then I improved texture of the shell, put some details to main junctions and ‘voila’ – the gun is ready!

    The final colored picture was decided to be shown later since I started running out of time with the weapon design. This is how the final list looked like

    The last item in the current list of weaponry – rocket launchers. I believed that it should be completely classic: a box with an impressive number of rocket slots on a rotating block.

    Started with a dummy of the main container. Pretty simple.

    In conclusion I made a base that would carry the main portion of the gun

    The final image was designed just like the picture of the previous weapon.

    At this moment the order for dreadnought weaponry is complete. Maybe there will be additional requests in future but now I have to move to the next part – spaceship’s hull design. But this is a different story which I’ll tell later

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    Last edited by KaranaK; March 15th, 2012 at 12:18 PM.
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  3. #2
    Join Date
    Aug 2004
    Very well done WOW !!

    Love. Where does it come from? Who lit this flame in us? No war can put it out, conquer it. I was a prisoner. You set me free.

    Tons of Tutorials
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  4. #3
    Awesome 'making of', definitely looking forward to Part 2.

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  5. #4
    A really impressive piece of work! Can't wait to fly this babe already .

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  6. #5
    Part II

    Hi guys!
    This is Part Two of the article about designing the dreadnought. Originally, I was planning to show you a part of the armor. But it so happened that after the weaponry, I began working on the ship’s control tower—the bridge.

    To start, I decided to create the components that have a specific structure or will be used repeatedly. For example, components that will hold anti-aircraft turrets, repeaters, tanks, and other things ...

    After that I moved on to the design of the bridge. First I listed out the tower requirements: whole sensory systems, long-range weapons, various means of communication, radar dishes. Also there were specific components—for example, blocks of rescue capsules. Or a scientific section with a central centrifuge. The center itself is also a medical bay. Take a look:

    After sketching it out, I began to build up an image in Google SketchUp. Of course I started with the base.

    I put the module containing the staff’s rescue capsules in the back at an oblique trajectory, so that they wouldn’t be ejected with the engine’s exhaust—in more or less a safe zone. I hope the rescue capsule will be useful. For example, when the ship drops to 10-15% of its total defenses, the rescue capsule prepares to shoot into space.

    These show the section on the left side of the base, where the laboratory for studying the discovered relics is located. Another section will be located to the right of the bridge.

    The next step was drawing the basic "cap" the bridge.

    After outlining the base of the central section, I began to create fastenings for the main sensor units (those protrusions that were seen in the earlier stage). In the internal cavity I've drawn a couple of container hangars, which are used for cargo delivery

    The editor started chugging, so I decided to temporarily disable the second symmetrical half of the bridge and work on only one part of it. Next I began to work on the body.

    Then, in a separate document, I assembled sensor towers and attached these in the appropriate locations.

    In the same way, I made the basic two-way radar tower and a spherical signal reflector (backup right and left side).

    Then I started to work on the main parts of the bottom with the armor, windows, and detailing of other nodes of the tower.

    It was time to pay attention to residential modules. In a new document, I assembled the main unit of the residential section and placed under the bridge. This section contains a pair of communication stations, and in the inner cavity, a few tanks are located.

    The bottom of the bow tower is ready. It will be mounted on the right side of the base. A long corridor goes from the tower itself to the bottom of the main bridge.

    I added a few important details, such as power relays at the back of the bridge, and finally put the bridge together.

    The main tower is ready. Now it’s time to draw the central compartment. Located in front of the tower, it occupies the central area of the body.
    I started with the basic geometry.

    I kept creating main blocks and adding metal.

    All in all we have:

    Proceeding with a separate document, I created the backup radar, which maintains centralized monitoring of all smaller units. The bridge with the radar is located on the right side of the central part. The elevator shaft connects the bridge and the lower body. The radar itself is going to be animated, giving the illusion that it’s rotating around its axis.

    In the rear of the unit, I've placed a pair of laser turrets that I made earlier.

    At the front part of the same unit, I’ve attached an anti-aircraft tower.

    Finally I ended up with this design.

    So, the central unit is complete.
    Then I created some placeholder modules for the center of the body. Take a look.

    Later I'll come back to these, to place shunting engines into these slots, which will be located in the upper and lower parts of the body.
    Next time, I'll show you the process of working on modules, hangars, interiors, weaponry, and shunting engines.

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  7. #6
    Join Date
    Jun 2003
    This is amazing. Thank you for sharing. I love watching all of the details build up in sketchup industrial designs... makes me want to get in there and play with the program more.

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  8. #7
    Join Date
    Apr 2009
    Northern California
    Wow - thanks for the great walk through Alexei! That's a lot of work just to upload and provide descriptions. I hope Star Conflict is a big hit!

