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MODELLING A NIEUPORT 11 IN 3D WITH BLENDER by KevJon
This is my first tutorial and I thought I would share some of the knowledge I have gained on modelling aircraft in 3D. I’ve decided to do this tutorial with the free Blender software (2.45) so that anybody can have a go at it at without having to outlay lots of cash. The purpose of this tutorial is not to teach you how to use Blender (although I will give plenty of tips) but to show you how I go about modelling aircraft. The techniques I show should readily transfer to any 3D software that you use. For this tutorial we will use the Nieuport 11 as an example as a lot of the shapes are relatively easy compared to WWII aircraft or modern jets although the techniques shown are equally applicable to those types. We will cover how to model a wheel, cowling, fuselage, tail plane, fin, top wing and engine crankcase. I will also show how to uvmap those items so you can texture your aircraft. I will also give some tips on how to model the rest of the aircraft if you wish to finish it off. This is the first time I have ever used Blender so there may be better ways of doing things.

Getting Started
Step 1 Download Blender 2.45 & install. Optional Download Python 2.5 for your operating system & install. Note: Python allows full functionality of the software but you should still be able to do this tutorial without Python. Step 2 Download these 3 PDF files which teach you the basics of the interface, keyboard shortcuts and have some tutorials that are well worth going through before you start modelling aircraft. The Blender manual is also extremely handy reference and is available from blenders help menu. Some very good reading on blender which explains things about the program really well and in simple terms with plenty of great tips. http://www.scifi-meshes.com/forums/dojo/ Look for “Blender for the Faint hearted” 01-09. Step3 Download Nieuport 11 Plans. Once download I opened the blueprint in photoshop and saved it as greyscale jpg file. I then extracted from that file the top, front (with cross sections) and side views and saved them as separate files which are then loaded into blenders windows as background images for modelling. Step4 Divide up your blender interface into 4 3D view windows + 1 buttons window (on the right). The first of the PDF’s in step2 shows how to split up windows. The way to do it is to right click on the joints between windows and split them by dragging the cursor which creates more windows. Set the view of each window as follows. Upper left (top view), Upper right (front view), Bottom Left (side view), Bottom Right (perspective view). The top, side and front views should also be set to orthographic. You can maximize any of those 4 views to fill the screen by hitting the Ctl+up arrow and then go back to 4 view by Ctl+up arrow. Once you’ve done that you go to file menu and save as default so that all new blender files you create will look like Figure 1. This saves setting it up all the time.

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Fig 1.

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Setting up the Blueprints
Setting up the blueprints is relatively straightforward. This tutorial shows how to do it. Top view of aircraft is inserted as a background image in top 3D view. Then do the same for the side and front views. I moved the background image using the X and Y offsets so the centre of the fuselage is in line with red, green and blue viewport dividers. Place the 3D cursor on the tip of the centre of the propeller in the top and front views (red and white circle in the image above). Then move the background image of the side view to align the tip of its propeller with the 3D cursor. This ensures that all 3D views are aligned in 3D space so when you start modelling objects it should align with the blueprints. Note: It is important that you set the size of the background image correctly as per the tutorial so they all end up the same scale in Blender. Once you have your blueprints setup it should look like Figure 2.

Fig 2.

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The Tyre
I’ve decided to start with the tyre as this is one of the easier shapes to create. Align your 3D cursor with centre of the wheel in the front and side views. Spacebar->Add->Mesh->Torus. I chose 1 for dia and .15 for inside dia and then 8,8. I can’t seem to find a way to modify the parameters of the Torus once it is created so it is best to make it proportionally the right size from the start and this m ay require a couple of goes. Note: For circular items like wheels and cowls, I usually make them 8 sided but you could go down as low as 5 which will still give a nice smooth circle once subsurf is applied. Once the torus is created go back to object mode and scale wheel to dia of wheel on blueprints. (See Image). Note: how the blueprints fit neatly inside my 8 sided torus, this is required because the subsurf modifier tends to pull everything in. Then click on add modifier from button panels and choose subsurf and set levels to 2. This will then give us a nice smooth tyre. Figure 3.

