Jake Korosi (jakeblended)

103 replies · posted

Polybook - Jake

Long time member and fan of CGCookie, seriously studying Blender and CG art.  This is my polybook, where I'll be sharing works-in-progress and things I learn as I practice modeling and shading and related Blender wizardry.

Current project as of October 2021: 1957 Chevrolet passenger car.


    Sorry I didn't give a progress report last night; I had finished all but a couple of details on the engines, but didn't want to post an unfinished screenshot so close to the finish line.  Today I finished those last details, and gave the whole model a look-over to see if I missed anything (and I had, so a couple more little bits were added here and there).  But now it's all done.  And I'm just about exhausted, mentally!

    So, screenshots.  Bon appetit:

    Right-click Open Image to see the full size pics as always.

    4.3 million polys.  I'm thinking maybe I should've picked something a little less complex for my contest project.  Is it too late to pick something else?

    All right, now it's time to break out the Node Editor.  

  • Here's a progress-so-far render.  

    Today I managed to get most of the solid-color, i.e. non-texture-using, materials done.  Of course I might still adjust them a bit between now and then end.  Right now I'm working on that textured paneling you can see on the side of the lower hull here (you may need to embiggen the image); it's tedious work.  Right now I've got most of the dish done, all of the neck and about half the lower body.  The engines and struts will get some too.  I may need to play with the color ramp a little more, because the paneling on the side there is three colors of gray, but in this Cycles render it only looks like two - it's really difficult to see the mid-tone  I guess I'll have to darken it, but I don't want to overdo it - color-wise, this needs to be very subtle.  The bigger effect is specular - I'm using the texture not just for albedo, but as a specular map as well, so the panels give some nice eye-catching reflections depending on the light angle.  

    Here is the same effect highlighted on top of the saucer.  I added a half a whisker of bump to this particular location to help sell it, you'll probably need to embiggen to see it:

    Not sure yet whether I want to keep the bump or go with just specularity by itself.  

    Oh, also - you notice there on the rim, that one of the Booleaned windows isn't showing up in the render?  Yeah I don't know what that's all about.  It's not the only one either.  And the same thing happens with Eevee; the Booleans all show up perfectly in the viewport but when I make an actual render, some of them are missing.  I'm afraid I may need to bite the bullet and apply some of those Booleans.  But I'll mess around with that business after I'm done with all the shading and texturing.

  • All right, so I have some bad news and some neutral news.

    The bad news is that I won't be finished in time for tonight's midnight deadline for the live critique..  I accepted this day before yesterday already, and relaxed my pace somewhat.  I tried hard as I could to make it in time, but them's the breaks.

    The neutral news is that work continues and I'll be finished in plenty of time for the contest deadline.  Yesterday and today was spent finishing what hull detail I'm willing to do for the time being, and also creating some decals in GIMP and applying them.  Part of creating them entailed doing research and chasing down some materials like the correct fonts, which took more time than I imagined it would've.  But at any rate, got 'em done and sticking 'em on.

    I've got most of them on, but still a few more to go.  Once they're all on, it'll be time to work on lighting.  Not scene lighting, mind you - the model's own lighting.  The thing is lit up like a Christmas tree.  There's lit windows, and navigation lights, and flood-lighting illuminating parts of the hull.  And a couple of independently glowy bits on top of it.  I played a little with lighting such a part while taking a break from the decal tedium, and it did take a little while to achieve this effect:

    Still, I don't expect too much trouble (famous last words).  I think I can have MOST of the lighting done by tomorrow.   Once all the decals are on and the lighting is done I'm going to take care of that annoying missing-boolean problem, and then the model will be completely finished for the purposes of this project, and it'll be time to make an actual scene with it finally!  

  • All right!  It was a slog but I finished off the decals and I think I'm happy with the lighting now too.  Here's some lighting tests:

    Yeah, I like that.  

