[TUTORIAL] Creating a ship using NURBS modeling

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Observe
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[TUTORIAL] Creating a ship using NURBS modeling

Post by Observe » Mon, 8. Oct 07, 01:31

Modeling with NURBS

Introduction:

This is a very basic instruction on how to create a ship using NURBS. The term NURBS stands for Non-Uniform Rational B-Splines.

The majority of X3 modelers have been using polygon modeling methods for creating their models. With polygon modeling, we generally start with one of the 3D geometry “primitives” such as a box rectangle for example, and then build the model with extrusions etc. There is nothing wrong with polygon modeling. In fact, creating your shape by manipulating polygons is often the best and easiest method.

So why bother with NURBS? One reason is because you can! Perhaps the best reason is because NURBS can offer advantages when you want a very smooth, "rounded" looking model. NURBS are not well suited for creating sharp angles and corners. Sometimes you will see NURBS models referred to as “organic”. This means that the model has a very smooth, flowing appearance similar to most things found in real life nature.

In the case of modeling with polygons, you can for the most part achieve the same result you get with NURBS by applying various smoothing techniques. However, in some cases, if you want nice, even, rounded objects, you may be better off using NURBS. For one thing, you may end up with a very high poly count, or an unsatisfactory distorted mesh from smoothing a sharp-edged polygon. You will need to determine which method is best for your particular application.

3DS Max has an included tutorial on creating a Monkey head using NURBS modeling, which you may find useful in learning this technique. Note: 3DS 9 does not include the NURBS tutorial, but you can download the version 8 instructions from Autodesk.

Here is the simple ship we will build in the following tutorial:

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These instructions are intended for experienced X3 modelers. I will assume you already know the basics of polygon modeling, applying textures, and that you generally know your way around the 3DS Max user interface and menu structure.

Procedure:

1. Draw a Circle in the front viewport. Size doesn’t matter since you can resize your ship when you are completed.

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2. Center the Circle by adjusting the pivot point. This isn’t entirely necessary, but it’s good practice, and can make things easier later on.

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3. Convert the Circle to Editable Spline (select and right-click). You may wonder why we are doing this since the Circle is already a Spline! The reason is because by performing this seemingly unnecessary step, we’ll have an object with 8 instead of 16 manipulation points when we convert to NURBS. This will make shape adjustments much easier later on.

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4. Now convert the Circle to NURBS (right-click Convert to NURBS)

Here you see the difference between performing step-3 vs. not doing so:

No “re-conversion to Spline” prior to NURBS. Notice the Control Vertices handles are non-symmetrical:

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Conversion to Spline prior to NURBS conversion:

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5. In the Left Viewport, select the NURBS Circle. In the Modify Panel, select Curve. The Circle will turn Red.

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6. Copy the Circle by Shift-Move drag to the left. Select Independent Copy (if not already selected). Note: there are other ways to perform these basic steps. The method I’m showing is simply one of them.

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7. Perform step-6 a number of times so you have something like this:

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8. Select the first Circle, and “Attach” all the others (Attach Multiple button)

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Now you will have a single NURBS object.

9. Manipulate the Curve Vertices handles to obtain the shape you desire. Note: I repeated steps 7 and 8 to obtain additional “Circles” as my design proceeded, and as I decided I wanted more length towards the rear of the ship.

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10. Now it’s time to “loft” a surface onto your NURBS Curve. Select your “ship”. If the NURBS Creation Toolbox isn’t already visible, press the button to make it so:

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11. Click the Create U Loft Surface button:

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12 Click on each NURBS Curve in sequential order going from one end to the other.

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A surface will be created as you do this. Right-click when you reach the final Curve at the other end.

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The Surface you have created may have “Normals” inverted (Black outside, colored inside):

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If this is the case, you should “Flip Normals”. This is accomplished by selecting the Surface you have created, and checking the Flip Normals button.

