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(sorry if this is in the wrong place)

Hey everyone, so I've been wanting to make a mod for some time, but being me, I'm absolutely useless at Blender (how do you select something again? :P), which seems to be the go-to program for part modders.

However, I don't want to let my sparse, at best, knowledge of Blender stop me. I am pretty familiar with Sketchup, as I use it for 3D-printing. I was wondering if it is possible to make modded parts on Sketchup, and if so, what its advantages/disadvantages are.

Thanks! :) 

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The best person to ask would be @Balto-the-Wolf-Dog as the Prakasa Aeroworks mod of his has been pretty much predominantly built in Sketchup.

My two pence, Blender isn;t that hard to learn and it's pretty powerful and much easier to make parts with IMO. I used AutoCAD day in and day for 3 Years and also dabble in Sketchfab for making some renders of a house i'd designed in AutoCAD. If I had known about Blender when i was doing the renders it's what i would have used instead.

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It's definitely possible. I've had conversations with Balto about it. Best to talk to him.

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13 hours ago, steedcrugeon said:

The best person to ask would be @Balto-the-Wolf-Dog as the Prakasa Aeroworks mod of his has been pretty much predominantly built in Sketchup.

My two pence, Blender isn;t that hard to learn and it's pretty powerful and much easier to make parts with IMO. I used AutoCAD day in and day for 3 Years and also dabble in Sketchfab for making some renders of a house i'd designed in AutoCAD. If I had known about Blender when i was doing the renders it's what i would have used instead.

 

14 hours ago, TheEpicSquared said:

(sorry if this is in the wrong place)

Hey everyone, so I've been wanting to make a mod for some time, but being me, I'm absolutely useless at Blender (how do you select something again? :P), which seems to be the go-to program for part modders.

However, I don't want to let my sparse, at best, knowledge of Blender stop me. I am pretty familiar with Sketchup, as I use it for 3D-printing. I was wondering if it is possible to make modded parts on Sketchup, and if so, what its advantages/disadvantages are.

Thanks! :) 

6 hours ago, SpaceMouse said:

It's definitely possible. I've had conversations with Balto about it. Best to talk to him.

I guess I became the go-to guy for this stuff while I wasn't paying attention. Neat. My initial thought was that anything good enough for Bac9 ought to be good enough for me. Don't remember where I heard he used it or if that was accurate, but it has worked out fairly well for me.

The first and most fundamental thing to note is that, while export from SketchUp is easy and usually fairly clean, I've found no good way to handle UVs, normals, or really any postprocessing within it. My workflow has been SketchUp -> 3ds Max -> Unity, with unwraps, optimization, and normal repairing done manually in 3ds. I'm sure this all can be done in blender as well, but like you, I hate blender with a passion. Autodesk gives out their software free to students; look into that. 3ds Max is a handful too (I've only really just conquered it functionally in the last month; I did the bulk of my work in SketchUp for the same reasons you do), but in my experience it's a lot more ergonomic than blender is, and I figure if you're going to put in the hours to learn something like that, you might as well learn the professional industry standard. All that said, SketchUp is much less of a hassle to use and navigate, and is serviceable as a modeling environment.

Now that I understand 3ds max well enough to actually use it outright, I will even say SketchUp is still better in a few very specific ways. Very specific. SketchUp automatically splices faces around lines that run through them, and will allow you to select faces in large numbers based on smoothness, while also navigating comfortably. What's so great about this? It enables the interior and exterior model to be built as one model, and severed from each other later, then realigned as separate parts. In this manner, perfect congruence between interior and exterior models (sloppy alignment can be very obvious and annoying if any of your pod geometry, including window bezels, is visible from inside) can be ensured. In brief, the ideal process is as follows (it rarely goes perfectly):

