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 Post subject: A Few Submarine Renders
PostPosted: Sat Oct 05, 2019 8:10 pm 
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Location: Glastonbury, CT.
Greetings virtual modelers! I'm a professional Lightwave3D artist specializing in technical animation. As a former submariner, boat modeling comes naturally. For fun, I'm currently modeling a USS Holland v6. Decent reference material is scarce, but the Nautilus museum is nearby, so I may make a date with their Research Dept. The Undersea Museum at Keyport, WA. was generous enough to allow me to go behind the ropes and measure their Kaiten about ten years ago and I was able to create a pretty accurate model using a tape measure and calipers.

Lightwave has a robust modeling workflow and can export to STL for 3D printing. With enough experience using the tools, if you can dream it, you can create it. While we use SolidWorks at the office, whenever a beauty render is needed to display our work, I import the CAD models into Lightwave for tweaking and texturing, then render the finished result.

CCC


Attachments:
688 Flyby (sm).jpg
688 Flyby (sm).jpg [ 286.48 KiB | Viewed 107 times ]
MK-48 Shot (sm).jpg
MK-48 Shot (sm).jpg [ 245.58 KiB | Viewed 107 times ]
Bluefin Robotics AUVs (sm).jpg
Bluefin Robotics AUVs (sm).jpg [ 346.71 KiB | Viewed 107 times ]
Capture Vehicle Descent (sm).jpg
Capture Vehicle Descent (sm).jpg [ 303.02 KiB | Viewed 107 times ]
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PostPosted: Sat Oct 05, 2019 10:44 pm 
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Location: Corvallis, Oregon, USA
Nice images!

Do these models have anything at all to do with DesignCAD?

Phil

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PostPosted: Sun Oct 06, 2019 3:41 am 
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No. DesignCAD is on the low end of the CAD spectrum, as opposed to the industry-standard ProE or SolidWorks CAD programs, which cost considerably more (SW=$4k in it's most basic version, with a $1300 yearly maintenance fee). Catia is another high-end app, with a seat price to match. DesignCAD is a low-cost, beginner-oriented app that serves its intended market well.

Lightwave3D (used for the renders posted above) is a 3D modeling, texturing, rigging, lighting, and rendering program used for movies and television. It is not a CAD program per se, but can be used to create a mech for export to a 3D printer. It was the first 3D program used in Hollywood that was affordable to the general public. First used on Babylon 5 by Ron Thornton (he was an instructor where I went to school) in the early 90's, Lightwave was the only 3D program of its type, (it only ran on the Amiga when first released, before being ported to the PC and Mac when the Amiga died) for many years. It's still relatively inexpensive, (<$1000) easy-to-learn, (it takes about five years to get really proficient if you're working alone, in a vacuum) and can exchange data with high-end CAD programs in several formats - STL being most useful for 3D printing. Other 3D apps (3DMax, Maya, etc.) have a much higher learning curve than Lightwave. You can get really good at a specific aspect of those programs, but Lightwave's featured can be mastered by one person, which makes it super-versatile. I was trained as a Generalist, meaning I had to demonstrate proficiency to be able to work in the industry as a modeler, lighter, rigger, and texture artist. LW is a good program for someone who wants to "do it all" which is why it's a favorite with indie production companies. It's Modeler has been neglected for a long time, but for someone who knows how to use it, creating hard surface and organic models is limited by one's imagination. Modo is an excellent modeling app, created by some of the core LW developers who wanted to take a fresh approach to modeling.

Maya is closest to the industry standard in Hollywood for anyone who wants to work in the visual effects industry. Blender is open source (and free) and receives continuous improvements. I am often asked, "What's the best 3D app for home use?" The best 3D app is the one you know how to use to finish the job before the deadline that meets the client's requirements.

The rendered output of CAD programs leaves something to be desired, though that is changing as more high-end CAD programs embrace PBR (Physically Based Rendering). Most mechanical engineers are not artists - they're problem-solvers who use 3D software to visualize and test (performing thermodynamic and stress analysis to name just two examples) designs before materials are machined. PBR has the ability to texture materials that look like the real thing, so you'll see improvements as PBR is integrated into CAD pipelines and more engineers learn to use it. I'll post some more (ship-related) renders if anyone wants to see them.

I see numerous posts here of members wishing to learn modeling and aren't sure where to start. The best advice I can give is start small! --Even if it's a salt shaker, create the best salt shaker ever, and learn the basic tools inside and out. Then make it again, and note how long it took the second time. Modeling by it's very nature is extremely time-consuming and tedious. Keeping one's expectations realistic is the best way to avoid "hitting the wall" and being unable to move forward, which is a precursor to giving up altogether. Modeling is a skill, an exercise in problem-solving. It becomes an art form when mastered.

