A Few Details…

Hello again!  Since the last post I’ve been making some tweaks to the object mesh, adding a few details here and there, and generally getting it ready to “collapse” into one whole 3D object.  Since the beginning I’ve only been working on one side of the model.  The software provides a modifier to make everything symmetrical, so whatever I do on one side is automagically done on the other side.


That’s great, until you have things to model that aren’t symmetrical.  So, I looked it over and figured it was about time to collapse it into a single, object.

Since last time I added the arresting gear, gang vent, and two other vents near the arresting gear.  Also formation lights, the strike camera,  the Radar Homing and Warning (RHAW) antenna, and some other smaller antennas.


There are small things that I’m missing that should be modeled.  However, I’m at a stopping point for the night  and I wanted to post some images of today’s work for all to see.  Some things I’ll model, but there are lots of things that can be taken care of when I texture the model.


Tomorrow I’m probably going to collapse the model with the mesh smoothing modifier is active so I can begin working on the canopy and cockpit.  It’s looking a lot different than it did a couple months ago, isn’t it?

105 4 8-5

Until next time, happy trails!



So I wasn’t able to cut-in the canopy or cockpit glazing yesterday.  But I was able to model the gun port, and make a few adjustments to a couple antennas and the mesh of the model…

105 8-6 1

The gun port needs to be tweaked a bit, but I’m pretty satisfied with the shape overall.  You can’t see the adjustments I made to the mesh, but they’ll pay a dividend when it’s time to create the UV mapping for the model’s textures.

105 8-6 2

It’s a pretty smooth mesh as-is, without the additional smoothing modifier being set.  I’ve tried to pay as much attention as possible to the model’s topography to make it easier on myself when it comes time to flatten the mesh and get it ready for texture.

Now, some may ask what a UV map is, or why I would want to flatten-out the plane.  Think of texturing as painting the object.  It’s not as simple as just making top, bottom, and side views of the plane and importing those into Photoshop, however.  The entire model has to be “unwrapped”, and “flattened” into a 2D projection.  Here’s an example of the UV map for the XB-51 model:

Fuselage UV Map

This is the UV map for the fuselage and vertical stabilizer.  Everything has been flattened into 2D, much like a sewing pattern for a shirt, for example.  The UV map is used as a template on which I add panel lines, rivets, markings, insignias, and the overall color of the fuselage itself.  This is built up layer-by-layer until the final texture(s) are ready to be saved and imported back into the 3D program and applied to the model.  Some texture layers are used to represent the overall color of the fuselage, while others may be used to represent panel lines and rivets.  Insignias and markings are a separate layer since the background of that layer needs to be clear, so only the insignias are seen.

This is a layer just for rivets on the XB-51 model:

Rivets Blur2

Everything has to line-up from one part of the flattened UV map to the other.  If things don’t line-up, it’s immediately noticeable when the model is rendered, and has to be corrected.  This is a time consuming process, since all of the panel lines are drawn by hand.  Likewise, all the rivets are laid-out by hand.  Not so many that they look like lines themselves, but not so few that it wouldn’t look right.  Doing to panel lines and rivets can possibly be the most time consuming part of the texturing process since everything has to line-up so precisely.

This is a separate layer for markings and insignias:

Fuselage Diffuse Layer

If laid directly over the above illustration, all of the markings here would occupy the same space as those reflected above, and their positions would be where they are seen on the finished model, which you can see elsewhere on my web site.  So, modeling the 3D mesh for the aircraft is only a part of the creative process, but it’s a large part of it.  It’s as much an art as creating the model’s textures and applying them to the model so it represents a specific, recognizable aircraft. If the textures aren’t believable, the finished artwork will suffer the result.

I have to get some things done before work this afternoon.  Thanks for stopping by!  More soon!


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