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Dec 2006 26

Tau Hammerhead in 3D

Hobbies 3d graphics, Tank

Turret Texture Test
Turret Texture Test

I frequently troll various 3D forums and just about always come away with a feeling of inadequacy.. There are quite a lot of extremely talented folks in the 3D field, and I often dream of being one.

Tonight I have embarked on yet another model making adventure -- an attempt to create a very high quality model that actually looks real. In my search for something to create I chose a known object that is from another one of my hobbies, Warhammer 40k. I have decided to make a Tau Hammerhead.

Note: The image to the right will always be the latest high resolution render.  Click to enlarge.

My goal is to make a realistic looking "plastic model". Meaning, I want to be able to make this model look very close to the plastic model I have on my desk. Not necessarily make it look "real" as in it can really fly and really exists, but rather make it look like its a real plastic model -- If that makes sense.

To that end I took some high quality photos of my hammerhead (sans gun) with an attempt to get orthographic references that I could use as backdrops.

And I will be working in 4 hour blocks on this model, as I dont want my head to explode.

Here is what I have after my first 4 hours - doesn't look like much but its actually extremely accurate and high poly.. heh Tau Hammerhead WIP - Step 1

Another 4 Hours - looks nearly the same but I have more than doubled the poly count with details that are just not seen from this angle..

Tau Hammerhead WIP - Step 2

+4 - I went ahead and mirrored the for the render just to give me a sense of what it will look like.. I'm very happy. I spent the majority of this 4 hour block cleaning up ugly non-planer polys. Thanks to some helpful advice over at the Luxology Forums regarding ways to deal with non-planer polygons.

I think I have most of them under control, though I still would like a single tool that averages across multple vertices.. I'm tempted to post in the Luxology WIP forum, but some of those guys are REALLY good.. and I don't want to embarrass myself.. heh Maybe when I get a tad further along.

Tau Hammerhead WIP - Step 3

+4 - Okay I have been fighting with the nose curve for hours now.. It took me forever to get it "right" and I still think its a tad off.. But this is as close as I can get it.. The nose area needs a lot of work, but for a roughed out version this isn't terrible.

Tau Hammerhead WIP - Step 4

+4 - It actually took me every bit of this 4 hours to get the nose curves to work the way I wanted them to. At this point I call it "better", but not yet to the point I want it.. It just still looks off to me. Next I work on some of the lower body curve.

Tau Hammerhead WIP - Step 5

+4 - I took a break from working on the main body of the hammer head and invested some time into the main gun.. So far so good...

Tau Hammerhead WIP - Main Gun

+4 - I can honestly say that the turret sucked.. It was hard to get done because of its shape. A dome shape sprouting out of another dome, off center - fun fun.

Tau Hammerhead WIP - Step 7

Well a bunch of time has passed.. My main render / model machine died the bad death a while back and it has taken me quite sometime to get back up and running..

I'm still roughing out the model at this point, no serious details yet. In the shot below you can see I have loaded the turret, gun and main mesh all into one model and have begun working on the front drone mounts.

Hammerhead - Step 8 +4ish - I didn't time it but I figure its roughly 4 hours. This update brings with it a new render style.. I plan to render all future example shots like this using the Ambient Occlusion setting in Modo.

I have added detail to the front of the tank and defined the burst cannon. Only one side though, as I haven't instanced it yet. A lot more detail to be done here, but a good start.

Hammerhead - Step 9


Turret Texture Test
Turret Texture Test

May 2009; Reboot of this project

  • 8 hours -- Okay so.. The latest version of this thing is to the point where I can start trying to texture it..   I have always Suuuucked at texturing so this is a dive off the deep end.. I really really want to get a graphical tablet as you can't take advantage of some of the power of Modo without one.   Here is where I am at right now..

  • 8 hours -- Click to see I have continued to texture the model quite a bit and even went so far as to purchase a graphics tablet.. It's Soooooo much easier to texture the model when using a pen!!   Especially considering the modo folks designed the program to use one.  heh  I'm having a lot of fun with this..  The image is a double stack front/back render and is a tad tall to include in the post.. so click the link to see it open in a lightbox in the page.

Turret Texture Test
Turret Texture Test

  • 8 hours -- Well I spent a good chunk of the day completely redoing the turret portion of the hammer head, adding a lot more detail as well as adding textures.  It's not done yet.. I'm slowly using my tablet to add detail to the textures as well as playing with various noise amounts..  Its interesting finding the right balance..

I also spent quite a bit of time with the UV mapping tools to try to hone my UV skills.. One thing I used to be bad about (and still am in some cases) is just using an atlas explosion of the model into a UV.. Done.  I find that it's not a very good method for UV'ing because you get strange artifacts and defects when painting..   You're far better served actually correctly unwrapping the model and then positioning it on the map in order to maximize the available space..   I'm still learning this..

Fun stuff.. I'll be adding this part of the mesh to the main model later this week.

More Texturing
More Texturing

  • 8 hours -- I have been working on the body of the hammerhead.  I have mostly fixed the nose area which I think was bulbous and ugly previously.  It doesn't perfectly match the actual physical model but at this point its probably as close as I can get it without completely starting over.

I have divided up the various areas into their respective colors and will begin the texturing process once I get the cockpit bump in place on top of the model.

So yet again it's been a while since I worked on this.. I recently lost my harddrive and thought I lost this model entirely!!! Which lets be honest would have made me cry a little..  Lucky for me one of my coworkers managed to save the model off the drive for me and I have now backed it up to a raid 5 nas.. So shouldn't happen again..

I am getting pretty close to being done with this model I think..  The back door, the landing gear and the chin turret still need to be completed but once that's done I think I'll count it done and stop working on it.

Over all I'm fairly happy with it but you can really tell as you look at the mesh that I didn't know what I was doing in quite a few areas..

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