Friday, March 17, 2017

1951 Chevy Blender 3D Pickup Progress

Over the past week I have managed to squeeze in a few more hours on my 1951 Chevy Blender pickup model that I've started.  I thought all of you would like to see how it's progressing and find out some of the plans I have for this project.

As you can see from this first image the truck has really started to take shape.  I'm very pleased with how I managed to get the body looking pretty proper in shape and proportion.  I played around with several different colors and thought the green was the order of the day.  I had originally thought of a red truck but I have already done way more red vehicles lately so it was time to create something just that much different.  Besides the truck in green seemed to be just the ticket.

There is a lot of work to do yet with the model but the body is pretty well dialed in.  I got the tires and rims put together this morning but still have to work on tread and sidewalls if I am going to use the image (or something like it) that you see pictured above.  I like to experiment with different looks when it comes to backgrounds and lighting so I cannot promise you that the final render of this truck will be anything like what you see here.

I do like the lighting that I have here but like all of my Blender vehicle models or any Blender model that I work on I am constantly tweaking the things here and there until I feel it is just right.  This is a good start and so I will keep moving forward with the project and refining it.  I think the back wheels need to be wider especially being that this is supposed to be a street rod. I did lower the body just a bit as the stock version stood a bit higher than what I have here.  The look was improved greatly because of this small change.

A lot of little details will still be needed to complete the model not even considering putting an interior into the vehicle.  This in itself is a lot of hours work to get just right.  I have collected a large amount of reference images from the net to figure out these little details.  That is what makes a big difference in modeling a vehicle like this.  The little details add a great deal to the overall look of any vehicle so it is worth the effort.

I was asked this past week why I create what I create on Blender.  The best explanation I could give this person was that to me working with Blender is like putting together a puzzle on your table.  Piece by piece you put it together until you have the finished picture that you want to see.  But in my case instead of the puzzle being in cardboard and the finished image being a 2D image I am working in the computer and creating something that is 3D to make that final image.  Add in all the other factors like color, texture, lighting and such bring the complexity of this 100+ hour puzzle up many more notches compared to a table top 2D puzzle.  Plus the fact that at the end you have the distinct honor of saying " I made this myself on my computer and it's not a photograph. "  This makes this kind of project very rewarding and gives me hours of enjoyment that cost me nothing but some of my free time.  Worth every hour in my book to be able to create something like this and enjoy it all at the same time. 

I'll post more on my Blender Chevy pickup as I progress to it's completion. Total hours in the project so far is close to 21.5 hours and I'm loving every minute creating it as I do with all of the projects that I work on.  

Saturday, March 11, 2017

1951 Chevy Pickup Truck Blender Model Project

In this posting today I want to show you a new Blender vehicle model that I have had on my mind for some time. This being a 1951 Chevy pickup truck.  Another favorite vehicle that makes me drool every time I see one either in photos of at car shows.  So I thought it was just the right time to model the truck in Blender 3D. 

If you have been following my blog over the years you have seen my progression with Blender 3D and what I have managed to create with this great free software.  My goal from my early days of trying to learn Blender was to be able to model cars.  I am very happy with what I can create now but am still learning new things and this is the case with this truck model.  I have picked up a lot of pointers over the years but I still consider myself to be an intermediate modeler in Blender. 

Recently I received from Christopher Plush at CGMasters a copy of his latest training DVD on how to model a Jeep Wrangler.  This is his second training DVD. This first version he taught how to model a Chevy Camaro in great detail.  This helped me a great deal in learning the proper way to model a vehicle and with the second version he has stepped his training up a few more steps already and I am no where near completing the training that he shows in the new DVD.   I will supply a link to his site later on in this posting so you can find out where to get it and check it out for yourself.

So back to the new project of the truck here are a few images of what I have started to create so far.

This first image of my Blender work screen shows the front of the 1951 Chevy ready for modeling.  Through the training DVD I was able to get the truck put in by itself without any background around it which actually makes things a bit easier when laying out the various parts of the truck.

This time the side view which is scaled to match the front, top and back of the truck as well. 

Working with the views of the truck I started laying out the different parts as shown above.  This is where the DVD training has helped out greatly to get everything looking right and to scale. 

For this Blender model I thought it would be interesting to see exactly how long it will take to complete the model.  So I have a stopwatch on my desk to keep track of the hours that I put into the modeling of the truck. So far with what you see here with the front end, fenders and cab the tally is up to 8.5 hours.  Sounds like a lot of time but this is just the start as most of my other vehicles that I have created like the VW Bug or Triumph GT6 the hours ran up to 100 hours plus depending on if I decided to also add a complete interior to the vehicle.  All fun stuff and that is the point for me in using Blender in the first place. Being retired I have all the free time I could ever wish for so why do something that is not fun right? 