Spoiler
  • Model your part in and out, especially windows. Windows in our case can be any shape but should not have depth. The faces of the window will provide the seam between interior and exterior, and should coincide in the final version. No backfacing in KSP, so they won't flash.
  • Smooth your model so the whole of the exterior skin (or as much as possible) can be selected without selecting any faces on the interior.
  • Drag-clone the model twice, leaving the original as backup. One copy will become the exterior, one the interior. It doesn't matter which order you do them in, but I like to start with the exterior because it goes right more often.
  • Explode the exterior model (sans furniture, panel, etc, which don't need to be there at all), so that your window geometry becomes one with the rest of it. 
  • If you are very, very lucky, this will cut a perfect seam along the windows between what we need for the IVA and exterior. In all likelihood it will work about 95%, and the rest of it will be hours of cursing and painstaking manual triangulation to make sure the seam stays true so both models still line up when all is said and done.
  • We can now delete the entire interior, leaving the windows and the exterior skin. This is your exterior.
  • Repeat on the interior copy, but deleting the exterior. Bear in mind, all we care about is the geometry and windows. All the furnishing can stay in groups. Curse as necessary.
  • You now have an interior and exterior separate from each other, cut from the same model along the seams of the windows. Both models still have their windows, and if dragged together, the windows should sit perfectly on top of one another, and the composite model should look exactly like your original + a nice seam where the windows are.
  • Export to 3ds (or whatever), make sure the origins of both the interior and exterior are in the same position, UV, etc.
  • Import to unity (can come right from the .max file, or just about any other. Unity compatibility is incredible)
  • When both the interior and exterior are in the same position in unity, our model should be perfectly aligned. If they aren't, you can fix here too (but not as precisely/easily). If correcting is necessary, make sure you reset the origin pivots so they coincide. KSP will be looking at that.
  • ???
  • Have a perfectly aligned model
  • Profit 

The images and text wall below show how my models go together and will illustrate my point:

On 4/21/2016 at 1:45 PM, Balto-the-Wolf-Dog said:

I do my modelling in sketchup where this particular tactic is uniquely approachable, but you may be able to replicate it elsewhere: I just model the entire thing together, inside and out, as one "realistic" model, then cut the inner skin from the outer skin along the seams created by the windows. The result is a perfectly matching IVA and EVA version. Since the windows don't have a thickness, I align based on the inner bezel of the window matching the outer bezel on the exterior. This has to be done manually (in theory you could do it with snaps in 3ds, but I usually just do it in unity) but is easy to varify by inspecting the window frames for proper alignment and checking the glass for proper thin-ness. If the windows perfectly coincide, then they should appear in unity like one way class with no visible gap between them. Perfect alignment with a properly sized IVA.

 

Basically its all done as one whole and split into the iva and external. I'll post pictures to clarify what I mean in a bit once I hop on my actual computer

 

 

Edit: 

Forgive the glorious Microsoft Paint. I promise I don't do textures this way, although it might be fun to try.

 

Starting from a blank like this, modeled however I modeled it. provides actual shape of the pod

uH7EM97.png

<Modelling happens>

szuRziZ.png

Foreground: "Whole" model of interior and exterior together. The fuselage (inside and outside) is one object. Furniture is divided into several objects  by region. Unnecessary, but convenient. I usually have a "decor" group, a "furnishing" group, a "panel" group, and a "detail" group, with decor being objects like the telescopes etc, furnishing being furniture, panel being the actual panel geometries, and detail being things like emissive lights etc. 

 

<We cut the interior from the exterior by way of the window seams>

bBR3fJk.png

Interior IVA model: The interior skin with the unnecessary external faces deleted manually. This is what will fit inside our actual exterior model, meeting it where the windows are. Note they extend out from the IVA and in from the exterior. This is the thickness of the blank from before, and it provides some actual apparent structure and prevents you from accidentally cheating with an interior as big or bigger than the exterior.

 

 

The leftover exterior  V V V

aqZpyrh.png

Note that the windows here are inset. The windows on the interior and exterior will occupy the same space later, this is how we know we did it right. Since non-facing normals aren't rendered in KSP, this doesn't cause flashing problems.

