I have been going back and forth between Modo and Maya for a number of years, and before that it was LightWave and Maya. And in all that time I have always said that Maya seems like a second language to me. I understand the philosophy behind it, most of the time, but I never have considered myself to be an expert in Maya. Well that all changed not to long ago. 

I realized that even though my personal preference to create 3D assets is Modo, I am a professional, and I use Maya to make my living. So I embarked on a quest to create a project that I could do in parallel, in both Modo and and in Maya. 

Welcome to The Nautilus Project. I know it may be cliché, but that is why I choose this as the place to start. . when first learning to model in a 3D package, after graduating from primitives, most people will jump to something fun, and moderately challenging, often times a spaceship. Maybe it’s the Millennium Falcon or an X-Wing, when I first started the Eagle from Space 1999 was a favorite of a lot of people. But for me, I love the Nautilus from Walt Disney’s 20,000 Leagues Beneath the Sea. So this is where I’m Starting:

Prep Work: have a plan

You could just jump in and start modeling but, I want to approach this as though this is a paying gig. So I want some reference material. There is no where better place to  research the Nautilus than www.disneysub.com But really I started by just doing a google search for Nautilus Blueprints. You can see here the image that I downloaded. 

I took this in to photoshop, and proceed to lay out some guides. First you will notice that the plans are divided into 10ft increments. This makes getting everything to line up much easier. So I lay out a guide on each ten foot mark, one at the tip of the nose and one at the end of the rudder. I noticed that the top and bottom portion of the images does not quite line up. it was probably a composite of two separate sheets.  So after some quick rescaling, I got everything close enough. I mirrored the Front view and the Bottom view.  and ended up with TOP.jpg, BOTTOM.jpg, SIDE.jpg, FRONT.jpg and SLICES.jpg  all the images are 2024 long so the will line up.  

 

First Step: image Planes

modo:

  1. In the Item List choose Add Item, And I add two Backdrop items to the list. 
  2. Name one BD_Top and one BD_Side... or whatever works for you. 
  3. Select the BD_Top, and in its properties add the Top image to the image field. When you click on the Image field it will open the clips bin. at the top you will see Add Clips, select (Load Image). Then select the image after you have loaded it. (Secret Tip: You can load as many images as you want at the same time, just multi select everything you want to load into the bin. So feel free to load the top, the side, and the Slices images now.)  
  4. I set it's Projection Type to Top, and I give it at least a 50% transparency (also I will give it a -90 Y Rotation. this will keep my model along the Z axis as we build).
  5. Then For the BD_Side I add the Side image. Since we added this image to the bin before just click on the Image field and select the image from the bin. 
  6. Leave it as projection type right, and set it's transparency to at least 50%
  7. Now before we move on I want to work in correct scale. Since we know the divisions on the plans are 10ft, 
  8. I make a 10ft cube as reference.
  9. I Could just grab the BD items and scale them but on the Back Drop Properties there is a setting for Pixel Size.  
  10. I found that if I set this to 2.667 cm, it works perfectly . 

fig 1.0

 fig 1.1

fig 1.1

Maya: Build

  1. First, in preferences, I set my units to feet. Then I make my 10ft cube. After, immediately set units back to centimeters. 
  2. I made two planes: Side 2024 x 423 and  Top 2024 x 338 to match the size of the images.  
  3. Rotate the planes so they are oriented down the Z axis.
  4. Scale the planes so that the ten foot marks are about the same size as the cube. (This is a cheat. But since we know that in modo we used 2.667cm as the pixel size, in Maya just set the scale to 2.667 instead of 1.0.)

texture

  1. Open the Hypershade Windows>Rendering Editors>Hypershade, and create two lambert shaders.
  2. For the first shader, add a File Node to the color channel, and load the Side image.
  3.  You should now see the image on the plane in the viewport. However the UV map will not be set to the full image. 
  4. Go to Windows>UV Editor. You might not see the UV wireframe if the image is displayed. Click the Display Image button (fig 2.0) to turn it off. now you can see that the UV was created in the aspect of the plane. So, with the RMB Marking Menu switch to edit UV's and select the upper two points. You will probably want to turn on snapping for this. (fig 2.1)
  5. Hit the <w> key to move the points and drag them up so that the square covers the entire UV space.
  6. Now the image of the side of the sub should fill the plane and be the correct aspect.  
  7. Repeat the entire process for top plane. Then set the transparency on both lambert shaders to at least 50%. 
 Fig 2.0

Fig 2.0

 Fig 2.1

Fig 2.1

Finish

At this point you can freeze the transforms and delete the history for the image planes. Modify>Freeze Transforms. And Edit>Delete by Type>History. The last step I would recommend, is making the Planes into reference items.

