Saab JA-37 Viggen: I can't stop making aircraft aaaaaaaaaa

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PatJS polycounter lvl 9
Update:
ja37finaltexcollage.jpg

Original post

I was working on an original design when I realized that I needed to go back to the drawing board with it, so I decided to make a jet in the mean time, because frankly I feel lazy if I'm not modeling or texturing every day. And it's not even Russian for once! I apologize if spamming the boards with aircraft is annoying anybody; I haven't made very many vehicles so I'm always looking for critique. This will definitely be the last one for a while. Once again this will be a complete game model when I'm done.

This time I'm doing a Swedish jet. On the nerd side of things, this guy has an unusual arrangement where the horizontal stabilizers are in front of the wings. Called canards, the type used on the Viggen is close-coupled, which produces less drag than a conventional arrangement. Because of this configuration, the wings have elevons instead of ailerons: they can function as both ailerons and elevators. The vertical stabilizer is hinged at the base and can fold completely sideways, allowing the Viggen to fit into much smaller spaces. It also has bicycle style rear wheels to keep a narrower profile, so that the wheels can fit into the wing. A near semi-permanent drop tank is mounted centrally, adding 30% more fuel. It is no longer in use by Sweden, having been retired in 2005.

Here's the finished high-poly:
ja37hipolycollage.jpg

It's much lower in surface detail than my previous stuff because most of the visual interest is going to be in the panels and grime, of which I have wonderful reference. Also, I modeled the wheel wells and associated tangles of cables separately instead of cutting them into the wings and fuselage because it would be a huge pain in the ass to do in the high poly model and it wouldn't make the end result any better. Those nasty cuts before the cockpit are along panel lines, and are not nearly as noticable under normal lighting conditions.

Replies

  • sneakymcfox
    It looks really great, you're very fast at doing these high polys
  • Christian Hjerpe
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    Christian Hjerpe polycounter lvl 11
    Really nice modeling! Can we see some wires?

    I live right next to SAABs airfield so I see the JAS 39s almost everyday.
  • ErichWK
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    ErichWK polycounter lvl 10
    ahh! Excellent! Your high poly renders always come out so great. How do you do it, if you don't mind me asking.
  • Xoliul
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    Xoliul polycounter lvl 10
    Cool, very interesting shapes on this. Stuff like the body shape, the double rear wheels, cool.
    I'd be interested in seeing you take this a bit further than the previous heli's; they still felt a bit clean and tame in terms of texturing.
  • PatJS
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    PatJS polycounter lvl 9
    senakymcfox: thanks! I'm definitely getting better at doing these; this one only took four days, though to be fair it is less detailed than the Ka-27.

    ErichWK: If you mean the renders, I just use a basic 3 point light set up, and a phong material with a broad but weak specular (to emphasize the volumes), and I add an AO pass to that. I'm trying to emulate Ilya Nedyal, actually. The material itself is just slightly brown. Oh and normally only the key light contributes to specular, but in this case I let the rim do it too so that the edges of the transparent canopy showed up better. One thing I work hard to get is a broad range of values across a model. I set up the key light so that it lights one part of the model really well, but large (< 50%) portions are almost unlit. I then place the fill so that those parts are visible. The rim light is just there to pop the silhouette out, and provide "hot" areas to contrast darker areas.

    Xoliul: Yeah, I feel like my biggest problem right now is texturing, especially with dirt and grime. I always make stuff way cleaner than it should be. I'm going to be doing a pass over my entire portfolio where I redo all the textures with everything I've learned these last four months before I start applying to places. I will definitely appreciate as much critique as I can get on my texture work. You'll be happy to know that this is my goal as far as grime goes:
    Photo 1
    Photo 2

    Pzychaoz: Sure! I have some pretty atrocious stuff in places (specifically the wings), I should warn you. I still don't feel entirely competent with high poly stuff, so please don't attempt to learn too much from my stuff. I really should go back and make the wings better, just as an exercise.