    It's pretty straightforward; the smaller "bulb" lights around the edges of the hull are just emission shaders on the mesh; area lamps around the bottom of the bridge and inside/shining through the translucent blue widgets; and then spotlights a plenty.  The windows are also emission shaders on mesh, and I plugged a noise texture through a color ramp into the light strength to create the vague illusion of some random "stuff" behind the windows, like corridors or people or whatnot - although it looks like it was set too subtle to really show up in these renders (I swear it was easier to see when the windows were the only thing lit on the model), so I'll have to tweak that a little.  The illusion breaks down too much in the larger windows though, like those at the bottom, and the large windows on the back of the bridge.  In the movies, models of interior sets are placed behind those big windows in compositing; I had no time to make such things, so I just have to leave those windows dark - for now.

    Okay so tomorrow, I fix that one missing rim window, and then I think I can go ahead and start on my scene.  I'm thinking a planet, some colorful nebular jazz....we'll see.

    • jjakeblended to me it looks too dark. depending on the background you are going. consider addin more ambient to show more what is in the shadows aswell. like usually on the shows the ships were highly visible.

      however it looks great. just a tad too dark.

    • louhikarme Oh yes, for certain!  I brought the lights down on purpose for these renders because I wanted to test the ship's own lighting.  The finished render will have plenty of environmental lighting - probably some nice colors too, if I can manage the "nebula" concept I'm thinking of.  I just recently saw some social media posts by a Blenderer who was working out how to make some procedural nebulas, and managed some pretty good results and shared his methods, so I see a lot of potential there.

    • jjakeblended aye, ther are actually few if you search eevee nebula in youtube https://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=eevee+nebula 

      those have good stuff in them to make your own.

    • louhikarme Composing the nebulas in Eevee is going to be fun.  Unfortunately the final render itself is going to have to be Cycles; Eevee is a no-go for this one it turns out.  On the other hand, much is so similar between Eevee and Cycles now that whatever I compose in the former should work out well in the latter.  It's not perfectly one-for-one; when making those spotlights for instance, there was a very marked difference between how they looked between the two; in Cycles the lights had to be much smaller and moved much closer to the hull to look the same as they did in LookDev mode (which is Eevee), and as you can imagine this took a whole lot of render-regioning and adjusting over and over again - it was time-consuming, and although I got the lights exactly how I want them in Cycles, unfortunately in LookDev they don't look nearly as great anymore.

      Why these differences?  And why is Eevee a no-go for this project?  Well it's both for the same reason, and it's really my fault unfortunately.  The problem is the scale of the ship.  Our CGC instructors always tell us how important it is to build to the correct scale.  It's not something I neglected per-se; the ship is built exactly to the measurements defined by the plans I used, including the correct scale.  The problem - lol - is that those plans are for a 100-inch-long 1:120 physical studio filming model.  So my great big starship is actually only just over 8 feet long.  Some of those details I modeled are less than a millimeter long or thick.

      Normally this wouldn't be a serious problem; if they could take an 8-foot practical model and make it look the right size on a movie screen I shouldn't have any trouble doing the same thing.  That was my thinking when I started, and it's still valid to a point.  What I didn't realize then, but I have learned since, is that Eevee's lighting system has serious trouble working as well at micro scales like this.  Take these early lighting tests I did in both Eevee and Cycles:

      Look at how much light just seems to be spilling right through what should be solid objects and illuminating surfaces it shouldn't in the Eevee renders.  I've tried everything to remedy this in-place, including adding thickness to some surfaces which didn't have it, and adding more mesh objects around the light with the hope of occluding it, sort of like making light-boxes to prevent this kind of spillage on physical models.  Nothing worked.  Researching this problem, I learned that apparently if a surface is thin beyond a certain threshold, Eevee just can't "see it" for the purpose of deciding whether it should be casting a shadow.  The only fix is to add more thickness to the object or scale your whole scene up until the mesh is "thick" enough to start occluding light.  Again, this is only a problem you'd ever encounter when working at very very small scales, like I unfortunately am with the details of this model.

