View Full Version : Modeling Spaceships using Blender 3D

10-29-2008, 10:16 PM
Since Ascension asked, I thought I would put up a tutorial of how to make a pretty good looking spaceship in Blender :)

I dont have time to add to many pictures yet, so Ill go through later and add more.

Before we start, there are some things you will need for this, some of which may just be helpful, but arent really necesarry:

A Computer
Blender 3D (Download it here: http://www.blender.org/download/get-blender/ )
A Keyboard
A 2 Button Mouse (you can probably use a 1 button mouse, but 2 button works best)
Your Computer Plugged Into An Outlet

Oh, and here are some keys/key combinations that you may want to know:

A (or AKey) : Select/Deselect all
Cntrl+Tab (in edit mode) : Choose what to select (Edges, Vertices, or Faces)
Cntrl+Z (or Cntrl+ZKey) : Undo
8 (or 8Key, not in the regular number area on your keyboard thats from left to right, 1 to 0, but the one that is usually to the right of the arrow keys) : Rotate View Up
2 (2Key) : Rotate View Down
4 (4Key) : Rotate View Left
6 (6key) : Rotate View Right
Right Mouse Button Click (RMB) : Select Object
Spacebar : Add objects, Edit selected objects, Transform selected objects, and more

Now that you know those, your ready to start :)

Part 1: Making the shapes

1) Okay first, open Blender. When you open it, you should get a screen like this


Now you need to select the box that they have (it may already be selected, items are selected if they have a pink outline around them) by Right Clicking on it.

2) Now we're going to shape the box into any shape we want. For now, we are going to shape it into a sort of triangle. If you want to use it as a box, thats fine, but I suggest following this tutorial using it as a sort-of triangle. To be able to modify it, in the lower buttons area (with stuff like Modifiers, Shapes, Multires, Mesh, and Link and Materials) you should see a dropdown menu that is currently on Object Mode. Change that to Edit Mode. Now you will be able to modify different aspects of your box.

3) With your box selected, hit Cntrl+Tab, and choose Faces. This allows you to modify the different faces. Faces are basically the different sides of your object, Edges are the edges of your object (lol 'Thank You Mr. Obvious :) ), and Vertices are points on your object where edges connect.

4) Now, on your box, right click on one of the sides to select that side. If you want, first take a look around the box and then choose a side, but dont select the bottom or top face. To rotate around the box, hit the 8, 2, 4 or 6 button on your number pad, the one to the right of the arrow keys usually. Those buttons allow you to rotate around your objects and change your view. After you select the face you want, then rotate so that the face is facing towards you and looks like a square, and so that the grid around it looks like a flat horizontal line.

There should be three arrows converging in the center of your face (or in the center of your box), and either the red or the green one should now be in the center of your face, and the other should be going off to the left or right, with the blue arrow going straight up or straight down. Use the 4 or 6 number pad button to rotate your vew so you can see whichever arrow was in the center of your face, and left click mouse button on it, and hold the left click button, and drag the arrow around. Drag it until you have a rectangle.



5) Now to resize that face. With that face still selected, hit the S key, and move the mouse around. This should enable you to change the size of the face, and once you click, it should stop resizing and stay at that size. Experiment and get the hang of it, and then resize it so that it is an itsy bitsy teeny tiny box, and your rectangle more like a triangle. Congratz! You have just made your first shape/object :)


Keep experimenting all you like, and try to make different shapes. Try moving around edges, vertices, or creating different shapes, or duplication your current shape. To add more shapes, with your mouse in the 3D screen, hit the spacebar, and do select Add:, and then choose what you want to add. I like using cubes, cause you can modify those to your hearts content to create any shape (or almost). You could also (after hitting the Spacebar) choose Edit to edit your shape, Transform for things like duplicating and rotating, or any of the other options.

Note: If you have an item selected and then go to edit mode and then add an item, these items will be connected and edited at the same time. I suggest you go back to Object Mode before adding new objects.

If you want your cube smoother, more like a ball, then heres what you do:

1) Change your mode to Object Mode, and select your object
2) Under the screen that has all those different things (Link and Materials, Mesh, etc) go under Modifiers: Add Modifier: Subsurf, and then increase the Levels to make it smoother.

Ill continue with the creation of the spaceship tomorrow, or sometime after I add pictures to this :D For now, keep experimenting, as I find that that is the best way to learn :)

10-30-2008, 11:30 AM
Part 2: Adding the Wings/Adding More Shapes :

Okay now I am going to teach you how to add the wings, and how to add additional shapes.

