Pd, I don't know if you saw my commit from about 3 weeks ago, but I implemented an offscreen renderer for the ship models for exactly this purpose. I don't think we should even need to have you make simple renders like this one -- we should make them as needed from the original model data and cache the images to disk for next time. I also ran out of FreeOrion time around the same time, so this will get done Soon(tm).
I must have missed this commit. It's kind of unexpected as well. I always thought having the 3D models shown on the design screen(and perhaps have them rotate?) was unnecessary and too much of a hassle. People had been asking about this in the past, but always preferred the simpler way of using an image.
I can tell you, that creating the renderings like in the image above is absolutely no effort. I just have to drop the ships in the scene I've created for this purpose and hit render. Quality-wise this beats the Ogre renderer, especially in regards to how the normal map is interpreted.
Oh, and one other thing -- I need a decent way to place the module slots onto the rendered ship images in order to truly automate this. Any ideas? One idea is not to put the slots directly on the hull, but have a more abstract set of tiers, and jsut show the ship behind them or off to the side, a la Eve Online:
I can't think of a way to do this in a clever way, without going into 3D, placing some kind of marker objects and having you to get the position of these somehow. That said, I don't think we need to put parts on top of the ship either. But it's easy enough to do, using the current method. I've even created a grid in photoshop document, that allows me to just throw in an image and read off the positions.