Fig 3.

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The Wheel Hub
Wheel hub is a pretty easy thing to model. For the tyre we used subsurf to round it all out and make it smooth. I’m going to model the hub without using subsurf just to show other techniques that can be used to model details. Not everything you model needs subsurf applied to it. Go to side view Space->Add->Mesh->Cylinder. I chose 48 sides, 1 and 0.2 for the parameters. Go to front view and select all the faces on the outside face of the wheel hub and extrude 4 times with the E key. Go to the side view and scale the cylinder down to match the dia of the wheel hub. Select the tyre and press the H key to hide the tyre while your work on the hub. Alt H will unhide the tyre later on. Go to front view and select the two end rows of vertices with the B key. and scale them down to the dia of axle protrusion. Unhide the tyre and then Move and scale vertices as required for the rest of the hub until they match the blueprint and tyre. Figure 4

Fig 4.

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Copy the wheel (so we get two). There are two ways to copy the wheel. 1. make a copy (Shift + D) 2. make an instance copy (Alt + D) The difference is that if you use the instance copy, then changes you make to the original wheel will occur in the other one which is what we want in this case. Go to front or top view -> select wheel hub with RMB -> Alt+D (make instance copy) -> X (allows you to move it along the X axis) and click where you want it to match the plans. Now we want to rotate the new wheel hub so it is facing the right way. Go to top view -> Select hub ->R,Z and then type 180 (readout on bottom left corner of window) -> Enter. What this means is that you have pressed R for rotate command and Z to rotate around the Z axis and 180 is the degrees we want to rotate it. Repeat this for the tyre and align the tyre and wheel hub of the new wheel with the plans. You now have a pair of wheels. Its good to get used to using the axis constraints when moving (G), scaling (S) and rotating (R). So to move something along the X axis press G and then X, to Rotate something around the Y axis press R and then Y. You can then type in coordinates for exact moves, rotates and scales as we did above when rotating the wheel hub. Fig 5 & 6.

Fig 5.

Fig 6.

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Cowling
There are many ways to tackle this particular cowling but it is a slightly tricky shape due to the cut off at the bottom of the fuselage (no doubt for engine cooling). I’ve decided to model the cowling with a low poly cage (24 sided cylinder). We’ll then delete half, mirror it and apply subsurf levels 2 To begin Place your 3d cursor on the rear centre of the cowling. Go to front view and create a cylinder. Space -> Add -> Mesh ->Cylinder. Use 24 sides. Go to edit mode then front view and delete the central vertices of the front and back faces which will create a open ended cylinder. Scale the cylinder so the straight edges are tangent to the cowl dia. The blueprint of the front of the cowl fits neatly inside the cylinder. Then enter edit mode (edge) and Alt + Click the front edge of the cylinder which will select a loop of edges all at once rather than picking edges one by one. Go to the side view and hit E to extrude and Y to extrude along the Y axis. Do this a 4 times. Then go to front and side view and move and scale vertices to match the blueprint so the cowling. looks like fig 7.

Fig 7.

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Cowling - You only need half (symmetrical modelling)
At this point add a subsurf modifier to the cowling (level 2) and check that your cowling shape matches the blueprints and any reference photos you have. Adjust the low poly cage until the high poly subsurf matches the blueprints. Once it does you can delete the modifier by picking the cross in the modifiers section. Go to the front view and delete all the faces on the left side of the cowling so you only have half a cowling. Edit mode>faces hit B key to draw a rectangle around the faces you want and then delete faces only. Now apply a mirror modifier to the remaining half of the cowling and presto you have a whole cowling again. Note: Mirror modifier is in the same spot as subsurf modifier. You can now delete the faces at the bottom of the cowling and you’ll see your work also happens to the mirrored half. Fig 8. This is one of the best things about 3D where you only need to model half of symmetrical objects and let the computer do the work for the other half. Now we have a very ragged edge at the bottom of the cowling and this part we need to fix up by tweaking the individual vertices and welding vertices and adding new edges and faces as required.

