Yeah, I’m back to doing the 3D modeling thing. Oddly enough, out of all of the different project types I have attempted over the course of my life, I have succeeded most often at general application development, followed by 3D modeling. It’s kind of weird in a way, since “application development” is a very logical pursuit while 3D modeling is an art: yes, there’s “best practices” and workflows and all that, but the product itself is basically whatever you can imagine — assuming you can wrangle the tools, which is why I posted the Tweet above a few days ago.
Getting back into 3D modeling this time wasn’t as bad for me as I thought it would be. The last time I was into it, I was really into it. I had subscriptions, watched videos, purchased tools, and spent a lot of time hyper-focused on absorbing whatever info on 3D modeling that I could find. I know me, though, and once I’m off a subject for a length of time, I tend to start hemorrhaging knowledge, and I fully expected that this time around I’d be struggling to remember everything I had learned the last time I was taking a stab at it. Thankfully, that wasn’t so much the case.
My first attempt was going to be a Colonial Raptor as featured in the 2004 reboot of Battlestar Galactica. I have just finished a re-watch of the series, and during my last stint in 3D-Land I had amazed myself by creating a pretty passable Viper Mk II.
The Raptor is less sleek; more like a pug to the Viper’s puma. I didn’t get very far, though, because if there’s one thing that throws me every time, it’s working on a model from established projections. For example, I was using this image for the Raptor
Looking at these, and having seen the Raptor from all kinds of angles in the TV show, I thought I knew what I was looking at, but getting my mind to translate what I thought I understood about the shapes and angles into a 3D model was apparently beyond my grasp. I mean, I did ok for what I have so far…right?
There are just angles there that I cannot reconcile. In the end, proceeding with this would result in a “my interpretation of the Colonial Raptor” instead of the real thing. So I shelved that, and instead am working on a…well, it was supposed to be an original composition, but…
No matter how “original” I had originally intended to go, my mind just kept drifting back to familiar shapes. I’m OK with that, since this is all academic anyway and is not intended for sale or anything. But in attempting this, I have taken two short side trips, one successful, and the other less so.
The less-so was that I bought a pack of tools called the “creative pack” from a guy named BlenderGuppy. I have seen his work on Instagram, and the tools he makes are a massive boon for hard surface modeling — supposedly. I have watched several of his videos and I cannot follow them for the life of me. He talks quickly, doesn’t explain the “how” of what he’s doing (the official written docs are under revision and the older versions are apparently unavailable), and I simply cannot figure out how to do some of the really cool things he’s doing with these tools. Eventually I hope to be able to leverage these tools because I think they’ll really help create some very cool geometry without all the normal fuss.
The successful trip, and the one I should have spent money on, is an add-on called KitOps by Chip Walters, and my gawd does this tool save a massive amount of time and headache. The name comes from the idea of “kit-bashing”, which was made famous in Hollywood by VFX crews who would take all kinds of garbage, paint it, and then glue it all together to make something that is greater than the sum of its parts. KitOps offer smaller models that people have compiled so that users can drag and drop them into their own projects. These smaller models are usually very detailed, and some come complete with materials applied.
The good news is that KitOps has a free version which has limitations (which is what I am using), but which can use some of the free add-ons (called “KPacks”) that are available through the official site.
With my basic APC roughed out, I updated KitOps to see if there were some elements I could add to my box, and found some really nice additions:
I had started to model some hinges for the rear doors, but found something in KitOps that looked way better. Whether it’s an actual hinge or not, I don’t care. It’s awesome.
I also found these cool-ass “hubs” that I applied to the tires I have on there now. Each of these is a discreet mini-model, so they can be resized rotated, and moved about where I want them to be.
Overall not too bad so far!
So I will keep on keeping on with the APC. It needs more “character”, as it’s a bit too boxy right now. What I must do is resist the urge to look in on the Aliens APC for inspiration, lest I dip further into the atmosphere on account of it’s gravitational pull.