    What would Caravaggio do?

    Plein Air
    Still Life
    Sight Measuring
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  9. #8
    Hi everyone! Let’s continue talking about designing a carrier dreadnought. Today’s topic: the operation of a modular part of the case (to be precise, the hangars and cannon units with shunting engines). All right, here we go!

    Here’s a small sketch of the body, to give myself an idea of what it should look like.

    Modular construction is optimal for this ship, because it allows different modifications to be made to each of these units. For example, it is possible to create the shock [don’t know what’s meant by “shock” – should it be “stock” (meaning “standard” or “basic”?)] ship without an aviacarrying area. Or alternatively, a colonial (not armed) transport with an increased total length.

    Let’s start with work on the hangars. The first step is to make the hangar’s outer doors and to decorate the interior.

    The doors have a classic sliding mechanism.

    The lower shutter is rolls away into the lower cavity, and the upper shutter, likewise, into the upper cavity.

    The interior of the hangar uses the same modular system. The principle is simple: from the inner hangars, the fighter has access to an elevator platform, which is located at the end of the starter shaft. Afterward, when a fighter is in the shaft, the "gravity flow" picks up the ship and takes it into space with the optimal initial flight speed.

    On the right is the basic acceleration unit, and on the left, the gravitational radiator.

    This is how the final configuration looks. At the end of the hangar, in the front hoist elevator, a control station is situated. On each side are acceleration units, and on top and in the bottom, the "anti-gravities."

    This is how it looks all together.

    Let’s return to the main body.

    First, I outlined the basic proportions of the modules, lines, and bevels:

    Then I created (more or less) three-dimensional details. Further, I elaborated from the structure of these parts.

    I began work on the hangar. I set hangar sections apart, so that when you open up the hangar, the doors don’t touch each other.

    Then I began to create the basic metal constructions.

    I outlined a hangar layout with a covering.

    In the inner recess between the sections, I installed the flight control unit.

    I worked on the surface of the covering. This ship needs to be heavily armored, so I made the components of the main sections multi-staged.

    I set the basic caliber implements on the top and in the bottom of the hangar section, and included a pair of bindings for anti-aircraft turrets. These will cover the basic upper and lower hemispheres. To cover the middle of the hangar’s anti-aircraft artillery unit, turrets located in the central section will be used. I’ll describe these later.

    The majority of the covering. The visual filling details are distributed on three levels. The first level is very tight. It is located on the lateral section (in this case, the location of the hangar). The second level is medium. Basic and important elements of the nodes are located in the central sloping block (where equipment is installed) and in the basic protection blocks. The lower, most simple, level is located in the central section. Somewhere it's even the monolith. [I don’t know what that means] Thus, one of the basic rules of design is observed: there should always be places that are easy on the eyes, and places that attract our attention. [I think he’s saying that some areas should be simple (so the eyes can rest) and some shouldbe complex (to attract attention). Howeverr, a “place for the eye to rest” can also mean “a place for the eye to focus,” meaning that this would be the place that commands your attention. If that’s what he meant you could say “there should ways be places for the eye to rest—places that attract our attention” with the dash indicating that both of these phrases are describing the same thing.]

    After working on the covering, here’s what we have:

    The main construction of the hangar unit is finished, but setting the anti-aircraft turrets remains. Here’s the result of this work:

    Next I began to work on the engine correction block and the basic array of secondary weapons. This part was based on my work with the hangar.

    The basis for the gun parts:

    I produced this by marking the body according to the future locations of the shunting units. The I outlined the covering.

    I set modular docking stations around the edges and lined up a few sheets of the main covering:

    I established three massive anti-aircraft units at the tower, designed to cover the central part of the body.

    An important step: this created the basis for the motor nozzle (heat sinks and radiation reflectors). [I’m assuming the heat sinks and radation reflectors are what make up the motor nozzle. If these are actually three different things, it should be “motor nozzle, heat sinks, and radiation reflectors.”]

    I installed engine nozzles, which had been created separately. At the same time I took care of the horizontal protective shields.

    With the major work on the motor section completed, I continued to work on the central section of the body. I installed four torpedo missile turrets.

    I started working on the slopes of the body, placing three laser towers on the top and bottom sides.

    Placing components made it look like this:

    The final stage – detailing of the part of the covering that’s closer to the center of the ship – is one that we have listed as “low detailed.”