 Fig 3.0

Fig 3.0

  1. Select the first plane, and then go to the bottom of the channel box panel. You should see the layers editor. (fig 3.0)
  2. Click the Make new layer from selection button. Then do the same for the other layer.
  3. Now on both layers Name them, and set them to Reference.
  4. This will allow you easy access to turn the visibility on and off, and you can not manipulate them while modeling on top of them. 

fig 3.1

You should now have the starting point for either, or both programs.   

Starting To Build: the Main Hull

There are probably quite a number of ways to do this next step in each program, but this is the one I chose. Primarily because this next step is basically identical in both packages, and because the plans support it.

So to start up in either packages, swap out the side image for the slices image. This images gives you the cross sections, that give you the basic shape of the submarine. Essentially you are going to trace the shapes rotate them 90 degrees bridge them together and then mirror the results.

For no reason at all I start somewhere in the middle. I don't know maybe the larger section feels more forgiving. Also I am only outlining the main shape of each cross section. I do not include the deck, or any of the filigree and fins below. Just the main hull, "the bottle." Each shape is essentially half an octagon, so each section will have 7 sides. keep in mind we are only tracing half of the shape of the hull. 

Ready? here we go. 

modo: 

A quick note on snapping. The first time I did this I found snapping to be cumbersome and a bit of a pain. Then I reset my options and it was incredibly helpful. To change the snapping settings Alt-Click on the Snapping button on the tool bar at the top of the viewport. This will give you access to all the snapping options. From the Default, Select Straight Line, and Right Angle. Choose what ever you think will help you here. But I chose to limit it to just those.    

Things will be much easier if you choose the orthographic view. If you rotated the BD its along the Z axis like we talked about above, you should be able to just tap the <3> on the numeric keypad. IF you don't see the BD item, tap <3> again to toggle from "Left" to "Right" views. 

  1. Choose the Pen tool to start the first section. In the Pen Tools properties, "Type" should be Polygon, and that is probably the only setting you need to worry about. 
  2. Trace out the seven points,that make one of the sections. 
  3. hit <q> to deactivate the Pen Tool.  Then Choose the tool again, to start the next profile section
  4. Repeat for all the sections. IF you are having trouble seeing through the polls as you're creating them, some of them do over lap, set the viewport to wireframe. 

Once they are all traced out, just make sure the Back of the D shaped sections are all straight. The best was to do this is to go into Edge mode <2>, select an edge, and scale it to zero. Select an edge, Tap <r> in the Tool Properties make sure that Negative scale is NOT checked. and drag the handle towards the center. As long as you are doing all the D backs. you probably want to do the same thing to the first top edges and the last bottom edges as well, so that when we mirror the halves the top and bottom sections will join together smoothly. 

You will notice if you are accustomed to working in Maya, is that we just created a series of polygons inside a single mesh item. Where as if we were to do this in Maya we would have created a series of NEW items. This is common to modeling in modo.

Next we are going to rotate each of these sections 90 degrees to create the shape of the main hull.  

Open the action center menus on the toolbar at the top of the viewports. About half way down you will see Element. Element allows you to select a component (vert edge or poly) for editing, and then select a different component as the basis of that action. So I want to rotate each of theses polys by 90 degrees around this back edge.

Tap <3> to ender poly modo. 

Select the Poly you want to rotate. 

Hover over the Back edge of the D shape. You should see the edge Highlight. Click on the highlighted edge and the Rotate gizmo should snap into place. 

CTRL-Drag the rotate gizmo until the poly is perpendicular to the Z-axis. Holding CTRL will snap the rotation to major increments. 

Now repeat until they are all at 90 degrees to the Z-axis. Be careful when you click on the edge not to rotate the poly a little bit. You can see the rotation amount in the Tools Property. If you do just "undo" once to get it back to zero. 

Once you have them all in position you can set the Action Center back to none. 

Select Each poly, in order, from front to back, or back to front. 

 Select the Bridge Tool, and click in the viewport. In the tool properties make sure you have "Remove Polygons," "Automatic Connections," and "Continuous Bridges" activated. 

