Large Aircraft Series - CRJ-700
I'm starting a series of models, all involving commercial airline aircraft. Starting off is the Canadair Regional Jet (CRJ) 700-series, known as the CRJ-700.
I've struggled previously trying to model aircraft. The aerodynamic, smooth shapes are well suited for using a subdivision surface modifier, but that made for some ugly models when I added some of the detail--control surfaces, windows, etc. I also suffered from my tendency to model an aircraft the same way they build the real thing. This caused me to add a lot of detail (wing and fuselage structure) that was never seen and made the models much more complicated than they need to be. This violates rules #1 and #6 in my Lessons I'm Trying To Learn.
One breakthrough was adding the front windscreen(s). I modeled the aircraft, sans windows, until I was happy with the overall shape. Then I used Blender's knife tool and reference photos/drawings to cut along where the windows should be. Previously, I have tried adding loops, editing individual vertices, and probably every other way of doing it wrong. I'm not sure this method is 'right', but the results are better than anything else I've found. :) The beauty of the knife tool is it adds vertices/edges on the existing shape, so I didn't have to 'fix' the overall shape after creating the windows.
I was also fairly happy with the small, passenger windows. I have tried modeling the windows and trim into the geometry. That gets very complicated very quickly, and with the subdivision surface modifier, the results were less than desirable. For this model, I created a separate UV map just for the windows, and overlaid all the appropriate window faces on top of each other. That way, I could use a single material (with appropriate transparency, specular, bump, etc. maps) for each of the windows. The only challange was to make sure the geometry was consistent along the length of the fuselage. I created the geometry for the first window, and used an array modifier for the length. Once I was happy with the shape, I applied the modifier and got pretty good results. It occurs to me now, I could probably use a separate UV map, and a repeating material, possibly avoiding the hassle of keeping the geometry consistent. Something to try next time! :)
The blended wing/body was also a challenge. My result was adequate for me, but there is still room for improvement. I ended up using a shrinkwrap modifier. That seems to produce the result for which I was looking, but the combination of the shrinkwrap and subdividion surface sometimes gave some pretty funky geometry.
Regardless, I'm excited to have started on this project. Next up, the venerable MD-88! Enjoy!