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Making Of 'The Hornbill Express'

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Date Added: 22nd June 2009
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This is another overview about the creation of my image "Hornbill Express". I have split this Making Of article into 4 parts, and you will find some of my references and sketches, as well as technical snapshots from Maya and Photoshop. I have tried not to repeat some of the topics which I covered previously in the Making Of "Air Base", and I intend this article for those people with a basic understanding of Maya and Photoshop, as well as an interest in the process of the creation of this work.

Part One - Overview - Draft Idea of Design

The work "Hornbill Express" is another design from my "2200 City without a Name" project, and it is a train from this city. As a part of the project, there are some important points I need to take care of, for example I want to create something unique but not straying too far away from the main style of the design, and so right from very beginning I made some sketches for each part of the project before going on to build them in 3D (Fig.01). This gave me clear direction of the style what I was aiming for, and the rest of the work was refining my design in the modelling stage.

Fig. 01 - Earlier Sketch Of Design

The previous design of the train station set up a basic idea of the structure for this piece (I already have a finished 3D model of the train station). When it came to the part of the train, besides the form, function was another important thing which I had to focus on. In the real world we have to make sure our design functions perfectly, but in the virtual world, besides the style of your design, illusion plays a big role here, and so I had to take care of how it would appear inside the camera, and what kind of the function would strengthen the visual result. When I was working on the sketches, some basic questions I asked myself were, for example, Is there anyone related to the train, and how do they get in or out when the train arrives? How should it land or stop? All of these questions kept driving me to refine my sketch for a believable design. Here are some of the references I used for the design (Fig.02).

Fig. 02 - Selected References

After a concrete idea was there, it was finally time to do a detailed sketch of the design for 3D modelling (Fig.03).

Fig. 03 - Detailed Sketches

Part Two - Production - Modelling / Texturing / Rendering


At the beginning, I imported a 2D Photoshop image of the side view of my design into Maya, using the cranes of the train station (which I modelled before) as the scale/position references. After positioning the image plane, I was ready to start the modelling process (Fig.04).

Fig. 04 - Modelling Based On Image Plane

1. I started from the front part of the train. First I created a basic curve, based on the shape of the image plane, and created a polygon plane using the Surface - Loft tool with another duplicated curve. From this basic polygon plane I start to extrude and position the edge until the basic shape was formed. I then converted it to subdivision for a fine-tuning of the shape, using the same technique. I keep modelling the train until the basic shape was complete
(Fig.05 - 06).

Fig. 05 - Modelling With Polygon

Fig. 06 - Modelling Process

2. Here is a quick idea about how I created the curve shape on the surface. First of all, select your target object and under Modify > Make Live, the target object will turn to a green colour. At this point I used an EP curve tool to build the shape on the live object - the curve will automatically snap on the live object and create a polygon. Select the face and shift select the curve, and then start to extrude it, following the curve. Once that's done, go back to Modify > Make not live, and your target object will return back to a normal situation!

3. Here is another quick idea about how I created the side cover. Select the edge of the object and go to Edit Curves > Duplicate Surface Curves and you'll get duplicated curves following the contour of your object. Attach those duplicated curves and rebuild the curve to a reasonable amount of vertexes, and then duplicate the rebuilt curves again to form the shape you need. Select those duplicated curves to create a plane with the Surface - Loft tool (Fig.07).

Fig. 07 - Create Curve On 'Live Object' / 'Loft' From Duplicated Curves

continued on next page >

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