Fig 8.

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Cowling - Mesh editing
The next step I can’t really explain in any detail but my image will help you understand the mesh you need to achieve. What I did was moved vertices around welded some together (Alt M). I also extruded some new edges as required (E) to create new faces. The two thin edges I created on rear and bottom of the cowl with a bevel script. I selected the edges at bottom of the cowl (Alt + RMB for a loop) -> Mesh ->Script ->Bevel Centre 0.02. I then did the same for rear of the cowling. I did these two things after applying subsurf (Levels2) as I noticed the bottom corner of the cowling bends which is not what we wanted here. Note my cowling is all quads (no tri faces) which makes subsurf behave a lot better. Fig 9

Fig 9.

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Cowling - Finished
Here is the final result after applying subsurf modifier (levels 2) to my cowling. Fig 10

Fig 10.

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Fuselage - Creating the cross sections
Creating the fuselage cross section guides is a step that is not strictly necessary for the Nieuport 11 as it has a pretty simple fuselage shape but we are going to do it anyway. The reason being that when you come across more complicated fuselages they are very handy to have them in place. It is also good to know how to work with bezier curves as they have many uses and can be a real time saver for some modelling tasks. Later on we’ll create the engine crankcase with them. Go to the front view (where your cross sections of the fuselage are and zoom into Section A and then put your 3d Cursor at the centre of the fuselage where the two datum lines intersect (next to the A). Now add a bezier curve with Space ->Add->Curve->Bezier Curve. This will create a curve with two points. Align one end point with the top centre of the fuselage and another in the 2 o’clock position. To create more points to complete the shape select the end point and hit the E key. To align the curve with the plans you’ll need to rotate R, move G and scale S the bezier handles which will take some getting used to. To make corners on your curve (at bottom of fuselage) Highlight the vertex and hit the V key which will make it straight. Attached is a image of how I did section A which will give you and idea of what is involved. Once you have the curve aligned with the plans copy the curve Shift+D then Esc and then mirror the copy around the X axis by hitting Ctl + M and then X. Now you should have the full fuselage cross section shape. Select both shapes and hit CTL+J to join them together. Fig 11.

Fig 11.

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Now move the object to the front view and align it and do the same for the side view. Then go back to the front view and go to the object menu ->snap->selection to grid. This will snap our section A to the centre of the grid for perfect alignment. This assumes your blueprints are centred on the grid axis if not then skip this step and align them by eye. Now repeat for the other sections. As these plans don’t show us where the sections should align with side view I have guessed their location based on the size of the cross sections, so this should help you place yours in the correct spot. Here is how it should look when finished. Fig 12

Fig 12.

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Fuselage - Basic Low poly cage
We are going to model the fuselage with a low poly cage and apply a subsurf modifier to it. To begin the fuselage there are many ways you can do it. You can start with cylinder primitive, a plane or a box primitive. All of them will work. Instead I’m not going to do any of those things, I’ll start the fuselage by making a copy of the cowling mesh which will allow me to get the top front of the fuselage aligned with the cowling. Select the cowling and Shift+D to make a copy and then mirror Ctl+M around the Z local axis. Then delete the subsurf and mirror modifier from the copied cowling (which is now our fuselage). Then enter edit mode and delete all the faces except the top 3. see Fig 13 edge of the cowling by Move G,Y. . Then align those faces with the back

Fig 13.
Now select lower edge and extrude it E key to create the fuselage side and then extrude again to create the fuselage bottom. See Fig 14

Fig 14.

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Now select the rear edges of the fuselage Alt + click edge and the E to extrude to the next cross section. Then scale and move vertices as required to match the cross section shape. I made heavy use of the XYZ constraints while moving and scaling. eg Scale is S, X scales in the X direction to move in the y direction press YM. To extrude edges in the Y direction press E,Y. Its the best way to keep things straight. An easier and more intuitive way to constrain objects to X,Y,Z axis while moving, scaling and rotating them around is set your pivot point to active object and then click on the X Y or Z axis of the transform manipulator to move, rotate or scale in just that axis. Now we have created the basic half fuselage shape. I already know from experience that is this mesh won’t give me the correct fuselage shape when subsurf is applied. We are going to have to put more edges and bevels into the fuselage in order to get subsurf to deform it to the right shape. I always get the basic shape in first to keep everything straight and aligned and then dice it up further and tweak vertices later on. Fig 15.