I will post more on the Chevy pickup Blender model as I progress further.  In the mean time check out Chis Plush's latest car modeling and texturing DVD for sale at the link below.

Sunday, March 5, 2017

"Fast Glasses" For My Motorcycle Helmet

This past week I have been able to make some really nice progress with my motorcycle helmet eyeglasses mounts project.  Let me first explain a bit about what this project is and why I am at this point very focused on getting it right.  As many of you already know I drive a motorcycle and have done so for many years.  With those years I now have aged to the point where I need to wear glasses. I cannot wear contacts and do not want to get Lasik eye surgery.  The problem I have with wearing glasses especially when I wear my helmet is putting the glasses on or taking them off once I have my helmet on.  To say that this simple task is a pain is no understatement in either the literal or figurative sense. So I've decided to create magnetic mounts for my glasses that will attach to the inside of the helmet and eliminate this hassle and speed up the process of putting my glasses on or taking them off when I want to ride my bike.

Here is where I started as you may have already seen in my last post.  I created the image shown above of a guy wearing glasses that are mounted to the inside of a motorcycle helmet.  A nice picture but not a lot of details were learned from this image at this point as to how to make this idea even possible to work.  This entire past week or more has been spent working out some of the bugs to the idea and I think I have it pretty well ironed out.

I started with my every day glasses and took careful measurements to get just the frame where the lenses are installed into my computer design software.  This was the simplest part of the project.

Next I laid out a simple framework that would be mounted to my motorcycle helmet.  Again a simple step but no real answers at this point.  More brainstorming was needed.

The first version of the magnetic glasses looked pretty good.  I had found some small magnets in my workshop and again went to work on the project using my design software. After some research online I pretty much gave up on the idea of 3D printing the frame that holds the lenses. It would be far simpler just to make a design that used the existing frames with mounts that attached to them. This design idea started to look doable at this point.  The square blocks at the rear of the frame would be mounted to the interior of the motorcycle helmet using Velcro straps which would be fed through the blocks to secure them.  Magnets would be also mounted on the face of the blocks to hold the glasses mounts. The glasses mounts that you see above have a round magnet in them and a slot that allows the glasses to be adjusted in or out so the glasses are the right distance from my eyes. Not to close or not to far away.  A key feature that needed to be addressed.  This looked good but I wanted the entire assembly to be more streamlined and lighter looking. To bulky looking at this point.

I continued on and took the design to the next version by removing some of the material at the face of the glasses mounts.  This again looked pretty good but being me I was not yet happy with the look of the design.

In the next version I changed the magnets to be smaller and be about the size of a watch battery. There would be two magnets in each of the red helmet mounts and another two in each of the now corner shaped glasses mounts. The streamlining was starting to take shape at this point.

Here you can see the magnet layout for the assembly in the two red helmet mounts. I also removed the  corner brace that I had in the now "L" shaped glasses mounts.  Also in the photo you can see the screws that would hold the glasses to the "L" shaped mounts and the Velcro straps that hold the helmet mounts in place.

Having found different magnets I came up with this similar design that uses not eight tiny round magnets but only four rectangular ones instead. This made the "L" shaped glasses mounts a little bit longer in the process but eliminated parts along the way. This layout was also rejected as it did not fit well within the area that I could use inside of the helmet.

This is version number six. I got rid of the "L" shaped glasses mount and turned the section that holds the magnet in place to a vertical orientation. This in turn allowed more room in the helmet and the red mounts only needed to have the matching orientation set up to have the assembly work properly.

At this point I was able to start 3D printing parts and testing out the placement and installation into my motorcycle helmet.  Here you can see the helmet mounts that are held in place using Velcro strips. The Velcro strip worked perfectly to hold the mounts securely in place. The photos show the 3D printed parts being kind of shiny.  The magnets were held in place using clear tape at this point. This is only because I did not want to permanently mount the magnets into the 3D printed parts until everything was designed and working properly.

This is the way the assembly looks with my glasses magnetically clicked into place. The screws that hold the glasses to their mounts were replaced with simple wire clips that I modified from paperclips. The paperclips I used have a red plastic coating on them.  I removed some of the coating to allow the wire to easily be installed through the mounts as well as the screw holes where the arms for the glasses would normally be.  (The arms were removed as the were not needed in the assembly).

