Modeling complex shapes and models in Blender, or in any other 3D application, may seem like a daunting tasque if you do not know where and how to start. How are you supposed to model a car with its complex hood or fender curves? This is where Blueprints come in. They will act as a modeling guide to help make the shapes you would normally have trouble making without blueprints. This article will start by explaining how to properly set up blueprint guidelines in Blender and then explain how to use them for modeling.
The first step is obviously obtaining blueprints to work with. If you do not have them already, then Google is your friend. You should alos chek out http://www.the-blueprints.com. We will be using the blueprints of a Ford Escort used in rally racing.
The second step is dividing your blueprints into separate images. You must take special care to make sure that the sizes and dimensions of an image stay proportional to the other images otherwise you will find that they do not fit together in Blender. This requires resizing the blueprints in the Gimp or Photoshop but will not be explained in this article. You should, after the modifications, have an image for each side/direction of your model, in this case, four (front, back, side, top).
Once this is done, we need to set them up in Blender. The advantage of this setup is that you can have several blueprints on the same screen and be able to view them at different angles while giving you a better idea of depth and making it easier to model the pieces. To do this, start Blender and go to the top viewport and add the first image to the background by: View >> Background Image >> Use Background Image and select your image. Your first image, in this case, the top image, appears in the top viewport. Then add a plane: (Add >> Mesh >> Plane). And scale to fit your background exactly using the [S key]+[X key, Y key or Z key].
Now go to the material tab, add a new material and give it an appropriate name. Add a new Texture and load the same image as before. In the map input menú select UV. Split the viewport and open up the UV/Image Editor. Load up the same image. Select your object and go into the UV Face Select Mode. Press the [U key] and select Cube from the menú. The plane UV coordinates will now appear in the UV/Image Editor. Position the vértices as before to map the image correctly on the plane. Make sure they fit correctly. Now go into the (Draw Type >> Textured), using the [ALT-Z] shortcut. The texture will appear mapped on the plane.
Repeat with each of your images and position the planes correctly as to have a result similar to the following screenshot:
You now have a strong blueprint setup that will ease and guide your modeling. Now, if this is done correctly, all that is left to do is to actually model. I will now explain, through an example, how to model the hood of the car using this blueprint setup.
Modeling the Pieces
Go into top view [7 numpad] and (Spacebar >> Add >> Plane). Place the first four vértices as seen in the screenshot.
The first edge goes directly in the middle, as we will be using a Mirror modifier for the model. The second edge should be further to the right. We will be extruding this edge of two vértices, making small adjustments to their position to follow
the blueprints. You should now have a mesh similar to the following screenshot:
Now, go into front view and align the vértices with the front blueprint. Make sure that you align the correct vértice to the correct lines on the blueprints. You now have the general outline of the hood. Your mesh should now look like what you see in the screenshot:
As pointed out by the blue arrow of the last top screenshot, the hood has a curve along its right edge. Subdivide the plane using Loop cuts: [CTRL+R] and use your mouse wheel to add several cuts at equal distances. Align the new vértices to the blueprints. The model of the hood is now essentially finished.
Continue using this technique along with the blueprints to complete your model. You should end up with a fairly correct reproduction of the blueprints in 3D. It will of course require small modifications and details that you should look up in reference pictures.
Most blueprints will give the general outline of your model but not every single tiny detail. Happy Blending.
- By Edouard de Mahíeu (aka Edeehem or Slepnyrl)
I live in Belgium and I am in my last year of high school. I have many hobbies such as modeling or tennis but computers are my main occupation. I have been using Blender for about two and half years now. I alos spend a lot of time on the BlenderArtist forums trying to make myself useful and participating in the contests held there.