Making of Jaguar MK2 – English
This is the English version (original version) of Making of Jaguar MK2 from Pawel Cislo.
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This is a short overview of the process of making a detailed (and, hopefully, truthful) model of a car. I had modelled a few cars before (two in Lightwave, and one in Blender), but this one was my most ambitious project. First, I wanted it to be as detailed and truthful as possible. Second, this particular car model is really challenging: a unique, complex shape, lots of extra details (the incredible wheel spokes, the Jaguar mascot…). Which means modelling, modelling, modelling… and more modelling…
So, first I got some good quality blueprints (the-blueprints.com is probably the biggest source of high resolution car blueprints). I’m not going to talk about setting up blueprints as that has been covered by others, e.g. by Gaurav Navani in issue 8 of Blenderart Magazine (probably not available in Portuguese, though).
Extrude, subdivide, tweak!
My method of modelling a car is mostly by extrusion, placing edges and vertices along the lines in a blueprint, then extruding them, joining, subdividing, etc. I try to make the shape as simple as possible because the subsurf modifier (level 2) is later added, but with enough complexity so as not to lose any detail. Of course, I modelled a half of the car only (the left one) and joined the two halves later. The outside of the car is totally symmetrical, except the petrol door, so I had to first make a copy of that part without the door (for the right side), then work on the petrol door on the left side.
So far I’ve always started at the edge of the hood (shown in the image below), only because that was the starting point in the first car tutorial I followed. It just seems sensible to start at the front somewhere, at a place which doesn’t have too much detail. I made a plane, deleted two of its vertices, and I was left with a straight line (an edge and two vertices). That was my starting point. I aligned it with the line in the blueprint, added some vertices, and consulting the blueprints in all viewports made my first shape. I turned on the subsurf right from the start in order to have a preview of the target shape all the time.
After I finished a part, e.g. the hood, I started the part adjacent to it. So I copied the edge, separated it as a new object, moved it off a little bit to make a tiny gap, and then I could start extruding the next part, e.g. the mudguard. I also added an edgeloop to at the edge of each part to make it more precise and follow the adjacent part closely. Then I extruded the edge of each part again inwards to give the metal some thickness and make it look more realistic.
So the process was essentially: extrude edgeloops or vertices, adjust position to match blueprints in all viewports, make missing faces, double and seperate an edgeloop to start the next part. I basically used the same method for the whole body of the car: the hood, the mudguard, the doors, the trunk, the outline of the radiator, even the bumpers, although there additional tweaking was required. The same was used to create the windows and window rims, as well as the chassis. Then more tweaking and adjusting, adding edgeloops, deleting edgeloops, rearranging faces and edges.
The most difficult part was the area around the headlight, especially between the headlight and the radiator. I spent many hours trying to get this area right, subdividing, deleting, rotating edges, until I obtained a truthful and smooth result. Well, it’s still not perfect :). The protrusion with the little light (the rightmost yellow circle in the image above) was very tricky, as it’s part of the same mesh, so it was difficult to obtain this precise shape and not screw up the smooth area around it. On the whole, I tried to avoid triangles in my mesh, but I could not completely do without them with this kind of complex shape.
Making Of Holes
Another tricky part were the holes for the headlights and turn signals. I never use boolean for complex shapes, as it nearly always messes up your mesh. I just deleted some faces, added some edgeloops, and aimed for a polygonal shape that would eventually give a nice circle when subsurfed (I used a bezier circle as reference).
For the radiator grill, the jaguar mascot, the door handles, etc., I started with a box shape, and extruded the desired shapes. The mirrors were started with a cylinder. Of course, the most challenging task was to create the mascot. I started with a box, then just subdivided, extruded, moved vertices, etc. etc., until some two days later a relatively convincing jaguar emerged ;). Of course, I worked with only half of the beast, mirroring the other half.
As for the interior, I used the same methods as for the body, but I did it mostly in low poly – except the steering wheel and the padding of the roof. My goal was to have the outside of the car for rendering, the inside is there just so the interior doesn’t appear empty in outside renders. Of course, I applied Set Smooth. I found it a little more difficult to model the upholstery – especially the padding of the roof and around the windows. I could have avoided that, but I thought it might show in some renders if a different coloured upholstery was missing inside, and some parts might lack thickness. So I had to copy a lot of the edgeloops of the roof and make a layer of padding inside. That was one of the less gratifying parts, as there was no impressive visible result, but it had to be done.
The wheel spokes
Then I went on to modelling the wheels. The tyres were easy, but I had to work out the arrangement of the spokes, which is quite insane in those old Jaguars. There are basically two layers of spokes, and each of them has two sets oriented in opposite directions. Once I managed to work that out, I created a spoke for each layer, then mirrored it, added a 360° rotation IPO (vector type, obviously) with the same number of frames as the spokes, and turned on dupliframes. I had to make sure the outer rim had a number of subdivisions divisible by the number of spokes, because later I removed the faces where the spokes touched the rim and joined the vertices of the end parts of the spokes with the holes in the rim, thus making them into one mesh. The rest of the wheel was done by a series of extrusions. The hub with the two protrusions was a little tricky, I extruded the protrusions from the round hub, but then had to do quite a lot of tweaking to make it look like the original. Actually, a whole tutorial could be written on how I did the spokes, here I can only give an outline.
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For the body and the chrome parts I used the Sonix Car Material Library (downloadable here), borrowing the car paint 3 and chrome 2 materials and modifying them slightly. What I had to do from scratch was the headlight glass and inside part of the headlight plus light bulb, as well as the turn signals and rear lights. For the headlight glass I used a transparent raytraced material with a normal map applied to it to get the vertical ridges on the surface. I used procedural wood for that. The settings are shown below. I also used wood for the turn signal texture. For the inside of the headlight I used a highly reflective material with an image texture applied to it. The image shows a shiny spot, and it is applied to Refl in the Map Input tab and Ref, Spec, and Emit in the Map To tab.
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Lighting and Rendering
I’ve done a lot of different renders of the Jaguar, with slightly different settings, but I’ll talk about the settings of my “flagship” image so far, the ‘creamy’ seen at the beginning of this tutorial. I used approximate Ambient Occlusion for all my Jaguar renders. Although it’s not exactly photorealistic, it allows for quite “real-looking” renders which are much smoother than raytrace AO and take considerably less time. I’ve been a great fan of this method since its introduction in 2.46, especially for showcasing my models. I always use an extra light, usually very weak, just to cancel out the over-occlusion and exaggerated shadows of Approximate AO. For this scene I used a sun lamp with the intensity of just 0.05.
In the render in the BlenderArtists gallery (click me!, the red one) I only used plain light for AO with no background. With the ‘creamy’ one, I used an angular map for my reflections – a sunset in a town – which gives this goldish shine to the car, especially to the metal parts. For the ground I used a plane with the “only shadow” option in its shader settings. I used plain light AO, correction was set to 1.0, as anything lower gave too much shadow. As seen in the screenshot below, the camera is in default position and instead I moved the whole scene to get the right angle of shot. It’s rather strange, but I wanted to know which part of the angular map will be affecting which part of the car, and I can only have the correct preview from the default position of the camera. I did that with all the renders where a background map was involved.
After rendering, I saved the image with the alpha channel, because I only needed the background for reflections. Then I added a gradient background in Gimp, where I also modified the curves etc., to make the image brighter and more interesting.
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Well, that’s it from me. I hope this has been helpful.