The remaining, non-facing "interior" of the exterior , offering some insight into how we did the actual cut: V V V

sUd7Hfj.png

 

<We put the interior and exterior models back together along the seams we cut them on. Windows now coincide.>

9IsEn5v.png

Everything inside the window is now one model, while everything outside is now another. This is our IVA and our exterior respectively. Note that they fit together at the window seam. I usually do this part in unity and eyeball it, as if you watch along the window rims while you're doing this you can bring it down to a lot of points of precision. For this alignment to remain true when exporting, the origin of the IVA and exterior must coincide as unity defines them, though their angles must be different because reasons. This is easy enough to do: Do the alignment as they are, then create a new GameObject and place it at the same coords as the exterior origin and change its angle as necessary. Simply re-parent the interior parts to this new aligned origin, and you should be set as alignment goes. In theory you could also align the parts with snap and move their origins together in 3ds, then export them together. This is arguably more precise, but I prefer not to as it makes it a little harder to keep track of what belongs to what.  If you have several windows at several different angles, its easy to tell when things are aligned just by looking at the seams and comparing them. If everything seems to meet regardless of angle and parallax, your'e good.

 

Nested IVA in Exterior from behind (rear panel removed for visibility):

Yenpfay.png

 

Nested IVA in external, oblique X-ray edition

orLrWeY.png

That's how I position my IVAs exactly against the exteriors. They're simply one model made into and interior and exterior shell then aligned back into the form they belong in. I came up with that technique on the fly simply because it was the easiest way to deal with KSP's system in sketchup; I've not actually seen anyone else do it and I've no idea if anyone else does. It definitely makes scaling and shape easy, and I'd recommend it if it can be made practical in whatever program you're using. I've never actually tried modelling an IVA wholly separate from the exterior, but it seems to me that it would be a miserable experience of constant trial and error.

 

This sort of thing can be done in 3ds or blender as well, but the process of modelling and selecting faces to delete is considerably more annoying, mostly because, as much wrangling of unruly cameras as goes on in SketchUp, at least it does an okay job of giving you a useful speed. Working in small environments is not easy in 3ds.

All this established, is SketchUp a good idea?

Now that I've figured out 3ds, I'm going to do as much there as I possibly can. SketchUp is only as powerful as the plugins you can find. Some of them are great, but many aren't really built for the kind of work we're doing. SketchUp itself isn't either. We're forcing the issue. I, personally, have a very bad habit of irresponsibly lofting skins between spline lines because it generates really cool shapes. This is all well and good if the polygons that result are fairly congruent in size, but if they aren't, you're going to have a hell of a time trying to get the lighting right. SketchUp's lighting engine often won't show you the extent of the problem, but it can be nigh impossible to rectify. If you look very closely at my models, you'll notice some of them, particularly the earlier ones, look like they have ship acne. Those are crappy normals and drastic changes in face size. Bear in mind, you will not have this problem if you are triangulating manually. Just work with the understanding that you don't want one big, regular polygon surrounded by a bunch of smaller ones, regular or otherwise. 

qHjR4xR.png

That mistake is definitely avoidable, but it's much easier to make in SketchUp than it is in 3ds Max. Be conscious of it. I wasn't. If it does happen, don't be afraid of retriangulation. You will suffer less remaking bad polygons than you will trying to fudge them. Expect to suffer at least a little regardless.

