This tutorial can be followed by anyone using 3ds Max 2008 or later. Basic understanding of 3ds Max is required, I use 3ds max 2012 for the modeling of this tutorial so the screen shots may be a little different, however the general guidelines can be followed with almost any version of 3ds Max. I am also using Photo shop, but any layer based paint program should work for doing the photo shop stuff.
In versions earlier then 2011 you may need to increase the image sharpness in your viewport display. To do this, before doing any work go to customize, then preferences and click on viewport tab.
Next click on configure driver and then make sure background texture size and match bitmap size as closely as possible are checked. You will have to reset your 3ds max interface by clicking on file then reset. Now you should see your textures in the viewport crisp.
To start first we need our blueprint. You can get these many places online, however the website I visit mostly is www.the-blueprints.com they have many great blueprints all for free.
Next when you download your blueprint, save it to a directory that you will be using for modeling as seen in the image below. This will help keep everything organized. Now we will want many reference images of the real thing so we can add detail later on.
A good start is to look on Google image search and download as many reference photos of the real object you are trying to model. Another really great resource for photos of aircraft is www.airliners.net I use this a lot when modeling an airplane.
Next we want to bring our blueprint in to 3ds max. Do this by creating a plane in the front view port and make it the same size as your blueprint. My blueprint is 1521 X 1995 you can also re scale it down to fit in your view.
Next open up your material editor; create a new texture by picking a blank texture slot and placing the blueprint in the diffuse map channel, then applying it to your plane.
Next Right click on your plane and chose convert to editable poly. This will turn your plane primitive into an editable object in 3ds Max.
Next click on edge mode and select both sides of your plane, like the image below.
Next you can use either the connect tool or the cut tool and make cuts and slices across your plane, dividing your blueprint into different parts.
Your blueprint should be something like this when you are finished.
Next click Detach and detach your plane into four different parts.
When you have your four different parts they should look like this.
Next we will want to arrange them like this, so we have blueprints in all directions. Front, Top, Side.
Next Right click and chose object properties.
Next UN-check Frozen in gray and check back-face cull, then press OK.
After this Right click on the screen and chose Freeze selection. This will make our blueprints frozen in place so we will not move them around by accident. Next save your setup as Mig 29 in your modeling folder.
So the first part of modeling is going to be the engines, since we have two of them and they are almost completely separate from the main body.
Start by creating a cylinder in any viewport and arranging it like this, aligning it up with your blueprint.
Next pick a color for your modeling. I like to do this because it gives me more control over my modeling. You can choose any color, I like a gray blue.
Also convert your cylinder to an editable poly object, by Right clicking it and choosing convert.
Next delete both ends of your cylinder so it is like a tube.
Next select the back edge of your tube like in the image below and then while holding down SHIFT drag to your left so it creates an extrusion to the end of the engine.
Next select the end edge and again while holding down SHIFT, scale in to create the extrusions and then extrude inside the tube like this.
Next move to the other end of your tube and select the first two side edges, start to flatten them out as seen in the image by using your scale command and scaling on the Y axis. Do this for the top edges as well creating a box shape from the circle shape.
Next rotate it so it matches the blueprint.
Next do the same as you did for the back. Select the edges and while holding down SHIFT scale in a few times and then drag inside as seen here.
Next select all the side edges and give them a slice of -80. This is to help our engines keep their shape.
Next give your side edges more slices, I did six more. If they turn out slanted, just use your scale command and scale them on an axis to be strait.
Next we need to go to our hierarchy tab, select affect pivot only and move our pivot to the center of our blueprint.
Next we will use Symmetry to create a copy that will automatically update as we model. Apply it in your modifier list as seen here.
Next we will start on our main fuselage. Begin by creating a new cylinder in the center. Align it up with your blueprint as seen here.
Next select all the edges of your new cylinder and give them some slices as seen here. I also press ALT + X to make my model invisible.
Now activate vertex mode and scale and move these vertexes around so you get something like this.
Do the same for the front of your aircraft.
Next select all the center edges as seen here; you can easily select all edges along a path by clicking on Ring or Loop. Click on Ring when you have some front center edges selected.
Next click on connect and create a line through half of your model, so your cylinder is completely cut in half by the center line like this.
Next select exactly half of your model in polygon mode and DELETE it. We only want to use half because we will use Symmetry on it to see the other side update as we work.