I took the eyeglass assembly out of the helmet and then put it on.  I then grabbed the middle of the eyeglass frame between the lenses and brought the assembly to my face.  With one single click the glasses popped into place perfectly.  Comfortable and secure my idea worked! I was tickled with the results as I knew that I had the answer to my motorcycle glasses problem.  But as before I continued to tweak the design to iron out one last little bug.

The eyeglasses mounts and helmet mounts worked like a charm but they were still a bit to bulky for my taste. I wanted something a bit more refined, lighter, and smaller. Also I did not like how the setup partially  blocked my side views while wearing them in my helmet. Not that the side views were like wearing blinders but they still restricted my views enough to be a distraction.  On to design number seven.

With this latest and hopefully final design I once again cleaned up the look of the project. The glasses and helmet mounts would still use the small rectangular magnets but instead would keep the glasses mounts at only 1/2 inch thick instead of one inch from earlier concepts.  The magnets would be mounted to the outer face of the yellow mounts and the blue helmet mounts would hold the mating magnets on the inner face so the glasses could once again be clicked into place quickly and easily.  These changes allowed for the square area of the helmet mounts to be thinner at the rear and still keep the helmet mounts the same 1/2" thickness as the glasses mounts.

Here's a good shot of the new mounts in my helmet.  With the square block at the rear of the mounts being thinner than before they are no longer visible out of the side views when I put my helmet on.  I only see the 1/2" tall magnet mounts sticking out on each side of the helmet.  This is a much cleaner assembly and does not block my side view as it did with the larger mounts that I had in an earlier version.

This is how the assembly will look once I get it ready to be installed into my helmet.  It is a nice clean design that I now will look forward to use when I put my glasses on or taking them off when I want to ride my bike.  Total time to put my regular glasses on while wearing my helmet took me at least a minute or more. Way longer than it should ever take.  With this new setup my glasses now go on in about a second.  Click and their on and I'm ready to ride!  Works for me. 

I am due to get new glasses in the next week or so.  Perfect timing for this project to be sure. I will use my old frames for this project and get new ones with my new glasses and new lenses for my new motorcycle "Fast Glasses". (Catchy name don't you think?) Once I get the new glasses I will make final tweaks to the fast glasses mounts and I should be good to go. I'll post another update when I get the final assembly put together.  But at this point I see no real issues with the design that would cause a problem with completing this project.  Stay tuned for further developments. 😀

Saturday, February 25, 2017

Blender 3D Helmet For Eye Glasses Concept Project

After having figured out how to put people into my Blender 3D projects I have already found a tangible use for this new skill set.  As a lot of you already know I am a motorcyclist and have been for many years.  Along with those years my eyes now are no longer as young as they used to be and so with my motorcycling I am forced to wear glasses.  Contacts are not an option for me so I have no choice and the prospect of Lasik eye surgery I am not fond of at all.  I have no problem with this other than the fact that putting my glasses on or taking them off after I have my helmet on is a pain.  With all of this in mind I thought that I would model a motorcycle helmet on one of my new Makehuman characters and see what I could come up with to make it easier to put my glasses on or take them off when I wanted to ride.

First thing was to get a good model made in Blender 3D to start with and then move on from there. This past week I managed to accomplish this portion of my idea to use in some concepting work that will follow. This is how my Blender model turned out.

It took me a few days to create what you see here.  Getting my motorcyclist modeled was the easiest part after having figured out how to get my character made in Makehuman and exported to Blender. The next step was figuring out how to model the helmet as close as possible to fit the character and resemble my own helmet in the process. 

I started by taking photos of my motorcycle helmet to get the views I needed for reference to get my Blender model scaled correctly.  I figured that with the helmet being symmetrical it would be easiest to model it the same way that I create a model car in Blender 3D.   I shot photos of the helmet so that I could get the top, side, and front views as straight on as I possible could.  That was the idea anyway.

I also took a photo of a tracing that I had made of the outer perimeter of the helmet's bottom edge as it set on a table. This helped out a great deal to get the model correct in all views. I then placed the views into Blender as shown to get the orientation and scale as correct as possible.

The only problem that I had to deal with in modeling the motorcycle helmet is that when a person wears a helmet it does not sit on the persons head the same way that it rest on a table.  The helmet is actually tipped downward at the front as shown above.

