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Tutorial Ship Hull modeling tutorial.

Discussion in 'Ship Modeling' started by helldiver, Mar 1, 2011.

  1. helldiver

    helldiver Landlubber Storm Modder

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    Hey folks!

    So I recently got AoP2: CoAS and after playing a bit with the default game, I went ahead and downloaded the 3.2 mod pack. The folks who put it together did an outstanding job. Unfortunately some of the ships created by the mod community suffer from geometric anomalies particularly near the stern :(

    Don't get me wrong, I don't mean to insult anyone's good work, they're all fantastic! Hence why I wished to put up this step by step process for future ship modelers. I know that eventually the ships made for the PoTC Build will eventually make their way to AoP2 and vice versa. I thought perhaps some of the ship builders can get some ideas from this. I've worked in the gaming industry as a character artist primarily but I've also done environments and the like both on site, on contracts, as well as pipeline startups.

    3D Studio Max comes natural to me, so this tutorial uses 3DS Max 8. I'm going to assume Maya has similar operations. Alternatively you can start the hull in Max, export to obj, then reimport in Maya and continue from there. I'm also assuming that if you're reading this you have some experience with modeling programs and have at least made a few ships and put them in game.

    Goals

    -Model the lower portion of a ship hull with as little geometric distortions as possible.
    -Use a low amount of polygons budget.
    -Make sure that the hull stays at least 90% true to a set of ship plans. 100% should not be your goal, but somewhere between what looks good with lower polygons without geometric distortion, yet close enough to the plans. Keep in mind that most of this will be underwater, yet smoothing and shadowing errors can be seen pretty clearly above water :(

    Step 1
    I start by putting together a jig of the plan views. One jig plane for the ship lengthwise, one for the bow, stern, and the top view. The top view won't come into play much during hull construction. That becomes important later when doing the decks. I still use it since it gives me a more accurate location of the rib sections.

    [​IMG]

    Step 2
    Looking at the bow I start by placing vertices along the curvature of each Rib (marked in Green). 6 vertices per rib should be enough. You can add more later using subsurface modeling tools, although you shouldn't need it, we're trying to keep a low polycount. I maintain the spaces between them as equal as possible tapering up towards the stern. Note that at each rib I've placed 6 vertices.

    Do not follow the horizontal Deck lines (marked in Red). These are only used later when you put in actual horizontal decks.
    The Blue Panel Lines are a very good guide to follow with your vertices (mostly at the bow). Do not follow them exactly since you will need a lot more geometry to make up a hull and have it look correct. Simply use them as a guide to make sure you're more or less curving the right way.

    [​IMG]

    Step 3
    Create polygons with each vertice. You'll end up with a flat plane. This should give you an idea of your Edge Flow. Fix any vertices that aren't flowing smoothly. The lines going from upper right to lower left should flow smoothly following the curvature of the ribs. They don't have to be 100%, 90% is good enough. The lines going from lower right to upper left you want them to curve upwards towards the upper portion of the stern.

    [​IMG]

    Step 4
    Popping out the stern; since our Stern view which we plotted the stern had 8 ribs, the outer most line (edge) should line up with Rib 8 (counting from the stern). Move the edge horizontally until it is right over rib 8 on the Length wise view.

    [​IMG]

    Do the same for edges 7, 6, 5 and so on.

    [​IMG]

    Move your stern view-jig along the length of the stern you created. The ribs on the stern jig should more or less match the curvature of your newly created geometry.

    [​IMG]

    Step 5
    The bow; we'll pretty much do the same except this time well start at rib 6 counting from the bow.

    Start a new mesh by cloning the vertices at rib 8 from your stern mesh and moving them exactly over rib 6 of the bow.

    [​IMG]

    Just like the stern, we will do the same process. Note how the vertices more or less follow the planking/paneling guide lines. Since the stern had more extreme changes in curvature, it wouldn't have been a good idea to do that for the stern. The bow has a more relaxed curvature so it's OK to loosely follow the path of the paneling lines.

    [​IMG]

    Connect the vertices forming a flat gridded plane which we will pull out into a bow, placing each edge with the corresponding rib, starting from 6 then to 5 and moving towards the bow.