Non user-error issues with SketchUp:

  • Exports to 3ds Max are almost always clean. Almost. To date I am not sure what makes the difference, but I've had models export with tons of empty objects (no big deal, just lots of select- delete), weird normals (despite okay geometry), and broken faces. By and large this can all be repaired easily enough in 3ds or whatever, but it does happen.
  • There seems to be some kind of a scaling disagreement between 3ds, SketchUp, and Unity that results in me having to half the size of my final models in Unity. This could be on me, but I'm not sure where my bad config is if that's so.
  • SketchUp isn't always spot on with filling complex faces, cutting faces with lines, etc. This results in tons of frustration in SketchUp, and often bad geometry in 3ds. On several occasions I've cut models in half, mirrored them, and had one side throw bad geometry errors for no reason. I've had faces refuse to cut in the interior/exterior process (very common). I've had perfectly planar faces refuse to fill without an arbitrary line drawn through them. These faces would then triangulate VERY strangely in 3ds. These issues are common, and presumably a symptom of our abusing the program a little. 

 

SketchUp is powerful, easy to use, and, for me, responsible for bridging the gap between wishing I could do something and doing it. That said, it is quirky and not always reliable, often breaking in arcane and nonsensical ways. A purpose-built piece of software won't trap you in nearly so abusive a relationship, but If you think SketchUp is the difference between doing it and not doing it, then use it. You will learn to deal with its eccentricities (and experience relatively few of them if your models are geometrically simple and/or hand tirangulated), and you'll learn a lot about modeling in general regardless. Like I said, I'm only just now getting the hang of 3ds. Had I forced myself to use that and only that in the beginning, I'd either have figured it out much sooner, or given up. Getting something ingame is cathartic. Do it however you have to. 

I'll leave you with a quote from a friend of mine that does a lot of abstract SketchUp work: SketchUp has to think you're modeling a building. If it realizes you're actually modeling a spaceship, it will turn on you.

 

tl;dr

Yes, it's possible, and fairly easy to transition. I export .3ds from SketchUp, import it into 3ds Max, do my UV work and make sure my alignment is good, and then pull my .max project into unity. From there its all parttools as normal. Part tools is easier to learn than it looks like it should be, and fairly well documented. If you get frustrated, remind yourself how glad you are you aren't exporting for FSX instead.

No, you cannot really UV in SketchUp. I've seen plugins, but none I got to work. I don't recommend assembling collision models in SketchUp either, but rather using the 3ds optimize modifer (decimate in blender, IIRC) to produce a reasonable LoD from your original model, at least if you're as lazy as I am.

If you can't figure out blender or 3ds for modeling SketchUp is a good alternative, but you will still have to use one of the formers as a middle man. You cannot escape UV maps. I'm not really sure how to teach that because it took me literally years of occasionally throwing a week at it and then giving up until I finally figured it out. All the youtube guides in the world didn't help me. One day it just clicked. That said, once it clicks, you will start to get better, and suddenly all the youtube videos will make sense. It seems really simple once you've managed it. 

Edited by Balto-the-Wolf-Dog
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This will sound cliché, but if i learned Blender anyone can. Blender can do everything including UV mapping. There are tons and tons of tutorials on youtube.

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On 5/8/2017 at 1:46 PM, TheEpicSquared said:

I am pretty familiar with Sketchup, as I use it for 3D-printing. I was wondering if it is possible to make modded parts on Sketchup, and if so, what its advantages/disadvantages are.

Thanks! :) 

It also might be worth noting, that Blender might be a better option for 3D printing. I did a exhaust manifold for a printing project in Blender that was about 1000x simpler than one i imported from Sketchup.

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The best software for modeling at low cost is Zbrush 4r7 with the Zmodeler Brush. Blender is the best free open source 3d software. Working with CAD software lead to high poly mesh with holes. You must learn Blender or Maya for Student. You can have an 3 years student version via email. But i highly suggest you to buy Zbrush 4r7 if you are planning modeling for a while. Really worth each penny.

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13 hours ago, Warsoul said:

The best software for modeling at low cost is Zbrush 4r7 with the Zmodeler Brush. Blender is the best free open source 3d software. Working with CAD software lead to high poly mesh with holes. You must learn Blender or Maya for Student. You can have an 3 years student version via email. But i highly suggest you to buy Zbrush 4r7 if you are planning modeling for a while. Really worth each penny.