This made it a little more difficult to model but with a bit of finesse I was able to compensated for this issue by rotating the bottom and side view pictures and create the model as you see it here. The model of the helmet is very close to the actual helmet I wear with the exception of a couple of vents at the rear that I left out.  These were not necessary for the ideas I have to make a special mount inside the helmet for eye glasses.  That and the fact that these features are not seen in the front view anyway.

The added plus to making the model of the helmet in Blender is that I will be able to reuse the helmet in other Blender images or make a copy of it to create a new helmet all together for something like a space helmet for some futuristic space person.  So it will serve several functions with it's creation.

The modeling of the helmet once I got it set up with the reference images is very much like modeling a car.  The very same process is involved to get the features that I've managed to create.  It took me a couple of days but I am pleased with the end result.  One other thing that I wanted on the top of the helmet was the Z1R decal.  I knew that I could not get this on the model in my usual way so I tracked down a tutorial that I had saved for just such a purpose some time back.  Normally I would have UV unwrapped the helmet and then get the decal on that way.  But with the helmet being symmetrical and only modeled on one side this process would not work.  To see how I accomplished this I've included a link to the tutorial that I used to make it all work for those of you using Blender 3D. 

Not that I have the Blender model completed I can start playing around with ideas to make it easier for me to put my glasses on or take them off in the real world.  It's still just a spark of an idea at this point but at least I have something to work with in my computer to flesh out the project to see if it is even possible.  If I get something worked out I'll put out a posting on my progress.  In the meantime I also have another nice Blender model that I can use in other projects.   Have a good one!

Monday, February 20, 2017

Inexpensive 3D Printed Action Camera Hand Grip Project

Some time back I picked up a nice little action camera on Kickstarter similar to a GoPro but at a much lower price. The camera is called Mokacam and shoots in beautiful 4K video.  Impressive for such a small camera.  I have played around with the it a bit and plan on taking it with me this summer while I am traveling on my motorcycle.  I thought it would be interesting to use.  With this in mind I started looking at a hand grip for the little camera to help with this idea. Prices for a hand grip made specifically by and for a GoPro cost anywhere from around $25 - $30.  This would not do as the mount is all wrong for my little camera and the cost was also way out of line for what I had in mind. 
My computer design skills and 3D printer came to the rescue once again.  I worked out the design using Fusion 360 software and figured out what little hardware I needed to make my idea a tangible accessory for my little camera.

Pictured above is what the new grip looks like after some fancy design work in Fusion 360.  The hand grip for the camera is 1.25" in diameter and stands 4" tall.  This gives you a pretty good idea of how small the Mokacam is.  I really like using Fusion 360 as it is great software to design anything I can dream up and make a beautiful image of the project before it is even built so I can get my ideas out to all of you here on the blog before it is even built. Works for me.

I played around with different colors for the handle but in the end decided to make it entirely black.  But with the handle being designed into four separate pieces this made it simpler to actually print and make changes to individual parts as the project progressed. 

The hand grip is held together with a standard 1/4-20 bolt 4" long with a recessed nut in the upper section of the grip.  This was easily tightened down and held the assembly together securely. Also you will see in the images above that the inner red pieces of the grip have small  3D printed pins extruding out from them.  These pins eliminate the possibility that the sections will spin while assembled.  There are also two additional pins that are separate from the lower portion of the grip that needed to be made to serve the same purpose.  These pins could not be designed into the lower section of the grip as the 3D printing would not work correctly to recess the head of the 1/4-20 bolt in the assembly.

The Mokacam then was mounted to the protruding threads at the top of the grip by spinning it on to the camera mount that is in the bottom of the camera.  I had to adjust the amount of threads that needed to extend out of the top of the grip to get it just long enough to work but not to long so the camera could not fasten tightly to the top of the grip itself.

At the very bottom section of the hand grip shown above you can see the recessed area for the head of the 1/4-20 bolt along with two smaller openings.  The smaller opening have a hole between them so that the safety hand strap can be attached to the final assembly.  This will provide a bit of security to the should I ever loose hold of the hand grip.

Here's a photo of the finished grip along with a wrist strap that I had cannibalized from a dead point and shoot camera that I had in my work room.  I was very pleased with the 3D printing of the handle and the design itself.  I then calculated the total cost to make the handle.  The 4" bolt and nut was 44 cents and the ABS plastic to make the 3D printed parts for the grip came to only 66 cents. The wrist strap being free brings the grand total for this project to a spectacular $1.10.  This is a far cry from $25 - $30 for sure and I still ended up with something that I am happy with and will be even more happy to show off and use. Another great project and another good day at the Tinker's Workshop!