    [​IMG]

    Run the bow view jig lengthwise. The ribs on it should match the ribs on your hull

    [​IMG]

    I run the Top view jig over both meshes. Your top most horizontal edge curvature should loosely follow one of the central lines in the top view jig. Don't worry if the other lines (the lower ones) don't match your hull. The only way to truly check them is by slicing your hull horizontally which isn't a good idea. Either way, if you've followed the above steps your hull should be roughly 80-90% true to the plans. That's good enough for gaming; you're not submitting this to the Admiralty!

    [​IMG]

    Step 6
    Using your modeling knowledge fill out the stern and complete the bow (shown in blue). You may need additional polygons to smooth out the edges or meet the profile on the plans. On my hull I added an additional edge loop as the hull meets up with the keel. It could use another one to avoid shadow pinching, but because this area will be completely submerged and once it is textured it won't be visible I decided to leave it as is.

    [​IMG]

    Checking the mesh to the plans. You may wish to move some vertices until you have nice clean curves. Note the edge flow of the stern and bow.

    [​IMG]

    I then do a quick checker test to see if there is any geometric distortion at the bow and stern.

    [​IMG]

    There are some minor bends, but nothing big (marked red). These will go away after the model is fully UV-mapped and textured, or I can add additional edge loops to smooth the areas out. I do the texture method.

    Click to see image

    I put a wood texture I had lying around and I turn off smoothing (facets only). This allows me to check for shadowing anomalies. If I find any, I'll move vertices until the lines smooth out and then check again.

    Note that all polygons shadow more or less correctly without strange pinching, jaggedness, etc.

    Click to see image

    This entire hull was just 465 Polygons (counted by triangles), both sides welded together. You are also looking at the Viewport and not a rendered hull.

    [​IMG]

    Conclusion
    It is not a good idea to follow the deck lines when plotting either splines or vertices for a hull. The edge flow should follow the planking/paneling guide lines loosely

    Notice this model ship project, the planking follows the edge flow I demonstrate above more or less.

    Stern
    http://modelshipworld.com/phpBB2/files/110220_hull_planking_001_657.jpg

    Bow
    http://www.craftsmanshipmuseum.com/images/ColeAlert6.jpg

    Your hull edge flow should follow in the same direction and curvature as the planking of the ship you're modeling.

    Keep in mind that you will not be able to follow it 100%. You have to account for extreme curves of your model.

    Go here for the next section of this tutorial series:
    http://www.piratesahoy.net/threads/ship-hull-modeling-tutorial.17259/#post-387933

    Again, you guys do excellent work! I hope this helps you guys in your projects. If you have any questions, need more explanation, let me know. I'm not that knowledgeable with Maya, but I can answer questions regarding Max.
     
    Dario likes this.
  2. Oskar94

    Oskar94 Sailor Apprentice Storm Modder

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    Hi, thank's for the tutorial, it'll be very usefull! Have you modeled some ships?
     
  3. helldiver

    helldiver Landlubber Storm Modder

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    I have in the past, but not for mods or this game. After my experience doing an American 4-4-0 steam engine and the nightmare it was collecting data for it, I've stayed away from doing stuff I don't have good reference and data on, hehe!
     
  4. Pieter Boelen

    Pieter Boelen (Not So) Old Seadog Staff Member Administrator Storm Modder Hearts of Oak Donator

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    Thanks a lot for that, mate! There's no way that is not going to be useful, if ye get me meaning.

    And welcome to the "Modders" group. :doff
     
  5. helldiver

    helldiver Landlubber Storm Modder

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    why thanks!

    Trying to figure out why when I export using VRML and Inez's tool, the ship ends up with reversed lightning in game :(

    Feel free to sticky this if you'd like. I'll add more to it in the future.
     
  6. Oskar94

    Oskar94 Sailor Apprentice Storm Modder

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    Hi, for exporting whitout bug you have to export whit maya 5 plus plugin, they are on ftp, there is a nice tutorial for the exporting, if you have doubt ask!
     
  7. Armada

    Armada Sea Dog Staff Member Administrator Project Manager 3D Artist Storm Modder

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    This thread is extremely valuable to all modellers- it certainly deserves to be stickied! :onya
     
  8. helldiver

    helldiver Landlubber Storm Modder

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    Continuing on!

    When we last left off I had explained the edge flow (the direction of the faces on a 3D mesh) and how they were important in order to prevent visual errors in the geometry, particularly shadow errors or mesh anomalies where it looks wrong and not like how a boat should be.

    Here I continue construction up to the gunwales.