      Obviously adding thickness won't work for me; there's only so much I can add before things start visibly clipping through other things, and it's not enough to actually fix the lighting problem, so it's just needlessly adding to the poly count.  Scaling the whole thing up would probably solve my problem, but I'm actually afraid to do that; scaling things up will almost certainly play havok with some of my modifiers, especially Booleans, of which there are multitudes.  Plus the project is so big at the moment, in terms of the memory size, number of objects, the poly count, and other factors.  Making all the invisible stuff visible so that I can scale it will add enormously to the already huge poly count, and then trying to scale it all up at once....well, my poor old computer might get right up off the stand and walk out on me.  And that's before I get into objects that don't scale the way mesh does, like light objects, which I'd inevitably have to fix by hand.  Not only repositioning but redoing all the intensity, size, radius settings, etc.  I don't want to take the risk or invest the time and effort this close to the challenge deadline.  So Cycles it shall be!

      That said, I do have some post-challenge plans for this project.   But I'll get into those later.

    • jjakeblended 

      So Cycles it shall be!

      Something you’ll never hear me say 😆

      Looking good though Jake!!!

    • jjakeblended one thing to remember that you can render background nebula in eevee and the model in cycles and then combine them. you don't have to have one render that does everything. especially if you are adding volumetrics.

    • louhikarme Yep, that's exactly the plan.  Earlier this evening I practiced with a simple scene; I was indeed able to render a foreground object(s) in Cycles and alpha it/them over a background rendered in Eevee.  I did this all in one session of Blender, going straight from the renders into the compositor; it involved creating a Linked Scene set to use Eevee, and turning the appropriate collections on and off in each Scene.   Although in retrospect I suppose it would be much, much simpler to just render and save the background separately as an image and import that image back into Blender when compositing, since I don't really need any special passes from it.  The  nebula is far in the background, so my foreground objects won't be casting any shadows or reflections on it, and that's a very good thing since, I've learned, it is currently impossible to Holdout objects in Eevee!  

  • To create my backdrop, first I made a procedural star-field for the background.  You can make one really easily by plugging a noise texture and a color ramp into your background material, like so:

    Plug the noise texture and color ramp as the factor into a mixRGB node with black and white as the mix colors, and use the color ramp to crush down both your blacks and whites until an infinite starry sky magically appears!  Use the usual math tweaks to brighten the stars as desired, and play with the color ramp to control the star density.  The noise texture on the bottom simply adds a smidgen of color variation to the stars, which is completely optional.

    Next, I had to make the nebula.  Making one of these from scratch was beyond my knowledge, but it just so happens that over the last several days a Blender user on Twitter named Brent Patterson (@brentpatterson) has been posting screenshots of his experiments in creating spectacular Hubble-like images of nebulae in Eevee with procedural volumes, and what he's come up with so far was just the ticket for me.  Look him up, he's shared some node-trees.  It's a little complicated, but after you've set up the nodes, playing with the math values, emission strength, colors, and mapping to create amazing-looking nebula is addicting, it's like a game!  Anyway, build the material, stick it on a cube, and scale as needed and voila:

    A couple of strategically-placed point lights with different colors and strengths gives the effect of embedded stars and adds more interest.  I scaled back the contrastiness of the nebula though; I wanted it to look great, but I didn't want it overpowering my subject.

    Next, I had to deal with positioning.  I parented every single part of the ship, visible and invisible, to an empty that I wanted to use to "pose" the ship for the shot.  Unfortunately this turned out to be too impractical, with even the slightest changes of rotation taking half a minute or more to actually be applied in the viewport - I suppose my computer really needs more RAM, because it has been suffering badly under the load of the completed spaceship model.   So I decided to leave the ship where it is, and parent my nebula object and its embedded stars to the camera instead, after making sure to frame them in my shot exactly as I wanted them.  This worked beautifully - I could pan and rotate the camera easily to view the ship from any angle, and the "background" nebula was always perfectly framed behind it.  Perfect!

    Finally, since the ship was much too far from the nebula object to be taking any indirect light from it, I placed a couple of point lights around it and colored them to approximate the nebular color.  

    With everything done, and after a couple of test renders, I kicked off the final Cycles render of the ship with the nebula turned off and the background transparent, and let that run overnight.  Noob tip: if you're making a render with several passes and you want to save all the passes for later use in the compositor, save your render as an OpenEXR Multilayer file.  You can then import it into the compositor as an image and all the passes will be intact and ready to use.