"Low-Cost"

Sketchup: free ($0)

Blender: free ($0)

Maya (student version): free ($0)

Wings 3D: free ($0)

3ds Max: free ($0)

ZBrush: $795 (according to the website)

Heck, even Inventor has a free edition available to students. And considering Inventor is the only one on this list that is used by actual rocket building companies(like SpaceX).....

Edited by minepagan
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Blender is like the EMACS of 3d modelers its big and its weird but it can do almost anything given enough effort (Need to convert as dds to png and strip out the alpha in the process? Import kerbal .mu files? How about edit video? just to name a few surprising blender functions), but this powerful versatility could be its own undoing as you need a complex interface to manage all these tools. As a result some people tend to reach for more optimized tools for kerbals low poly modeling work like sketchup or wings3d before importing into blender or another large pro suite like 3ds max or maya for clean up and or UV unwraping.

Zbrush though it should be noted that warsoul is the only person who goes that far. All the big name modders get by just fine without it so no one needs it to keep pace with the community.

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Zbrush offer 3 solutions :

A:  Zbrush 4r7

B : Zbrush Core

C : Sculptris

As I said Zbrush is the most affordable professional modeling software on the market with Mudbox. But Zbrush 4r7 Zmodeler Brush  offers you a powerful tool for modeling Hardsurfaces models with a really low polycount.

For student suites; I strongly suggest getting Maya instead of 3dmax. Maya is the baby of Autodesk and they focus more on this software than 3dsmax. 3dmax will disappear within 6 years because it was purchased by Autodesk. They still support 3dsmax only to support older Studio who's still working with this pipeline. They bought Softimage too and it already disappears under Maya after a few years.

But Blender is the most powerful tool, especially for its price. Nothing is free! Open Source need monstrous manhours to get at that point.

 

Edited by Warsoul

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Ok, @Warsoul, I don't normally give people trouble for grammar/spelling problems, but your last post was so full of them that I literally cannot understand what you said. Would you please reiterate what you said in a coherent format?

Edit: You also violated forum rules by promoting a product, please remove it before the mods do.

Edited by minepagan
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1 hour ago, minepagan said:

Ok, @Warsoul, I don't normally give people trouble for grammar/spelling problems, but your last post was so full of them that I literally cannot understand what you said. Would you please reiterate what you said in a coherent format?

Edit: You also violated forum rules by promoting a product, please remove it before the mods do.

Sry for my english ! I was simply explaining the modeling solutions he had, it can be considered has promoting a product ? How i can explain the Pros and Cons without promoting a product ?

That's better like this ?

I was working with Solidworks(CAD Software) at Start but working with solids and highpoly .fbx or .stl lead to mesh errors, triangles and holes to be fixed. The highpoly need to be decimated at a point it reach a destructive workflow. Personnaly i prefer to work with quads than triangulated mesh (Decimated Mesh) This way it's easier to made quick modifications without losing any data. 

Edited by Warsoul

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I'd still suggest giving Blender another shot. You just have to get past the fact that right is left and left is how the heck did that get over there. Also, bring a grappling hook for the learning curve. :D

3 hours ago, Warsoul said:

But Blender is the most powerful tool, especially for its price. Nothing is free! Open Source need monstrous manhours to get at that point.

 

Cool Video. As a car enthusiast it irks me because the end result is all disproportionate. :D

So ZBrush = ZModeler? I used that for NFS: High Stakes ages ago. My how it's grown.

Edited by SpaceMouse

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17 hours ago, SpaceMouse said:

Cool Video. As a car enthusiast it irks me because the end result is all disproportionate. :D

So ZBrush = ZModeler?

Yeah it look like an disney cartoon car from ''Cars'' Movie

Yeah Zbrush 4r7 update introduced a really powerfull modeling tool called Zmodeler. It's pretty intuitive for beginner modeler and it's pretty easy to learn. But you need the full Zbrush 4r7 version to get your hand on it. Combine that with Zremesher and you can remesh almost everything in a single clic. That's why all studio use Zbrush now for games and movies.

