This tutorial can be followed by anyone using 3ds Max 208 or later. I am using 3ds Max 2012 so the screen shots may be a little different. However the general guidelines can be followed with almost any version of 3ds Max.
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 it is a good idea to search the web and download as many images of the real thing you are going to model to use as references.
For our model we are going to search the internet for Boeing 727 airline. Google images is a great place to start, however an even better place is a website dedicated to providing free aircraft photos.
www.airliners.net Also we will need a blueprint to follow, we can get these at www.the-blueprints.com
When you have your reference images and blueprints place them into folders so you can nicely manage them while you model as shown below.
Next we need to set up our modeling environment. So to start let's create a plane in the Front viewport, it is best to create your plane to the same size as your blueprint you will be following. The blueprint I downloaded is 1380 X 664
Next is to ad our blueprint to our plane, do this by clicking on a blank texture slot and chosing bitmap as the map type.
Next search for your blueprint you downloaded and then click Assign Materiel To Selection.
Before we go any further, let's Save our work as Boeing 727 Airline in our modeling directory.
Next Right Click on your plane in your modifier stack and chose Editable Poly.
We will use the Cut command in this tutorial for our plane, so scroll down your editable poly stack until you see Cut.
Next cut your blueprint like this.
Next activate polygon mode and select one polygon you created when cutting. Then Detach it from the rest as seen here.
When your plane has been cut and detached, you should have something like this. I deleted one part because I did not need two sides of the aircraft the same.
Next arrange them like this.
Next select everything and then Right Click and chose Object Properties.
Next un-check Show Frozen In Gray and if you like you can also check Backface Cull.
The final step for our setup is to Right Click on our planes and chose Freeze Selection, this will allow us to model without selecting the background.
So to start our modeling we can use a cylinder because most airlines are cylindrical. So create a cylinder in your Front or Side view like this. Align it up with your blueprint.
Next give your cylinder a new color by applying a generic texture to it. I chose a blue color for mine.
This is a screenshot of my cylinder dimensions.
Next Right Click and chose Editable Poly for your cylinder.
Then select both ends of your cylinder and delete them, so you now have a tube.
Next activate edge or border mode and select the front end border of your cylinder.
Next while holding down Shift drag your edge foreword extruding the edge out and then use your scale command do size it to your blueprint. Keep working until you get something like this.
Do the same to the back, hold down Shift and then extrude out until you create your back end of the aircraft.
I am going to Save again but this time I will save with a nice little feature that will automatically save another version of your work with a new name, just click on the plus sign in the Save As box. This feature might only be available in 2010 and up.
Next activate edge mode, then select all the edges along the very center of your cylinder as seen here.
Then click on Connect and make a slice through the very center of your cylinder.
Next activate polygon mode and select all of one side of your model and Delete it.
Next go to your modifier tab and apply a symmetry modifier to your model so as we work on one side, the other side will automatically update.
Let's work on our cockpit area first, start by activating edge mode and select your cut button, then start making cuts according to your blueprint. When you done you should have something like this.
Next select these line and click on Remove to remove it from your model, you can also remove the extra vertexes.
Next select these vertexes and collapse each set so you only have one vertex on each point instead of two.
Next we need to make some more cuts or connections. The best way to do this in my opinion is to activate vertex mode and then use the cut tool and cut from vertex to vertex, or create new vertexes in empty space so you connect edges.
The aim here is to make sure there are no lose ends and that all ends are connected to a point.
Continue to make more cuts to ends that are not connected to anything.
The final edges made are here.
Next activate polygon mode and then select your windows as seen here. Then click on Inset and inset them a small amount, I did mine at 0.07
Next select this new polygon that was created after we inset our windows. Delete this from your model, because when using symmetry it gives bad effects with mesh smooth.
Next activate edge mode and then select the new edge that came from deleting the new polygon and move it in until your gap is closed.
Next click on Extrude, and extrude in a small amount. I used -0.05 for my extrusion.
Next with your window selected, click on the Grow button so you capture everything needed in your window.
Now Detach To Element your windows, this keeps them as part of your aircraft but separate.
Remember to Delete any inside polygons created from extruding.
Now give your windows a texture. I gave mine a dark gray with an opacity of 68.
Now apply a Mesh Smooth modifier to your model to see what it looks like.
This is our model with mesh smooth applied, and it does not look like we wanted. So to fix this we need to ad a few extra edges to our windows.
Select all these edges.
Now click on Connect to create two new edges with a pinch of 90.