    This afternoon, I did the (much quicker) Eevee render of the background and nebula without the ship.  Then I opened the compositor, imported the ship as explained above, and alpha'd it over the background.   In the compositor I fuzzed the transition between the two images up a bit so the ship didn't look like a pasted-on cutout, then tweaked my ship and nebula colors this way and that.  And then it was FINALLY FINISHED!

    And I am done for this month I'm afraid, lol

    • jjakeblended Those details man.. and that nebulae.. awesome job Jake! You’ve done a lot of work this month 😊👍🏻

    • ssmurfmier1985 Thanks!  I've been enjoying the last couple of days relaxing....it's almost boring after going full-bore for almost a whole month, lol.  But Kent's class starts next week, so I'm just going to take the whole weekend I think.  

    • jjakeblended you should, relaxation is important. Recharge those batteries! 😎

    • jjakeblended awesome work Jake! and timely post. was battling with smoke sim and dust effect on my shot. i had seen brent nebula, but had forgotten it. so after few tweaks on his node setup, gettin the dust effect i wanted. cheers. :)

    • louhikarme Awesome, and yeah that nebula technique is something else.  I can't wait to see how you worked it into a dust effect for your rescue-ship.  I have an idea of my own for a use of that setup in a non-space scene, but I need to find out how well I can control the shapes of the dust-clouds; the noise texture is fairly random after all.

    • jjakeblended yea, randomness makes it pretty hard to control. though i got some ideas for future, and smoke sim stuff propably was waste of time now since this uses the whole volume and not touch the particles. ahwell. live and learn. :)

    • louhikarme I'm not sure smoke sim is a waste of time yet; we already know for sure we can shape those pretty exactingly with forcefields and curves.  I have yet to see whether there's a way to shape volumes equally as well that use this method.

      It seems like every week I become more impressed with what it's possible to do on a procedural material.  For instance, have you seen this voodoo?  To be honest I can't see myself ever doing that procedurally rather than just modeling it, which would take all of five seconds; but still.

    • jjakeblended that is cool. didnt see the breakdown, but saw the effect earlier. procedural is something were i will be focusing more. but more so on the tools that i can build games more easier. batch tools to process meshes and blueprint that handle all the heavy lifting. that is were houdini will come in place, they have good game dev toolkit already and you can modify everything to fit for your needs. still going to be using blender for modeling. :)

  • The last year and a half has been just disastrous.

    First, my monitor went bad.  So I replaced it.  Then my computer's power supply unit started failing, so I replaced that.  A couple months ago, I damaged my drawing tablet, so I've just managed to replace that (it arrived Wednesday!).  Now Tuesday night, my video card died.  Well, almost died - it only works using the generic Windows display driver, and the screen is filled with vertical glitchy-color bars.  

    On top of that, when trying to figure out what the problem was, I ended up reinstalling Windows - several times, because the installs kept getting interrupted midway by the failing video card whenever the graphics drivers were installed.  By the end of it, NONE of my user files were successfully saved.  It's not a huge deal since most of my files by far are saved to OneDrive; but a couple of months ago I ran out of OneDrive space, and hadn't gotten around to getting a 360 sub to give me some more space - meaning my last couple of Blender projects weren't clouded and are now gone forever.  Those are the spaceship I just made for the July contest, and the Egyptian character I was making for the realistic character course.

    The July contest is done, and although I had some future plans for that model, they involved redoing a good portion of it anyway, so I guess that's not a crushing loss.  But that character was only halfway done.  I was waiting for my new tablet to arrive so I could finish it, and now I have to start from scratch.  It's hard to explain how demoralizing this whole situation is.