    In the first portion I made a mistake in the placement of one of the ribs at Step 5. This was mostly do to the rib not being very visible in the cruddy plans I was using. Its OK, that's where Max's graphite tools come in handy allowing me to add the missing edge while relaxing it. Unfortunately Maya does not have such a tool that I know of and you may have to manually place a missing edge in.

    Goals

    -Continue modeling the ship up to the gunwales.
    -Be able to model the gun line edge loop without running an edge through the gun ports.
    -Create a flat surface where we can later cut out the gun ports.

    Step 7

    I now grab the top most edge and pull it to the bottom line of the gun line, not the gun deck. On some ships the gun line and the gun deck will be about the same. You have to study the plans so that you can tell the difference. In my plans you should notice two lines, the gun line I marked in Green, the gun deck line is just below that and you should notice spars under it.

    [​IMG]

    Why shouldn't you follow the Gun Deck?
    If your ship has the bottom gun line the same as the gun deck, no problem go ahead and match the gun deck, if not, it is more important to follow the bottom gun line. You want the mesh of the hull (the external part) to flow smoothly while at the same time keeping a minimum of polygons. By making the gun line be its own edge loop, it will be easier to cut out the gun ports while keeping polygons under budget.

    [​IMG]

    I grab each newly created vertex and move it inward so that it matches the contour of the rib for both the stern and bow. I do this by moving the jigs to match each rib and then moving the vertices along the X axis inward.

    [​IMG]

    I check my edge flow to make sure the lines are clean, the polygons are equally spaces, and that there are no kinks in the 'wire'.

    [​IMG]

    Step 8
    I now copy this edge upward to the top of the gun line. Fortunately on this ship, that line meets the bottom of the weather deck. On some ships you'll have a gap between gun lines (like on a man-o-war). Either model this gap, or skip it and have both gun lines be one solid edge loop. Try not to have an edge going through the gun ports, that's the important thing.

    [​IMG]

    Like in the previous edge, I move the vertices so that they match the rib contour.

    [​IMG]

    Note this edge flow on the HMS Victory. It's a cross between following the Planking and the gun lines (about 50/50).

    [​IMG]

    If I was to model this ship, I would not model the gun ports and instead use Alpha to cut out the gun ports in game. I would model the doors and gun port framing separately. I'll be writing a tutorial on how to this later in this series.

    Step 9
    Before continuing on I run the jigs along the length of the hull checking to make sure it matches the contours at each rib location as well as making sure my edge flow is smooth.

    [​IMG]

    Before doing the gunwales above the weather deck I will need to make an edge connection. Max allows me to do this easily with the polygon editing tools (using connect). Maya should have something similar.

    [​IMG]

    Like the above steps, I move each vertex inward matching the contours of the ribs.

    [​IMG]

    After lining up the gunwales with the contours on my jigs, I run the jigs lengthwise checking and fixing any edge flow kinks, errors, and so on.

    [​IMG]

    Conclusion

    -As our prior tutorial, it's important to follow the planking loosely and not the decks.
    -our gun line should be one solid edge flow and none of the gun ports should have a horizontal edge crossing them.

    Finally I check my mesh smoothing. I add an additional light below to see if there are any shadowing errors. I also applied the same generic wood planking texture to see if there are any geometric mesh kinks or errors.

    [​IMG]

    Next tutorial I'll cover two methods of doing gun ports. I'll also show you how they can be done using Alpha without the need to cut your hull.
     
  9. helldiver

    helldiver Landlubber Storm Modder

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    This will be a model of the French corvette Unite (later captured by the british and renamed Surprise). The 24x8lb and 8x4lb version. So it's not technically another Surprise model...

    after it is textured and such, I will then export to OBJ and post it here so any of you guys can download put it in Maya and in game.
     
  10. Pieter Boelen

    Pieter Boelen (Not So) Old Seadog Staff Member Administrator Storm Modder Hearts of Oak Donator

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    Exporting 3DS MAX>VRML>TOOL>GM has always been known to introduce reverse lighting.
    The ONLY way to do it properly (as annoying as it is) is to pass the model through the Maya GM export plugin.
     
  11. helldiver

    helldiver Landlubber Storm Modder

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    Think you can do a step by step tutorial on how to do that? It would really help me out. You can PM it to me if you'd like, or write a good step by step process so others can use it.
    I know very little Maya, the most I've ever used it was for Mental Ray rendering and animation work, and that was like..8 years ago...