Next activate vertex mode and select these vertexes at the nose of our aircraft.
Now click on Collapse to fuse all the vertexes into one, then move them together so you have a point.
Next select these edges here and apply a connection of two to the selection.
Next select your main aircraft body and give them some extra edges. I gave ten edges with a pinch of eleven. This will help us when texturing our aircraft body in Photo shop.
Next go to your shapes tab and select line for your spline. We are going to create our wings now with splines. Draw a spline shape as seen here, it is very important to keep your spline shape with even points on top and bottom so you can connect them later on.
The red line is the spline and the blue dots are where I made a point when dragging.
Next ad an extrude modifier to your spline to create the wing.
Extrude out as seen here.
Next apply an edit poly modifier, so we can edit our wing.
Next activate vertex mode and move your vertexes around so your wing follows your blueprint.
Next select the end polygon of your extruded wing and Delete it.
Next while holding down Shift drag out your edge selection extruding it until you match your blueprint design.
Next start to close the end by selecting two edges opposite each other and use the bridge command to close them.
When your wing is complete, select your fuselage and attach your new wing to it, so now you have two wings.
To help our wing keep its shape when mesh smooth is applied we will need to give it some extra edges. Do this to the end of your wing by selecting the edges and then connecting them.
With mesh smooth applied we get something like this.
Next we will create our tail fin. Start by selecting these polygons.
Next extrude your selection up to match your blueprint.
Remember to Delete the inside polygons when extruding.
Next move your tail bits together so they form one piece.
Next activate vertex mode and move the vertexes around until your tail looks like the blueprint.
Next give your tail some new edges, the bottom edge is in line with the engine blueprint.
Next select four end vertexes and move them foreword like this.
Next select the center edge and move it out as seen here.
Next we can quickly work on our back end, select the edges here and extrude them in while holding down Shift use the scale command. Then move them in so they touch each other.
This is what mine looks like with an extrusion in as well.
Next select these polygons and delete them, we will attach our engine to this part.
Next create a cylinder and place it so it aligns up with your blueprint. Mine is an 8 sided cylinder.
Next select the edges of your tail and give them two more slices, this will be where we will connect our new engine to our aircraft.
Remember to delete the insides of your cylinder.
Then make a slice through the cylinder so you can delete half of it.
Next attach it by selecting your fuselage and clicking on attach and then click on your cylinder.
Ad an extra line here.
Next select two vertexes, one from the cylinder and one from the tail and click on collapse. Do this for all vertexes on your engine to your tail.
This is what you should get when finished.
Next select the inside edge of your engine, hold down Shift and scale in then move the new edges together and then extrude in more.
Mesh smoothed engine.
Do the same as your wings for the tail fins.
With Mesh smooth applied.
Create another cylinder and place it next to the side of your aircraft, align it up with the side engine on your blueprint.
Give it two new edges.
Next select this polygon and extrude it out.
I extruded mine to 6.1 make yours to match your blueprint.
Next select the inside edge and while holding down Shift scale in, then drag in to create the inside. Do this to the back end as well.
I scaled down the back end a small bit and also rotated the engine up slightly.
Mesh smoothed model.
For our wheels create another cylinder, I used 14 sides.
Convert it to an editable poly by Right clicking it and selecting the edit poly option. Next give it a texture like dark blue or black and then select both end edges as seen here.
Next Chamfer the edges to something like this. I used a setting of 0.1 for mine.
Next give your wheel three more edges in the center by selecting the wheel center edges and give it three connections.
Chamfer them also. I used a 0.03 setting this time.
Next select the inside polygons of each chamferd edge like this.
Next extrude in a small amount, I used an extrusion of 0.069
Next select both polygon sides of your wheel and Inset them a small amount, I used 1.0
Keep extruding and inset and extrude until you get something that looks like this.
This is the mesh smoothed wheel.
Next make a copy of your wheel, move it into position and then create another cylinder to link them together.
Next go to your shapes tab and select spline, draw out your splines and then check mark Enable In Renderer and Enable In Viewoprt
Next move the wheel lifts into place and convert them to editable poly.
Next attach both the wheels, the center piece and the gear lifts so they are all one object.
Next make a copy of your wheels and position them to the back of your aircraft.
Next for the gear lifts of the back wheels, create a new cylinder or spline and attach it to the wheel, then give it two new edges as seen here.
Now extrude in a small amount. Or you can extrude out, what ever looks the best.
This is an added spline I made for the side gear bar so the wheels can be lifted up and in.
