Mindstrike put me on to a site called Kitbash3d.
Kitbashing is the practice of taking parts from those old-school models (kits) from companies like Revell and using them to build (bash together) a totally different model. See here, taken from my recent trip to the Udvar-Hazy Center in Virigina. 10 points if you can ID what this model is from:
This Kitbash3D site, then, offers “3D model parts” in a single package. When I had been trying to make A Game, visuals were unnecessarily important to me early on, and not having a viable space ship model was something that kept me up at night. I managed to scum one from a free repository, but if I’d had something like this:
I think I might have felt better about the project. Not that I would have necessarily finished the project, but…you get the picture.
I purchased this pack of space ships from Kitbash3D because the site talks about using the models in game and movies. They are cinematic quality, which is completely awesome when you look through their catalog and learn that the company offers a whole lot of scenery as well as “greebles”, which is a technical term for the nonsense parts that you might pull of of a kit and bash into a totally different construct.
Now comes the hard part: using these models. As you can tell from the image above, the ship parts are all part of a single file. That means that I need to save out the parts so I can eventually put them together into a single object.
How the hell do I do that? I found that in Blender, I can select an object and EXPORT as obj (which I need for Element 3D). That’s cool, but then another problem surfaced: spatial issues.
I tested with that ship on the second row down, first column, exporting it to its own file. When I opened it in Blender again, the ship was way the hell elsewhere in the scene. So I had to find a way to move it to [0,0,0]. Normally this might be simple, but I haven’t used Blender in its current 2.8 incarnation: The One Where They Totally Changed The UI On Me.
After figuring that out, I had another trial: texturing. These models all come with nice, sexy textures, but I have no idea how the get them applied to the objects after I export them. Are they still present? Does exporting the model export the texture as well, and does manipulating the export maintain the same UV mapping? I figured out that I have to “bake” the textures into the model before I export from Blender — export again, maybe — but I am at a loss as to how I go about that.
Unfortunately this is all academic because loading the entire fleet in Blender takes a while, and I have yet to successfully import even a small .obj into Element without Element and After Effects crashing on me. I feel that I will have to rebuild my PC very soon, as this is one problem in a growing list of problems that I’ve been having as of late.
 If you guessed that the kitbash model was the mothership from Close Encounters of the Third Kind, congrats. Your points are in the mail. According to the plaque at the display, the model contains several greebles, including a VW bus, a mailbox, an R2D2, some kind of aircraft, and a small cemetery plot. I had found R2, but didn't look for the other elements.