Modeling without blueprints, from pictures

Modeling an object is the art of recreating it into a digital, 3D space. No matter how accurate you want your model, no matter how fast you’ll be working, it will always all about these famous 3D.

Some objects are simple, so simple you can create them from scratch by just studying it and taking measurements. Take a look around, you’ll see plenty of this kind of objects. But also many difficult objects, with elaborated shapes. Put your ruler back into your schoolbag, it won’t be of use this time.  The main known solution to model a difficult object is blueprints : they aren’t blue anymore like architect drawings 50 years ago, we’re talking of orthogonal views of a picture : front, rear, side, and top views, usually. Using them, you can locate in our 3d space any specific point of the object.

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But for some objects, there is just no blueprint. What have we left ? Pictures. It’s easy to have pictures of the object you want to model. You can take them yourself with your digital camera, or you can grab tons of it on the www. Some people can use them to create a model only by eye, but it requires some serious attention because of perspective. Perspective make closer things bigger, so the proportions can’t be trusted without correcting perspective.

Here comes in the approach I wanted to introduce : using a dedicated software to get rid of perspective. Continue reading

Modeling a car with Blender, a high-end, detailed tutorial

Ever wanted to know how to achieve a good 3D model of a car ? No matter you are amateur or pro, this tutorial aims to teach the workflow and every move you need to know to achieve a good car. It’s based on Blender, to allow everyone do it without requiring access to high-priced or warez software. But it can apply to virtually any 3D package.

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I based this work on my latest project, a coupe-convertible Citroën C5. If you’re allergic to this brand, or to cars in general, don’t worry : this material applies to any manufactured project : no matter it’s big or small, no matter it’s cheap or high-end.

The tutorial is a on-going series of posts. It starts from the very beginning of modeling and covers every aspect : hard surface modeling with a focus on high-end quality and accuracy, best meshing practices to create a nice polyflow, tips to soluce most common issues. More than just the body, it will deals with all other parts creation : tires, rims, wheel details, windows, grilles, chrome and rubber trim, with also a fully detailed interior.

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It already exists in two different languages, english and french. It’s also an interactive process : you can follow the progress of the tutorial as I write it, and you can comment, critic or ask for any complement you want. Please head to the following forums :

Both forums requires sign-up to post comments or questions, but it’s free and worth the time it will take you. If you want to contribute with translations in other languages, let me know in a comment.

Stay tuned for more, and meet you there for your feedback !

Tutorial : realistic grass with Yafaray

This tutorial will teach how to model a realistic grass with Blender and to render it with Yafaray. It’s based upon several tutorial (including http://www.yafaray.org/documentation/tutorials/particles1 and http://blenderartists.org/forum/showthread.php?t=68269) so I won’t claim I discover it by myself. It’s just a handy mix to achieve a good result with very few effort.

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Grass is only a small part of the above picture, but having it realistic add a lot of credibility to the whole picture. I started to work on grass for my current project, a C5 DTM Coupé concept for the SMCars.net contest “Real World Racer”. I wanted to add a good scene, something I didn’t do for the previous project, the Marcos 1800 GT. And what more intuitive than a race track for a race car ?

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Tutorial : setting up Yaf(a)Ray shaders

I started to use Yaf(a)Ray for my current project. The successor of YafRay has came up with many new features, and the new shader system wasn’t the less interesting.

As I stated it as an objective for the project, I wanted to create all my shaders on my own. Here’re the current settings I’m using and how they look like.

Murcielago render #00005

Of course they can’t be considered as definitive shaders. But they can be of interest for your own work and experiments, so here they are.

Clay

Clay may look useless, as Yaf(a)Ray offers an option to render a scene in clay, no matter what shaders have been defined (or not)

But how can you render a whole model in clay except the windows ? You can’t with the builtin feature of Yaf(a)Ray. Here comes the need for a clay shader. The main advantage of the settings below is that they are the very same settings used internally by Yaf(a)Ray. So a whole model rendered clay by Yaf(a)Ray and a model using only this shader will look the same.

Yaf(a)Ray clay Murcielago clay #00050

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Tutorial : Modeling with Blender for precision work

Here’re some interesting advices and ressources to work with Blender as a precision tool.

That is, when you want to model anything with precision or accuracy to an existing object. Why bother with this ? Because I’ve learned to value the acuraccy of a car model as well as the simple beauty of a render. It’s a matter of taste, and I just think it’s more grateful to achieve an accurate model than to rush to produce something-looking-a-bit-like-but-not-really-the-same.

By the way, happy new year !

If you don’t want to read much

For precision modeling, the shortest advice is : define yourself the scale you’ll be using for your model. By writing this, I mean that there is no feature in Blender such as “define which size is a meter or a foot or a parsec or whatever length unit you can think of”. There is only Blender units.

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Tutorial teaser : realistic light setting in Blender

Found on BlenderNation, this article by Itchy is really interesting and worth full-reading : it explains the basic principles of lighting and the way different kinds of lighting works :

  • First page is about light and the mechanics behind it,
  • Second page is about the effects on a photo of the light location,
  • Third page is showing the different lighting possible at different hours or with differents weather.

Lighting test 1 : midday Lighting test 2 : sunset

I’ll show you how to use this material in Blender to produce simple but realistic lighting. As usual, I will produce some renders with YafRay.

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Illustration of my modeling process with Aston Martin DB9

Just a few screenshots from my DB9 model in Blender to show the way I’m getting from blueprints to a full model. Still to be completed, as the model is not yet complete.

Not so many words here, please pay attention to the pictures. All information is in them.

Step 0, I setup my blueprint :

DB9 modeling process 00

Step 1, I model major bodylines, to have a sketch of the car :

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Tutorial : realistic clay render with Yafray and Blender

This short tutorial is intented to explain you how to produce a realistic and useful clay render in Yafray (after having used Blender to produce a car model) For me, useful means this render will help you to find about your mesh bumps. Realistic means, your render looks like real, physical clay sculpture :

Clay render example

Foreword

When I was a newcomer in CG cars world, I’v oftenly seen a word I didn’t understand (as a non-native English reader) : clay, as in “please show us a clay render”.

Asking my favorite dictonnary, I understood that clay render refers to the clay designers use to produce physical mock-up of a concept car. It’s easy for any one to draw some curves on a paper sheet or in 3D/CAD software, but to fully define the shape it’s easier for them to work with a physical medium (e.g : curves intersections or transitionnal shapes). That is, the clay.

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Tutorial : blueprint setup in Blender

This is my first detailed tutorial : each command is described, with keyboard shortcut given if available.

Please don’t be afraid by the length, you just have to sit and follow this step-by-step : nothing to guess or read between lines.

Before starting Blender

Get the blueprint :) See my ressources page to have some link to start with.

Then search for car dimensions : length, height, width (take care of which width it’s : including sidemirrors or not, for example).

I use metric system but it doesn’t matter to use another : just stay coherent from one car to another, in case you want to mix scenes : whole cars, rims, environment, etc.) A Blender unit will represent a meter in my scenes.

Scene setup

Start blender with default scene : a cube, a lamp, a camera.

Tutorial blueprint setup 01

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Tutorial : tire modeling with Blender

This tutorial is intended for you, who wants to learn to model tires like the one I showed first on Alfa Romeo GT. This tutorial is not intended for Blender newbies but for users with some knowledge of using Blender for modelling. For example, you need to know how to create a plan of a given size by yourself.

What you need first

A sketch of the tire, like this one (PIRELLI P6000) :

Pirelli P6000 sketch

The dimensions of the tire : let’s use a 205x60r16.
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