    The module is ready! Here's how it looks:

    The last element to be reviewed today is the construction of the main hangar (the ship’s cargo space). In the game universe, the hangar’s role is to store large objects left behind by the Precursors, and also to transport large ships. The hangar’s role in the gameplay is that it's the last vulnerable area of the ship that must be destroyed. This is the place closest to the reactor, and by breaking through the thin back wall of the hangar, you can cause a chain reaction of destruction to the nucleus—and, therefore, the destruction of the ship. But to get into this hangar, you need to perform several tasks. One of them is to destroy the hangar’s force field generators, which are located in the bow of the ship.

    First, as usual, I made a simple sketch, to be filled in with details.

    Gradually I built up the covering, hangar layout, and important elements such as the bridge monitoring hangar, technical units, and "cover" of the reactor.

    Today’s mission is done! In the next part of the article, I will tell you about my work on the nose and tail parts of the ship.

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  10. #9
    Hello, my friends! This is the conclusion of the article about making the dreadnought. Today, I'll tell you how I created the front and back parts of the ship.

    This is where I began.

    I started with detail work, trying a couple of different variations. These and some other vertical objects in the front part of the ship will be useful in the gameplay. Pilots will fly around them and hide from enemies there. The lateral foreship cavity will be one of the safest ways to reach the final point of destruction—the central hangar (where only a few anti-aircraft guns are located). Of course, this security is relative, since flying in tight spaces requires skill. But experienced pilots will be able to interact with the "terrain"—to hide while repairing a ship, or to carry out a sudden attack on the enemy.

    I outlined a flap of the foreship’s shield emitter. This is one of the elements that needs to be destroyed to take the ship down. To get into the foreship, you need to turn this off.

    For the next step, I straightened the foreship’s geometry and outlined the thickness of the shell.

    I continued to add detail to the vessel’s inner cavity. I installed shafts, which are used to transport various pieces of equipment. These shafts can also be used to eject beacons (to identify critical areas), to set up a minefield, and to let out different types of drones.

    The covering, life supporting systems, a variety of containers, and more—all of these details are included on the list of the ship’s required contents. I staged rocket launchers in one of the planes.

    In a separate document I created an array of the ship’s electronics and moved this to the mounting position. In active mode, these are used to deduce hyperspace coordinates. In passive mode, this is the primary electronic warfare system—any other ships that are near this ship’s nose will not have the opportunity to initiate warpdrive. This item is a duplicated system, since it's an important element of the ship. If the ship’s warfare system is destroyed, the ship can only perform a "blind" cyber-jump.

    In the inner part of the body, a number of transformers have been set. When these are destroyed, the main hangar’s central forcefield turns off and access to the ship’s core becomes available.

    I continued detailing the body.

    I installed two anti-aircraft gun mounts on the inside edge. The body is symmetrical, so there are four installations on the front inner zone. This detail is also a part of the gameplay—players have to choose whether to fly through an unprotected side zone to the center of the ship (and risk a potential conflict), or to fly through the foreship (where the foreship guns can be met). However, the flight through the upper part of the ship is not very pleasant, either, since anti-aircraft guns will be installed there.

    I went on with the body detailing and set the AA gun mount.

    Working and working...

    I put bottom half of the ship aside and continued to work the middle part of the body.

    I gradually filled the body with detailed covering and various modules.

    Then I detailed the shield emitter’s flap.

    I worked on the inside of the body

    Finally, I detailed the rest of the covering and attached contacts to the shield emitter. To get into the foreship’s inner cavity, players will have to shoot off these contacts.

    This is how the foreship looks in the end.

    Next I got started on the final module—a module of engines and gravitational pull. Making the shield emitter was the first step.

    Here's the SketchUp [or “sketched”?] object. Next I worked on the steel structure of the bulkheads.

    Here's the outlined, non-detailed version.

    Then I detailed it.

    Finally I created the holder. There should actually be a capacitor over it. To disable the shield, you need to overload this system. During overload, the shield turns off and gives you an access to the ship’s rear systems.

    Work continued on the body. The ship’s construction is fairly standard. I began with the basic geometry, and later went on detailing it.

    I installed shield emitters on the body.

    Then I began detailing the thickness of the covering.

    I created the ledges for the future gravity block and outlined the armor sheets.

    I created stabilization blocks and part of the body’s layout.

    I upgraded this part of the body and set tail shafts similar to those on the foreship.

    Step by step, I detailed the major part of the covering.

    I created a gravity unit in a separate document and attached it in the right place. This maintains a constant gravity on the ship. When you get close to objects that have gravity (such as planets), the gravity unit helps you perform incredible maneuvers and even stay in a planet's atmosphere for some time (a couple of minutes). To do this, you need to channel all of the energy to the gravitational block—but there is a risk of draining the reactor core. This system can also be used for an emergency landing, but this landing would be the ship’s last—the reactor core isn’t powerful enough to survive such an overload.