The days of self-taught 3D artists are practically over, unless one is very motivated and adept at thinking through problems and puts in the required amount of time - measured in years, not months. If you do nothing but model, and spend every spare moment practicing, you can get pretty good within a year or two. The key is to master the tools and be able to create a 3D model in a reasonable amount of time that lends itself to printing.

Ship 3D modeling, (especially organic hull forms) require good reference material and the mastery of certain techniques to get the shape desired. Spline modeling is a fairly easy method, (and most often demo'd here) but there are a variety of other techniques to get the job done. I prefer blueprints but can usually get by with photographs if nothing else is available. Level of detail (LOD) is determined by the intended purpose of the model. For a 3D printed model, it's much more important, for a three-second flyby animation shot, not so much.

CCC


Last edited by CC Clarke on Mon Oct 07, 2019 6:44 am, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Sun Oct 06, 2019 11:30 pm 
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Location: Corvallis, Oregon, USA
I would like to see more of your ship renderings.

I wonder how difficult it would be to export a 3D model from DesignCAD to Lightwave 3D? Have you ever done this?

I am interested in this particular model:

https://www.okieboat.com/CAD%20model.html
viewtopic.php?f=27&t=70810
https://modelshipworld.com/topic/19321- ... cad-model/

It is in four files totaling about a Gigabyte, with about 2.8 million objects and 22 million points. It was drawn 1:1 scale, including every object that I could see in the blueprints, photos and equipment manuals down to 3/8" diameter rivets and screws (about one fourth to a third of the model is nuts, bolts, screws and rivets). Many of the objects are planes and grids (zero thickness) and I'm sure many of the solids are leaky.

I used the simple "Default" material mostly, although there are a few special materials with custom properties for shiny and dull reflections. There are no textures or image mapped surfaces.

I have been extremely frustrated with the limited rendering capabilities of DesignCAD and the weird (Crazy? Ridiculous?) lighting effects in the program. It also has extremely slow rendering capabilities compared to other programs including some "freeware".

In the long run I would like to create walk through videos from the CAD model.

Phil

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A collision at sea will ruin your entire day. Aristotle


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PostPosted: Mon Oct 07, 2019 6:42 am 
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I've admired your CAD ship model since I first saw it. Incredible amounts of detail that really makes it stand out as a labor of love. I can appreciate how much effort went into making it happen using references. Bravo Zulu!

I'll be the first to admit I know next to nothing about DesignCAD. That being said, most CAD programs have export capabilities. Look though your "File/Save As" or "Export As" options to determine what is available. When I import a SolidWorks model, I save them in STL format, then load them directly into Lightwave. Lightwave also directly imports obj files. If either of these two formats are available to you, we could start with a small assembly - say a bino mount, to create a test render. Obviously, a Gb file would be impractical to email and try to import in one shot. One of the major aspects of efficient 3D modeling is keeping the mesh as simple as possible to achieve the required look. This reduces the file size, and most importantly, decreases the render time.

General 3D Info:

IF exporting/importing a component is successful, there are a few steps required to create a photo-realistic render out of it.

1. Geometry: Very few objects have perfectly flat sides and razor-sharp corners. CAD programs typically create geometry with those characteristics. Depending on the type of shot, some geometry adjustments may be required. The key to photo-realistic 3D models are beveled edges (usually in the form of micro-bevels.) On a wide angle ship shot, this isn't a factor. CAD modeling isn't concerned with the mesh - only the shape of the mesh to be converted to files suitable for machining.

2. Texturing: All geometry needs to be assigned a texture surface name. Then the surface attributes need to be created (specularity, reflection, glossiness, diffuse, etc.) to accurately portray how the surface looks when light bounces off it.

3. Lighting: The best looking model in the world will look like crap with lousy lighting. Conversely, a poor model can look pretty good with awesome lighting. This applies to people (models) too!

4. Rendering: Rendering is the act of the software calculating the light ray(s) bouncing off of each polygon's surface normal. On a perfectly square (four-sided) polygon the surface normal projects from the center. If you take a four-sided poly facing you and move one corner toward or away from you, it is no longer a planar poly. It becomes non-planar, which means its surface normal is inaccurate. This results in a the computer not being able to calculate the light paths properly during rendering and gives really weird artifacts. A triangle cannot be non-planar, so a quad (four-sided poly) that is non-planar must either have it's points adjusted or be split into two, triangles. Most CAD program export a mesh as triangles. To reduce the file size, I usually combine all triangles into quad polys. That cuts the poly count in half, greatly reducing the file size and ability of the computer to rotate and manipulate the mesh in OpenGL.

