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This tutorial describes an easy method for modelling objects in Blender when we have top, front and side drawings or photos. In our case we will use the plans of a Boeing 747-400.
Before going to our aeroplane, let's explain the general idea of the process:
The object must be divided in simpler components. In our case: fuselage, wings, fins, tailplane and turbines.
For each one of these components, we must:
Build the approximate cross-section (see "Front" in the left image).
Using the side plan as the background image, extrude the circle, and grab and scale it following the outline (see "Side").
Now with the top plan as the background image, select successively each cross-section, and grab and scale it again, but now RESTRICTING the movement to the X axis (see "Top").
Let's go now to our aeroplane. We will begin a new file (Ctrl+X) and delete the default cube (XKEY). Now, from the front view (NUM1) we add (Shift+A) a circle with 12 vertices.
Then we change to the top view (NUM7) and load the top plan as a background image ("View->Background image"). Ensure we have the circle active in edit mode (TAB if needed) with all the vertices selected (AKEY if needed), and scale it to adjust to the fuselage profile.
Now we extrude (EKEY) the circle along the Y axe (YKEY) to create a new cross-section. We should try to create sections where there is a change of shape. Each time we must grab (GKEY) and scale (SKEY) the new section to adjust it to the fuselage.
We continue extruding, grabbing and scaling until finishing the fuselage.
Then we go to the side view (NUM3), load the side background and select all the vertices of one cross section (The best way to do this is with the BKEY and drawing a box around the section, but you must ensure you are not in solid mode. If this were the case, you should go to object mode with TAB, press ZKEY and return to edit mode with TAB).
We adjust the section to the side profile by grabbing and scaling it RESTRICTING these movements to the Z axis.
We repeat this process with all the sections, following the side profile, and always taking care to restrict all changes to the Z axis with the ZKEY.
In order to clean the viewport for the wings, we can move the fuselage to another layer. To do this, in object mode (TAB), select the fuselage with RMB, press the MKEY, the layer number and then OK.
Now, in the side view we add a circle and scale it in the Z axis to obtain the wing section (we can improve it a little by individually moving some vertices).
We go to top view (NUM7), load the top background, and go on with the usual sequence of extrude, grab and scale following the wing profile.
We can do only one wing and duplicate and mirror it. To do this, when we finish the first wing, go to object mode (TAB), ensure the wing is selected, press Alt+D and then Escape to exit the grab mode. Press NKEY and write -1 in the SizeX. Close the numeric window.
We repeat the same process for the fins, the tailplane and the turbines (by now you should have enough practice with the process). Just remember to save frequently your job, and even keep different copies of it in the different stages of development.
When the modelling is finished, you can select succesivelly all the objects, go to edit mode, select all the vertices, go to mesh options (F9), subsurf with a 3-level subdivision and then smooth them.
You just need now some lamps, a good angle for the camera and maybe a texture to be able to obtain a nice render!.
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