In this blog, I will be documenting my process of creating a 3D asset model of an aircraft from a blueprint.
Pre-production and blocking
My chosen aircraft is the Su-27 fighter jet and below is the blueprint I will be using. I began by arranging the blueprints on planes in my scene.
For the modeling process, I used the extrude method to roughly model the plane body according to the blueprint. Next, I used the extrude tool to create the wing by extruding the side polygons and scaling the edge down to make the wing thin and sharp. I was modeling only one half of the plane as it will be mirrored later. The plane was modeled in four parts: the body (with wings), turbines, windbreakers and rocket holders. The turbines and rocket holders were modeled from cylinders while the wind breakers from the box primitive.
The next step is UV Mapping which I started with the help of a tutorial (Pxleyes, 2015). Firstly, I attached all the components. Next, I applied a checker pattern to the combined mesh in order to see any potential distortions and to be able to correct them. I unwrapped the different elements of the model one by one using the Unwrap Normals tool. I also adjusted the size to make sure that the checker squares were not distorted. After completing these steps, I arranged them next to each other and rendered the UV template.
Texturing and Shaders
Using a colored blueprint as reference(Ivanov, 2013), I painted the textures onto the UVs in Photoshop using the lasso tool and a standard hard brush. The before and after UVs are shown below.
After applying the texture to my model, this is what it looks like:
Animation and Scene Assembly
Since I only have one object in my scene, it is the focus of my animation. The Su-27 fighter jet’s trademark maneuver is the Pugachev’s Cobra (Cenciotti, 2012) so that is what I have animated. I used the auto keyframe animation method by setting keyframes on different stages of the maneuver.
I added a ground plane to my scene using a sphere primitive with an image of mountains as a diffuse map(Shoqman, 2011). I used only one target camera in my scene which was animated to optimally show the aircraft’s movement. The camera’s target was attached to a dummy that was linked to the fighter jet model so that it would follow the jet’s movement. In the final frames, the dummy object detaches from the jet so that the camera does not follow its movement anymore and the jet flies away into the distance.
For my scene lighting, I used hdri lighting which is a lighting method that uses an hdri image to produce a more dynamic range of color and values (Davidson, 2016). With the help of a tutorial (VIZPARK, 2012), I was able to create HDRI skylight lighting in my scene. These are the steps I took to achieve it:
- Created a standard skylight and assigned an HDRI bitmap image as a map in the ‘sky color’ check box.
- Dragged the same map to an empty shader and set it to ‘Environ’ Spherical Environment mapping type.
- To also have the HDRI as a background, I created a Gamma and Gain map (used to change gamma and exposure on another map) through the Environment and Effects window.
- Dragged the newly created map to another empty shader and assigned the same hdri image as the input map.
Hdri lighting produces a photo real effect as it uses the contrast information from photographs taken at different exposures (HDRIs in maya, 2015).
My scene was rendered using mental ray with Final Gathering illumination. FG simulates real life lighting by sending out rays from the camera that bounce off the elements of a scene in a way very similar to reality(Cox, 2014). The resolution was set to 720×486 and the frame rate to 30 fps, the output file was in .mov format which will later be converted to .mp4 in Adobe After Effects. The animation is 200 frames in total and took approximately 30 minutes to render.
Compositing and Video Editing
I used After Effects to add sound effects and convert my animation to mp4. The sound effects were downloaded from Digital Juice which is a paid content provider(http://www.digitaljuice.com/Intl).
Cenciotti, D. (2012) Did you know Saab J35 Drakens could perform the ‘cobra’ maneuver? Available at: http://theaviationist.com/2012/04/12/cobra-draken/ (Accessed: 4 April 2016).
Cox, G. (2014) 3DS max/mental ray: Basic final gather explained. Available at: https://artasmedia.com/2014/10/29/3ds-maxmental-ray-basic-final-gather-explained/ (Accessed: 11 April 2016).
Davidson, S. (2016) What is HDRI?. Available at: http://nxt.flamingo3d.com/page/what-is-hdri (Accessed: 7 April 2016).
HDRIs in maya (2015) Available at: http://www.3dtutorialzone.com/tutorial?id=70 (Accessed: 11 April 2016).
Mikhaev, A. (no date) Сухой Су-27УБ. Available at: http://www.airwar.ru/enc/fighter/su27ub.html (Accessed: 15 March 2016)..
Pxleyes (2015) How to model a Mig 29 UB fighter jet – 3DS-Max Tutorial. Available at: http://www.pxleyes.com/tutorial/3ds-max/2662/How-To-Model-a-Mig-29-UB-Fighter-Jet.html (Accessed: 29 March 2016).
Shoqman (2011) Find answers to all your CG questions anc catchup on the LATEST CG news, EXCLUSIVE features and images from movies, games and art. Available at: http://forums.cgsociety.org/archive/index.php?t-1014585.html (Accessed: 11 April 2016).
Ivanov, G. (2013) ПАЛИТРА КРЫЛА – Сухой Су-27/Су-30/Су-33/Су-35/Су-37 – СССР/Россия. Available at: http://wp.scn.ru/ru/ww4/f/652/1/1 (Accessed: 4 April 2016).
VIZPARK (2012) HDRI lighting with 3ds max and mental ray – VIZPARKTM. Available at: http://www.vizpark.com/hdri-lighting-with-3ds-max-and-mental-ray/ (Accessed: 7 April 2016).