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13. Continue working on the Control Vertices (step-9) until you have the shape you are looking for:

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You will notice the front and rear of our ship are not “capped”. In other words, they are missing surfaces:

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There are a couple of different ways to “cap” these surfaces. Either we can apply a NURBS Cap Surface now, or we can apply a Cap Holes modifier after we convert our model to a polygon for final modeling and texturing. In this case, I chose to cap the holes later because capping them with a NURBS surface resulted in small unacceptable gaps. Nevertheless, I’ll show you both methods.

14. NURBS Cap Surface – With your NURBS model selected, highlight the NURBS Surface top-level:

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Click the Cap button In the Create Surfaces sub-menu

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Click on the “end” Curve (turns blue):

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The “hole” is now capped with a new NURBS Surface. Do the same for the hole in the front.

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As I mentioned, I chose to leave the holes for capping after conversion to polygon. I’ll explain how to do this when the time comes.

15. Right-click – Convert to Editable Poly:

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16. Now we’ll Cap our front and rear “holes” using the second method – which works best in this particular case. In Modify Panel select Polygon sub-level.

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17. In side view (left in this case), use your cursor to select the rear-most group of poly’s:

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18. In the Edit Geometry rollout, click the Hide Unselected button. This will make it easier for you to work on the area you need to cap.

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19. Select the Edge sub-level.

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20. Using Ctrl-select each edge on the end we want to cap (zooming in as needed):

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21. Select Cap Hoes from the Modifier List pull-down menu.

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The hole is now filled:

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22. You will notice your Modifier “Stack” has a Cap Holes on top. Let’s go ahead and “collapse” the Stack to get rid of that. One way to do this is right-clip Convert to Editable Poly (just like you did in step-15)

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23. Go to the Polygon sub-level like before (step-16), then the Edit Geometry rollout. Now click Unhide All. Your ship will now be visible with the rear end capped.

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24. Repeat steps 16-23 to cap the front hole.

25. At this point you will use “standard” Bevel, Extrude, Chamfer, etc. polygon manipulation techniques to add whatever remaining details and materials you want.

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Since we are no longer working on NURBS, and since our model for the purposes of these instructions is finished, I now conclude this tutorial.

One of the advantages of using NURBS over Polygon modeling is the increased possibility of a nice smooth, clean model with fewer polygons than sometimes obtained by using polygon MeshSmooth techniques.

Image

This model has approx. 13,000 polygons – well within acceptable range for X3 ships.

Please feel free to share any NURBS “secrets” you may know. The subject of NURBS modeling in 3DS is complex, and we have only touched the simple basics of one way to create a model using NURBS in this tutorial.
Last edited by Observe on Wed, 4. Nov 09, 20:55, edited 2 times in total.

mrcann
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Post by mrcann » Mon, 8. Oct 07, 12:08

unreal!

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Observe
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Post by Observe » Mon, 8. Oct 07, 17:43

One point to keep in mind is regarding the method I outlined for capping the ends of the ship using Cap Holes in polygon "mode". There are easier ways to select the edges prior to capping. I added extra steps for the purpose of letting modelers know about certain 3DS methods which they may not be aware of, and which can come in handy for other purposes. For example, you don't need to do all the hide/unhide polygon steps. You could simple drag-select the outer edges, then use the Shrink button to deselect all edges except those you need for capping.

Also, as I mentioned, there are other ways to do NURBS modeling. One of the most common is to work with only one half of the model, and then using Mirror (sometimes not a good idea) or Symmetry (often the better way) add the other half at the end.

