The Process of Modelling and Rigging a Mechanical Model - 2
This project was carried out in 2008/2009 using Blender 2.48
Once comfortable with the process described in the Precision Modelling tutorials it should become quite straightforward to build large complex models from numerous components. However being able to animate those models means you need to be fairly strict in the way you name each component and the structure of how they are parented to each other. The Mirror Modifier was a useful short cut for modelling but can cause some problems further down the lines on this project I applied the modifier once the modelling was finished.
With the basic model completed and all the parts parented to either the armature systems or the main body it was time to start adding details.
Moving hydraulic components need hydraulic fluid to be pumped through them, so this necessitated pipes and hoses. Pipes aren't a problem because they are static items in relation to the components they are attached to, but hoses need to flex and move with the animation.
experimented with a number of methods to achieve this but found you could obtain a very realistic movement using just curves hooks and empties, what's more you can set the end tangency of the hose so it doesn't rotate at the end point. I will write the method up as a mini tutorial sometime in the future.
With a few more details added it was time to see how this model looked in a render. Basic materials were added for the paintwork and a highly reflective material added to the hydraulic piston to simulate the ground chrome material. The model was then positioned on a plane which was curved at the back to simulate a studio back drop. Two area lights were added with together with a light behind and above the model relative to the camera.
In order for a reflective material to look good it must have something to reflect.
A basic reflection map was created by placing a UV sphere inside a box together with a few props to simulate a studio flash brolly.
The UV sphere was set to the maximum reflection and an image renderer of the sphere. This was then used as an angle map in Blenders world settings.
The end result was a fairly convincing image of an excavator, though given time the image could be improved considerably.
This isn't the end of the excavator project, I now need to UV unwrap the model and add some realistic textures then set the model in a construction scene. All that is however for a future date and I will post further information here when it is completed.
I hope you have found this run through of the project useful.