from the author:
This article was written with Discreet's Plasma in mind. However,
as the modelling toolkit is very similar to 3ds max's, this tutorial
could be completed using 3ds max v4 onwards. Additionally, the resulting
plasma file is not provided here due to intellectual rights.
Plasma is a fully functional piece of kit streamlined, optimised
and designed for the web developer and comes fully equipped with
two renderers (raster and vector), a Shockwave exporter, hard body
dynamics and more kit than you can shake a very large stick at.
But we’re not going to be using hardly any of them, as this
tutorial is all about getting to know that ever elusive “Z”
axis. If you’re a web developer, or just getting into multimedia,
you may find that working in 3D is a daunting prospect; it need
not be. Most websites have some element of 3D incorporated into
them, but the majority is just simple geometric shapes extruded
and animated in Flash. Whilst most web developers aren’t all
that skilled in the third dimension, it is a progression that most
will have to undertake at some point, so there’s no time like
the present to get started. Tally ho, toot toot, peep peep, spiffing
plane’s geometry is quite simple. To start, we will begin
with a simple geometric shape that we can re-work and edit to
our liking to achieve the end result. Open Plasma and press
W to get to the full Quad Viewport view. Create a cylinder in
the front Viewport with a radius of 100, a Height of -500, 6
height segments and 8 sides.
the cylinder “Plane”. Right-click the cylinder and
convert to Editable Poly. In vertex sub-object mode and in the
top or left Viewports move the vertices so that they resemble
that in the screenshot. This is just a basic guide as to where
our plane’s features will be.
||Select Edge sub-object
mode and selecting the edges at the end of the cylinder. Chamfer
these slightly. Select Polygon sub-object and select the end
poly. Extrude this ever so slightly by selecting Local Normal
as the Extrusion Type and simply clicking on the extrude spinner.
Amend the Outline spinner to bring in the sides of the new polygon.
||Repeat this process
a few more times until the end of the cylinder has a rim and
a flat central piece. Extrude again and outline inwards to create
the boundary of the nose cone. Extrude out a few times, outlining
to create the curve of the cone and collapse the final extrusion
to a point.
||With the nose cone
done for now, we shall concentrate on adding detail to other
areas of the plane. Select the rear two polygons on the top
of the cylinder and extrude them. Select vertex sub-object and
target weld the inner vertices to the middle ones to create
an angled windscreen as shown in the screenshot.
||A little more complex
this time, but still the same procedure. Create the initial
part of the front leg of the plane by selecting a couple of
polygons close to the underside of the cylinder. Extrude and
target weld the vertices of the rear of the leg to create a
diagonal. Extrude another polygon before we create the “foot”
||Create the foot
in a similar manner. With the base polygon selected, extrude
and outline polygons until you have the basic shape. Then taper
in the rear of the polygons by selecting the rear vertices of
the foot and scaling them along the x-axis.
||Next we will create
more extrusions at the rear of the plane to allow us to create
additional detail. Select the rear polygons of the plane and
extrude four times by the same amount by entering an amount
in the extrude spinner’s text entry field (about 70 per
extrusion should suffice)
||In the top Viewport,
select one side of the plane and delete the polygons. This will
allow us to work on just one side for the moment as the opposite
side can be easily recreated later on when we need it.
||Create the edges
of the cockpit window by target welding the vertices to create
a diagonal line from the base of the cockpit to the top of the
plane. Continue this towards the rear of the plane and move
the underside of the plane up as illustrated. Select the edges
around the cockpit and chamfer them to create a slight ledge
||In the left Viewport,
divide the edges of the side’s rear top three polygons
to create a diagonal up to the top right of the plane. Create
edges using these generate vertices to create new polygons.
Extrude the polygons slightly and target weld the vertices at
the base of the extrusions to create a diagonal ledge at the
||Select the top rear
three polygons behind the cockpit, extrude up slightly and bring
out the vertices to create a slight lip. Perform this another
three times to create a rounded cylindrical shape, tapered at
the front end to generate the shape of the rear engine intake.
||Bring in the top
polys and extrude twice. Target weld the middle vertices as
illustrated to create a diagonal toward the rear of the plane.
