Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Exploring 3D World

I decided to go ahead with my idea of doing the Me-262 in Sketchup to compare the experience of using OpenVSP for the same model.  The two systems take very different approaches to computer graphic modeling, so it is really kind of an apples and oranges proposition.  However, for the CG dabbler like me, it still seems a worthwhile comparison.

Google Sketchup and OpenVSP are both friendly to beginners compared to any of the other design packages I've looked at, and of course being free is also a plus they share.  From my perspective, the biggest advantage that Sketchup has over NASA's little OpenVSP is the capacity it gives the modeler to directly superimpose the model being drawn onto a set of three-view plans.  If you have a good, detailed set of plans a very realistic model is possible.  Another check in the plus column for Sketchup is in its forgiving nature; you can easily undo a whole series of mistakes with a mouse click.

The importance of starting off with a good set of plans probably can't be over-stressed.  The really proficient computer graphics guys amass dozens or hundreds of drawings and photos of their subjects before they start working on a model.  An example of what this kind of thorough preparation along with acquired skills can be found in a thread at in which Marek Ryś details the construction of his Me-262.  This CG artist uses another free, open-source modeling program, Blender.

Sketchup was originally aimed primarily at architectural applications, and its capabilities were initially much better suited to that environment than to the kind of organic modeling tasks which Blender users have typically undertaken.  In the past couple years, however, a large number of plug-ins have been developed for the program which is making it a serious rival to the product developed by the large Blender community. An example of how far this process had come can be found in the work of an artist who goes by the name of Axeonalias in the Google Sketchup Forum.

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