Tap <q> to deactivate the tool.

Go back to the Action Centers menu and choose Origin. 

Select the Mirror Tool. You want to mirror across the X-axis, so make sure that is highlighted in the tool properties. Then Click in the View Port. 

Tap <q> to deactivate the tool.

Now there is just a little clean up and we are done. The Polys that Made up the D-backs are still inside the shell you will want to kill them. Then we want to remove the edge seam where we just merged our two halves. Tap <2> to ender edge mode, and double click on the edge to select the loop. <backspace> to remove it. Fi you can delete it, there may still me polys on the inside. 

If your hull has no end caps, hold the CTRL key, and you will see that the Edges modo button has changed to Boundary. Click on it. The two open ends edges are now selected. Tap <p> to fill with a poly. It will create one in both open ends as long as they boundary is selected. 

Last step. Depending on the number of sections you created the shape you now have, when compared to the side profile image may need a nose or tail extension, in my case both. 

Select the nose cap poly, tap <b> and click in the viewport to activate the bevel tool. Drag the nose forward with the blue handle so the it matched the image, then use the red handle to scale it. Next repeat for the tail. Again this is only if you did not create these sections when you made the D-sections, like me. 

Main Hull is now complete. 

maya

A quick note on snapping. Snapping is different in Maya than it is in modo. It seems to work better, but has fewer options.  I want to use snapping here. but I ultimately chose not to. 

Things will be much easier if you choose the orthographic view. If you rotated the  Image planes along the Z axis like we talked about above, you should be able to hold the space bar, click in the center and drag to the 3 o'clock position of the marking menu for the "Right" orthographic view. 

Also if you missed it above, Swap out the side images in the shader of the side image plane for the slices.jpg. 

When Modeling in maya I miss having the pale of tools that I have in modo, But you can tear off menus.

Go to the Modeling Menu Set. Open the Mesh Tools menu. Now click on the duble line at the top. The menu is now a floating panel. Yay! 

  1. On the Mesh Tools Menu choose Create Polygon. This is the Maya equivalent of the modo Pen Tool. 
  2. Trace out the seven points,that make one of the sections. 
  3. hit <q> to deactivate the Tool.  Then Choose the tool again, to start the next profile section
  4. Repeat for all the sections.

Once they are all traced out, just make sure the Back of the D shaped sections are all straight. The best was to do this is to select an edge, and scale it to zero. Hold down the RBM over the item you wan to edit and select edge from the marking menu. Select an edge, Tap <r> in the Tool Properties make sure that Prevent Negative Scale is checked, and drag the handle towards the center. As long as you are doing all the D backs. you probably want to do the same thing to the first top edges and the last bottom edges as well, so that when we mirror the halves the top and bottom sections will join together smoothly. 

Join all the layers into one item. Select all the segments, Mesh>Combine. 

Now Here is where I run into a big difference. and Maybe there is a Bug but it is probably user error. I can not get the Bridge tool to work as I expect it to. If anyone has any suggestions I would really appreciate them. So I need an alternative. I will just extrude one section then snap the points to the next. Its a little more work but it will give us the same result down the line.  

Turn on Snap to points.

Go into Face mode, Select the nose poly. Select Edit Mesh>Extrude and drag the face till it snaps to the next face. Switch to vert mode and snap each vert to the corresponding vert of the next face.

Repeat until you have done all the faces.

Lets do a little clean up, First, we will have a lot of vets that are not merged. go to Edit Mesh>Merge on the properties there is a check box "Always merge for two vertices." Make sure it is checked, and apply. I like to work with the HUD on. IF I select a vert, I can see if there are multiples. once you are certain they have all been merged lets clear out the section polys. 

Go to Face mode and select each cross section so that the interior poly is selected, then delete the interior poly.  

Next Delete all the polys that make up the flat center so that our Half Hull will be an open shape before we mirror it.   

Now select the mesh, and choose Mesh>Mirror Geometry Properties. On the properties panel choose -X and apply.

Double click on the Seam that was left from the merge, and delete it 

Last step. Depending on the number of sections you created the shape you now have, when compared to the side profile image may need a nose or tail extension, in my case both. 

Select the nose cap poly,  activate the extrude tool. Drag the nose forward then scale it. Next repeat for the tail. Again this is only if you did not create these sections when you made the D-sections, like me. 

maya_Hull.jpg

One last thing. Freeze Transforms and Delete History. 

Main Hull is now complete.