The weekend before my first day at school (I start on the 26th of September) I gave myself a crash course on 3D modelling. I don’t know much about it, but I downloaded the 30-day trial of Maya to make sure I had a spaceship ready in time to bring to class on Monday.
Maya takes some time to adjust, as it’s a really busy interface. However, in its own way, that does make accessing a lot of tools much easier. Before actually diving in, I looked in the Help section to see what sort of tutorials might be on offer.
This is one of the sections I looked through while trying to familiarise myself with Maya.
They’re the “1-Minutes Startup Tutorials” that show you the very basics of using the program.
Overall, it took a couple of hours to understand the differences between faces, vertices, edges, etc. Fiddling with basic shapes, such as cubes and triangles, made experimenting interesting. It’s been a while since I did maths in school, but it seems like the lingo is the same. A vertex is a point where two lines (curves, edges, etc.) meet, the edge is a straight line between two vertices, while you have the flat surface (face) of the polygon shape you made.
Extruding ended up being an extremely useful tool, although I found out later from someone else that mirroring my ship would have been the best way to work. I wish I’d known that before, so I’ll have to try again at some point. Merging and welding vertices was helpful to create ramp-like polygons for the attachment of the wings. I did have some issues along the way and tried deleting faces, which doesn’t work out very well in the long run. It feels like you have to be very careful about pre-planning what sort of model you’re going to build, making sure you have enough shapes to work with, rather than just trying to tack on extra shapes as an after-though. I started doing this with the first wing, which I ended up undoing and extruding shapes properly, rather than trying to weld the shapes together.
In the end, I was inspired by the main ship from Mass Effect – the Normandy SR1. For my first foray into modelling, I thought it was all right, but there are lots of little details I would like to add on at a later point once I learn more about what tools I can use to do things like adding holes in polygons or ridges to add a more metal plating feel to the ship. It will likely also look better once we get into texturing in class.
I guess I’ll have to wait and see what the class is like and what I learn next before doing much more with the ship, but I’m sure there’s much more to improve on already!