So you can do :

Hardsurfaces with Zmodeler

Biologic with Dynamesh and 3d sculpting

Then you Zremesh for a quick Automatic Retopology

Then you Decimate Master your final mesh.

Then you deploy UV on Maya or Blender. ( You can use UV Master within Zbrush but Maya give you better Auto-Deploy functions)

Then you can polypaint with high precision your Highpoly mesh in Zbrush 4r7 to create your ColorMap + Normal Map + DisplacementMap + ClownMap

Edited by Warsoul
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@Warsoul I was referring to where you had posted a link to where you could purchase plugins for blender. This violates the Forum rules as you were posting a link to a product to be purchased.

 Edit: it appears the link was removed by either you or a moderator so nevermind

Edited by minepagan

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23 hours ago, Warsoul said:

Yeah Zbrush 4r7 update introduced a really powerfull modeling tool called Zmodeler. It's pretty intuitive for beginner modeler and it's pretty easy to learn. But you need the full Zbrush 4r7 version to get your hand on it. Combine that with Zremesher and you can remesh almost everything in a single clic. That's why all studio use Zbrush now for games and movies.

I meant did Zbrush evolve from Zmodeler. There was a simple 3D program going back to the early 2000's called Zmodeler that started as freeware and then became payware. I mostly stopped following it at that point.
Based on your comment though it sounds like the Zmodeler tool is a fairly recent Zbrush thing.

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6 hours ago, SpaceMouse said:

I meant did Zbrush evolve from Zmodeler. There was a simple 3D program going back to the early 2000's called Zmodeler that started as freeware and then became payware. I mostly stopped following it at that point.
Based on your comment though it sounds like the Zmodeler tool is a fairly recent Zbrush thing.

Zmodeler Brush from Zbrush 4r7 doesn't work like the standalone software Zmodeler, this is two different product from different publisher.

The Zmodeler Brush from 4r7 work like this :

5e4d636066c846fb48495a4ae616d6a6197e9ccd.jpg?image_play_button_size=2x&image_crop_resized=960x540&image_play_button=1&image_play_button_color=7b796ae0

ZClassroom Lesson - ZModeler Introduction

This is a totally new way to modelize via an intuitive and easy way to do it.

Edited by Warsoul

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[MOD - Moved to Modelling and Texturing subforums]

As per preceding posts, while it's technically possible to make parts in SketchUp and install third-party plugins to allow UV-mapping, the fact of the matter is one would still need additional software like 3DS Max and Blender to prior to configuring shaders, animations, colliders and PartTools in Unity.

Blender does have a fairly steep learning curve, but is exceptionally powerful, comes with native UV-mapping tools and integrates extremely well with Unity via Prefabs. There are plenty of good tutorials on the internet, which is how I self-taught myself from an engineering parametric CAD-based background to a reasonably competent (if amateur) Blender modeller.

As for Zbrush, I personally feel it is more geared towards organic forms like detailed character and car models/sculptures, and thus less optimal for the simpler mechanical/cylindrical profiles of most rocket parts that newbie modders would start making.

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Watching the above video, that plugin for zbrush isn't really doing anything revolutionary for poly modeling, it just has a nicer interface than blender 2.7 has. Its still doing basic loop operations just like you would in max, maya or blender, just with a different interface.

Zbrush generally is used for its sculpting toolset which is used to make highpoly meshes that aren't suitable for use in games or texture painting for that matter.

If you're looking for a more visually intuitive free product you can try the experimental 2.8 blender builds which implement more visual widgets for modeling that function similarly to zmodeler.

In any event, 99.9% of rocket models are considered hard surface so as no doubt others uave said, so long as your model looks good and doesn't crash KSP, it really doesn't matter what tool you use to make it, so long as you're willing to learn that tool.

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