1) Change your mode from Edit Mode to Object Mode.

2) Use the 8 and 2 keys to get a view from above your current project, and the 4 and 6 buttons to get your view lined up with the grid. Your view should look like the following:


3) Hit the A button (or AKey) to deselect your current shape. If you hit the AKey again, it will select everything, but for now lets go with having everything deselected.

4) With your mouse in the 3D screen (the one with your project) hit the Spacebar and choose Add--> Mesh--> Cube. If done correctly, a cube will pop up somewhere in your image, probably on top of your current image. Use the green or red arrow to move it just off the side of your triangle shape, but so that its still touching. Now change your mode to Edit Mode.


5) Now, hit Cntrl+Tab and choose Faces. Use the 2 or 8 button to change your view so that you can see the side, but still part of the top, and then use the 4 or 6 button so that you can see most of the cube. Select (Right Click) either the top or the bottom of the cube, and then use the Blue Arrow to make it shorter. Change your view so you can see the side if needed.



6) Change your view with the 2 4 6 and 8 buttons so that you can see the box from the top, with 2 sides vertical and 2 sides horizontal. Then change your mode to Object Mode. Next, hit the Spacebar and do Edit--> Duplicate. A copy of the square should appear right in the same spot as it. A duplicate box with a White Line around it should appear. Quickly click the mouse button, without moving the mouse, as moving the mouse will move it to a different spot then its supposed to be. If your mode is Edit Mode from duplicating it, then change it to Object Mode. Now go use the arrows to move the duplicate cube to the other side of your triangle shape, and at about the same position.


7) Now we need to get the wings into a position that is a good spot for wings, Im going to have them at halfway up the triangular object, but you can position them anywhere along the height of it. First, while in Object Mode, hit and hold the Shift Button and Right Click. Do that to select both wings. Now rotate your view using the 8, 2, 4 and 6 buttons so that you can see the side. Now use the blue arrow to move the wings to whatever height you want.



Hmm.. Seems like I've run out of room for pictures. Ill continue this part in the next post :)

10-30-2008, 11:33 AM
Part 2 (Continued):

8) Now hit the AKey to deselect both wings, then Right Click to select one of them. Change the mode to Edit Mode, and do Cntrl+Tab, and choose Edges. Now right click on the edge that is farthest forward on the side farthest from the triangular model (heck, Im just gonna call it the Main Body of the ship from here on out.) and move it so that it is touching the side that is at the back. Now go to Object Mode, hit the AKey, select the other wing, and repeat. If you didnt understand a word of that, then here are some pictures to help you:





Now you have your wings :) If you want, you can add more ship parts to the end of the wings, but for now, I shall just keep my ship like this. In the next part, I will teach you how to use the Discombobulator (lol funny name) to add those tiny bumps of the likes of on Imperial Star Destroyers.

10-30-2008, 11:59 AM
Just to say I am very interested in the progress - ill comment and query later.

10-30-2008, 12:11 PM
Part 3: Using the Discombobulator/Finding Scripts :

This will hopefully be the easiest thing to learn. First though, you will need to learn how to get into scripts in blender. I will start with that.

1) See that little box in the corner of the button screen? Click it. A window should now pop up that is titled at the top, Window Type. Change the type to Script.




If your buttons screen turned out looking like that last picture, then congratz :)

2) Now to get to the Discombobulator. See the word there that says Scipts?? Click that, and a dropdown menu (or just a menu) should appear. On it, go Mesh--> Discombobulator. The Discombobulator menu should now appear.



Looks confusing doesnt it? Well, its not really that confusing. Im going to tell you the basics about using it, but if you want, there is a website with a mini tutorial for the Discombobulator, and I suggest you look at that to learn the basics of what is what and what does what. Here is the link:

If you dont read all of it, you wont understand a word of what Im going to say.

How to get the best looking Greebles:

1) You may be asking now "What the *@#! is a greeble???", or "What is he talking gibberish for?". Im going to explain. A Greeble is the name given to the cool little protrusions that are on things like spaceships, imperial star destroyers, the like, that you are going to create using the Discombobulator. Occasionally, Greebles are called something like Nurnies, but I prefer the name Greebles.

2) Now here is how to get the best result using the Discombobulator.