    A friend of mine is sending me an old video card, that they think still works.  Hopefully it does - but, it's old, and will not run Blender 2.8.  It will be....a while, before I save up enough to get a new video card that's an actual upgrade over the one I had that just died.  So I'm going to be stuck for a while using 2.79, I guess.  I will not be able to do any decently complex projects either, since I think the card I'm being lent has like 512MB of VRAM.  Looking over my options here, it looks like my best bet is going to be diving into the Animation Bootcamp, which I've been wanting to do but kept putting off in favor of modeling courses and projects.  The pre-2.80 VonnBots are still available, and I'm quite grateful for that!  But until I get a new card it looks like that's where I'll be stuck.  

    • jjakeblended oh man, that legitimately sucks! You always have so much bad luck.. :(

      Luckily the viewport play blast renders aren’t too demanding for your temporary video card, and the animation courses are fun to do. You’ve mentioned for ages you wanted to do them so just see this as an opportunity and I hope you enjoy yourself.

      Best of luck, hope you don’t have any more bad luck along the way.. I’m rooting for you!

    • ssmurfmier1985 Yes!  I'm choosing to look at this as the universe forcing me to sit down and finally stop putting off the animation.  A while back I already started the Bootcamp - I did the rotating-ball and the bouncing-ball exercises and everything; I just kept getting distracted by the modeling and sculpting - it sings to me!  But now I won't be able to do any seriously complex modeling or high-definition sculpting for at least a couple of months even if I wanted to.  It's an opportunity, so I will take advantage of it as best I can. :)

      Those loss of those projects still stings a little, but live and learn.  I'll be getting that extra OneDrive space, that's for sure.  

    • jjakeblended Goddamn man, that's rough. I'm not sure if there's much I can do but feel free to reach out if I can. Much love, and good luck!

  • I appreciate the concern, and the offer Aaron!  But as luck would have it, yesterday not long after posting my whinge here, I was able to make arrangements with another friend to help me out with getting an actual new card sooner rather than later, so crisis averted on that score.  If I had just waited a couple of hours before posting, I might've been able to keep my recent misfortune under the radar...

    Even so, I plan on sticking with yesterday's decision to give modeling courses a break and focus for a bit on animation.  I still have a personal modeling project I've been planning  for a while, that I will be working on at the same time; but it doesn't have a deadline, so the animation courses will take time-and-effort precedence, and certainly no more modeling courses until I'm -at least- through the Bootcamp.

  • Starting a new project - another car.  Another OLD car.

    I'm not sure why I torture myself with these old cars.  They have all these weird curves and shapes that are just a nightmare to model properly.  I think they did it on purpose - back in the 40's and 50's they anticipated computers and 3D modeling software and sat around the design table saying "you know what would be so funny?"

    I think I've recovered enough to give character-building a second try after this car is done.  Losing that original project to a hard drive failure was so demoralizing, but I'm over it now.  It will be a different character though, one with lots and lots of pre-existing reference and very little invention needed; I've decided I need to practice the technical skills before I go trying to design things on my own.  

  • Well you may have noticed that I had an entire pandemic-year, that would've made an awesome excuse to literally do nothing but Blender courses and projects of all shapes and kinds with all the free time I had, and I spent it doing not that.  I participated in the DOG project and I was very happy with my work in that!  But that was really it.  

    Meanwhile, in all that time our sages here at the Cookie have been dropping new course after new course - the treasure chest course, some new animation courses, almost an entirely new set of Fundamentals of X courses now!  And I have not been doing any of it!  I mean, I've been watching the videos and educating myself about the concepts but that's it.  

    Well that changes now.  Seeing the results of the DOG project and working on the Spice Vendor House has re-invigorated my interest in 3D and now that my main contribution to the latter is finished (I may contribute some interior items later), it's time to re-commit myself to serious study.

    First up - sculpting.  My pen hasn't touched its tablet since I lost my Realistic Character Course project file when my SSD fried.  Since then the sculpting system in Blender has gotten a serious upgrade, with all kinds of fun tools added.  So my first stop is the new Sculpting Fundamentals course.  I started on the homework yesterday; here's my sculpt so far:

    When this course is done, I'm going to restart - and FINISH - the Realistic Character Course once and for all with a new project.  I've been spending the last week or so gathering reference for it and I believe I'm ready to go with it.

  • All righty, ol' Sharkie's done - the sculpting, at least.