    Continuing on with the Gun ports;

    This tutorial deals with creating the stern as well as the gun ports.

    Goals

    -Be able to cut out the gun ports without using Boolean functions.
    -Cut out the gun ports while using as little polygons as possible yet maintaining the correct geometric flow.
    -Complete the stern hull portion.

    Step 10

    Before I cut the gun ports out, I completed the stern by using the same methods I described earlier. I pull the edges out and line them up with the plans, particularly the lengthwise view and the stern view.

    [​IMG]

    A picture of this area helped a lot;

    http://www.jotika-ltd.com/KitPics/LRG/Surprise_Const025_lrg.jpg

    Because of the harsh angle and how abruptly the stern planking ends at the stern counter, I had to move my vertices until they were flush and made sure my edge flow was nice and smooth. There just wasn't enough geometry to do this without geometric distortion, so I added two edge loops (purple area) to correct it.

    Step 11
    The stern counter was made by simply pulling out the edge where the stern ended. Again making sure that all polygons remained as equally spaced as possible.

    The stern counter is marked orange.
    [​IMG]

    Step 12
    When cutting out the gun ports I did not use a Boolean process. Booleans and other quick cutting methods can create strange geometric distortions, additional triangles, and can sometimes make a mess of things. I prefer to turn on Snap-to-Face and simply plot the gun port windows onto the underlying face. I then build around it.

    I start by turning on Wireframe for the texture of the hull; this lets me see the lengthwise plan view jig behind it. I also turn on Snap-to-Face and plot four vertices per window. Since I'm snapping to Face, the vertices will lay flat against the face on which the gun port will be.

    [​IMG]

    I do this for all gun ports, even the ones that are facing away from me like the ones at the forecastle. Keep in mind that because we have Snap to Face on, the vertices will lay flat against your hull contour.

    Note
    Because I'm building L'Unite, and not HMS Surprise, I will not be opening the gun ports aft of the capstan. That's a total of 17 gun ports per side for 34 guns total. These should be seen as red vertices.

    [​IMG]

    Since I plotted these vertices with snap-to-face on, they now lay flat against my hull, even the ones at the bow and forecastle.

    [​IMG]

    Step 13
    I will then build faces out of these vertices. This will make it easier for me to create geometry around them while optimizing.

    [​IMG]

    This is why it's important to not have any horizontal lines cross the gun ports. I then delete the underlying face, and build new faces around the gun port.

    [​IMG]

    If a gun port lies close to one of the vertical lines, I will build geometry straight to the gun port and essentially delete the line. You want to avoid creating extremely sharp triangles as game engines always have issues rendering them.

    Note how I ignored the vertical edges and instead built geometry connecting the two gun ports. Had I kept the vertical edges I would have ended up with faces that had really sharp little triangles.

    [​IMG]

    Some of your gun ports will lay directly over a vertical edge. Do not split your gun port in two. Instead create a triangle under and over your gun port so that it connects to the edge. I marked these with Green arrows.

    [​IMG]

    I will then detach all of the gun ports but keep the detached geometry for later use as either gun port doors, or if I need help when I do the internal hull.

    This hull is nearly finished. I apply a separate smoothing group to the entire gun line separate from the lower hull. This will also help with the bad geometry flow created by the gun ports.

    [​IMG]

    Conclusion
    -It is important to build around the gun port doors and to keep geometry at a minimum (no more than 4 faces if possible).
    -Booleans only work if you are willing to clean up the mess they leave behind, or if you're working on an extremely high-res project for rendering.
    -The gun port doors will rarely follow your established vertical edge flow. What matters is that the doors are made with as little polygons as possible.
     
  12. Pieter Boelen

    Pieter Boelen (Not So) Old Seadog Staff Member Administrator Storm Modder Hearts of Oak Donator

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    I can't; I never used Maya in my life... :?
     
  13. helldiver

    helldiver Landlubber Storm Modder

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    From here on out, I'll continue modeling the ship using the same methods as I've described above. However there are certain things I wish to impart on current and future ship modelers.

    -Keep your polygon count low. The player will not be looking at the keel/lower hull! Ever. Not even when you sink a ship do you see that part. Therefore it's OK to not spend so many polygon resources on the geometry below the water line. Instead spend those resources on detailing the deck as you will see on this ship later on.

    -Do not mold framing, wales, stern details, or anything on to the hull or on themselves. Floating geometry is alright so long as you do not have two planes intersecting.