    Speaking of the propulsion system, there are 11 engines at the rear. The central engine is a warpdrive engine. The "triplets" on the left and right are boosters. The extreme "dyads" are for maneuvering.

    In a separate document I created a few nozzles.

    I began installing these nozzles, while detailing the back of the body. Then I installed the shunting unit.


    And warpdrive. I worked on a heat resistant covering for the back part of the ship.

    I worked on the remaining piece of the covering.

    The last element remaining was the shunting unit. This needed to be installed on the central part of the ship so that it could move vertically. Doing so was easy—I created it from an existing module.

    The development stage is completed. All that remained was to assemble the ship… a process that took about one day.

    Then I chose a color scheme.

    And next I painted various elements. After assembling and painting, the ship started to look like this:

    That's all! To wrap up, I Photoshoped the ship and created the concept list.


    I hope players will love this ship!

    Technical info:
    • Project length: about 45-50 days
    • Folder with all of the dreadnought’s data: 4GB
    • Final Photoshop file: 210MB
    • Final SketchUp document (without anti-aircraft turrets): 67MB
    • Final area: 4,745,000 polygons (without anti-aircraft turrets)

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  11. #10
    Join Date
    Aug 2008
    Vilnius, Lithuania


    "Of course, everything looks bad if you remember it"

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  12. #11
    Join Date
    Nov 2010
    I know, they are going to love it!

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  13. #12
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
    Corte Madera CA
    Fantastic model, your greebling is superb. And you obviously have a lot of patience

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  14. #13
    Dude. That's one fucking beast.

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  15. #14
    Join Date
    Jul 2002
    Paris, France
    Totally ludicrous and awe inspiring.

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  16. #15
    Join Date
    May 2006
    wellington. nz
    fuck dude. that is on a whole other level. amazing

    * edit

    have you recorded any video of you working in sketchUp ? would love to see something this epic unfold

    Last edited by inverse catheter; March 18th, 2012 at 07:43 PM.
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  17. #16
    Join Date
    Jul 2009
    this is simply insane!!!! thank you so much for putting this up, it blew my mind...

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  18. #17
    it's hard to find words how i admire your ship!

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  19. #18
    Man you really need to make a How To Book or something, this stuff is excellant.

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  20. #19
    Join Date
    Apr 2003
    Nottingham, England
    really great thread, and fantastic work!

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  21. #20
    Thank you for the tutorial, fantastic work as always

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  22. #21
    Holy crap, you have a mastery over google sketchup, I didn't even know it was capable of producing such highly detailed models!

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  23. #22
    Dude, thanks for this! It is not only might impressive, but also very inspirational. Cheers!!

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  24. #23
    Join Date
    Jul 2008
    Awesome job dude!

    My SketchBook

    --Wait, whut? --
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  25. #24
    Отец, это самая о х у е н н а я работа которую я когда либо видел в данной категории. Как только скетчуп выжил.

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  26. #25
    What the actual... Wow, I'm simply stunned. This is what a spaceship would look like if it were a few thousand years later.

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  27. #26

    how long did it take you if you dont mind me asking?

    i use 3dsmax, never used google sketchup, i would hate to think how long it would take to make in max... :/

    To hell with circumstances; I create opportunities.
    My Sketchbook-


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  28. #27
    Quote Originally Posted by NyeAlexandaFrayne View Post

    how long did it take you if you dont mind me asking?

    i use 3dsmax, never used google sketchup, i would hate to think how long it would take to make in max... :/
    Imagine in 3Dsmax? All the connects, outlines, bevels and extrudes you would have to do! I would assume that I'd start pulling out my hair eventually. I guess Greeble (downloadable modifier) would be your best bet if you quickly want to do all this.

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  29. #28
    Join Date
    Sep 2010
    Nottingham, UK
    thanks for taking the time to share this. the end result loooks superb, very pro indeed.
    you say it took 45-50 days, how many hours per day?

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  30. #29
    Join Date
    Nov 2009
    Amazing, really inspiring! I have a lot of trouble "thinking" about detail when i model in sketchup, this will really help give me some ideas how to step up my own work, thanks a million!

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  31. #30
    Join Date
    May 2007
    pld: the sheer number of details gave me a headache....ive seen your other ship designs but this....this is f###ing INSANE(in a good way)!

    How do you come up with so much different details? Do you have some of them pre fabricated, so you just copy them in or everything comes from imagination?

    What system are you running.. my computer would probably crash half way detailing one part`?

    Big fan of your work..your such an inspiratsion keep at it..cheers.

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