    I think I'm going to give him some shaders and an environment, so I can add him to my sadly neglected project gallery here at CGCookie.  I'll be giving him basically the same treatment as in Kent's bonus stream, but with one exception - I think I'm actually going to give him a quick retopo (famous last words) and paint his skin by hand.  Nothing fancy at all, but I want a little bit more control over his two-tone coloration.  Procedural shaders are fine for the rest of the scene though.  I'll probably do all that tomorrow, or as much of it as I can.

  • Fini!

    Rather than retopologizing, unwrapping, and painting a texture for a very simple two-tone skin, I decided instead to go with vertex colors; the choppiness from the decimated mesh gives me exactly the kind of "ragged edge" I was looking for and I'm pleased with the result.

  • I am happy with the Shark.  I used the course as like a natural refresher to get me re-oriented with sculpting, and it did that; I caught on, got comfortable, and even got into a groove very quickly, and with a couple of tiny nitpicks I'm VERY pleased with the result!  I feel absolutely ready to tackle the realistic course again, and I am all set to do just that.  In fact, I was planning to get it started today.

    Buuuut then theluthier had to go and drop this new Eevee industrial environment course and it's too relevant to my interests to ignore.  This first, THEN the character, I promise!

    • crew

      Haha! I didn't mean to mess up your plans. Or did I... 😎 Lemme know what you think of the industrial environment course!

    • theluthier I have watched the whole thing!  I was quite happy with it all, and of course the procedural shading lessons had the most of my attention (as they do).  I'm a big fan of not bothering with UVs when it's not necessary - and although IMO there is certainly a point of diminishing returns when shaders start to get extremely complex, yours were not and it's awesome to see that a large environment like this can look completely convincing without the need for a single image texture anywhere.

      All that aside though, the course would've been worth it just to learn how to model a pipe cross-junction with nearly zero effort like that.  Making it that easy is just not fair...

      I WILL make an environment based on what I've learned from this course, but it's going to have to wait.  I need to start on that character before pushing it back becomes a habit, ha.

  • Behold my newest creation....


    Okay so it's actually just the very beginning of my new character's anatomy blockout.  It has begun!

    As I've already mentioned, this will be a completely new character.  But, it's not an original character this time.  I'm making (or trying to make) a character that already exists.  I'm not going to say who it is though until the project is done, because it's more dramatic that way and also makes for some plausible deniability if I fail horribly at getting the likeness right, heh!

    Also, this guy is going to be not quite as muscularly-detailed as my Egyptian soldier was.  The anatomy WILL be blocked out fully, just for practice' sake, but honestly, pretty much everything except this guy's arms (and only a portion of those) is going to be covered by clothing and equipment.

  • This month on "Let's See If He Finishes That Project", Jake starts a new project...

    Been working on it for a couple of days and here's what I have so far.

    It is a vehicle - or will be, eventually, if I keep at it.  I'm really pleased with how this is looking so far so chances are good.  It's a very specific vehicle but I'm not telling what it is yet.  However, I'm sure it will become apparent in time.

  • So that's the frame completed!

    While this component looks incredibly complex, overall as a model it was not.  The only really challenging part was that wide crossmember in the front (left-most side in this image) - with all kinds of important curves, angles, and intersecting plane-changes, it took a couple of failed tries and a "eureka" moment before I could finally nail that shape down correctly.  After that, all of the remaining parts were quite simple to edge-model; there were just so many of them that it took a while to do them all.  Most of the small tabby-dealies along the sides with the bolt-holes in them are single-sided meshes with a Solidify modifier; but a few bits and bobs didn't play nice with Blender's solidify math so I decided to give those parts thickness myself and exclude them from the modifier with a vertex group.

    So yeah - on average, time-consuming but not too hard.  There are certainly far more challenging components waiting for me yet in this project.

    With the frame done, it's time to move on to the next set of parts that it makes logical sense to me to work on.  I hate to leave you all in SUSPENSE, but.....yes fine, the suspension comes next.  And oh yeah, I'm going to have lots of pun with this project.  You've been warned.