    Oh yeah and there are three vertices with a crease value, which I used to keep them from pulling away from other panels, in order to preserve simplicity of the mesh. I wouldn't recommend using that until you have otherwise completed the mesh, because there's no way to know the crease value (at least in XSI) at a glance, without inspecting suspicious vertices. They aren't particularly visible, since they were only done to fix gaps of approximately one inch; the rest of this model is all normal sub-d.

    hipowires.jpg
  • Ihazard
    yet again another amazing aircraft :) what's the original concept you were working on may I ask?
  • PatJS
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    PatJS polycounter lvl 9
    It's a floating scout robot pod. It has arms that fold flush with the body, popping out when they need to interact with something designed for humans (doors, computers, levers, etc). It's supposed to be for places hazardous for people, but where a human would be useful (think industrial accidents, natural disasters). I didn't design the arms very well, so I needed a break to properly complete the concept. I'm probably going to post the thing in a much earlier stage than most of my stuff so I can get feedback on the concept as well.
  • PatJS
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    PatJS polycounter lvl 9
    Here's the finished the low poly model. It weighs in at a little more than half the tris that my Ka-27 did, due to a complete lack of complicated rotors. This makes me really glad because I was worried that I wasn't going to be able to fully make the sweet wheel setup this thing has. All of the moving parts can really move; the canopy can open, the wheels have proper suspension, the wheelwell doors open and close. The only moving parts I skipped are the thrust reversers because they're only really used when landing, and who lands an airplane in a game?!
    ja37wires.jpg
  • Ihazard
    thats so sick, I can't wait to see this one baked/textured :D you never cease to amaze me
  • sneakymcfox
    This looks really great I think you've inspired me to do my own aircraft :)
  • PatJS
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    PatJS polycounter lvl 9
    Fresh from the oven!

    ja37bakedmaps3d.jpg
    The maps themselves, at quarter size:
    ja37bakedmaps.jpg
    I have a few little things that need ironing out, but nothing too horrible. I think I just need to re-bake the tiny little intake on the ventral side.
  • Der Hollander
    Way awesome. The attention to detail you put into the model really shows, and the inside of the wheel well came out great. Hope to see this bad boy textured.
  • PatJS
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    PatJS polycounter lvl 9
    This is a basically complete clean texture. I haven't applied any grime whatsoever yet.
    ja37texcleancollage.jpg
    Maps (Originally 2048x2048)
    ja37texmapsclean.jpg

    In order to save UV space, the left side "FARA" intake warning and the numbers on the wings are actually separate objects, slightly raised above the main mesh. They are cut straight out of the main geometry, with a few optimizations but otherwise coplanar angle-wise. I baked the diffuse and specular straight from the main textures, but with the added color detail. Normals are baked from the high poly. Because there are two numbers and only one wing, this means that it takes two bakes to transfer the details. However, since I only need to do this when I've otherwise finished a texture, and because it only takes 2 minutes to do the whole process, I figure it's a fair trade off, since I get loads and loads of extra UV space. Those weird red squigglies in the middle of the diffuse map are the wing numbers. You can see the extra "FARA" on the very left edge, near the bottom.
  • Xoliul
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    Xoliul polycounter lvl 10
    Hmm, while i appreciate the creative approach for the numbers, I'm pretty sure I would not do it like that myself. It seems like such a pain to texture: i was just thinking, they look too saturated, he should just lower the opacity on that layer to have them blend in more, but with the current setup, you can't do that.
    I would've just cut the panel with the number out, and mapped one of them separately. Fixinf seams there would've been easy compared to the current method's hassles.

    Edit; I wanna know how you did the diffuse on the inside of the wheelwells, from your bake? I hate that sorta stuff, it's difficult to figure out what to model or texture there, but still it has to look full of stuff and believable...
  • Wiktor
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    Wiktor polycounter lvl 11
    Woho! Swedish airplane! That's really cool to see. :)

    Great job on it, and incredibly fast work!
  • PatJS
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    PatJS polycounter lvl 9
    Yeah, I completely forgot that there were huge red numbers on the wings until after I had uv mapped it, drawn panels, and all 10 million rivets :( Still, I should probably fix it, since it's really not a good practice. Also I just noticed that I left one of the baking numerals on the wing in the spec i posted!

    As for the interior, here's what it looks like:
    crap.jpg

    When i texture stuff I have loads of color swatch layers that are all masked off, so for this thing I just baked masks from XSI and applied them to the correct color swatches. Incidentally, you can make perfect flawless masks with no work at all if you have 3 or less elements by making one element red, one blue, and one green and then just using the channels as masks. That's what I did here.

