Lets build HMS Astute part 1Part 2
I decided for the fun of it to try and thoroughly cover how I build 3D models from start to finish (the model is not finished yet though).
The model in question is the Royal Navys Astute class nuclear powered attack submarine. The Astute was suggested byt SGTscuba. I suspect it might be due to me mixing it and a Trafalgar up.
Personally I might actually have picked a Japanese, Korean or Chinese ship as strange as it sounds ^_-
A submarine is a good choice though as it lacks some of the complexities of say a Battleship.
The model itself is completed and can be downloaded hereDownload the finished HMS Astute
For now this only includes modelling the main pressure hull. The fin, propeller, dive planes will come later as will UV mapping and texturing.
It has been a long time since I last wrote any text like this so it might not be all that good.
For modelling the first thing is really decent reference material. Pictures are good and you probably want any that are of decent quality but on top of that non-perspective drawings showing the vehicle from different angles are good. Model kits sometimes come with good reference and sites like blueprints.com is also a good source.
For this we will be going with a paint guide from hobby search on top of a lot of pictures from google and wikimedia.
This image is actually quite good as it covers both sides, from, back and top. I tend to find that the bare minimum is one side and top view.
Maya allows you to import images as image planes. Basically this is a simple way to quickly get the images into the programs as reference.
For programs that does not have imageplanes like Maya you can always create a plane of the same dimensions as the image (e.g. 12x8 units if it is 1200x800 pixels) and apply the reference material as a texture.
For a submarine the simplest start is a cylinder. I tend to use a fairly high side count for something as large as the main hull so in this case I have picked a 24 sided cylinder. There will not be that many divisions down the length of the hull so it will not add up to that much.
Initially we will just make a rough shape. It does not have to really fit that well as long as the rough shape is there. It will get a more appropriate shape in a moment.
If we look at images like this one we can see that the upper hull of the submarine is actually quite flat. The hull is also a bit of a trapezoid shape and it appears to bulge a bit near the rear of the fin. The rear part of the submarine is also significantly higher than the front but it does not appear to be wider.
Initially we will put in an edge where the round hull starts turning into a trapezoid. This is not exactly critical as the ship has the edges to simply shift them around a bit but it is not going to add that many tris.
The hull has enough division that the trapezoid shape can be made simply by moving the tris around. a bit like on this illustration. It is important that the transition is smooth which is one of the reasons for that extra edge. The hull also has enough edges that making the upper corners of the trapezoid rounded without having to add additional edges.
With these changes the hull now looks like this.
It is still quite simple and has a long way but it is starting to have the quite distinct shape the Astute has.
Next if we turn back to the picture we can see that the hull forward of the fin wider than the rear hump and the area around the fin is slightly wider still.
To create this shape we will start out by adding some edges across the top part of the trapezoid around the fin. 5 should be more than enough to get the appropriate shape.
We will also put one around the forward edge of the rear hump.
This should be enough to get the shape of the hull down fairly well. The image planes will make it easy to line curved edges of the trapezoid up with the edges on the imageplane.
Except for the lack of the fin which admittedly is a significant part of the submarine the middle part of the model is largely like it will be. The rest of the details can be made with textures.
To get a better shape for the area around the fin we will put in a few vertices to to connect the upper part of the trapezoid. 3 should be about right. We will connect them as shown on the image below. If not done triangulation can mess up the shape of this part of the submarine quite badly. The goal when creating such models should always be to have it be as low detail as possible but at the same time we have to consider what the model looks like triangulated.
Next up we will handle the stern section of the Astute. The ducted propeller will be covered later for now the goal is just to get the shape of the hull right.
The flattening of the top of the hull have resulted in the rear slope being far too flat. To correct this we will insert an edge across the top part of the hull and bend it to create the desired curvature as show in this image.
This topic has a lot of pictures but I thought it better than having me try to explain everything and it has been quite a long time since I last wrote something like this.
Next up is the bow dome of the submarine. The dome as can be seen in the reference is actually fairly angled so we will have to do more than just create a simple torpedo shape.
For a start the edge put in in image 7 does not really need to extend all the way forward and as reducing tris count is generally a good thing we will merge it with the edge near it. We will also put in an edge across the top of the bow of the submarine. We will however ignore the lower part despite it pretty much has the same shape as it is not very visible. When modelling units it is always worth considering how visible something will be. If it is very hard to spot chances are it can be ignored.
As can be seen in this picture the angling of the bow dome continues all the way back to the dive planes
Initially we will create a extrusion from the front of the submarine to get the side profile more accurate.
The hard edges of the dome can be made like the trapezoid top hull by moving vertices around. In this case by merging them like this
The top-down shape however is still not acceptable. The hull really needs some more vertices to get the curvature right. The triangles we just created can be divided by inserting an additional edge though them and bending it so they fit the top-down view. Finally we will connect them to the top edges inserted through the top part of the bow.
That will be it for now