  • By the way, while working on the frame, I discovered a little something about Blender that might prove useful to you all if you encounter this particular weird mystery I ran into, which I couldn't find any kind of answer online for - or maybe I was just somehow managing to miss it even though I looked reasonably deeply.

    So when I take my frame there and turn on Face Orientation in the Viewport Overlays menu, this is what I get:

    Now I know what you're thinking - on those parts that aren't blue, the normals are just backwards.  I thought the same thing at first.  But it turns out, it's not that.  Because when I selected those faces and flipped the normals, this is what I get:

    Flipping the normals doesn't turn them blue, it turns them.....purple?  What on earth?  And in this image I've included an upside down plane to show you what the actual reversed-normal color ought to be, and we now clearly see that the "backwards normals" I didn't flip aren't that color either, they're hot pink.

    So what's causing this?  I knew right away that it had something to do with the Solidify modifier, because the funky colors only appeared when the modifier was active - turn it off, and the normal colors go back to, well, normal.  So there was the first clue.  But why would the Solidify modifier be changing the colors of the normals overlay?

    All of the pink/purple normals belong to meshes that I excluded from the modifier.  This is easy to do; you just assign all the appropriate vertices to a vertex group (I named my vertex group "Solidify Exclude") and set that group in the modifier's vertex group, like so:

    By default this tells the modifier to apply the Solidify effect to only that vertex group, but by clicking that double-ended arrow button I've highlighted above so that it turns blue, you invert that instruction, telling the Solidify modifier to apply to the entire object EXCEPT that vertex group.  And, visually, this works perfectly.

    But as I've found out, Blender cheats at this a little bit.  When I zoomed in far enough on the weird-colored normals that my viewport was clipping into the mesh, I saw this Disco Fever going on:

    This immediately looks like duplicated mesh, no question - except, it's not.  I deleted various faces and edges and vertices and rebuilt them from scratch and this still happens.  

    It turns out that using a vertex group with the Solidifier modifier, the mesh that's not supposed to get solidified, isn't REALLY excluded from the effect.  The modifier still creates the extra mesh where you don't need/want it.  It just internally sets the solidify thickness in those areas to zero so you can't see it.

    Again, visually, this works completely fine and you would never know the difference.  There's no artifacting or glitching ruining the surface of your model.  But those faces are there and they're adding to your poly count, which might be important to you.  I verified this by going to Object Mode and watching the number of tris in the scene statistics - turn the Solidify modifier on and off and you can watch the number of tris change, but invert the vertex group influence in the modifier and the tri count doesn't change at all.

    It's just something to keep in mind.  If you really don't want the extra geometry adding to your poly count then it would be best for you to make everything you don't want Solidified into a separate object, rather than trying to exclude it via a vertex group.

    • Thanks Jake! I didn't know that.

      Apparently, when you create a Vertex Group, all Vertices are part of that Vertex Group, the ones that you do not Assign to (or Remove from) the Group just have a Weight of zero!

      This is actually very handy and is used by the Factor in the Solidify:

  • We have a finished front suspension!

    The control arms were a little tricky - they're not symmetrical and have, again, all kinds of curves that need to stay smooth.  The shrinkwrap modifier and some low-poly planes came in handy while making those.

    I used Blender's stock addon Bolt Factory to create the bolt threads.  Threaded hardware is expensive though, poly-count-wise, and Bolt Factory's bolt heads just have too many faces for my liking; you can't change their poly count the way you can change the thread iterations and pitch.  So I made my own bolt heads and nuts and joined them to the Bolt Factory threads - easier than it sounds.  I cheated a little on the threads though; in general, I only added thread that is actually visible.  The parts of bolt shanks that are inside components are smooth and there's no inner thread on nuts at all.  There's going to be a LOT of fasteners by the end of the project and all the unnecessary polys will snowball if I don't trim them where I can.

    Rear suspension is next!  There's fewer components back there so I don't EXPECT it to take as long as the front...but we'll see.

    I continue to be really happy with how this is turning out!  

  • Rear suspension complete!