To remove any harsh lines of the rear engine intake, select
the edges of the tapered engine and chamfer them slightly.
||Target weld the
fin’s rear vertices so they form a point, as shown. Divide
the edges of the rear fin, create new edged using the newly
created vertices. Extrude slightly and drag out these new polygons.
Amend the vertices of the new polygons to something resembling
a small wing.
||Select the front
polygon of the engine intake, extrude slightly by clicking on
the extrude spinner, and outline to create a rim. Extrude slightly
again and drag the resulting polygon inwards slightly. Chamfer
the harsh edges if required. Ensure the vertices line up down
the middle of the plane to create a nice seam for welding the
two halves together later on, and delete the inner side polygon
of the intake so the inside edge is open.
||Delete any rear
polygons of the plane as shown as they need to be recreated
to form a point later on. Sculpt the rear of the plane so it
is more tapered to a point by tweaking the odd vertex position
or two or moving and scaling polys or edges. Additionally, drag
the bottom vertices of the nose cone down slightly to make the
front of the plane more bulky.
||Select the polygons
at the rear of the plane and extrude them. With them still selected,
outline them to create two chamfered sections; one smaller section
toward the front of the plane and the other larger one at the
rear. On the underside, again ensure the vertices line up along
the seam and delete the unwanted polygon to create a continuous
||In vertex sub-object
mode, shit move vertices along the rear of the rear engine to
create new vertices along the seam. Using these new vertices,
create new polygons, working in an anti-clockwise manner to
ensure the polygons aren’t flipped. Clone the plane, mirror
it and attach it to the original. Select the vertices along
the middle of the plane and weld. Create vertices and polys
as before for the bottom rear of the plane.
new polys at the bottom rear of the plane, extrude slightly
and outline to create an inset. Extrude again and taper the
extrusion slightly. Perform this operation another two or three
times, and collapse the final extrusions to a point.
||As with the front
of the rear engine, chamfer the outer edges, extrude and outline
the rear polygons slightly (being careful not to create an overlap
of polygons when performing the outline) and extrude slightly.
Drag this final extrusion back inside the engine to create the
||Delete the other
side of the plane as before. Select one of the front polygons
as illustrated and extrude out. Target weld the vertices to
create an extruded triangle. Perform this again and finally
extrude the polygon outwards so it runs slightly parallel with
the plane’s hull. Chamfer, extrude and outline as before
to create an inset polygon for the exhaust. To prevent polygon
distortion, create new edges alongside the base of the exhaust
||Divide edges to
create the rough shape of the wing on the side of the hull and
create edges using these vertices to generate polygons. Extrude
and move these polygons out from the plane’s hull. Perform
another two times, then target weld and move vertices until
the desired shape is achieved. Chamfer the pointed edge of the
||Weld the vertices
of the rear of the wing as shown so they form a pointed edge.
Select the edges where the wing meets the plane’s hull
and chamfer them slightly to remove the harsh join. Add more
curvature to the front of the wing if desired by chamfering
at the same time as the wing/hull join chamfer. Add additional
edges in the wing as required to remove polygon distortion.
||To add the support
strut, extrude a polygon on the underside of the wing slightly,
outline and reposition it. Extrude this smaller polygon several
times, rotating as you extrude so the end polygon is close to
the front wheel support. Extrude slightly, delete the two adjoining
polygons and target weld them together.
||To create the wheel,
select the underside polygon of the “foot”, extrude
and inset. Amend the vertices so a rectangle is formed. Extrude
this rectangle another four times. In the left Viewport, scale
the vertices to form a semi-circular shape. Chamfer the edges
of the “leg” to remove any sharp edges as shown.
||To add a little
more character to the plane, select the chamfered polygon on
the wing and extrude it. Target weld the inner vertices to the
wing to form a point to the end of the wing. Reposition the
vertices in the top Viewport as necessary to achieve the desired
||Next we will add
the small machine guns mounted on the plane’s wing. Select
two of the front polygons of the wing, and extrude and inset
using By Polygon extrusion type. Re-shape the polygons to form
squares and inset the resulting polygons back to create a recession.
