I am aiming to create a space ship that isn't built with a box (or other large flat surfaces) or detailed with the same. My question then is how is the best way to add small details (like the little inset panels on an airplane or the details on the example image below) without disrupting the geometry or creating ugly polygon artifacts. Pointers on how to do complex greebles on a flat surface without makin them boxy and extruded or using the pluggins would help as incedental knowledge. From the lack of ships with detailed cylinders and spheres I gather that this is eaither difficult or everyone like boxy starships.
There are a few caveats, though: while I know a texture map is probably the easiest way to acomplish this task, I absolutely need to detail the mesh. Also, I use Max 8, so any fancy modelling tools that were added in 9 (the boolean upgrade) or 2010 (graphite) are not available to me, though I don't know how useful they'll be.
This image is not mine, and no credit is taken for it (the drawing belongs to Niklas Jansson). However, this drawing ullustrates the kind of details on curved (or flat, though this is a seperate and slightly less daunting problem) surfaces that I'm after.