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Model a steampunk spaceship in Maya

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Improve your Maya hard-surface designs with Rory Björkman, as he crafts a detailed spaceship design ready for texturing MARI...

In this tutorial we'll look at creating an ornate steampunk-style airship using Maya modeling techniques. An intermediate working knowledge of Maya is recommended, though the complete model is included with the downloadable resources for you to look at. At the end, we should have a fully modeled ship, ready for texturing in MARI next time.

Step 01: Blocking in the main forms

I've prepared a set of orthographic images we can use as a rough guide for the shape of our airship. Import them via View > Image Plane > Import Image. Next import some basic shapes from the Create Polygons menu and using the Scale and Move tools to drag and move them into place using the orthographic images as a guide.

To split geometry (C), select the faces you want to separate and go to Edit Mesh > Face > Extract. Then move the segments apart, select both pieces under Mesh > Combine. To bridge the gap (D), select the edges of both hemispheres and go to Edit Mesh > Bridge.

To make the rounded nose of the ship (F), create a sphere and delete the unwanted faces. Select the edges and under Edit Mesh > Extrude, drag the edges along the length of the nose.

Step 02: Making the nose of the ship

To clean up the front of the nose (A), I will use the Multi-Cut tool under the Mesh Tools menu. To cut in a straight line, press Shift, then click and drag the tool in the direction of the cut line you want to make. Then select and delete excess faces.

Now access Wireframe mode (C), select the vertex and drag to fit the shape of the hull. Press 5 to revert to Shaded mode so we can see how they fit. To create some more interesting shapes to the nose (G), select the side faces and using the Extrude tool adjust the thickness inward just a little to form a step.

Step 03: Detailing the front

To make a nice ridge along the front we can use the existing geometry. Select the faces that run along the center and extrude them outward. Select these extruded faces and go to Edit Mesh > Face > Extract to isolate the ridge.

Next create a cylinder with eight sides (C) and position it in the center of the ridge. Use the cylinder as a guide (D) to cut the geometry of the ridge using the Multi-Cut tool. Then combine the two pieces of geometry and align the cylinder to meet the hole made in the ridge. To connect the vertices of the cylinder and ridge, right-click and engage Vertex mode. Select all vertices and go to Edit Mesh > Merge.

Step 04: Creating grooved panels on the front

Let's start by selecting the faces on the front, leaving a border. Then go to Edit Mesh > Face > Extract to separate these panels. Then select the edges inside our panel and go to Edit Mesh > Bevel to split the edge lines (B).

Select the beveled edge faces and extrude those inward to make a small set of valleys (C). To make smooth edges more rigid, we can add edge loops using Mesh > Insert Edge Loop. By dragging edge loops close to the edge of a corner this will support the shape when smoothened.

Step 05: Front elevation thrusters

Next create a polygon primitive torus and delete half, then split the remaining half into two pieces and create some distance. Then Mesh > Combine the two pieces and then go to Edit Mesh > Bridge to join the parts. To make the bend look as if it is made of panels, select the edges and create a bevel of three segments. By extruding the three segments first and then just the center, we can make a stepped ridge (G). Last just add some edge loops at the corners to tighten the geometry when smoothened.

Step 06: Passenger walkway

To create the passenger deck, first move to the side view and create a polygon cube. By flipping from side to top we can adjust the cube to fit the images roughly. Now select the window faces and select Extrude under the mesh menu. Before you extrude, make sure Keep Faces Together is turned off in the extrude options. Then adjust the offset to make a window frame and press extrude again to push the thickness of the windows inward (E). By selecting the edges, we can add a bevel and increase the number of segments to make a nice rounded corner (H).

Step 07: Windows

For creating the windows we first need to select the faces and turn Keep Faces Together off so the faces extrude individually. First extrude the Offset to make a frame and then extrude the thickness to create depth. Next we need to separate the windows and frame and delete the rest of the sphere (C). Then replace this sphere with a new sphere and ramp up the subdivision Axis and Height in the Attribute Editor with the sphere selected.

Step 08: Creating window rims

This part is tricky. First duplicate your window cylinder and body (Ctrl+D), then drag it aside. Then Shift-select the cylinder and then the body (B) and let's perform a Boolean operation. Go to Mesh > Booleans and adjust to Difference. This should leave the cylinder behind. Delete the middle faces leaving just a ring. Align this ring to the original body and add an edge loop along the body so we can extrude a step to form a rim (F). You can select the vertex to tweak the rim in order to fit it neatly around the body shape.

continued on next page >

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