Part 1: Modeling the Nissan R390 GT in 3ds max 5
>> Section 4: Poly modeling
Soooo, we've already done a big part of the tutorial!...anyway what you just finished is the fastest part in modeling a detailed car. Nevertheless this part was also really important: having the right proportions and the right curves where you need them, will greatly help in the following sections. Now that we have fixed all the holes...eh...wait, we still have holes! OK, let's fix those buggers.
Fig.8:lfixing holes create faces where needed: here I am clicking in "create polygon" mode on the numbered vertices, to cap a hole in the hood
Fig.9: the fixed mash after fixing all the holes you get this
Fig.10: mirroring starting to look like a car!
First of all, select your car, right click and convert it to a editable poly (whoo-ahhh!). If you haven't used poly before, you should find plenty of tutorials to get you started out there. Anyway the basic concepts are easy and very similar to regular mesh modeling, so you should still be able to follow without any problem. You will still have your holes there, and see isolated vertices right where you need them to create new faces. If you see 2 (or more) vertices very near, that's why you have a hole (remember from previous section). Delete one of the 2 (or more) in this cases: you just need 1 to build a new face. Switch to polygon sub-object mode (shortcut is "4") and click on "create" in the "edit geometry" subsection. Now all you have to do is create a face where you have a hole (always create four sided faces where possible), clicking on the right vertices in a counter-clockwise manner (Fig. 8)(start from any vertex you like, there's really no difference). Once you get back to click on the 1st of the four vertices, a face will be created. Easy uh? Cap them all now!
Once you have closed all the holes (Fig. 9), you must be sure that no isolated vertices are left in your object, so just switch to vertex sub-object mode and click "remove isolated vertices". So, take a look: the car is slowly shaping! This is usually when I start getting excited and keep working for hours, when I see for the 1st time the shape of the car, and i can already feel where I will finish up :-)
Now you mainly have to use the "cut", "connect", "loop" and "ring" poly-tools. Bind a key to each of this tools in the "customize UI" menu, you will end up saving hours and thousands of mouse clicks :-). What you are going to do is add lines to detail up the basic shape. Instead of explaining the process step by step, i'll show you some screenshots of my progresses here with a short description of what i did: wireframes are really better than a thousand words in this case.
Just keep in mind that you should keep the mesh as "quad" as possible (4 sided polygons), the final result will be greatly influenced by this. You can also bind a key to "switch NURMS (poly)" (in the UI preferences) so you can check the smoothed version from time to time (1 iteration is enough for now). It's also time to add a "simmetry" modifier if you want (or use the hold trick of mirroring an instance of your half car..but "simmetry" is faster and easier to setup imho), so you can get a better feel of the volumes (Fig. 10 and Fig. 11). One last thing before you start detailing: take a look at the blueprints and references from time to time to be shure you are going in the right direction. It might be usefull to apply a semi-transparent material (70% opacity) to your car, so you can see them through your model.
As you can see from Fig. 11, I already started working on the mesh. I removed some wrong edges re-building the cage in some areas. The way you do it is: select one or more edges you don't want and hit "remove" in the "edit edges" panel. Then "remove" the vertices where the deleted edges intersected. To add edges I use 2 methods: the 1st is selecting 2 or more edges (often using "ring" in the poly selection panel") and hitting the square button besides "connect", to choose how many edges I want to build. The 2nd in switching in vertex sub-objects mode (optional) and use the "cut" tool. As you can see from Fig. 12, i added 2 rings of edges (highlighted in red) on the upper part of the side of the car (so that i get a smooth corner but yet not too rounded on the profiles) and on the bottom windshield area. I also worked out some errors in the highlighted circles, by removing wrong edges and building new ones.
Fig.11: smoothed version: turn on "use NURMS subdivision" with iterations set to 1 to check the smoothed version
Fig.12: modeling starting to model in poly mode
Fig.13: subpanels: different colors for different parts!
Fig.14: the wing: this was easy :-)
Fig.15: the poly wing: this was easy :-)
Fig.16: the wing detail: just some cutting to refine the edges
Fig.17: the wing mountings: same as before
Fig.18: low detail wheels: add 4 cylinders as wheels
While adding details, I tried to follow not only the shape but also the topology of the different panels. To help me identifying the different parts, I assigned a multi-subobject mateial to the car, then started selecting polygons and changing their material IDs properly (in the "polygon property" section of the editable poly panel). The result of this operation is showed in Fig. 13. While being an optional, this process made my life a lot easyer in giving the right shapes to the panels, and is also usefull later when it comes to tweaking the mesh (you can use "select by material ID").
Having the car at a good point, I now modeled the rear wing. This is quite easy: just outline the contour of the 2 main wing components with 2 splines (using "corner" for vertex creation) and extrude them according to the blueprints. Convert them to poly and do some cutting as shown in Fig. 15 and Fig. 16, then check if NURMS with iteration set to 1 gives you a good mesh with smooth edges (this is always important to catch highlights and proper reflections). You can always do this part with other methods (a regular poly, then add the "bevel" modifier to get smooth edges). As you can see i kept the 3 elements separated (as I suppose they are in reality, but i am not really sure). I then modeled the 2 supports for the wing in a similar way (Fig. 17). Notice that the mounting and the wing are not matching properly: just refine the mounting mesh so that it fits reasonably (look at Fig. 18 to get an idea on how I did it).
Before going on with the car modeling, I also created 4 cylinders to be used as a reference for the wheels: this helps you in keeping a well rounded mesh in the wheels areas, where you will have a lot of vertices later (and that surely doesn't help in keeping things smooth). Check Fig. 18 also to have a last look at the mountings mesh before you proceed (you can see them both smoothed and unsmoothed).
Now the main parts are done, so we can proceed onto the next section and start detailing up the car. With "detailing" I mean separating all the various panels, giving them thickness and good smooth edges, adding lights, wheels and interiors, as well as always keeping an eye on the references to make subtle changes here and there when I notice something wrong. By the end of next section, we should have an almost final version of our car.
This will be the longest part of the process, so be prepared for hours of maxing. For displaying and browsing purposes next part is split in 2 pages (Detailing #1 and Detailing #2).