So with mesh smooth we get this.
Next for the gear bay doors, activate polygon mode and select these polygons. Next Detach To Element.
To make sure our gear door stays in shape when we apply mesh smooth, we can give it two new edges.
Do the same for the front wheels.
Now Save As so we have a saved version of our work with symmetry before we continue on to next step.
Next we are going to texture our aircraft, so start by collapsing your symmetry modifier so that your aircraft is one whole piece, you can also attach the single wheel in front.
Next apply an Unwrap UVW map modifier to your model.
Next click on Open UV Editor to see the map editor window. The checkerboard area is where all our mapping with have to be.
Next click Mapping then Normal Mapping.
Next chose Left/Right Mapping. You can try other options to see what looks best for you, however we are looking to achieve a side view like the one you see here.
Next rotate and position your two sides so they look like this.
Next select one of your wings.
Do the same as before, but this time chose Back/Front Mapping as the mapping type.
Do both wings and then arrange them like this.
Next select one of the wheels and use Box Mapping on it. This is the best option for wheels.
Arrange your wheel like this, then do all the rest of the wheels. You can overlap the wheel maps.
Another way you can do it is close out of your UV Editor and then collapse it to the edit poly modifier, then delete all the wheels you created except the one you just texture mapped and then copy that wheel over to the rest, then all your wheels are sharing the same texture space.
Next select your gear lifts and map those using the same steps. Alternately you can just use the plainer mapping options at the bottom of your UV editor.
This is the final UV Map I created.
Next click on Tools then Render UVW Template.
Next give your template a size, I like to use a larger size because you can always go down to a smaller size and keep the quality good. When you chose a size, then press Render UV Template to generate your template. Then Save your file.
Next bring your template into Photo Shop and then using your magic wand tool make a selection of all the black around your template.
Next Click Selection and then Invert to invert your selection.
Next Cut and Paste your new selection and name it Cutout. Next create a new blank layer under the cutout layer.
Next Right Click on your cutout layer and chose Blending options.
Next select stroke and give a stroke of 8 to your cutout selection.
Next Right Click and then select Merge down to the blank layer.
Before we go any further we need to Save our work, so do this now and save in your texture folder.
This is our cutout texture we just created.
Next go back into 3DS Max and select a texture slot, then go to your mapping channel and select Diffuse. Next click on Bitmap and select your new texture you created.
In Photo shop make sure you saved your texture with the cutout turned off.
Next apply the texture to your aircraft. Now every time you make a change to your texture and Save your texture the change will update on your model and you can then see what it looks like in real time.
For this tutorial I am going to create a made up aircraft called Generic Airlines. However it is a good idea to make your models as real as the real thing, so if you want, look for a photo of an airline that you would like to make, like KLM or American Airlines, or British Airways.
I will supply the Logo and anything else needed if you still want to continue making Generic Airlines with me.
So to start off, first I activate the cutout layer and use it as a guide to where I need to paint or full texture. These two gray lines will create a gray bottom for my airline.
Next I am going to create some windows, to do this get your Round Rectangle Paths Tool and create a small window like shape. Then select it and while holding down Alt copy another window next to it.
Keep on doing this until you have enough windows for both sides of the aircraft.
Next select a black color for the outline and then select a hard brush at a setting of 3. Next Right click and select Stroke Path. You could also do all of this on a new layer if you wanted and label it windows.
Next pick your full bucket and start filling your windows with black or dark gray or blue.
This is what we have so far with mesh smooth applied.
Next I created a logo to use on the back of my airline and I placed some text on the aircraft body. You can download the logo I used here.
If you need any other free textures you can also get them here.
This is the airline with the new texture.
Next we are going to make the wings gray colored, so take your selection tool and cut a selection around the wings area. Next turn off your cutout and create a new layer for your wings, then full the selection with light gray.
Next while holding down Ctrl click on the cutout layer but do not activate it. This should create a selection from the cutout layer. Next click on Selection and then Inverse, to Invert the selection. Next hit Delete so you cut away all other parts of the gray.
What is left is a clean looking texture.
I created a center part of gray for the side engines to be textured, If you did not make the side engines UV Mapped, then all you need to do is go back into 3DS Max, apply a Unwrap UVW Map modifier and edit the mapping a little.
This is the aircraft with the new texture.
This is the final texture with the wheels textured and the back fins also textured. You can get wheel textures to use for your aircraft from http://my3dtextures.com/pages/machine.html
Final model with texture applied.
Final Render done in 3DS Max with Mental Ray.