Face: Unless you want your model completely and totally engulfed in Greebles and Doodads (the protrusions that are usually on top of greebles. You should know what they are if you read the tutorial link i gave you), then I suggest you set the face percentage to 80% or less. Stuff like wings I prefer to have the face percentage set to 90%.

Min/Max Height: These are tricky. You might be thinking "Oh, Ill just skip this and put in a Min height of -4 (for an inward greeble) and max height of 25 for some tall towers". Bad idea. The max/min height is set up so that 4 is about the same as 400, and 25 about the same as 2500. You will most likely want to use decimals for these. I suggest using nothing nothing less than -0.20 and nothing more than +0.20.

Min/Max Taper: These you can set to whatever you like. 0 Taper is basically a cube, and 100 taper is a pyramid. I like to set the Min to 0 and the Max to 100, that way I get a pretty good range of taper.

Number of Protrusions/Select Tops of: I dont really have any clue what these do, but I just keep them all selected.

Also, I suggest that you keep the Make Protrusions box checked (or chosen), and the Only Selected Faces and Deselect Selected unchecked (or unchosen).

For Doodads:

I suggest having a Min ammount of 0 and a max ammount of 6, but the rest are I suggest you having like just below the ammount of the same type you have for the protrusions. So if you have like a Face % of 80%, then for doodads make it at least 75%. Also, keep play around with which boxes you want chosen, but I like to keep the 1-3 box boxes checked, along with the L S and T ones checked, and Make Doodads, only selected tops, and only on protrusions checked. The rest I leave unchecked.

The rest you can leave, or experiment with. Also, be sure to uncheck the Copy before Modifying box unchecked, as that messes it up and you would have to go back and do it all again. Also, be sure to have your mode in Object Mode and to have an object selected.

When your done, hit the Discombobulate button, and after a short wait, you should have your Greebles. Heres what your spaceship should look like:


It may take some experimenting to get the hang of it, but after a while you may be able to use the discombobulator with your eyes closed :)

Be sure to keep experimenting, and if you accidentally do something wrong while using the discombobulator, then just hit Cntrl+Z to undo it.

Hope you enjoyed :)


Note: I may at a later time put more blender tutorials here, but for now, enjoy :)

10-30-2008, 06:27 PM
I tried the decom script on my ship but I found it difficult to use. It seems to treat each face as an individual entity instead of as a whole surface. Consequently it seems to put massive spikes on the really small polygons.

Anyway, what I did try is the polygon reduce script which is really cool. This is my model head at 40,000, 4000, and 1000 polys. It did a really good job of reducing them with good resulting mesh. Very impressed.

I have a request for a tutorial tho. What I would like to do is create an empty mesh which I have done easily as its a straight forward option. Then I have added vertexes to it with ctrl+LMB in the shape of half a section of a wine glass. Now to stitch those vertexes into a planar mesh I had some trouble but I found the easiest way was to select them 3 or 4 at a time and use the F button. Is there any way of selecting them all in one go and skinning them into a single poly or a filled mesh of triangles. Anyway, got that far. Now I want to 'spin' or lathe this into my wineglass. The spin tool is beyond me. All I get from it is a mess. I have the 3D cursor on the bottom left vertex as shown and then I go to Num7 for top view. Press A for select all in edit mode and then spin with 360, 90, 1. Result - rubbush. What am I doing wrong ?

Image shows front view but I am trying to spin from top view.

10-31-2008, 09:24 AM
@--> RR

Hmm.... Im having a little trouble trying to understand what your trying to do... from the sounds of it, your trying to model a wine glass, but using an object, then adding additional vertices to it, and then modeling it into a wine glass.... but thats as much as i understand of what you said :?

oh well. For your discombobulator problem tho, it sounds like your maximum doodad or protrusions height is to heigh, and maybe the minimum height is to low. If it is, your thing is probably looking like my first picture attatchment, which is a monkey discombobulated wrong. You want it to look more like my second attachment, which is what the monkey looks like done right.

Also, something I forgot to mention for using the discombobulator. The percentage things (max height, min heigh, etc) are sliders, so dont just hit the arrows, click and hold on them, and then move your mouse left and/or right to make the amount go up and down in the decimals.

First Attachment has max height 1
Second Attachment has max height 0.12

(p.s. Ill try and work on your problem)

10-31-2008, 01:06 PM
Thanks Bryguy. I did try a variety of values but I think the issue is that I have big and small polys mixed in the model.

