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3D Hull Modelling Tutorial /Community Build

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Why a community/group build?

Well, I wanted to do a hull modelling tutorial for a long time but I just don´t like the concept of a 'one-way' tutorial, I want to learn something, too, after all. The basic idea is that I show my approach to certain aspects of ship modelling (making the frames, applying thickness to the hull shape, modelling head rails etc) and then the participants can decide whether they want to follow my approach or try something different and then post it in the dedicated thread. To make this work properly, it´s important that we all work on the same ship and thus face all the same challenges and can transfer the input/help from other members directly on our own model.


What´s the scope of the tutorial?


Just the basic hard-surface stuff initially. Getting the plans into the modelling app, modelling the hull, head, transom, decks.

Standing rigging and applying textures optional.


What do I need to participate?


Well, I'm using Blender and Gimp but any other modelling app like Maya or SketchUp and a picture-editing software will do. 

If you´re also using Blender, I suggest you install Offset Edges and LoopTools, which are really helpful imo. There countless other nice add-ons for Blender (like TinyCAD) but I won´t use them for this tutorial as I try to keep it as basic as possible.



I'll provide the original plan, my edited version and a .blend file with my usual setup, including the plans imported into blender. Please use those only the for the tutorial :)


Here´s the plan / ship I've chosen for the tutorial:

Edited by Malachi
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With everything set up, let´s get started...

The ratio of the 'box' with the textures on it is 3:1 (exactly like those of the texture). If you don´t use my setup, add a default 2' cube to your scene and scale it along the y-axis to 6'. Then scale the whole box so that the edges along the y-axis side is 145' 9'' (result of size of the texture divided by the length p/p in pixels multiplied by the length p/p in feet, 9000/7204 * 116 2/3' = 145' 9'')

I added a plane and moved the edges to station line 28 and the perpendicular at the stem post. Then I cut (ctrl + r) the plane into 26 equal segments with 4' 4.5''  between the edges and extruded the station line 28 by 2' 9''.

As you can see the edges aren´t exactly on the station lines, but that doesn´t matter that much, the important thing is the equal distance between them.

I then extruded the verts at the perpendiculars and joined them to check if the length is the same as the one given by Chapman. 116' 8'', perfect :P


The plane is placed at the inner rabbet line on the body plan view


Now it´s time to 'cut' the shape of the sheer. To do this I placed the upper edges at the lowest point amidships and pulled the outer verts up with proportional editing set to connected (Falloff type linear or sphere).  You can set the verts individually, but proportional editing gives a nice and smooth curve without much effort. Depending on the size of your circle , you may want to hide the lower edges so they aren´t influenced by the editing. You can change the radius by pressing G and scrolling with the mouse wheel.


To get an even smoother curve, I hit Relax once or twice:


The next line I want is the upper edge of the wales (or the upper diminishing strake, to be more precise). I insert a edge loop, press E and F to get the exact shape of the upper edge loop.


Then I do the same for lower edge of the wales. Towards the stern and bow I use proportional editing again to pull the outer verts up. Three edge loops between the upper sheer line and the wales, one between the wales and nine between the lower edge of the wales and the rabbet line, no need to adjust those, though.


Three edge loops between the upper sheer line and the wales, one between the wales and nine between the lower edge of the wales and the rabbet line, no need to adjust those, though. I marked the lines that I only move horizontally when working in the body plan view.

Slowly, very slowly resembling a ship, huh?


From behind, not so much.


Time to change that..


I usually start at the last station line aft, so I hide all the station lines I don´t need, enlarge one of the windows on the side and set it to 3D view so I can easily see which vertices I´m moving around.


Before I continue, a few explanations are in order.

When I´m modelling a ship, I try emulate the planking the real ship would have had with the flow of the edge loops as much as possible.

Why? Because it makes texturing it so much easier :P


I made a quick 'n' dirty UV map and slapped one of my tiling planking textures on it. As you can see, the only thing I had to do after unwrapping is to straighten the horizontal edge loops to get a reasonable texture layout on the mesh. 


So, to make the texturing easier, I have to put a bit more effort into the modelling. To get the 'planks' evenly spaced, I have to distribute the edge loops evenly. To achieve this, I space the edge loops between the marked edges.