Next take away the symmetry on your engine model and attach the fuselage model to your engine model, making them both use the same symmetry modifier. You can also apply a mesh smooth modifier to see what it looks like smoothed.
Next activate vertex mode and start to move your vertexes around so you get something like this. We want our fuselage of our aircraft to match the blueprint as much as possible.
Next we are going to create our wings. Select your edges and create two slices here, we want to create points from where we will extrude the wings.
Next select these polygons on the side of your fuselage.
Then extrude them out to about here. This is important because we want to get the gradual curve out to the wings, just like the blueprint.
Next part is to select only half of the polygons you originally selected and extrude them out as seen here.
Next activate vertex mode and start moving vertexes so you get a shape like this.
Next select the middle edge of your wing and pull it out as seen here. Do the same to the other side as.
Next to help our wing keep its shape when we apply mesh smooth, select all the edges across its middle and give them two slices at a setting of 90.
Next activate vertex mode and move these vertexes in following the blueprint as closely as possible.
This is what we should have so far.
Next we can work on the tails, to do this lets make it a little easier to work. Activate polygon mode and select the whole fuselage by clicking on Element mode and then clicking on your fuselage. Next scroll down to Hide Selected and click it. To get it back, activate polygon mode, scroll to the Hide section and click on Unhide All.
Next select these polygons; this will be the start of our tails.
Next extrude up, following the blueprint. Do the same as before, extruding half way then selecting only part of the already extruded polygons and extruding them further, as seen in the following images.
Select only half.
Extrude the rest of the way.
Next is to activate vertex mode and move your vertexes around so you get the right shape.
Next while still in vertex mode, we can connect some lose vertexes. It is very important to connect as many lose vertexes as possible, because they can leave undesired texturing results when not connected.
To do this, select two vertexes that need to be connected and press connect.
Next is to select the edges of our tail and give them a set of slices, 2 at 90.
Next activate polygon mode and unhide your previous selection, then activate mesh smooth and you should have something like this.
Next is the back fins, we do them just like we did the wings, select these polygons and extrude out.
Next move vertices until you get something like this.
Next select all the center edges and give them two slices like this to help hold the shape when mesh smooth is applied.
When mesh smooth is applied we get this.
Next to work on the cockpit area let’s select these polygons and extrude them up.
When extruding something on an object with symmetry, always remember to delete the inside polygons. When mesh smooth is applied and you have polygons inside, they can create a mess of things.
Next vertex mode and move vertexes around to achieve the look of a cockpit, follow the blueprint as closely as possible.
If your cockpit is like mine and it needs to be closed, select these edges and move them in until both sides connect.
Both sides are connected.
Here I created a new edge so I can connect these two points.
Do the same to the other side.
Next select your cockpit area and Detach To Element.
Next give it a new texture, something dark like glass with an opacity of 58 or 60.
With mesh smooth we get this.
The back end needs a little adjustment, so to do this activate element mode and select the whole engine and then hide it, by clicking on hide selected.
Next activate vertex mode and select these vertexes, then move them into position so they align up with the blueprint.
Next we will be creating the wheels. First of all, the blueprint I downloaded for this tutorial did not come with any wheels, if you downloaded a different blueprint with wheels, then good for you. : )
What I did to get some wheels to use as a blueprint, was to grab a photo of the real aircraft, align it up with my blueprint and then bluer out any parts of the aircraft, I would not be using. I blurred out parts of the image for copyright resigns.
So to start creating the wheels, we create a small cylinder in the side view port and align it up with our blueprint.
Next step is to select the edges of your cylinder and then give them a chamfer like this
chamfer your edges.
Next select both polygon sides, then inset them in two times, then extrude in and then select only the center and extrude this in also.
Inset two times.
Extrude in once.
Then extrude in again but only the center piece. Remember you are doing this to both sides at the same time.
Next select all three center lines and chamfer them like this.
Next select the insides.
Extrude them in, use Local Normal as the extrude type.
With mesh smooth applied, we get this.
Next for the gear poles, we will use splines.
Click on line and then draw out your gear poles as seen here. try to match up with the blueprint as best you can.
Click Enable in renderer and also Enable in viewport. This allows you to see the size and what it will look like when you convert it to editable poly. change the size to fit as best you can.
Convert to editable poly and then create some new edges and then select them in polygon mode and extrude in to create the sections of your poles, like they are pressure pipes.
Next duplicate your front wheel and create a new spline or cylinder connecting the two wheels, then we can hook our poles to the center bar.