Here are some screenies of light wave doing the goblet. Took me just a few secs to do this and I know I am very familiar with it but it just seems so much easier to get things done in LW. Still - I must persevere...

What I want is to spin the profile of the goblet into a 3D version. LW has very similar spin tool called lathe with the same values of 360 & 90 but you specify the 3D cursor equiv coord numerically or by placing the marker down like blender and also you specify the axis by the last clicked in window where blender does it on the current view window - i.e. its all very similar.

So pic 1 - same as blender
Pic2 - numeric lathe settings - similar to blender
Pic3 - Instant goblet - not like what I get out of blender at all.

So what am I doing wrong. Lathe / Spin is such a common thing to do that I cant live without it. Its like not having extrude or something equally as basic.

10-31-2008, 02:16 PM
hmm... are you doing this all in edit mode or object mode?

also, i cant seem to find the spin tool, where exactly is it?

and for the result you get in blender, does it look sort-of like a goblet (cup, whatever) just without the curves?

could you post a picture of what it ends out looking like?

edit: also, do you think you could send me the .blend file? that way i could experiment with it to try and figure out a way to get it into a goblet (cup, whatever :) )

10-31-2008, 04:32 PM
I have been fighting it all night and I have something gobletty shaped now but still wrong. Blender is doing my head in. It always always always gives you what you don't want. Heres another two examples. I have spun the goblet and its highlighting the original edge that I used to spin it with. Ok no problem so I delete that and remove double verticees. Then I look at the normals. They are wrong. It seems as though the original faces from the spin are still in there. So theres no option of spinning without doing endcaps to the spin. So now I guess I am supposed to go in and hand pick out all the tiny faces and delete them ??? Even if I do this then the normals are still wrong. Theres a tut I found on doing a goblet just like I was doing here.

If you look at the image with the aqua lines then why are the normals on the rim pointing down ? Thats what I get too.

So I do a recalc normals which get them right even though it created the damn faces and should have calculated them right all by itself. They are wrong around the seam because I cant be assed to go in there and delete all the bitty edge ones so lets focus on the goblet where its now correct.

In the tut he puts on a sub surface which is a bit overkill. So I went to mesh, edge, subdivide smooth. It subdivides it but not smooth. The angles for the cup are all faceted. I tried again with the object set as 'smooth' and its still the same. I mean how bad can this UI get ?

Here is light wave goblet and then subdivided smooth and blender subdivde smooth.

I'm getting real frustrated with blender to the point where I am probably going to use it just as a renderer and consign it to the garbage for modeling cos its riddled with bugs or stupid stuff that could easily be fixed if only they could be bothered.

Sorry for derailing your thread. Ill discombobulate my goblet right now... ;)

10-31-2008, 05:20 PM
aha! I have discovered de secret of de spinner!!

Using the Spinner in Blender:

The spin tool, if used correctly, is actually very simple. Hopefully this will allow you to use it effectively.

1) Open Blender, and delete the square, or open your image if you want.

2) This is the MOST IMPORTANT PART. If you get this wrong, or any part about it, it will mess up your image. First, something you need to know. Have you ever noticed that little target like thing? The one that if you just click with your LMB on the 3D screen, it moves to about where you click? THAT is the all important secret to the spinner. So before you create your object that your going to spin, be sure to do this.


1} Use the 2 and 8 buttons to change your view so that your look straight down. Now click somewhere, about the center of where your object is going to spin. Its okay if its slightly off. I like to line it up with the red and green lines, or about.


2} Now change your view to a side view. If you dont have your object that your going to spin, then create one. The object your going to spin has to be COMPLETELY AND TOTALLY FLAT. It works best if you make your object out of a bunch of planes. For now, if you dont have an object, rotate your view to the side (so that the grid just looks like a flat line) and then hit the spacebar and choose Add--> Mesh--> Plane.


This is how your thing should be looking, with the target thingy about in the center of your plane, no matter what view your in.

3} Now use your arrows to get it complete lined up with the little target thing, rotating your view to the top if needed.

3) Now once its all lined up, with the side thats in the center also lined up with the other 2 lines, with the plane still selected, change your mode Edit Mode


4) In edit mode, hit Cntrl+Tab and choose Vertices. Now hit the AKey to deselect all vertices, then hit it again to select all of them.


5) Now to use the spin tool. Take your view back to an overhead view if your not, and then under the spin tool, set Degr to 360, and then click the [b]Spin button[b/].