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falcont
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Post by falcont » Fri, 12. Oct 07, 03:08

Thanks Observe
Im just a beginner at this sort of thing and I meen a beginner but I tride yours tonight and i found it realy easy. no complicasions just strait to the point
made it easy to follow, Now i wil practice this till you come back with Part two. YOU have to do a part two
thanks again

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Observe
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Post by Observe » Fri, 12. Oct 07, 03:41

falcont wrote:Thanks Observe
Im just a beginner at this sort of thing and I meen a beginner but I tride yours tonight and i found it realy easy. no complicasions just strait to the point
made it easy to follow, Now i wil practice this till you come back with Part two. YOU have to do a part two
thanks again
Thanks Falcont. I'm glad you were able to follow the tutorial well enough. :)

Perhaps YOU will be the one to do part two. :D

It is good to understand there are a quite a few variations on the "theme" of NURBS modeling. Sometimes it can be beneficial starting out with one of the 3D "primitives" such as a rectangular box, cylinder, or perhaps a sphere. Those too can be converted to NURBS objects as well as 2D Splines.

Since I am also a beginner in modeling, I look forward to hearing from you and others what you may learn and share with us. :)

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Post by mrcann » Sat, 13. Oct 07, 02:34

I think the Boron ships should have been done with NURBS, however they are done with polygons. wonder why? :)

RaGodofTehSun
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Post by RaGodofTehSun » Sat, 13. Oct 07, 03:19

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v241/ ... ATFRIG.jpg

Edit: image was quite big so if you want to see it click the link :D

Ok so i have this model here that i made, i would be willing to offer it to any mod team that wants it, it was made in NURBS, i just ask tat i be credited with it...Also forget the ship on top, that is part of something else :D
Last edited by RaGodofTehSun on Tue, 16. Oct 07, 22:56, edited 1 time in total.
Image

Jason_A
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Post by Jason_A » Sat, 13. Oct 07, 17:28

Hi Observe,

Nice beginneers tutorial on NURBS modeling in 3ds max! its a useful toolset and good for many types of modeling tasks.

People should bear in mind that NURBS are very good for modeling industrial hard edged objects, as this is the workflow used by pro CAD modelers and industrial designers. NURBS surfaces simply lend themselves well to organic "blobby" surfaces because of the ability to edit CV's on the surface and maintain a nice smooth appearance. However many of the nurbs tools are in fact for creating hard surface objects while maintaining a high surface continuity and edge to edge surface tangency and curvature continuity. The key to modeling industrial objects is to think in terms of modeling patches and keeping edges tangent, not trying to make your model from one big huge surface which is the usual pitfall for beginning NURBS modelers.

3ds max probably has the *worst* default implementation of NURBS tools on the market for DCC applications, which makes alot of peope think that NURBS are difficult, limited, and not very useful. In this area StudioTools, Maya, and Rhino etc all excel at NURBS modeling. You can do it with max, its just harder.

For an awesome NURBS toolset extension for 3ds max, check out Power NURBS Pro plugin, it'll knock your socks off, and you'll probably never want to go back to modeling directly to polygons again! Anyways, thanks for making this great introduction, its a subject few people are willing to venture into but the rewards are truly enormous :) Cheers

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Post by Observe » Sat, 13. Oct 07, 21:16

@RaGodofTehSun: Nice looking "Squid". :D Are you planning to texture it and otherwise complete for putting it in-game? I'm sure the Boron would be pleased if you do so. :wink:

Jason_A wrote:3ds max probably has the *worst* default implementation of NURBS tools on the market for DCC applications, which makes alot of peope think that NURBS are difficult, limited, and not very useful. In this area StudioTools, Maya, and Rhino etc all excel at NURBS modeling. You can do it with max, its just harder.

For an awesome NURBS toolset extension for 3ds max, check out Power NURBS Pro plugin, it'll knock your socks off, and you'll probably never want to go back to modeling directly to polygons again! Anyways, thanks for making this great introduction, its a subject few people are willing to venture into but the rewards are truly enormous
Yes, it's too bad 3DS Max doesn't have a better implementation of NURBS tools. Unfortunately, 3DS is the best we have for X3 modeling - so it probably behooves the serious X3 modeler to learn NURBS in 3DS.

Fortunately, as you mention, there is the amazing Power NURBS plug-in; although it is insanely expensive. On the other hand, there are obviously hobbyists who find themselves able to procure 3DS which is also very expensive.

