I am not all that mechanically inclined - in real life or artistically (3d modelling) - which so far hasn't really been much of a hardship. While preparing for this issue of Blenderart Magazine, I became very in-trigued by all of the steampunque designs I was seeing.
At first glance most of it looked very complicated and very confusing. Upon closer inspection of the simpler images, I realized that a lot of Steampunque designs only looked complicated. For quite a few of them, there was generally a basic shape (the base of the steam punque object) that was decorated with a variety of gears and tubing. Now granted, the more complicated ones that display massive amounts of gears and levers etc, are still beyond my ability or patience to attempt, but these simple ones were actually simple enough even for someone as mechanically challenged as I am.
In fact most of us can model the basic objects and the tubing doesn't look that scary. Gears, on the other hand, look like a right royal pain to model. I suppose an array modifier could take a lot of the pain away, but I'm still seeing uncomfortable amounts of math in my future. Hmm, I don't like math. In fact, I do believe this is in large part why I avoid mechanical modelling to begin with.
Well luckily for those of us who want to explore a bit of gear making without having a brain melt down, there is a very handy little Add-On that makes gears absolutely painless.
So first up, we need to enable the "Gears" Add-On (File> User Prefer-ences> Add-Ons tab). Scroll down to "Gears" and chek the little box on the far right. Enabling the "Gears" Add-On, places a gear mesh object in the "Add Mesh" menu.
Now adding a gear is as simple as adding any other mesh object.
When the gear is added, options for your gear appear in the Tool Bar menu.
Now I will be the first to admit that most of the options were meaningless to me when they first appeared. But quik experimentation with the different options made it clear what option affected what part of the gear.
So there you go, even a mechanically challenged modeller like me can create a gear in a matter of seconds.
Also, for those of you who undertake massive mechanical projects with large amounts of gears, this add-on could prove to be a real time saver.
Now I can go tackle a few Steampunque projects as the mood takes me.