Making Of 'Battle Toaster' (part 1)

Hello my name is Daniel Zak and this is a Making of Battle Toaster my latest 3d work.The scene was created in 3D Max 8, Photoshop and Vray 1.5rc2. In this article I will try to show the phases of building the Toaster, noting my errors along the way, so that you will be able to avoid them in your own projects.

The idea for the Battle Toaster came about when I decided to acquaint a friend of mine with 3d graphics. As his nickname was Little Brave Toaster, I showed him a tutorial of modelling a toaster from ( Afterwards we came up with a plan of enhancing the toaster with several destructive tools. I created several general sketches (unfortunately, they didn't survive). I liked the idea so much that I decided to model such a toaster myself.

The Concept

I had only several loose sketches of the idea, and no specified concept. I wanted to create a machine that would be funny but still seem realistic, so that it would cause the onlooker to think "Hmm... perhaps one could build something like this after all?" The toaster was supposed to be evil, threatening and be a dream of every housekeeper. Unfortunately, the lack of specific plans had a negative influence during the whole creative process. I had read many times of how important it is to have a concept before beginning the work and this time I've experienced it myself.


I've modelled the project in 3d Max 8 using Editable Poly with the exception of wiring. Some parts were easier to do with Meshsmooth, others were pure polys. During modelling, especially on old computers, layers are very useful. I split my project into modules, each part was first grouped, and when there were too many groups, I put them into separate layers. After I finished the work, I had those layers

I think that for the scene to be convincing it should have a large number of details. Thanks to them, the model seems to be realistic. Since the very beginning I tried to add a large number of details, (which I will describe further on). In the final phase it turned out that my computer couldn't handle them all and I had to render the toaster in my workplace. Finally, I found references, concept sketches and similar items most helpful, as they make it easier to add details to the model.In the rest of the document I will describe how main elements of the scene were made.

Main Shape

Before I decided the general shape of the hull is the way I want it, I tried three other, different versions (that's why I named the model "Battle Toaster mk. IV"). The hull was supposed to be very simple and without many details, but it was this part that would define the model as a toaster. The evil mood would be created by the "eyes" and the radiator. As an inspiration I used old american toasters seen in the movies and some pictures from Google.

Gun Mount

When I started with this part, I had something steampunkish on my mind. It was almost free-form modelling. First I created 16-sided cylinder, made some Insets, Bevels / Extrudes and some very small Chamfers to make the metal part (1). Then I made Extrude along spline and added some big Chamfers to make that rubber like hose (2). The object ends with simple shape which should be an electric engine (3). Finally I added some low poly spheres with Array tool to the hard metal part, to make the bolts. The metal plates are simple boxes with some cuts and small Chamfers.


I simply love that type of gun, I could put it in every military design I make :) There are tons of pictures of miniguns on the internet, so you can choose whatever you like. Although a minigun is just a bunch of cylinders, remember to put some details on it, as it won't look good without them. For example insets on the end of the barrel, or simple rings.


I made one bulet using .50 Browning as a general reference (not exactly following it). The bullet and the chain link are one object. I instanced it over a spline which led from the ammo box to the minigun and manually rotated them a bit for a better connection.

Ammo Box

At first I wanted to put toasts in the "toast-slots" but I decided that an ammunition box would be better. I know that it's way too small, but it looks much better than a big round ammo magazine


The other toast-slot was taken by rockets. Here my problems with design started. The first idea was to make a rocket rack. It looked too simple and box-like however, so I decided to put only three rockets on a stand, with some wires attached.


Another problem with lack of design. I had tons of ideas for what to put on the other side of toaster. A mechanical knife, a blender, a cyber-arm, a saw... The idea of a saw on a cybern-arm won. As you can see, it is supposed to look like a patchwork job, in which the arm was cut off and the saw roughly attached on its end. The net was made by using the Latice modifier on poly shape.


The main problem was modelling the saw blade. I had to try several times before it came out the way I wanted. So here is a little tutorial how to make a sawblade:

Step 0: Get a good reference image for your sawblade.

Step 1: Create a cylinder with radius and height of the sawblade. The number of the sides will be the number of teeth (here, 36).

Step 2: Convert it to Editable Poly, select all of the polygons except for one side

Step 3: Model the tooth from that single poly. Cut it, extrude, do what you like, but don't change its borders.

Step 4: Now you have to copy the tooth. Use shift + Rotate or Array. Anyway, you need to make a precise turn. In this case I made a 10 degrees turn and then created 35 copies of the tooth.

Step 5: Voila. Now just attach all teeth to the main object, weld the verticles, and you are done


Here my design skills failed, I had lots of ideas but couldn't find the proper one for a long time. I thought about 6 buggy style wheeles, but it made the toaster look like roller-skate. Tank tracks made it much too low. Then I tried mech-like legs. I loved the idea, but it wasn't easy to make. You can see one of failed designs here.


As I said before, details make a scene more interesting. Here you can see some of them: the screws and bolts, for which I used Wikipedia as a reference and some wires, which are simple splines converted to polys and beveled. Those twisted small wires were fun to make. First I drew 3 wavey and smooth splines, then I put on them the Twist modifier and finally some FFD. The leg and arm joints (arm joint on this screen) are spheres and cylinders with a lot of beveling and extruding, and a bit of chamfering.

I also made a small control panel like those in the old electric machines... I don't know what it is supposed to do.


Well, what would be a toaster without some toasts by its side? As you can see, these are boxes with Meshsmooth applied. Although this is not very visible on renders, they are twisted with FDD

Texturing / Materials

Not much to say here. As you can see, the scene almost doesn't have any textures. I made some simple textures for the saw, the electric engine, the microvave, and wood. Everything was done in Photoshop. The only thing I'm really proud of is the toasts texture. I created it by cloning parts of bread photographs. It also had a displacement map that unfortunately caused some render errors, which is why I hadn't used it in the final render. The materials are quite basic too. Most of things in the scene have plastic-like materials with Fresnel reflections. For the metal parts I used materials from, either applying them directly or treating them as a reference.

Rendering / Lighting

I'm quite new to Vray, so I won't say much here - I know there are better places to look for Vray info :) I put five rectangular Vray area lights over the desk and one big square filling light. For indirect illumination I used Irradiance map and Light cache, with saturation lowered to 0.7 because of too much color bleeding. Color mapping was set to exponential. After final rendering I realized the scene looked a bit flat, so I decided to make an Ambient Occlusion pass. In Vray rc2 it's pretty easy. You need to use Vray Light Material and Vray Dirt. Remember to turn off lights and GI and set Color mapping to normal. Here is my material setup. For postproduction purposes I rendered a z-depth pass, for which I had to use scanline renderer. In Vray it looked jaggy and aliased.


The postproduction was really simple. I opened all the passes in Photoshop, then used the depth pass for Depth Map in Lens Blur filter. The Ambient Occlusion pass was also blurred with Lens Blur and put on 60% Multiply

Ambient Occlusion Pass

Ambient Occlusion Pass

Z-depth Pass

Z-depth Pass

Clear Render

Clear Render

Final Render + Ambient Occlusion at 60% Multiply

Final Render + Ambient Occlusion at 60% Multiply

Final Image

And that's the end. I would like to thanks my girlfriend 3Jane for help in translation of this Making of, and comunity for good advice when I needed them. Below I've added some toon "blueprints" so that you can see the toaster design from more directions

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