In the most literal sense, that title is about gear reduction. I had to design a tightly packed and working but also aesthetically pleasing gear reduction set for a model I am going to 3d print.

It’s the simplest possible gear reduction scenario – it doesn’t require a calculation of torque, even though I could probabaly come up with one easily enough. But the aesthetic part is a funny way to engineer parts.

I have resurrected a long dormant project – the steampunk Xwing fighter I designed ages ago as an experiment in genre mixing. It became the most popular post I have ever made on DeviantArt. After getting a 3d printer, and being a 3d modeler, it didn’t take long for me to build a version in 3d with the goal of 3d printing it.

Unfortunately, it also became one of those projects that took a backseat for a very long time. And that brings me to the “meta” part of the the title of this post.

One of my overall rules for deciding how to spend my time is the aspect of ownership. Way too often I see artists making decisions based on authorship instead of ownership – it’s the chief problem I have with spending too much time on fan art, into which this Xwing project would fall. I authored this version of the XWing , I do NOT own the Xwing as a concept. Therefore, I will give preference in time expenditure to projects which I BOTH author and OWN.

I spent far more of my limited free time working on my comics projects – wholly owned and authored by myself. I spend an occasional day on a weekend on fan projects when I see an opportunity or merely want to experiment.

Luckily, the hardest part of the Xwing project is done – and for cgi enthusiasts or professionals, I used Lightwave and Sketchup – Lightwave for the aesthetics and main shapes, but Sketchup for the CAD portion and gearing work.

The two programs appeal to different sorts – Lightwave can be extremely forgiving of the user being – well – messy. Sketchup will eventually punish you for being less than tidy. And while it is true there are CAD plugins for Lightwave, I prefer using Sketchup for anything engineering related – just being in another application helps to put me into a different mode.

Or gear.