Fig 15.

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Fuselage - Finished low poly cage.
Some further edges where made to the fuselage mesh with knife tool K. I first select faces and the press K to draw a line in the mesh where I want the cut from top to bottom of fuselage. To know where you need to put the cuts takes experience as subsurf modifier wants to round everything off. So you need to examine the fuselage from the front and sides and apply cuts where you are not getting edges tangent to the lines of fuselage. You will also need additional cuts where you want sharper edges or to stop subsurf rounding other parts off too much. It takes experience which you can only learn by practice but if you don’t get it right, you can always slide vertices and edges around or add more till subsurf gives the shape you need. I then cut out the cockpit also by selecting faces and using the knife tool to follow the opening in the side view. Last but not least I selected the edges at the top and bottom of the flat fuselage sides and applied the bevel centre script Space-Mesh-Scripts-Bevel Centre 0.2. Then it was just a matter of tweaking some verts by moving to the right position and doing a bit of welding of verts around the cockpit after applying the bevel to make everything quads again. You can then apply a mirror modifier and subsurf modifier to see how it looks in high poly. Fig 16.

Fig 16.

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Tail plane
As the tail plane is flat on top and bottom we only need to create a top quarter of it. This can then be copied and mirrored to create the bottom half. We would do this for both the stabilizer and elevators. If the tail plane had a airfoil shape we would create it the same as the wing (which we’ll get to). To create the tail plane I placed 3d cursor on the centre of the tail in the side view and aligned with the centre line of the fuselage in the top view. I then create a cube primitive and deleted all the faces except the front, rear and top faces of our stabilizer. These were then extruded, cut and welded as required to create the low poly mesh shape (see attached image). Mirror Option 1 You can then make a copy (Shift+D) and mirrored it (Ctl+M) around the Z axis to create the underside surface. Now we have top and bottom of half a stabilizer. Next step is to join them together so select both and Join (Ctl+J). Then enter object mode and select all vertices and then W key to remove doubles. What this is does is welds the vertices of the two halves together to create a single vertex at the seam which will them make subsurf behave correctly. In my case it removed 12 vertices which is correct for my mesh. Mirror Option 2 Alternatively you can use the mirror modifier set to Z axis and then apply button to weld and join them together in one hit. This assumes you know how to align the centre of the mesh (pink dot) exactly where the seam is. You can do this but putting the 3D cursor exactly on the seam and then F9 and check the button centre to cursor which moves the centre dot to the cursor. At this point it is worth copying our stabilizer and mirror it around the Y axis to create the elevator. Then it is just a matter of tweaking the vertices of the elevator to the correct plan view shape and make additional cuts in it so subsurf rounds it all out nicely for us. Fig 17 & 18

Fig 17 Elevator.

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Fig 18 Stabilizer.

Fin
Set the 3D cursor to the centre line of the fin in top or front view. Once again I started with a simple cube and deleted the faces I didn’t need and starting extruding it till I had the shape shown. Then our normal mirror and subsurf modifiers (levels 2) are applied to create the other half. I decided in the end to include the fin in the tutorial as it demonstrates a problem with subsurf at 90 deg bends. This wireframe shows a good way to deal with it with. Note the edges you need to stop subsurf rounding off the inside corner too much. At this point it is probably a good idea to check some photo reference on the Nieuport and decide whether you fin and tail plane is too thick or thin. Scale in the correct axis till it looks about right.

Fig 19 - Fin

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And here is how our Nieuport 11 is looking so far. Fig 20.

Fig 20.

