In this tutorial, you explore Editable Poly surfaces
further by building a model of a fighter airplane.
The aircraft is a Republic
Aviation P-47 Thunderbolt, a heavy-duty fighter used extensively
by the Allied forces in World War II. For information about the
history and technical details of this aircraft, do a Web search
Unlike the irregular
meshes used in the tutorial
Using Photos to Model Façades
mesh you create in this tutorial has consistent quadrangular faces.
Although the airplane is not meant to be deformed, this is the kind
of mesh you should create when you model a deformable character.
Skill level: Advanced
Time to complete: 5 to
Preparation for This Tutorial
- On the Quick Access toolbar, click (Project Folder) and set
your current project to Autodesk 3ds Max 2011 Tutorials.
Pointers on Setting Up
a “Virtual Studio”
When you build a 3D model
from scratch, often it helps to set up reference or “blueprint”
images to use as a guide to the 3D geometry. Typically these images
are plans that show the side, front, and top of the object to model.
Virtual studio for
the P-47 model
You might find such plans
on the Web, you might scan them from a book or the instructions
for a scale model, or you might draw them yourself. Here are some
pointers for how to set them up so you can use them in 3ds Max:
- If you need to resize the images, resize
them as a set, so the dimensions match in all three images.
programs have guidelines or rulers that can help you align the images
to a common center, and make sure their dimensions match.
- Make the images square.
Square images are easier
to align when you apply them to 3ds Max geometry.
- Use color for the images.
For this tutorial, we
chose shades of blue: This nostalgically recalls paper blueprints,
but more importantly, in 3ds Max it is impossible to see white
selection boxes against a white background.
In 3ds Max itself,
you can set up three planes in the virtual studio arrangement. For
this tutorial, we used Generic units (1 generic unit equals 1 inch),
and set the reference planes to the pixel dimensions of the blueprint
images: 800 x 800.
Map the images to the
planes, using these guidelines:
- Set Self-Illumination to 100 percent.
If your scene uses lights,
the blueprint images will always be visible.
- Select all the planes, right-click, and
choose Object Properties. On the Object Properties dialog, turn
on Backface Cull.
This way, when you look
at the model through one of the planes, the
image doesn’t get in the way.
- Also on the Object Properties dialog,
turn off Show Frozen In Gray.
Freezing the planes lets
you work on the model without worrying about selecting the planes
by accident. By default, frozen objects are gray: Turning off this
option lets you freeze the planes and still see their blueprint
- Freeze the planes.
- Set all four viewports to Smooth + Highlights
Now you are ready to
- Creating the Fuselage
The fuselage begins
as a geometric primitive. You modify the shape of the primitive,
and then convert it to an Editable Poly object. For most of this
section, and the remainder of the tutorial, you will use Edit Poly
tools to shape the airplane.
- Completing the Tail
To complete the tail,
you add horizontal stabilizers on either side of the vertical stabilizer.
- Adding the Wings
The wings are shaped
extrusions as are the horizontal stabilizers. Once more, the wing
on the right side is provided by the Symmetry modifier.
- Creating the Cockpit
The cockpit includes
a canopy, which becomes a separate object. It also includes part
of the hollow interior of the aircraft.
- Refining the Aircraft
To complete the aircraft,
you make various adjustments to both the fuselage and the cockpit canopy.