    The Quarter Galley and stern

    I use the same technique I used to plot the hull. I place vertices flat on top of the stern jig and then pull the created faces.

    Note the low amount of polygons. The outer framing will have more polygons since they will be more visible to the player than the underlying galley body.

    [​IMG]

    I then pulled the edges of the side of the stern galley creating the sides that meet up to the hull. I make my length view jig 20% transparent. This lets me know if the quarter galley intersects the hull correctly. I marked in green dots where it is supposed to intersect and in red lines where it is currently intersecting. The final shot shows the galley correctly placed.

    [​IMG]

    I complete the quarter galley. The lower portion of it is a separate piece. There is no need for it to flow together. This lets me use less polygons if need be. On some ships it may flow together.

    Also note, that I will be making the framing as a separate piece and will not mold it into the stern galley body.

    [​IMG]

    I create the framing using the same methods shown above. First plotting the vertices unto the flat stern jig, creating polygons, and then pulling the edges so that they line up with the lengthwise plan view jig.

    [​IMG]

    I complete the framing. Each piece of the frame is a separate piece. I colored them differently so you can see how the quarter galley is made up of 5 pieces.

    I will not be molding these pieces into the quarter galley body because it would create unnecessary polygons.

    The only time that you would want to mould these details into the hull or other parts, is if you're creating a normal map or some other advanced geometry or if you're creating a character. Otherwise you only create unnecessary polygons.

    [​IMG]

    I continue the windows using the same method. The windows are composed of 5 separate pieces. If they were one solid mesh, it would be significantly more polygons. Also note that the window frames are simply boxes. It is important that each peice of the window frame does not lay on the same plane as each other. If two planes are exactly on top of each other, you will get a runtime artifact error as the game engine fights each other trying to display one plane or another.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    The partly completed stern details. Note that the window in the center is not split in half.

    [​IMG]

    Conclusion

    -You should not mold windows, frames, and details into the stern galley. There might be some situations where you'll use less polys, but in general its a better idea to keep all components seperate (the same object but seperate peices).
    -Two polygons should never lay on the same plane, otherwise you'll get artifact errors when playing the game.
    -It is ok to have floating peices make up geometry.

    This shows all the seperate peices that make up the stern. They will all be attached to the stern, but they will not be molded into the stern.
    [​IMG]
     
  14. helldiver

    helldiver Landlubber Storm Modder

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    Here's an update of the L'Unite. I'm now going to start texturing the hull so I can have good reference point when I begin to add details and such.

    3671 polygons.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
     
  15. craiggbrown

    craiggbrown Corsair Storm Modder

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    This is awesome Helldiver, do you by any chance have a version of 3D studio you could upload? [​IMG]
     
  16. Captain Armstrong

    Captain Armstrong Shipbuilding Coordinator Staff Member Coordinator 3D Artist Storm Modeller Storm Modder

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    Helldiver, (or anyone else who knows) how did you create your plan jig? I am working in Gmax and have not yet figured out how to do this, but it should be the same as in 3ds
     
  17. nightwatcher

    nightwatcher Sailor Storm Modder

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    hi ho, take a look at these vids:
    http://www.youtube.com/user/3dsMaxHowTos?blend=11&ob=5#p/c/B76018C7E2446899/6/XMMxqXP893M

    @ Craiggo:
    Did you use google on that? You can search for "Gmax"...

    @Helldiver:
    Thank you very much for this tutorial. It did great help by my HMS Revenge.
    :bow
     
  18. BLiIx

    BLiIx Powder Monkey

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    i want to become a modeler and i dont know much how i just need some basic tutorials and all that :// :))
     
  19. Captain Armstrong

    Captain Armstrong Shipbuilding Coordinator Staff Member Coordinator 3D Artist Storm Modeller Storm Modder

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    Thanks Nightwatcher, why didn't I think of that? :facepalm

    what program are you using? I would suggest searching youtube or google for basic tutorials for your program, because each one works differently. also check out the other pinned topics in this forum for things specific to POTC. If you are using Gmax/3ds max I may be able to help you, but I am not very experienced myself.
     
  20. BLiIx

    BLiIx Powder Monkey

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    Thank You!! Im using 3d max still im not that good at it..... so if you could help me a little that woud be awesome... :D yea i watch tuts on youtube but there are no tuts for any kind of ships ://
     

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