Some people have asked me now how to build these, and I thought I would comply. Please note, this tutorial is for GIMP primarily, though I have such a basic knowledge of the system I imagine it would work with any rastor editor.
I build my ships in layers; first the outer skin, then the interior partitions, followed by built-in features such as computer consoles, bars, and plumbing. Finally, I do interior design and add the exterior information.
First thing's first, you need to build the outer 'walls' of your ship; its skin. Firstly, you want to make a transparent layer for these walls to sit on. Name it something simple, like 'exterior bulkheads.' There are two ways to draw the actual lines. You can use paths to build the lines of the ship, then give it a 25px stroke, or you can use the selection tool to build shapes by selecting an area you want, filling the selection, shrinking the selection by 25px, and then deleting the interior. Both methods work, but they each have their advantages and disadvantages.
Stroking tends to produce very flowing, very pretty ships. This is useful if you want to build, say, a Mon Calamari battlecruiser or a more aesthetic vessel, like later star trek ships. The select and cut method is more precise, takes longer, but has the advantage of being able to look far more regular and straight. I tend to prefer the latter method, but like I said either one works.
Some considerations for this step:
-I use a 25px width for the walls, at a scale of 1px=1in. . You might want to toy with that, but I usually find that makes it look plenty thick.
-If you want a symmetrical ship, build half the ship, select the entire thing, copy, paste, and then flip the selection vertically. This is especially useful when building via the path stroke method.
-It is important to think during this step where the stuff you're going to need to put in the ship goes, and how big that stuff is. Engines are usually big and are often in the back, the bridge will be somewhere up in the front, you don't want an extruding bulkhead to block your weapons, etcetera.
-If you've got curves, give some thought to the vertical curve of the ship as well. You my need to draw in where the roof starts sloping down, or the floor starts sloping up.
-No matter what type of ship you have, you need to figure out the number of decks she has at this point. If it's more than two or three, or will need to move lots of stuff from deck to deck, consider putting in elevators. Either way, you will need stairs. Both of these go on this layer.
I'm going to be building a ship along with this tutorial, and here is what her main deck is going to look like:
Each color represents a different shape that I used to build her (I used the select and cut method, because I wanted her to look a little blocky). You may need to make several layers with this method to erase certain parts. For example, the front of the ship where the curved bow slims down was made in two layers, which allowed me to precisely erase the portion of the oval I didn't want, while still being able to keep the angled straight section. Either way, the layers used should be merged into one when this is finished.
Next, you'll want to make your guides; useful marks for keeping things straight and in order, especially between decks. For now, you'll want to make a horizontal line marking the ship's centerline, as well as horizontal and vertical lines which center on the center of your elevators and stairs, useful for making sure they maintain their relative positions when going from deck to deck.
Next time: Interior partitioning, what goes where and why, and the power core.