Sunday, 12 March 2017

[IdiotEngine] 02: 'Civil War' Spider-Man Lens Modelling

As part of my continued collaboration with JD under the banner of IdiotEngine, I have 3D modelled Spidey's more complex shutter-based lens from 2016's Captain America: Civil War for JD to 3D print. 

This was a fun little modelling project, and is the first time that I've needed to keep in mind the real world dimensions of an object since my final Elements Academy uni project last year. If you'd like to find out more about the methodology behind the creation of this lens 3D model, please scroll down to the bottom of the post.

Finished Model


Influence Map
Influence 01 was chosen by JD as a guide for final shape of the 3D model

The worldwide fangasm-inducing amazing shot of Spider-Man holding Captain America's shield, first seen in the trailer (source)

To figure out the height of the lenses I used a cropped head-only version of the above film still featuring Tom Holland's Spider-Man to estimate the actual height of his lenses (10cm / 3.94"); I did this via a combo of Photoshop guides and research into the average height of a human head (8–9"). This enabled me to model a 1:1 scale version of these unique Spidey lenses within Autodesk MayaTo avoid it looking puffy in reality, the lens model needed to be no more than 1cm thick, but also able to support several layers of overlapping geometry, so I had to find out if JD's da Vinci 1.0 3D printer would be able to print at a small enough scale. 

It turns out that by adjusting the print speed the machine is impressively able to handle minuscule scales of at least a ¼ millimetre, so having each of the nine lens slides created just 1mm thick will be no problem when JD prints it. This also means that if he needs to squish the lenses even thinner, such as half a cm thick, he has plenty of room to do so.

XYZ Printing's da Vinci 1.0 3D printer (source)

Within Maya itself, the fact that the lens would have no moving parts meant I was able to create each slice of the shutter geometry with its side and inside edges piercing the geometry surrounding it to increase the ease of modelling, and to ensure that there was no chance of unwanted holes within the geometry. Every individual part of the lens began life as a perfectly square polygon plane which I then scaled, stretched, and extruded its leading edge multiple times to create a very low poly version of its future self. 

Adding complexity to this basic shape is where the Multi-Cut Tool came in, I used it to quickly and easily create new edge loops exactly halfway between each polygon edge (Mac: ctrl + shift), which I then carefully dragged using the Move tool to sit along the appropriate edge of the vector art/orthographic I'd created from the guide photo. 

I also used Smooth Preview and Vertex Mode to figure out the correct positioning of each poly edge. Extrude was used again to give each 2D lens plane depth, Reverse Normals was used to sort out the resulting geo, I held down X when using Extrude's move function to snap the base of each lens part to the grid floor, and finally Bevel was vital for the edges of the geo keeping shape when smoothed. When the lenses are due to be 3D printed, I'll permanently Smooth the geo and export both the left & right lenses out as STL_DCE files.