The marked edges are my fixed boundaries with reference points on the sheer, so those are only moved along the x-axis when working in the body plan view. They also indicate a change in the spacing.


Those are my reference lines on the sheer. For the area between the upper sheer line and and the upper edge of the wales I´m still not sure how many edge loops I need really need, but 5 seems to be rather reasonable for now. The two rails complicate things a bit, so I´ll make the complete hull first and see if I need to change the edge loop layout there.



So I adjusted three more station lines and noticed that I need more edge loops to properly define the hull body shape, so I inserted 1 for each area between my reference lines. Looks a lot smoother now :)


Next stop: I'm not going to model all the station lines, way too much work :P

By looking at the half-breadth, I can get away with deleting every second station line from 16 to Q without losing much detail on the mesh. The easiest way to delete those edge loops is by dissolving them, just press space bar, type 'dis' and select it from the drop-down menu (there is no direct shortcut for this yet, as far as I know)


Worked my way form bow and stern towards midships to station line 8 and H. 4 and D might be a problem as we have a black mess of lines and there´s no way to accurately place our verts. 

We´ll solve this problem with the loft feature. I modeled the master frame ( circle with cross) and deleted all the verts of 4 and 😧


Then we select 8 and the master frame and click on loft. The result should should be a line at 4.


Looks good for the verts above the wales, but we have to make some adjustments below. Repeat the same process for station line D.


That´s the result, a pretty smooth hull mesh. More tomorrow :)





So, what we´ve done so far? We´ve just made a inner shell of the ship, basically the outside the frames with no space between the frames (or the inner surface of the planking, if you prefer that way):


But before we get to the thickness of the planks, we make the keel. It´s pretty straight-forward hard-surface modelling, so I won´t go into much detail here, but one thing is pretty important to know: usually the keel, stem and stern post taper. A lot.


This is exaggerated, of course ;) The stem gets thicker towards the head, the stern post towards the counter and the keel is thinner at the stern post than at the stem, and the chock, gammoning piece and lacing towards the figure piece. Usually, I don´t model the tapering of the keel, it´s barely noticeable, quite complicated to get right and thus not really worth the trouble.


Edited by Malachi
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@Malachi So I started yesterday with modeling, I followed your tutorial on preparing the plan. But I then just used the files you provided as the safest route.

Got a question though, I am not sure what is happening so i attached a picture to make it clear.


The ribs are evenly spread between line 28 and the sternpost but somehow the lines at midship do not correspond with the plan. What am i doing wrong here? :huh:

Edited by Rob
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How long is the plane with the sheer texture on it? It should be 145' 9'' ( I added an explanation why it´s 145' 9'' to the top of my 2nd post, should have done that yesterday)

If that´s not the problem, please upload your .blend file so I can have a look at it :)

Edited by Malachi
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please, please use spoilers if you quote such huge posts. This is going to mess this thread up if not taken care to avoid "spam".

Please edit your reply to get easier reading for all that come to visit this thread.

Thank you and everyone else who follows in advance

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@Malachi That helped a lot, the lines now fit the plan. I still do have other distances then your example between the lines but the total is 116'9 so thats good right?


also i should be working, but this is more fun right now :)

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That´s the spirit ;)



That helped a lot, the lines now fit the plan. I still do have other distances then your example between the lines but the total is 116'9 so thats good right?

I didn´t know you can set Blender to show decimal feet *scratcheshead*

Your 4.39' are 4' 4 11/16'' compared to my 4' 4 1/2'' so that´s reasonably close, I think. That would also explain the extra 4'' for the length p/p in your pic :)


@Seraphic Radiance


I uploaded the important pics to this site, the only imgur one is the slide carriage thingie, right?


Edited by Malachi
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@Malachi I already had a hard time wrapping my head around feet and inches. Thats something I never, really never, use. Got the basic shape done, thats it for me for this week, will do some more on monday.


Really enjoying this!

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He, you were faster than me! :P


I already had a hard time wrapping my head around feet and inches. Thats something I never, really never, use.

me neither, except for modelling pixel boats. But this comes handy for us meter-lovers:


Converts to meters, feet, pied de roi, danish feet. Pretty cool :)


Edited by Malachi
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