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Wings
I always do wings from 12 sided cylinders. It seems to work well for WW1, WWII and most Jet age aircraft. There are some blended body jet aircraft where it may not be suitable. Align your 3D cursor with centre line of the fuselage in top or front view and centre of the upper wing in side view and create a 12 sided cylinder in the side view. Delete both front and rear faces of the cylinder. Now scale the cylinder in the Z and Y axis until it is as wide as your wing and roughly as thick of your wing. Now we tweak the vertices to approx airfoil profile as shown on the attached image. It is a good idea at this point to add a subsurf modifier before we tweak vertices to final position so we can see how the wing airfoil will really look once this is applied. If not quite right then tweak the verts some more. You can now either suppress the subsurf modifier while you work on the rest of the wing by pressing the cross called “enable modifier during interactive display” or delete it while we work on the low poly cage. I chose to suppress because it is easy for me to turn it off and on as I need to check things as I progress with the wing. Fig 21

Fig 21.

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Wing 2
Fig 22 shows how the wing progressed. I dragged the vertices of my original wing shape out to the wing tip. I did this to keep things straight. Note where the cursor is in this window. I placed the cursor approx on the front vertex of the front tip of the wing and then went to object->snap->cursor to selection. This will snap the cursor on the vertex. I then set my pivot point to cursor. This allowed me now to scale the wing in plan view from the cursor along the Y Axis. I then added cuts in step 2 and used the same scaling technique for the mid point of the wing and the start of the wing cutout. The rest of the trailing edge verts at the wing cutout where moved into position.

Fig 22.

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Wing tips.
In plan view, I grab the 3 edges at the front of the wing and extrude them around and then weld them to 3 edges at the trailing edge of the wing. I then go to the front and side views and scale sets of verts down and move as required till we get a good smooth transition of polygons from the front of the wing to the trailing edge. Fig 23

Fig 23.

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Wing Completion
Here is the completed low poly wing after adding additional cuts to it to get subsurf to match the plans. I do have a triangle in there but doesn’t seem to affect the surface when subsurf is applied which is the main thing. You could also model the washout in the rear of the edge near the tips by moving groups of vertices around...just depends how far you want to go with it. With the ailerons there are a couple of ways to do it. 1. Fake it with textures (by far the easiest) 2. Cut them out of the high poly mesh and add more polygons to close up the gap where the cut was made. Then remodel the aileron with a low poly mesh which has been started with a copy of the low poly wing. 3. Cut them out of the low poly mesh and model the ailerons separately. Most guys use option 3 however I find getting a nice crisp 90 deg corners is difficult to do with this option as subsurf wants to round everything off so I use option 2. Layers This brings up another issue about file management in blender. Blender has 20 layers. To move objects to another layer which you can turn off and on you need to select the object and press M and then select the layer you want to move it to. The reason I bring up layers is that I keep a layer for my cameras and lights. I then have another layer for all my low poly meshes. I then have another layer for copies of the low poly meshes that have been collapsed to high poly. You might have other layers for details, engine etc. Using layers are just a good way to manage all the objects in your scene. It isn’t implemented very well in blender as you can’t give your layers meaningful names but it is usable. Fig 24.

Fig 24.

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Engine Crankcase
For the engine crankcase I just wanted to show yet another way you can model up some parts. Set your 3D cursor to align with centre front of the propeller shaft. Draw the profile of the engine crankcase with a bezier curve in the side view. Change some points to straight sections as required with the V key. Set your 3D cursor to snap to the end point at the propeller shaft and set you pivot point to cursor. Exit edit mode and go back to object mode then press Alt+C and convert your bezier curve to a mesh.Enter Edit mode again and you’ll see you now have a lot more vertices and all the bezier handles are gone. On the straight sections you can convert a lot of the vertices into one by selecting them and Alt+M collapse which will reduce unnecessary polygons in your mesh. Select all your mesh curve with A and press F9. Go to the front view and Under mesh tools is a spin button. Enter 360 deg and 48 steps and then click the Spin button, a question mark will come up and then click the front view and like magic its done. Fig 25 Spin Dup is another interesting tool. For example create a engine nut on the front of your crankcase with a 6 sided cylinder. Then use spin dup to create 20 copies in a circular pattern.

