This was my first 3D model without the aid of a tutorial. I have to say I’m surprised it has turned out so well! I made this model as the final exercise for the Modelling with Modifiers course on CG Cookie. After modelling the cartoonesque plane I wanted to practise some more techniques but with a smaller scale project. I knew a little bit about what modifiers were but had only touched upon a couple previously. I thought this course would be a great introduction into understanding what they are used for and how they are used to make 3D modelling more efficient.
I knew modelling a wheel would be extremely difficult. I spent half the day at work pondering where to even begin. I decided the best course of action wasn’t to rush in but to plan the steps involved. I first researched a few wheel designs and saved some references. I then chose my favourite to insert into the Blender viewport. I then worked out which modifiers I was going to use – the exercise criteria stated I had to use at least two. I decided that I would model the spokes (centre piece) with an array, and subsurf modifier. I would then use a mirror, and another subsurf modifier on the outside tyre. I debated about using another array to help with the treading but decided against.
It took quite a while to work out how to get the array to work and at which point I should add it in. I spent three and a half hours modelling on my first night/attempt and realised that my method wasn’t the most efficient and I should start again for a better result. I had accidentally scaled my spokes early into the process and didn’t become aware until later when my array wouldn’t align properly. Below you can see the point at which I called it an evening and would start again the following night.
On my second attempt I began with a circle mesh (rather than a cube), poked the centre and then deleted 8/9ths of the model. I then added the array (made sure to apply the scale and rotation), selected object offset and rotated until the mesh made a complete, neat 360 degree circle. I then modelled a single spoke, added in a subsurf modifier, used proximity loops to make prominent edges sharp, played around with some more scaling to make the spokes a little more interesting to look at, and that completed my centre piece.
I then went on to add a torus mesh as the base shape for the outside tyre. I was dreading the treads. I scaled it just slightly larger than the spokes section and began to shape the mesh to make it look more like a car tyre. I used a bit of creative freedom here. As long as my tyre looked like a tyre on quick glance, then it passes in my book! Before I started on the treads, I added a cylinder mesh to act as the rim. Again, scaled it just slightly larger than the centre piece and adjusted the torus mesh until it all lined up. I then added in a few more edge loops and extruded inwards on the tyre to begin to give it some form.
This was the tricky part. It took hours of playing around and multiple attempts to achieve a result I was happy withh. I began by trying to use the knife to cut shapes into the mesh. This produced a poor messy result. The subsurf modifier turned any extrusions into ugly blobs. I then attempted subdiving the whole tyre a couple of times, but it just made the geometry too dense. I had already decided that I wasn’t going to use the array here even though it probably would have worked out more efficiently!
What I finally realised is that it would have been stupid of me to individually make the tread one piece at a time. I knew I had to select specific vertices and edges and apply my method to all of these at once. Once I had identified these groups of edges it became apparent that bevelling and then extruding down towards the centre of the mesh would achieve the desired effect.
After numerous attempts and countless loop cuts to tidy the curves made by the subsurf modifier, I got as close to perfect as I was going to get. I spent a long time adding proximity loops to tidy the tyre, but in future I would like to find a way to quicken this process. Perhaps if I hadn’t of applied my mirror modifier early, or if I used the array to begin with, I could have avoided time spent doing this. The below screenshots show some of the attempts creating the tread. One time I accidentally bevelled into the smooth indent. Another time I thought the tread looked a little too dense and made the choice to start again as I wanted a cleaner, simpler design.
I started this exercise with the objective to create a wheel (spokes, rim and tyre), to understand the importance of modifiers, and to complete it without the aid of a modelling a wheel tutorial. I accomplished it! I’m going to submit my exercise to CG cookie and see what the feedback. Fingers crossed for a pass!