Towards the end of the fall semester (while I was teaching for the first time a course in 3D Modeling, Motion and Animation), I dove back into 3D modeling myself. It has been 15 years since I have done anything significant in the virtual 3D realm, so this wasn’t totally starting from scratch, but almost. This time I used an open-source software (very powerful – more powerful than what I used years ago), Blender. I figured if I was making my students do it, I might as well join the crowd, so I can at least empathize with their frustrations with the massive learning curve.
As I did the first time working with modeling software, I chose a complicated subject… the best damn airplane ever… a North American P51D Mustang from WWII. My inner 12 year old was insistent on the subject matter. So starting from the nose cone, figuring out how to navigate within the software, bending the tools to my will, I managed to cobble together my first model. Not only learning how to hard-surface model the object itself, but I also image-mapped the paint job and bump-mapped the rivets and grooves on body, wings and tires. You may not be able to read the name on the nose in this low resolution image – Nine Fingered Nelle – which is to my knowledge, totally fictitious, but is a nod to the number of fingers and thumbs that I currently possess.
I have built the model in such a way that I can now rig it for animation – spinning propeller, retractable wheels and moveable flaps. I still need to build the cockpit and model a pilot – that is most likely my summer project. There are a ton of things yet to learn in this software – this is going to keep me busy for several years. I think I’ll go in now and grunge it up a bit. Fun.