Fig 25.

Our finished model ready to be uv mapped.

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Finishing off the rest of the aircraft.
That now concludes what I want to show with modelling. As you can see many shapes can be created with 1. Standard primitives (such as wheels, tyres, axles, struts and cables) 2. Low Poly Mesh with mirror and subsurf modifiers for complicated shapes such as cowlings, fuselages, wings and tail planes. 3. Bezier curves converted to a mesh for engine crankcases and engine cylinders. Some further tips on how to model the rest of the aircraft if you want to finish all the modelling of your Nieuport 11. Lower wing - I’d make this the same as the upper wing and then once you have the shape right rotate it in the front view to get the correct dihedral. Mirror to create the other one. Struts - Use a 24 sided cylinder and scale the rear half of it (in top view) to get the airfoil shape. They also could be done with low poly cage and subsurf applied. Try both and see what is easiest for you. Cables - 12 sided cylinders. Control horns on rudder, elevators and ailerons - just use cubes and use the knife tool to put more edges in it and move vertices as required to create the shape. Cowling fairing - Start with cylinder and delete unnecessary faces and form to shape by extruding edges and moving vertices and add subsurf modifier. Propeller - Created similar to the wing with a low poly cage. Rotate vertices in plan view to get the twist in the prop and finish with a subsurf modifier. Machine Gun - Use a combination of cubes and cylinders to create it. If you want to go super detailed with it then you might consider adding subsurf modifier to some parts. Fuselage Detailing - If you want to cut the holes for the step, cables, exhaust etc. It is best to do this on the high poly mesh. So make a copy of your fuselage and put it on another layer. Collapse that copy to high poly by applying the modifiers to your mesh. Go to front view and delete half of your high poly mesh so your have a high poly fuselage half. Cut all the symmetrical details into your mesh with the knife tool and detail as required with extrudes and moving vertices. Then add another mirror modifier and apply so you have a whole fuselage again. Then cut the non symmetrical items into your mesh such as the pilots step. Ailerons - options described in previously in wing. The last thing I wanted to show is how to UVMap the aircraft which allows us to apply textures to our model. The textures are created in a paint or drawing program such as Gimp (which is free), Photoshop or Paintshop Pro. There are probably quite a few others out there as well.

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UV MAPPING
UV Mapping places coordinates on our 3D models so that textures can be applied to the surface. The textures would include such things as camouflage and markings of the aircraft (color texture), specular texture (grayscale) and bump map texture (grayscale) for panel lines and rivet surface details. Before uv mapping I strongly suggest you save a copy of your file and do the uv mapping in the copied file. Hide all the objects that you don’t want to apply textures to by putting them onto a layer you can turn off. I generally don’t uvmap small details but just apply colored materials instead. All the meshes that you want to apply textures onto will need the mirror and subsurf modifiers applied to them which essentially means that everything is now high poly. With aircraft you really want to planar map everything. Other types of uv mapping is spherical, cube, cylindrical etc. Once all the uv’s are complete and a image of your uv layout is saved out to a separate file you can then use the colored materials to select faces which you can then detached from the mesh using the P key. You would probably only need to detach faces associated with elevators, rudders and ailerons to separate meshes so they can be moved to suit various renders. I guide to planar mapping the parts of the Nieuport 11 we have built so far is as follows. Fuselage - Top, bottom, left and right. Cowling (Nieuport 11) - Front, left, right and top Wing - Top and Bottom Stabilizer and elevator - Top and Bottom Rudder - Left and right. Tyre - Left and Right Wheel - Left and Right. Attached is an example of how I have gone about it with the Nieuport 11 parts see Fig 27. The compound curved shape of the aircraft has been broken down into flatish pieces (for planar mapping). Note how I align the fuselage pieces and wing pieces which make it easier to draw panel lines and rivets across the different planar mappings. Fixing Normals Before UV Mapping it is a good idea to run ctrl+n keys combo on all your meshes. It “Recalculate normals outside” which ensures all the faces point outwards rather than inwards. It is ABSOLUTELY necessary to use it after any mirroring, or negative scaling operations (not mirror modifier), because Blender also mirrors normals. Marking edges To isolate a object so you can work select the object and hit / key Mark seams - select edges Alt+RMB and then click Ctl+E mark seams. Do this for all parts for the aircraft. Once the seam is marked it will become bold and orange see Fig 26. Join the mesh Select the fuselage and then select all the other objects to be uv mapped and Ctl+J to join them into one big mesh. Set your cursor to the centre of the grid in both top and side views and Shift+S -> snap cursor to grid Select the one big mesh and go to mesh tab and click centre cursor button which snaps the centre point of the mesh to the cursor. Now click N to bring up the transform dialog box. Not down on paper any rotations in the X, Y or Z axis. This will be very important for later on to reassemble our mesh after we break it apart.