Walla! You should now have it spun all the way around! If it ends up with gaps between segments, then your object was not a plane to begin with, and it wont work right. If you want (I actually have no clue what this does) hit the Akey to deselct all, then hit it again to select the entire thing again, and hit the Rem Double button.

Here are some pictures of my outcome:

http://i238.photobucket.com/albums/ff55/bryguy336/spun.png http://i238.photobucket.com/albums/ff55/bryguy336/done.png

10-31-2008, 05:41 PM
Originally I dont know what I was doing as I was doing that which you described and it came out totally garbage.

Once I had it giving me goblet shapes like you have described I was doing what you are describing but that is wrong. What you are describing is what I would say is the logical and sensible thing to do and is the way light wave does it.

You see if you now switch on the normals using the Mesh Tools 1 panel in edit mode buttons window and set the normal size to 0.5 or 1 or something sensible you will see that you have some extra ones at the join because there are hidden faces there. These faces point into the middle of your new shape and destroy the outside surface.

You see you used a plane which is a 2D solid. The spin tooltip describes it as a rotary extrude which in my mind needs a 2D solid to extrude from to create a 3D solid right ? Well it seems the blender devs disagree. What you need to do is create 4 edges to that plane and not have any faces in it. Then when that spins it creates the 2D outside surface as extrusions from the 1D edges. Then there are no caps to it so you do the remove double and it stitches the final points together and makes it seamless. Then a recalc normals seems to still be required for some bizarre reason and your done. Solid with no dodgy internal end caps.

Had you have spun less than 360 deg then you would need it to be a solid so that the ends were capped.

It seems to me that everything with blender is a fight to the death. In light wave if you spin less than 360 it keeps the end caps and if you spin 360 degrees then it joins it up and removes them for you. Exactly what you would expect.

What blender is doing is the literal digital 3D process described. Light wave does the physical manifestation of what your asking for. That's why I am having a hard time with this app. In that light neither of them are showing bugs but I want the physical effect simulator not a math sequence processor.

10-31-2008, 05:57 PM
Ok its even more weird than that it seems. I did exactly as you tried and used a plane and shifted it side by a bit and spun it into a square donut. Flawless.

Then I do again, take a plane, but this time did like the tut said and deleted 3 of the points and then added my own new ones with ctrl + LMB and made a shape, connected that shape up with faces and then spun that.

This time it did have the extra bits and if I show you what happened after the remove doubles and a recalc normals then it messes up on the faces around the join. I deselected all and then used 'select non manifold' and its highlighting the edge showing that there are hidden faces in there.

I am at a loss to know whats going on now. It seems that to be sure, use edges only and it definitely works but if you use a face then it might not get rid of the join part correctly.

10-31-2008, 06:33 PM
now you've managed to get me completely confused :? :shock: :x

10-31-2008, 07:19 PM
Well what blender likes is to have a ring of edges and spin them. Imagine that you have one of those large thin hoops dipped into detergent water then you hold it out and spin in a circle. The edge ring forms a donut as its extruded out like the soap bubble forming out of the back of the hoop. If you could join the start and end together you get the donut as a hollow loop.

What we have been doing is more like getting a solid rubber pipe and bending it back on itself so that the ends come together to make a donut. At the point the two end touch blender has two circles of virticees. What should happen is that those end faces vanish and the rubber pipe is a single donut again. You had two sets of circular virticees so when you 'remove double' one of them vanishes leaving you with a nice clean continuous surface.

Whats actually happening is that you can get a hollow donut shape but with the ends still left in so that at the join your surface splits so that in one direction is continues the loop and the other direction it cuts across the join.

When a surface splits thats called 'non manifold' and its not mathematically good to have that in 3D modeling as you don't know which side is the outside any more. Boolean ops as well as extrudes and more spins will all start to go bad or the app will start bitchin. You need to fix that split which is pretty hard - well tedious at any rate.

So use a loop of edges not a flat 2D shape to spin with. At least thats what its suggesting is the right thing to do - im still wildly nooby with this app.

Its good to have some extra heads to bounce ideas off of tho. Its a pity we didn't have several people pile and and try out stuff and we could all work it out as a group. I know Su-Liam and Torq have used it to some extent but I dont know how much in either case.

08-29-2009, 11:19 PM
I'm having trouble. When I try to duplicate one wing, it ends up duplicating all objects. Before going into Object Mode, I have the one face selected.

What am I doing wrong?