Bugatti Veyron (3ds max): Chapter 1
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Chapter 1: Modelling the Chassis - Basics
Hello and welcome to the first part of this seven-part car modelling tutorial series. In this part, we will cover using the blueprints and reference images, and modelling the basic body work.
Blueprints are very essential when modelling a car, as they will make the process easier and will ensure that the overall proportions of the model are correct (please visit www.the-blueprints.com for blueprints). I've had a few experiences where I had to model a car without blueprints, and although I enjoyed the artistic process of simply looking at the references and modelling it accordingly, and trying to camera match the image to check that it was correct overall, it's so much faster and more accurate to start with blueprints, but they're not always that easy to find (you can always make your own, though). Here are a few paths that I take, personally, when looking for blueprints. First of all I check the forums at www.smcars.net and see if the blueprint I am looking for is there. If not, I go to the manufacturer's website and check it carefully, as sometimes the blueprints are in the brochure which you can download, or order a hard copy if you have enough time. I also try to use Google's search engine to look for them, but sometimes they're simply impossible to find. Fortunately, we can find lots of blueprints for this Bugatti. It's very easy to find images for the Veyron as it's a popular car!
1. Now for setting the blueprints inside 3ds Max, there are many ways to do it, but here is how I've been doing it for a while now.
First of all, create a plane and have its length and width the same as in the blueprint image. You can check the blueprint dimensions in any windows folder details, or in the Photoshop image size function. Open the material editor and have the blueprint in the diffuse slot and make sure that self illumination is on (Fig01).
2. By the way, don't forget to make sure that you can display textures at their highest resolutions inside 3ds Max's real-time view port.
Go to Customize > Preferences and choose Viewports > Configure Driver and check that it's on the highest resolution, as can be seen in Fig02.
3. Now we have one plane containing all views of the blueprints. Instead of splitting them in Photoshop, I find it quicker to do it inside the 3D application that I am using. Simply convert the plane to editable poly and cut it using quick slice, cut or connect edges (Fig03).
4. Have every polygon detached to a different object, then rotate them and place them in the right positions. When rotating and moving the blueprint objects, you should take advantage of having the top and side views already aligned for you, by rotating the side view blueprint, for example in the Y axis, and not moving it in a way that will change its alignment. By the way, also make sure that the blueprint objects have Backface Cull selected in the object properties (Fig04).
5. After you have all the blueprints you can check if they are placed correctly by placing temporary reference objects in unique places on the blueprints, or by moving the blueprints interactively and having them intersect and seeing if all the lines match as they should (Fig05).
6. Now, after you have all the blueprints set in the way you want, disable Show Frozen in Gray, in the object properties, and freeze them (Fig06).
7. Before we start modelling straight away, I would like to share a method I've been using for a while now. I usually draw a quick and simple wireframe on an image with a camera angle that shows a good view of the car. I don't follow this wireframe precisely, but it helps me to better understand the form and plan what I will do before I start building all the edge loops.
Drawing a wireframe doesn't mean just quickly putting arbitrary lines on the picture, you have to think carefully how the edge loops will behave and keep it simple so that you can read it easily (Fig07).
8. After you have this image, just keep looking at it and at the reference images, then finally start modelling with the blueprints, keeping the wireframe that you are aiming for in mind.
When modelling cars, a lot of time I use spline modelling. Since I have the wireframe planned it appears easier to use spline modelling, but it's exactly the same as starting with a polygon and extruding the edges, so I am just going to do that so that it becomes less confusing, in case anyone isn't familiar with spline modelling.
Simply create a plane and place it anywhere, then start modelling to get into the wireframe you have planned. Since you have blueprints already setup, and you know what wireframe you are aiming for, just have the first polygon match the blueprints then extrude the edges quickly (pick any edge and hold Shift whilst using the Move tool). Have any new edge you make follow the blueprints and planned wire frame (Fig08, Fig09, Fig10 and Fig11).
9. Whilst you are modelling, keep looking at the reference images and see where you should put your edge loops, as the wireframe you have planned might not be enough to know all the edge loops you will need (Fig12 and Fig13).
10. The red circle in Fig13 shows where I have decided to start a new edge loop. The reason for that is because I noticed in one of the reference images how the flow happens in that area, and I simply made a quick cut, and to fix the tri I just collapsed that edge which helped to maintain a consistent topology.
11. It's hard to say anything more here, as this part is mainly about planning the edge loops. The tools needed to create the basic mesh are pretty straight forward, as it's only extruding edges and moving the vertices, but none the less, having correct edge loops from the beginning will save you a lot of time in the later stages as you won't have to go back and rework the whole mesh. Doing a 3D model quickly doesn't necessarily need working like a machine with 10 mouse-clicks per second - it's more about knowing what you are doing! (Fig14)
12. Now, this part is a little bit tricky... As you can see from the reference image, this air intake is going inside a little bit and making a bevel, whilst the rest of the geometry continues the surface flow. It doesn't matter in which way you do this, as long as you understand the form. In my case, I just extruded the edges which start curving into the air intake separately, and extruded the lower edge which keeps the same form separately. I kept extruding that, then connected the edges and closed the gap. You could also do it in many other different ways; as long as you get the same form and similar edge loop, it's fine (Fig15, Fig16 and Fig17).
13. For the back body part, I've simply done this the same as I made the other parts, but I was very careful not to add too many edges and make the form complicated before I got the basic form. Again, I simply extruded edges (shown in the next image), made them follow the blueprints' outline, then extruded again whilst following the blueprints to get the exact curvature (Fig18 and Fig19).
14. Then I simply extruded, or "copied", the edges of the wheel arch to get this (Fig20 and Fig21).
15. This is a quick drawing of a wireframe over the back of the car image reference. As you can see, it's nothing fancy, but it helps us plan what to do. You don't have to do a drawing yourself, but if you can visualise what edge loops are needed before you do them, it will be enough (Fig22).
16. I copied the edges to get the main space, then made a cut along the edge I had in mind, and moved the vertices to get the correct form (Fig23, Fig24 and Fig25).
17. One important thing to mention here is that, while we are using blueprints, unless they have been supplied by the manufacturer, then you shouldn't consider them to be 100% accurate. For example, the ones that I am using, I've compared them with all the other blueprints I have and yet they all seem to have differences. So, while you are following them, you should keep an eye on the overall proportions and the details when compared to the photographs that you have also sourced for reference.
For the top part, I just used the same method again and tried to follow the blueprints and the curvature of the car (Fig26, Fig27 and Fig28).
18. Make sure all the vertices you have are merged. Sometimes, when extruding a lot, you might forget a few "loose" vertices. It's okay also to keep modifying any of the vertices' positions throughout all the stages of the process (Fig29).
You should have, by now, the overall mesh, similar to this one (Fig29). If you have different ways to make the edge loops, or anything else different, then please feel free to experiment with it. In the next part we will take the simple mesh that we have just created, and we'll start adding more edge loops and almost finish the basic body work model. Whilst the mesh we have now might appear simple, it actually contains all of the bases that we need to add the details, which should be a lot easier now.