    As for filling up space, I agree it's a pain in the ass, but good reference helps. I have some excellent photos of the inside of Viggen gear wells. It's not perfectly accurate, but it's good enough for the purposes of this model.

    I reused alot of these elements in the rear well, combining it with new stuff so that it better matched the reference images.
  • Xoliul
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    Xoliul polycounter lvl 10
    That shows me I really need to get into the practice of creating a library of little greeble and detail elements to fill up those spots, instead of doing from scratch all the time.
  • PatJS
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    PatJS polycounter lvl 9
    Me too, but I always feel like I can do a better job so I never use them again, which defeats the whole purpose of greeble libraries. Plus, I don't want to make every area look the same all the time, and you don't have to do a very good job when modeling that stuff because it's only going to be like 3 pixels tall, max. I mean look at that picture I posted, that's some of the shittiest modeling I've ever done, but it's cool because It wasn't necessary to spend more time on it.

    e: not that I'm lazy or anything, it's more of a time management thing for me
  • Ryan Hawkins
    Looking really clean Pat.
  • ScubaSteve
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    ScubaSteve polycounter lvl 10
    looks good man...keep the airplanes coming...i love them
  • Ahrkey
    Possible the most masculine jetfighter there is. This thing does not care about aerodynamics or being nimble. Pure brute force at work!

    Awesome example. Can't find anything to complain about. Looks great. I feel your pain about the numbers/rivets and stuff. I did one myself(except for Highpoly) I went with the method Xoliul described. Won't your method generate z-fighting?
    Allthough I disagree about the numbers being too saturated. They had some highly reflective/flourescent paint for those. I like it the way they are!
  • PatJS
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    PatJS polycounter lvl 9
    I don't think it will create Z-fighting; I noticed that the HALO:Reach artists who posted their stuff here were using decals all over the place. The numbers are just slightly raised above the geometry below them, so they're not really coplanar. When I said that they were earlier I meant that they had the exact same orientation.
  • tda
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    tda polycounter lvl 12
    Great modelling and a nice lowpoly shaping up too. The intricacy of the panels and rivets reminds me of my younger days cobbling together airfix kits :)
  • PatJS
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    PatJS polycounter lvl 9
    Thanks for the comments guys!
    tda: When I was younger I always wanted to make model airplanes, but I lacked the patience to actually make them look good. I'm pretty sure that I'm scratching that same itch right now.

    Here's a WIP shot of the grime. I'm working really hard to make it look a lot better than my last work, especially with Xoliul's advice to get some color in there. The grime is composed of seven colors right now: Light brown, dark brown, warm dark grey, purply-mauve, green, teal, and a little bit of a light greyish blue (not much of that last one).

    ja37texdirtywip.jpg

    Let me know what you think! Oh and that back portion is supposed to be really dirty because the thrust reversers vomit exhaust all over the side of the airplane every time it lands.
  • Xoliul
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    Xoliul polycounter lvl 10
    I used to glue planes together too when i was younger. Still have a big cabinet full of them right next to me here.

    texture is looking great, i think your work is paying off. I presume the areas without grime as of yet, will get a treatment later on?
  • teaandcigarettes
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    teaandcigarettes polycounter lvl 10
    Fuck me sideways, that thing is hot.

    I'm not even a fan of planes so that's saying a lot.


    However, I do think, that these numbers look too clean compared to the rest of the plane. Have you thought about creating a new layer beneath that red paint and filling it with the same colour as the one on the wings? Since your diffuse is fairly uniform you could mask the red paint and make it look as a part of the same UV island.

