Building Droids - Medi Droid
Learn how to turn your 2D droids into amazing 3D designs using 3ds Max, with the help of our Building Droids eBook. Check out this free chapter!
Hi, welcome to this tutorial about how to use blueprints to create a 3D droid in 3ds Max.
Initially, examine the material you have been supplied with. In this instance we have been given a set of orthographic drawings showing the front, side and rear of the main body. There is a lot of detail in the plans to study, so take your time to appreciate what is going on.
As it stands, all of the views are lined up and drawn in conjunction with each other, so there is no need to realign the plans. Sometimes when you get blueprints from the internet things are not scaled in relation to each other correctly (Fig.01).
An illustration of the android in action was also supplied, which helps you to understand how it functions and what its purpose is. The illustration also helps to provide additional information, which might not be clear on the blueprints. Presumably the illustration was produced before the blueprints, so the illustration of the medical android in the scene takes priority as far as what the model should look like. Obviously if you are told by the concept artist or client which to use as the primary resource, go for that (Fig.02).
In 3ds Max you automatically have four viewpoints set up so use this to your advantage. When you model something in the first plane 3ds Max will automatically place everything on a "0" axis. This is when you need to switch to an alternative view to move the vertices to the corresponding area (Fig.03).
Try to pick obvious points on the model to line up in front and side view. When poly-modeling it is important to help keep a nice flow so it is easy to see how your model is shaping up. Don't forget to switch to Perspective view and spin round, just to check that the model is smooth and sharp in the places you want it to be. Pinching is always a big issue in poly-modeling.
There are many ways to model and my modeling techniques have been self-taught. One method, which I find helpful, is to block in several connecting parts to make sure everything is lined up and you have modeled everything correctly. Once this is done, start to add detail to the individual parts. With this method you don't need to worry about things not matching up (Fig.04 – 05).
The basic key to this process is to draw the outer shape of this joint with Splines and add Extrude modifiers to give it thickness to match the technical drawings that you have (Fig.06 – 09).
There is a recess in the leg that can be seen in the orthographic drawing and the final illustration. Parts like this are important to the design of things like droids as they provide interesting detail. To create this effect you need to draw the shape of the recess with a Spline by going to Create > Shape > Line (Fig.10).
Once the shape has been drawn out we are not going to extrude this time, but project this shape onto the extruded leg we have just created. You can do this by going to Shape Merge, which is part of the Compound options, clicking on the dropdown menu currently saying Geometry, and selecting Shape Merge.
This is the resulting mesh after you have selected the shape and the Spline for cutting. You will now need to right-click and convert to Edit Poly, or it will stay as a Shape Merge, which means you can't edit it (Fig.11).
Using the same theory as before, create the outer shape of the joint and extrude it to create the thickness of the leg. Draw the additional detail as a Spline, but instead of using Shape Merge to cut into the object, we are going to extrude the shape outwards. Before you do this, snap the Spline to the surface edge of the joint from the top view, then add a Extrude modifier.
This is a good example of where you can use the Instance tool in 3ds Max. Block in the shape of the part shown in red (Fig.12).
Shift-click and drag the object and instance it. This is a direct copy of the object and whatever you do to one will affect the other unless they are made unique at a later date (Fig.13 – 14).
Now we have to position the red leg section so we can see how it looks from the inside and side elevation view. If we view the rear viewport we can see how it matches up to the orthographies. In every view we need to model it correctly (Fig.15).
Now the initial stage of modeling is complete it is time to pose the character and add some lighting. 3ds Max offers Scanline and mental ray lighting, as well as third party renders. The aim here is not to get the android looking clean and pristine, but to make it look like it has come from a war-torn environment as the concept illustration did (Fig.16).
Have a think about where the android would be damaged and what sort of damage it would be. Be creative and add logic to your choices.
To see how this could look in an environment I added it to a photograph I sourced from https://www.moofe.com/#/homepage and adjusted the depth of field (Fig.17).
You can see the final textured model in Fig.18.
I hope you have been given a good insight into using blueprints with 3ds Max.
To see more by Tarik Ali, check out Prime - The Definitive Digital Art Collection