The final result for our front wheel with mesh smooth should look like this. You can put as much detail as you like on your model, however this front wheel looks good for now.
Next we can do the same for the back wheels, copy the front wheel and create a spline for the wheel pole, then convert to editable poly. Attach wheel to aircraft body.
Here is what our aircraft looks like so far with the new wheels.
Add more detail to your aircraft anyway you like. I am going to add the air vents on the top of our wings. To do this select this section of our wings and give it seven new lines.
Next create a new line through the wing by selecting all the lines and connecting them with a new edge so you get something like this.
Next we can select five polygons to inset and extrude.
Here we are insetting them by polygon setting.
Next Delete the polygons and then select all the new edges, and extrude the edges in just a little by using the scale command.
Next while holding down SHIFT drag down so we get something like this.
Next select all your edges as in this image; you can do this very easily by selecting one edge and clicking on Ring, or Loop command.
Now apply a connect to your selection and give it 2 segments with a pinch of 80.
Now when we apply mesh smooth we get this.
Next we can create the inside of our cockpit, start by selecting the inside edge of your cockpit area. If you need to see things better you can select the whole cockpit area and hide it from view.
Next while holding down SHIFT drag down to extrude the edge until you get something like this.
Next part is to extrude the bottom part out and then connect the lose vertexes together by using the collapse button. Select each set of vertexes that need to be joined and collapse them together.
Once you have a solid cockpit area, select the whole cockpit and detach to element as seen here.
Next select all these edges along the inside walls of our cockpit area.
Give them a connection of two segments at a pinch of 80.
This is what it should look like when mesh smooth is applied. I also applied a different color to our cockpit area so we can see the difference; I chose a light brown gray.
Next we can work on the cockpit bars. Remember to unhide your previous polygon selection by activating polygon mode and then scroll down and click unhide all. Next click on shapes and select a spline, we can use an arc this time. Create your cockpit bar as seen in the image and then Right Click it and chose editable spline.
Next we want to use a modifier called Sweep. We can apply this from our modifier panel.
Next use Built in selection as Bar and chose a small amount for length and width. I used 1.14 for L and 0.54 for W.
Then convert it to an editable poly object.
Next activate vertex mode and move your vertexes around so you get a shape that follows your cockpit windshield. Next make a copy and move it to the back.
Next we are going to create some seats. Start out by creating a box like this one here, convert it to editable poly and then activate edge mode and select all the edges along the X axis as seen in the image.
Next connect them with two connections of 50 or 60.
Do the same for the other sides.
Next select the top polygons as seen here.
Next extrude two times, first one time to about this height and then next select these polygons and extrude again.
This is how high I made mine.
Next is to give your seat back two new edges like this. I also bent my seat back a little bit.
Next I selected these polygons and extruded them in a small amount.
Do the same for the bottom seat but this time extrude up.
Next select the back and front and seat edges as seen here and give them two slices with a pinch of 70.
Mesh smoothed looks like this.
Next place them in the cockpit as shown here.
For the cockpit dash we are going to make a very simple display. start by selecting these polygons and extruding them out.
Next delete the inside and rotate them up like this.
Next select all the inside edges as seen here by clicking on one edge and then clicking on Ring. Next give them all two extra connections with a pinch of 80.
Next we can work on giving our aircraft some wing flaps or ailerons, first select your wing edges like this and give them two new edges with a pinch of -80 to -90 depending on how large you want the gap to be between wing flaps.
Next select both your new polygon flaps and detach to element, also give them a new texture.
Next make some new edges for each new flap, so when we apply mesh smooth we get a nice result.
For the back tail is the same thing.
Same thing for the back tails.
This is our aircraft when our tails and wings are completed.
Next we can create the wheel doors, to do this turn your aircraft upside down by using the Orbit viewport button. Next we want to activate mesh smooth and then Right click on it and chose collapse to. Make sure mesh smooth is in between your edit poly and symmetry, so afterwords you still have symmetry on top.
Next select these polygons and then detach to element so they become separate objects but still attached, you can give them another color as well if you like, just to know where they are.
Do the same for the front wheel.
Next we can work on creating some missiles. To start create a cylinder as seen here.
Next select the back polygon and inset it.
Next extrude in a little bit like this.
Next select the other end vertexes and collapse them so you get a sharp point. If you want you can then move your point in a little bit so you get more of a round pointed look.
Next go to your shapes tab and create a spline that looks like this.