I often import CAD models and spend several weeks optimizing the mesh to get the object manageable and ready for rendering. In some cases, I'll take a component, place it in the background and just remodel it from scratch, using the original shape in the background as a template. It can be a real timesaver and time is never on my side, especially when a delivery deadline is approaching.

I've attached some test renders of a Japanese Type 1 Kaiten suicide torpedo, that I mentioned in a previous post. It uses a "clay" texture to simplify checking out the geometry when lit for imperfections. The majority of the polys are quads or ngons (polys with more than four points) as shown in the mesh shots. As classically depicted, the Type 1 had covers over the afterbody, (a modified Long Lance torpedo) but the version I used as reference was a little more rustic, which simplified construction late in the war as materials became more and more scarce, and quantity over quality was desired.

(Not nautical, but illustrative) The X-47B renders have texturing applied. The Cat Launch render (a composite of the 3D model on a background photo plate) was created over ten years ago - long before it was actually tested on a carrier. The same technique can be applied to 3D ship models on a background plate with the original ship removed via Photoshop. Concept artists do this all the time.

If you can export in stl or obj formats and want to give it a go, PM me and I'll send you my personal email address to forward the file for evaluation. Keep it under 15mb if possible, please.

CC


Attachments:
Clay 01.jpg
Clay 01.jpg [ 123.8 KiB | Viewed 73 times ]
Clay 02.jpg
Clay 02.jpg [ 101.93 KiB | Viewed 73 times ]
Clay 03.jpg
Clay 03.jpg [ 90.26 KiB | Viewed 73 times ]
Clay 04.jpg
Clay 04.jpg [ 128.84 KiB | Viewed 73 times ]
Clay 05.jpg
Clay 05.jpg [ 160.85 KiB | Viewed 73 times ]
Mesh 01.jpg
Mesh 01.jpg [ 326.9 KiB | Viewed 73 times ]
Mesh 02.jpg
Mesh 02.jpg [ 384.69 KiB | Viewed 73 times ]
X-47B 01.jpg
X-47B 01.jpg [ 141.65 KiB | Viewed 73 times ]
X-47B Cat Launch.jpg
X-47B Cat Launch.jpg [ 364.82 KiB | Viewed 73 times ]
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PostPosted: Tue Oct 08, 2019 2:21 am 
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CC,

Thanks for the images.

When I replied to your post I mistakenly thought we were on the DesignCAD user forum - one of several I monitor regularly. That's the reason for my question about DesignCAD. I do appreciate you taking time to answer!

I understand your comments about rendering. In my CAD model of the OK City I have cut corners quite a bit to reduce the number of points and facets and file size. For example, instead of using rounded edges on small objects, where the curved surfaces would have hundreds of facets, I just chamfer the edge with a single flat surface. For large cylindrical objects I use a minimum number of facets, typically 36. They render smoothly in DesignCAD, but don't look too closely at the edges at the ends of the cylinders! From a reasonable viewing distance you can;t see the oddities.

DesignCAD's native file format uses rectangular facets, and the wireframes look a lot like the images you posted that show facet edges. However, as you must certainly know, you cannot model many surfaces with rectangles, at least not finite rectangles. The program's rendering routines perform some interesting "cheats" to make these surfaces appear smooth. It seems that for rendering it does treat rectangles as two triangles. And for some complex solid Boolean operations it breaks the rectangles into triangles.

The latest versions of DesignCAD do export both STL and OBJ file formats. For STL I do know that the model is converted entirely to triangles. The program even has an internal way to convert the rectangular polygon solid format to a different solid with a triangular mesh.

I have always assumed that if I export the CAD models to another program, as a minimum I would have to assign materials (textures) to every object. Fortunately, for an exterior model of a ship almost everything is painted gray.

I have also assumed that there would be quite a bit of rework involved to correct imperfections from the export/import process. I have often imported files from other programs, often with significant problems. Instead of trying to edit the imported objects directly I have used them as templates for constructing new versions.

Some DesignCAD users create the CAD models in DesignCAD because it has a very versatile user interface (five ways to execute each function) and an extremely powerful macro programming language that allows automation of many complex processes that are repeated often. Then they export the CAD file into another program for rendering.

Thanks for the offer to try and import a DesignCAD file into Lightwave 3D, but right now I am pretty busy and do not want to commit any time into that effort. But I will investigate Lightwave 3D a bit more.

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A collision at sea will ruin your entire day. Aristotle


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PostPosted: Tue Oct 15, 2019 2:50 pm 
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Very nicely done! I'm also a former bubblehead who likes to 3D model subs. I'll poke around for some of my renders. Mine are not as nice as yours as I'm mostly modelling for 3D printing in 2400 to 1250 scale. Many details are within the resolution of the printer and end having to be sacrificed.

Bill W>


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