Creating A 3D Sopwith Pup, Part one: The Engine - Jeff Matheson - Page 6
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FORMING THE INTAKE PIPES
Many times, the easiest and best way to form a shape that changes shape along one primary axis (like these pipes, or an airplane fuselage) is to use a Loft Compound Object.
A subset of Spline based modeling, Loft objects are composed of two types of splines - a Path and a Shape. The Path is the spline (usually a Line spline) that defines the main axis of the final object, and is the path that the Shapes sweep out. The Shapes (and there can be more than one) define the cross-section perpendicular to the Path at any point along the Path.
For the intake pipes, I defined a Path that matched the curve from the top intake mount down to the bottom intake mount. Note that the curve also moves a bit forward from top to bottom. Align the ends of the spline with the mounts.
Next, I set up three splines (based upon a Circle spline, converted into an Editable Splines). By working with three copies of the same simple spline, I reduced the chances that my final object would be "twisted", which sometimes happens if the Shapes have different numbers or order of vertices. (SCREENSHOT). I made one fairly square (for the section near the top mount), one quite flat and squashed (for the section near the bottom mount, and left one circular (for the main body of the pipe).
To create the Loft object, select the Path. Choose Loft in the Compound Objects tab. Choose Get Shape (Instance) from the rollout, specify 0% in the Path Parameters (I usually use percentage, but you could use distance), and click on the first Shape. By changing the Path Parameters (if percentage, from 0 to 100), you can determine where along the Path the Shape takes effect. Choose the other two Shapes, one at around 50%, one at 100%(SCREENSHOT). Experiment with the position and Skin Parameters until you have a usable shape. You may need to edit your Shape splines to get the angles and sizes correct.
I kept my Shape Steps and Path Steps (see Skin Parameters) quite low, since I planned on using Turbosmooth later. If you can get good results without it, feel free to do so.
Once I had the pipe the size and shape desired, I converted it to an Editable Poly and applied the Turbosmooth modifier (SCREENSHOT). Since this also rounded off the ends of the pipe, I again converted it into an Editable Poly and deleted the end vertices that were not needed. By flaring out the ends of the pipe, I was able to make the transition from the pipe to the upper and lower mounts smoother, and closer to the shape of the brazing that was visible in the photo reference (SCREENSHOT). I then grouped the pipe to the two mounts, and did a test render (SCREENSHOT).
CLONE THE INTAKE PIPES
And then I made a mistake...
Oops - it was at this point that I realized I'd missed a step. After checking my photo reference, I saw that each intake pipe had an expansion joint in the middle (I assume to prevent cracking from either heat or vibration). Since I did not want to have to re-model the pipe again, I decided to edit the current pipe at the vertex level.
I begin by selecting a number of vertices along a midpoint of the pipe (rotating your viewport may make this easier), and moving/scaling them to form a step in the pipe (SCREENSHOT). Then I needed to select a row of vertices farther up the pipe to form the protruding ring I could see in my reference photos, but the current mesh did not have enough vertices to do this well, So I turned on the Slice Plane modifier. By moving the Slice Plane gizmo up or down the object, I could place a new row of vertices exactly where I wanted them. Once I had the gizmo where I needed it, by clicking on the Slice button, I created a new row of vertices (SCREENSHOT), without disturbing the vertices that already existed. By scaling this ring of vertices outward, I could get the ring, but it wasn't very smooth or round, so I then added the MSmooth modifier to these vertices, which gave a nice rounded edge to them (SCREENSHOT).
Since I chose to make all the cloned copies "Instances", any change I made to one of the pipes would instantly be done to all of them (SCREENSHOT).
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