Next apply an extrude modifier to your spline selection and make it a little thicker, next convert it to an edible poly object and give both sides of your fin some new edges as seen here.
Next we want to go to the hierarchy tab and then click on affect pivot only. Next move your pivot point to the center of your cylinder.
Next click on Tools then Array.
Next click on Rotate then click on preview and next move one of the XYZ settings until you get the one that rotates in the desired direction. It all depends on what viewport you used when you opened up the Array tool.
I used the X axis and set it to 360 degrees. Then set your count to 4 or 3 or 5 what ever you want.
Do the same steps for the top part. Or just copy the ones you already made and scale them down a bit.
If you want you can select different parts of your missile and extrude them in a little to give an effect of different parts.
Next create a box on top like this.
Activate vertex mode and move vertexes around so you get something like this, next give your edges some more connections.
When you are finished you should have something like this.
Next step is going to be texturing. So to start we first need to break up our model into different parts to be textured. So first right click and collapse to so now your model is whole with no symmetry.
Also remember to save this as a new file so you can always start where you left off if you want too.
Next I am going to select just the wings, fuselage and cockpit area. I am only selecting the cockpit window, no seats or bars. Next click on detach and this time we want them to be separate objects. When texturing, if you do not have a super powerful computer, then it is best to texture like this.
Do the same to your engines.
The rest of the parts I kept as they are.
Next un-hide all parts if they were hidden, and select the fuselage first. Apply a Unwrap UVW modifier to your model
Next click on Open UV Editor.
When you are in the UV editing screen you will see your model displayed in the checkerboard box, this is your UV space. Next click on Mapping and then Normal Mapping.
Next chose Left/Right Mapping from the drop down list, you should get something like this. However you can fool around with the settings here to see if you get a better result.
Next arrange your selections like this, making both sides of your aircraft align up with each other on the top or bottom of the box.
Next close out of the editor and this time only select the wings part, then re-open the editor.
This time I used Back/Front Mapping for this selection.
Arrange them like this.
Next we will add more of our aircraft, so close out your editor and then collapse to, so you convert everything to an editable poly object again. When we collapse to, we save our uv editing so the next time we apply an Unwrap UVW modifier we start where we left off.
Do the same thing you did for the wings and fuselage. This time it is for our engines.
This is the UV set up for the back wings.
Next close out of the editor and collapse to everything again. Next select your wheels and missiles and delete half of them as you can see here. We only need to give one set texture coordinates and then copy them to the other parts of the aircraft.
So delete everything in RED.
Next attach the wheels and missiles to the main fuselage. Remember to keep the UV editing you have been working on always attach from the main fuselage and never from anything else.
So select your fuselage and then click attach and then attach anything you like. This image is of the cockpit area applied.
Next image is with the wheels and missiles done. When you are complete you should have something like this.
Next click on Tools then Render UV Template.
Next when you render your template put in your size and then click on Render. I like to use a very large size because you can always scale down if you want. So I used 4096 X 4096 it is a power of 2 also.
Next we open up Photo Shop, bring our template we just rendered and take the magic selection tool and click on any black part to select everything black. Next we want to invert our selection so we go to Select then Inverse.
Next copy and then paste your selection so you have a cut out of the template you just made.
Next open up the blending options of your cutout layer as seen here and give a stroke of 8. You can open the blending options by double clicking or Right click and chose blending options.
Next create a new layer and then Right click on your cutout layer and merge it down to the new layer. Next create a new layer under the cutout layer and fill it with a light gray color. This will be the base color of your aircraft.
Next save your texture. You can save your texture to any format you like, however I like to use TIFF because it can hold layers and at the same time you can save it very quickly just by pressing CTRL+ S
Next go back into 3ds Max and apply your new texture to your model. You can also create a glass texture so your cockpit stays see-through. The glass texture is very simple to make. all you do is pick a general texture slot, change the color to dark blue or black and reduce the opacity.
Next to start creating your texture, what you do is use your cutout as a guide to where to paint. So grab your selection tool and paint bucket tool and start painting the colors you want.
This image shows the missiles and wing decals I did.
This image is a little farther along and shows that I created the wheels, cockpit area and numbers on the aircraft.
You can use free textures from many different free resource websites, like this one here.
I used a wheel texture from this site.
The final texture is here. This shows some extra decals, some camouflage, more numbers or words and the back of the engines.
This is the final render.
This is the aircraft rendered with a background scene. The image used was from a free stock image resource site. http://www.bigfoto.com/