Extrude to form the gun’s barrel, then outline an extrusion
and extrude back to form an inset.
||Select the edges
of the cockpit windows and slightly chamfer them. Select the
resulting inset polygons and extrude them backwards slightly,
ensuring that no polygons overlap.
||With the majority
of out plane almost complete, we can now re-attach the other
side of the plane. Copy the plane object, mirror and attach
it to the original. Weld the seam down the middle of the plane,
ensuring that there are no overlapping polygons, two-sided polygons
or holes in the mesh.
||To add a little
more detail, select the front polygons of the plane; the area
around the nose cone, just before the exhaust pipe. Simply extrude
these polygons using Local Normal Extrusion Type to create a
slight outset of the nose cone.
||A slight clean-up
operation next. The chamfering around the cockpit windscreen
beams had left up with stretched polygons. Add additional edges
to remove the stretching on both sides of the plane and tidy
up the polygons in the middle of the cockpit by dividing the
centre edge, creating new horizontal ones and deleting the diagonal
||The wing comes to
a point, as do the vertices running to the rear of the plane.
To create one long ridge, select the vertex and chamfer it.
Delete the resulting polygon and target weld the vertices together
to form the ridge. Perform the same operation on the opposite
side of the plane.
||Create the rear
wheel by chamfering the vertex to generate a polygon. Extrude
this poly slightly, move and rotate it so it forms a slight
angle. Continue extruding and outlining / scaling to form the
shape of the wheel.
||Create the tank’s
stem the same way as the wheel, by chamfering a vertex and extruding.
Create the main barrel separately by either creating polygons
separately and welding, or create a separate cylinder, chamfer
the ends to curve them, attach and weld the cylinder to the
for each element of the plane; the hull and wings, windows,
engine intake, propeller nose, tyres (etc). Select these individual
elements in polygon sub-object mode and assign the materials
to the selected polygons. Open the render dialogue and change
the renderer to Flash Renderer. Change the style from the Global
Settings menu to your own tastes and render off the scene.
||We can also export
this model to Shockwave by selecting Publish Shockwave from
the File menu. In the Export Options box, amend the compression
settings as desired (not much compression would be required
due to the model having a low poly count). Enter a filename
and export the model. Check on View after Export if required
to see the model in a Shockwave window.
this tutorial is designed for Plasma, users of 3ds max 4 and above
should have no trouble reproducing it’s steps. Unfortunately,
unless you also own Plasma, you will not be able to perform the
Shockwave export or Flash rendering steps at the end of this tutorial.
you feel like it is going to take you longer than two hours to follow
this tutorial, split it up into chunks. The demo version of Plasma
is time limited to 2 hours per day, so use the time wisely! You
don’t want to be half-way through a process when your time
that if you want to bring the resulting model into 3ds max at a
later date, you will have to model the plane in max itself. 3ds
max does not support the Plasma file type, yet Plasma will import
a 3ds max file.
is designed for the web developer, it’s user interface is
tailored for these needs. Existing 3ds max users will notice a similarity,
yet will wonder where some items have gone! Think Photoshop or Dreamweaver
user interface and all will be well.
Flash render, add extra detail to the scene by creating some basic
Special Effect. Tracer fire can be easily created using a simple
particle system, with the speed cranked up and with a small surface
area. Link this to the Plane’s gun turrets and as the plane
is animated around the scene, the particles will be emitted. However,
particles are not supported by the Shockwave exporter.
can be created using simple tapered cylinders or cones with a noise
modifer added to randomise the positions of the vertices. Again,
if this modifier is animated, the Shockwave exporter will not support
the animation. Check the manual for more information about Shockwave
Arts Special magazine, Issue 37, September 2002.
Draper, September 2002. Reproduction without permission