    Everything in this segment snapped together fairly easily....except for the differential, that part in the middle of the axle.  That was a Boolean Battle.  I just couldn't get nice neat unions and I started over at least four times - that's what's been taking this group so long, just that one part.

    And I'm STILL not completely happy with it.  The joins are neat but not neat enough to bevel easily - even via modifier - and it's a cast iron piece, it's supposed to have very wide lazy bevels that make it look more organic, rather than those neat, precise corners.  I think I may end up using some sculpting to fill in and smooth all of those edges and then retopologize it - I'm not sure.  That's a task for down the pike though so I'm not going to stress over it now; all of the components are here so I'm going to call it done.  The tops of the shock absorbers bolt into the floor pan which isn't coming for a little while yet, so for now they have to just kind of stick up into nothing, ha.

    Next up, to finish out the mechanical chassis I'll add the steering linkage and the wheel hubs.  That will be the end of Phase 2.

    That's when the REALLY challenging part begins...

  • Chassis steering done!

    Another angle, with the frame and suspension removed for clarity:

    A lot of little parts, with some complexity.  This is an older style Pitman or worm-sector steering arrangement, which I suppose makes sense since this is an older vehicle, heh.  

    It's also going to have the power steering option, and that's why you see a few extra components that might not immediately make sense to you, like that hydraulic cylinder right in the middle - this is when power steering on consumer vehicles  was a relatively new thing and was somewhat rudimentary compared to the modern-day setup.  The way it worked was, the steering gear (big green thing on top) is connected by a lever to a hydraulic control valve (the pink thing below it), which mechanically detects when the driver is having to use an amount of force over a certain limit - around three pounds, according to the features brochure - to turn the steering wheel.  If that is the case, the control valve sends hydraulic fluid through a pair of hoses to either push or pull a ram cylinder (green thing in the middle), which helps move the steering mechanism, saving the driver some effort.  A second pair of hoses connects the control valve to the power steering fluid pump, which is attached to the engine of course.  I haven't modeled the hoses yet, I'm going to make them along with the pump when I build the engine, which I'll be starting on not long from now.

    But first, I'm going to model the wheel hubs and brake components (the ones that can be seen, at least).  That shouldn't take long at all - just a handful of nice simple parts to relax on before I start on the engine, which is going to be pretty intense.

    I have a nagging urge to try rigging the steering and suspension.  I'm trying my best to ignore it...

  • Done with the wheels and visible brake hardware:

    And with that, the mechanical chassis is essentially complete.

    With the wheels, the model has now broken 2M faces!  Currently sitting at just over 2.2 million, in fact.

    And now....

    ...now it's time for Phase 3, the beginning of the Hard Part.  Over are the days of nice and mostly-symmetrical, mostly-axis-aligned components and surfaces. It's time to build the engine.

    I have a feeling this will take a bit of a while, so I'm probably going to have to make little progress reports instead of just making one post when the system or section is finished.  We'll see how it goes.  

    Right now my goal is, I think, to have at least the engine itself and everything immediately attached to it finished by the time HUMAN comes out at the end of next month.  I think I can do it in a month.  I won't be too upset if I can't meet it, but that's the pace I'm setting right now at least.

    Logically, the first components in line are the engine block and cylinder heads.  Since the project is now north of 2.2 polys, I'm going to put the engine in its own project file, and also start a separate "Main" project file to link these collections into.

    • crew

      JAAAAKE!!! My soul is pleading to see this become a rendered assembly animation 🙏🙏🙏

      Jaw-dropping work 👏👏👏

    • theluthier Haha - thanks!  The encouragement from you and the others posting here really means a lot!

      I have DREAMED of seeing an assembly animation for this thing.  I have a definite look and style visualized inside my head for it, even.  

      But while I'm confident I can create this model and get some fantastic stills out of it, I would love the challenge of building an animation even, I have to admit that RENDERING such an animation is probably out of the practical reach of my hardware.  

      Might be a good opportunity to dust off and use some of those Sheepit credits I've built up.  But would they even be enough?  I really am not sure.

      It's a down-the-road thing, at any rate.