    I hope you get what I'm trying to say here - I haven't slept in ages and can't even think properly anymore, haha :p
  • divi
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    divi polycounter lvl 9
    i would post a picture of jizz, but that is probably against the forum rules!

    very nice.
  • Contrails
    Looks great as always... I'm a big fan of planes and aviation in general so I always love to see your work :)

    You might want to tone down the specular highlights a bit - they're a bit strong which makes it look like plastic - paint is not that reflective

    And this may have been a conscious decision, but it looks a little blue - references for that particular paint scheme seem to lean more towards a more desaturated blue/gray.

    i.e. http://www.airliners.net/photo/Sweden---Air/Saab-JA37DI-Viggen/1341614/&sid=8d4d52824cb64131f8d56d9932a60a3a
    http://www.airliners.net/photo/Sweden---Air/Saab-JA37D-Viggen/1630364/&sid=196fdc2e4b454df0f46a33ec1660d5c0
    http://www.airliners.net/photo/Sweden---Air/Saab-JA37C-Viggen/1469054/&sid=8d4d52824cb64131f8d56d9932a60a3a
  • sneakymcfox
    Very nice, the central section of the fuselage beneath the wings good do with a little more grime but I'm sure thats coming.
  • PatJS
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    PatJS polycounter lvl 9
    Yeah it is a little blue; I might crank the saturation down a bit. And teaandcigarettes, I will definitely fix those numbers; what I've done is bake the wings without the red color onto those UV islands, and then placed the red bake over it, so I can easily adjust opacity. I haven't done very much grime work on the wings, so when I've finished with that I just load up my special baking scene and hit "Render", transferring the grime.

    Oh and yeah the parts of the model with no grime simply haven't had any work done yet.

    Thanks for the compliments and critique everyone!

    Edit: Here are the references I'm using for color. I do have plenty which are grey, but I really like these blue ones, and I have corroborated my color choice with a modeling resource site:
    0797438.jpg
    0969713.jpg
  • Xoliul
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    Xoliul polycounter lvl 10
    You know, sometimes, actual correct real-life reference is simply not the most visually appealing thing. In such a case I think it makes sense to do what looks best visually. It shows you really know what you're doing as an artist, by going beyond reference even.
  • PatJS
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    PatJS polycounter lvl 9
    I agree with you there! Things need to make sense for sure if you are striving towards a realistic product (which is what I'm doing with this), but I think that looking better is always better than being more accurate. An obvious exception would be making a simulator or something, which is supposed to be fairly documentary in nature. I personally really like the way things are built though, so I try to match form as well as possible.

    I fixed the nose cone pitot, which was comically large before for some reason, and added grime to the rest of the aircraft. I also lowered the opacity on the wing numbers as per Xoliul, and I think it looks more integrated. I'm pretty satisfied with this thing right now, but please tell me if anything isn't to your liking guys.

    ja37finaltexcollage.jpg
  • Barnstable
    This jet is just outstanding Pat.

    Probably my favorite piece I've seen from you, and that's saying quite a lot since your other jets and helicopters are stunning.

    The textures are just... WOW. Can you post your updated Texture Sheets if you're done with them?
  • Zanrok
    Amazing work man! So much detail.... lol

    Could you maybe describe how you made your panel seams? They are extremely well done.
  • phillip.bailey
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    phillip.bailey polycounter lvl 9
    This is great!! Love the inter-workings for the retractable wheels. Well done! Bravo!
  • PatJS
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    PatJS polycounter lvl 9
    Thanks everyone!

    Zanrok: I hand drew the seams in photoshop. In cases where there were seams or where I couldn't quite get nice lines due to surface curvature I drew some guide lines directly on the mesh using photoshop's 3d tools, and then drew the seams over those guide lines. Once I had finished all of the seams, I blew them up 200% and multiplied them over themselves a few times, ran nDo set to emboss, and extracted the innermost couple pixels of the resulting map by deleting the empty spots, selecting the seams, and contracting the selection. I sized the resulting map down to the original size and threw it in my normal map, using an overlay method to blend. The reason I did the blow up stuff is that baking maps at normal size tends to result in dodgier maps with very small details like panels.

    Here are my finished maps, and a full-sized portions as well.
    ja37texturesheets.jpg
    ja37texexcerpt.jpg
  • TheMadArtist
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    TheMadArtist polycounter lvl 12
    This is really inspiring work and very nice explanation on how you did the panels. The perfect amount of variation in the texture and grime to sell it without overdoing it too.
  • TrentSnow
    I like the way you present your work.
    nice job!
  • Zanrok
    Thanks a bunch for the explanation!

    Gonna look over your textures and try to use some your methods with my next texturing project. Insane stuff man!
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