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Pulling the model apart for UV Mapping. Select the aircraft and go to uv face select mode Click a face inside the marked edges of the part you want to separate for uv mapping and press Ctl+L to select all the faces in that area. Then go to edit mode and hit the P key to detach that part. Repeat for all parts. Now your aircraft should be broken up into many parts that will be planar mapped. Laying out all the parts for uv’s. Select objects to move or rotate. Set transform orientation from global to local (to make thing easier to rotate and move) and pivot point to centre. Move and rotate all parts so they are laid out into a nice square and all the faces of the objects point up (or towards you) in the top view. I made heavy use of accurate transform by typing in numbers of 90, -90, 180 degrees for rotations and using G,X Y and Z for moves. Creating the UV’s Split your screen in two so you have two windows. Top view and uv image/editing window. Select a part, go to face select mode and select all the faces of the part. Then click U and “project from view” and the uv’s should show up in the uv window. Then go back to object view and Repeat for all the other parts. Important: You need to systematic about it and ensure you don’t forget any parts. If you are unsure if you have done the part or not select it and go to face select mode and it should show up in the uv editing window. Reassemble your model. Set pivot to active object and transform orientation to global. Select a part and type N. Set their rotations to what you wrote down on your piece of paper before you pulled the model apart and set local X,Y,Z to 0. Your model should all be back together again. Now join you model into one mesh again by selecting all objects and Ctl+J. Now if you go to face select mode all your uv’s will be neatly lined up exactly as you laid out your model. Scaling up or down your UV’s On my model all my uvs only half filled the square so I scaled them all up till they totally filled the square. This makes maximum use of your uv’s and textures. In order to scale your uv’s select a vertex in each part of the uv editor and hit Ctl+L which will select all of that part. To scale hit S and drag to desired size and the G to move to the right location. At this point everything is proportional to each other. You can however scale certain objects larger or smaller if you have spare space so that you can add more detail to it in your textures because it is larger but I chose to leave it as is. Export uv’s for texturing. Go to UV’s->Scripts->Save UV Face Layout. I put size at 4000 which means the textures will be 4000 x 4000 pixels wide. and click Ok to save your uv’s to a tga file which can be brought into photoshop for painting over. I find 4000 px a comfortable size for photoshop to work with on my computer. If you computer is not very good you might want to export at 3000 or 2500 pixels.

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Fig 26.

Fig 27.

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Finishing off Now you can go back to face select mode and separate elevators, fins and ailerons then go to edit mode of all meshes and select all verts and press W->remove doubles to weld them all back together again. Now it is just a matter of painting your textures in photoshop or similar over your exported uv layout and then create a material with your texture and apply it to your model. Remember to set map input to UV. Default is Orco. Further Notes You can also have several uvmappings. All the main aircraft parts could be on one and all the detail parts like wheels, tyres, guns etc could be on another. You would then create two textures, one for each. For painting textures in photoshop, paintshop pro or Gimp this site is the best I’ve found so far. Simmerspaintshop See tutorials and Colors. There are also some fonts which can download that make creating aircraft codes and stencilling a lot easier.

Fig 28.

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Conclusion
This tutorial should be enough to get you started in creating aircraft in 3D for digital art or used as a basis for you next traditional painting.

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