My initial approach has been attempt to engender interest among X3 modelers in trying their hand with the built-in 3DS NURBS tools as an augmentation of their existing polygon modeling skills.

Part Two of this NURBS Tutorial (if I do it) will likely be directed at those who have the Power NURBS plug-in.

I must stress that I am by no means an expert on any of this stuff. However, over time, since I wrote my first, now somewhat antiquated "how to put a custom ship model in the game" tutorials almost 2 years ago, we have seen a large increase in the number of X3 modelers. Most of these modelers are still limiting themselves to polygon modeling. Perhaps the time has come for some modelers to "stretch their wings" and learn new "tricks". :wink:

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Post by Daedalus04 » Mon, 29. Oct 07, 15:11

Nice Tut, but then how do you transfer that into X3 it self?
None so far XD

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Post by Observe » Mon, 29. Oct 07, 16:09

Daedalus04 wrote:Nice Tut, but then how do you transfer that into X3 it self?
Thanks Daedalus04. Whether you are modeling using NURBS or polygons, you will need to convert to poly/mesh prior to export for putting your model in-game. Therefore, the final steps remain the same.

There are several tutorials on how to accomplish these "final steps". I have one which you'll find in the Tutorials and Resources sticky at the top of this forum. Deadly_Da also wrote an excellent tutorial as has magrathean monkey (I haven't seen mm's, but I hear it's excellent as well).

The best approach is to keep things as simple as possible until you can actually succeed with putting a basic model into X3. Read the available guides and ask questions as you go along.

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Post by Triforce 3D » Mon, 23. Jun 08, 21:28

can i have a link to the nurbs download pls in your origional tutorial bit at the top.

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Post by Observe » Mon, 23. Jun 08, 22:40

Triforce 3D wrote:can i have a link to the nurbs download pls in your origional tutorial bit at the top.
I'm am sorry I am not sure what you are referring to. Please be more specific.

Thanks.

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Post by ezra-r » Tue, 24. Jun 08, 00:12

Observe wrote:
Triforce 3D wrote:can i have a link to the nurbs download pls in your origional tutorial bit at the top.
I'm am sorry I am not sure what you are referring to. Please be more specific.

Thanks.
he wants a link that shows where to download that tool :P

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Post by Triforce 3D » Tue, 24. Jun 08, 18:30

yh

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Post by Ketraar » Tue, 24. Jun 08, 19:19

Triforce 3D wrote:yh
What the heck does that mean? Are you trying to save on words?
Posting costs are not measured by the amount of letters used you know.

Anyway, the NURMBS modelling technique does not imply downloading anything, as the word "technique" says, its a... who would have guessed a technique. :roll:

This tools are part of 3DsMax, afaik those are not available in Gmax, but I can't say for sure.

MFG

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Post by Observe » Tue, 24. Jun 08, 19:29

Ketraar wrote:What the heck does that mean? Are you trying to save on words?
Posting costs are not measured by the amount of letters used you know.

Anyway, the NURMBS modelling technique does not imply downloading anything, as the word "technique" says, its a... who would have guessed a technique. :roll:

This tools are part of 3DsMax, afaik those are not available in Gmax, but I can't say for sure.
Thank you Ketraar. :)

For future reference, please be very specific when asking questions. Preferably quote text in question. That way I don't have to spend time (and loss of hair) scratching my head trying to guess what is being referred to. :wink:

Thanks.

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Post by aj911501 » Wed, 4. Nov 09, 03:49

Alright, I need help.
How do I even start?
Do I have to get a certain program?

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Post by Observe » Wed, 4. Nov 09, 21:03

@aj911501: Thanks for resurecting this thread. By you doing so, I noticed all the image links where broken. They are now fixed. Perhaps the tutorial will make better sense now. :)

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Re: [TUTORIAL] Creating a ship using NURBS modeling

Post by Eriodas » Sat, 12. Nov 22, 18:10

The images are broken again...

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