Friday, 22 June 2012

Experimenting with Google Sketchup

I haven't really been in a miniatures painting mood the past few weeks and have been away visiting old uni friends recently, so not much progress to show tbh. I did decide though that I wanted to try my hand at 3d modelling/sculpting before I went away though. Here are the fruits of my labours so far using google sketchup, a free and fairly intuitive program. I had a shot at the Acclamator class Assault ship featured in Star Wars episode II and III. 
Initially I thought this would be a fairly easy ship to do but as I looked at more reference material I realised it's actually an extremely complex shape - I'd have been better off doing a star destroyer or something. 
However, I persevered and if nothing else throwing myself in at the deep end forced me to become fairly effective at using the various tools on sketchup quite quickly. 
Some shape, such as the botton hull shape shown in the above picture, were extremely easy to make whilst others, such as the odd triangle with 'bits cut-off' (which is located above the engines), was extremely difficult to make. 
The engines were surprisingly easy although I got carried away detailing them before I read the guidelines on shapeways vis materials and print tolerances. I'll probably have to redo and simplify them if I actually decide to get this printed up. 
 I simplified the bottom of the hull pictured above as I no-one will really look at it anyway...
I decided to make the 3d model to scale with my current Star Wars fleet at 1:10,000. So its 75mm long, 46mm wide and about 20mm tall. Quite tiny really! I hope the details will come out if I use frosted or ultra frosted detail, although the costs could be prohibitive. 
This model is far from finished, as you can see. The nose and bridge still need a lot of work and then I need to work out how much detail and 'greeblies' to include on the hull. I'm having great trouble with the curves on the bridge but luckily the blockish greeblies will take no time at all. 
Overall I'm pretty proud with how far I've come on this program in a reasonably small amount of time (10 hours or so). If I did it again I know I could do it in a quarter of the time. For a start I'd only build one half, then just copy, past, flip and align.

 I can't wait to work out how to do curves and then I'll be away, the possibilities are endless!


  1. Looking good! I've done my own experimenting with Sketchup and Shapeways and it's a blast to play with minis that you designed, so best of luck!

    The purple planes should be on the inside of the model, just right click and choose to reverse them from the options. Sometimes Shapeways has a fit and won't print unless all your insides are on the inside. :-)

  2. How long did it take to become this proficient?

    1. It took about 10 hours. However, I did it the slow way. Should have built half and then copied it down the middle. Also, I restarted halfway through as the first time through I was learning and made lots of minor mistakes which made it hard later on (remember, measure twice, draw once). I've seen some incredible starship designs elsewhere on the web using sketchup. It just takes time and perseverance.

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