Steampunk spaceship - Part 1 - Modeling in Maya
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.
Step 09: Adding pipes on the side
Now we'll place cylinders which will become vents along the ship's side. Then by selecting the side we can make it a 'live surface'. (At the top you will see a magnet icon - press this and your selected geometry will become live.) Now select the CV Curve tool under Create > Curve Tools > Create CV Curve. Click and draw where we want our pipes to go on the live surface. At the end of the CV Curves, place a NURBS circle. Next select the circle and then the curve, and under the Surface menu click Extrude.
Next, convert the tube into polygons by selecting the tube and going to Modify > Convert > NURBS to Polygons. Select the advanced menu and set the count to 5,000 or less depending on the size of the tube. After conversion, the NURBS tube will remain, so this can be deleted now, leaving us with a polygon tube.
Step 10: Modeling ornate engine detail
Create a flat cylinder and extrude an offset inward, then move the center down (D). Then create a polygon primitive pipe and use the Scale tool to stretch the shape oval. To repeat the circular shape in an arc, we need to adjust the pivot point. Select the oval, then press and hold the 'D' key to move the pivot point to the center of the cylinder. By pressing Shift+D you can duplicate the oval and move it slightly left or right. To graduate the size just use the Scale tool.
Now select the faces of the ovals facing each other and delete them. Then select both oval shapes and combine them (F). After they're combined we need to select the edges of the holes we just made and use the Bridge tool to connect the two pieces. The Bridge tool is under the Mesh menu, and you may need to adjust its offset if it looks wrong. Repeat this process all around and again on the bottom insert.
Step 11: Making a propeller
To start the propeller, create a cylinder with 18 divisions and delete every second set of three faces (B). Then delete two thirds and soft-select the end vertex. Soft selection can be adjusted by holding 'B' and sliding the mouse. Bevel the corners (F). To evenly rotate the pieces we can use the Duplicate Special under the Edit Menu. Select the advanced tab and set the Y rotation to 120 degrees with copy enabled. Apply this twice, then combine the three parts and merge the vertex by selecting Edit Mesh > Merge.
Step 12: Building the rear rudder
Next we need to make a cylinder and delete half, then stretch out the end to make the shape of the rudder. By adding edge loops we can manipulate the vertices to create the center hole (C). To create the beams (F), we first need to make a polygon torus and delete half. Then select the vertex of the top and pull it up making a long tube with cornered ends. The strut's round bases (G) can be made by adding an edge loop and extruding out a thin step.
Step 13: Building the engine
First let's extrude in some faces to enable us to place the engine (A), then make a small and large cylinder (B). Combine them and extrude the top-half faces and the bottom-half faces outward (C). Delete the end faces of the extrusion and bridge the ends to make up the belt (D). Then duplicate the belts using Shift+D and cut holes in the main body for the belts to pass through. To do this, add edge loops and select the face and extrude them inward. To add more detail, you can select the faces of the cog and belt and extrude the faces with 'Keep faces together' turned off in the Extrusion menu (H).
Step 14: Adding engine pipe details
A quick way to make a bent pipe is to make a polygon torus and delete all but one quarter. We can extrude the ends if we need to add length and add an edge loop to extrude a step out. Add more edge loops at the corners to tighten the mesh when smoothened. We can use this technique to place pipes and vents around the ship.
Step 15: The captain's control room
Using the image planes lets go to the top view and make a cylinder, use the Scale tool to stretch the shape. We can add edge loops to make the window faces (C). Then extrude an offset inward with 'Keep faces together' turned off. Separate the window faces. We can also separate the window frames and add some edge loops at the corners to retain the shape when it is smoothened.
Step 16: The chimneys
To make the chimneys we can start with a polygon pipe shape and lengthen it using the image planes as a guide. By adding some edge loops and extrusions we can form some ridges and interest to the design.
When you are happy combine the two chimneys and under the Deform menu select the lattice tool. With the lattice selected, right-click and select the 'Lattice Point', these are like vertex. With these selected you can move the entire shapes backwards. To remove the lattice and bake the shape, select the chimneys and under the Edit menu select Delete by Type > History - this should remove the lattice and the shape will remain.