The first thing to consider when modeling a car is your references, you want to make sure that you have accurate reference images to ensure an accurate model. The Internet is a great source for reference images. Blueprints can be found all over the Internet but my favorite source is Thomas Suurland's website
. He has an extensive library of blueprints that you can download for free.
After you have a blueprint selected, you have to cut it up into the different views of the car. For this tutorial I have selected the Fiat 500. I use Adobe Photoshop 7 for all my image manipulation but you could do the same thing with any graphics application. You must always try to cut the blueprints as close to the car as you can as this will make lining them up easier in your 3D modeling program. The image below shows how I cut the blueprint.
Save each section with the appropriate name (top, side, back, front) to make it easier to identify them later.
Setting up the blueprints in 3D Studio Max
The first thing you do once Max is opened is to import the images into the program. Click on the utilities tab and then click on the button labeled "Asset Browser."
When the asset browser window comes up, go back to Max and hit the "M" key on your keyboard to bring up the material editor. Drag the two windows so that they are next to each other as shown below. Make sure that you are in the directory containing your blueprints in the asset browser.
Drag each of your four blueprints (top, side, front, back) onto a different sphere in the material editor. Once you have them all, change each sphere to a cube using the button I've circled below. This just makes it easier to see the blueprints.
In the asset browser, right-click the side blue print and select properties. This brings up the image information dialog. Take note of the resolution of the image because you will create a plane with the same dimensions to map the blueprint onto.
Go back to the left viewport in Max and create a plane object with one width seg and one length seg. Change the width to 395 and the length to 177 to correspond with the dimensions of the side blueprint. Name this plane "side." The parameters of your plane should look like this (image on the left).
Now go back to the material editor and click on the cube with the side blueprint on it. Drag it onto the plane object you created. This will map the image onto the plane. If you can't see the image in the left viewport, then right-click the viewport name in the top left of the viewport and select "Smooth + Highlights." This is what you should have:
Repeat this whole process for the other three blueprints. Create a plane in the top viewport for the top blueprint, one in the front viewport for the front blueprint and one in the back viewport for the back blueprint. When you have done all of the blueprints, you should reposition the different planes until they look like this in the perspective viewport:
Now if you don't want to go through all of the stuff detailed above, I decided to be a nice guy and provide you with the .max file with all the blueprints set up as you see them in the picture above.
The blueprints are now positioned correctly to begin modeling the car. Now the fun begins!!
Next Page: Setting up the first polygon.