Thursday, June 15, 2017

The "Altara" Concept Blender 3D Car Is Born!

When the dusts settles in my workshop from finishing a project I usually  can be found elsewhere creating something new on my computer using Blender 3D.  This is the case with the creation of a concept car that I originally drew a little over four years ago. At that time it was just a 2D image that was a spark of inspiration and so the idea was born to change it to a 3D model.  

Here are a couple of the completed images of the Altara concept car that I managed to put together over the past couple of weeks.  But before we get into more details on what you see here I want to show you where it all started and then the process of how I got to where it is now.

I liked the shape that I had come up with the time I put this image together but after looking at it again changes were the order of the day to make it just a bit more refined and workable as a 3D model.  The wheels needed to be changed first as what I have here was way to simple of a design.  So it was added to my growing list of what needed to be improved.

Having only a side view of the car to work with I needed to flesh out the rest of the body in Blender 3D to work out the front, rear, and top of the car to my liking.   Even the openings for the wheels needed to be tweaked a bit but at least the body at this point was taking shape.  

 Following cues from my original 2D drawing I started putting in the openings for the windshield and the rear window.  It was a start but everything that I added at this point was just to get an idea of what would actually work and not work in the real world.  I realized early on that I had a long way to go with the model.

Next I cut the openings for the headlights and refined the front hood of the car.  This was not terribly difficult and so progress was being made and I was encouraged that the design was possible at this point. 

Early on I start playing around with lighting of the car to see what I can see when I put the body together.  In the image above you can see the seams for the front hood, canopy and the rear hatch. I also started looking at headlight covers at this point.

At this point I added the tires and some rims to the design.  I kept the body height the same as the original 2D drawing and this was the result of that decision.  Not good to be sure.  The body looks nice and sleek but the tires look too small and unusable in the real world.  The front tires are not believable in the fact that the wheel opening is way to small for the tire to be able to roll much less turn.  More work changes to my list was in order.

At this point I raised the car up to give the wheels more clearance and enlarged the wheel opens to something that looked more proper. The wheel rims were close to what I was looking for but the centers were to small and there was no bolts holding the rims onto the hubs.  More items for my list of changes. 

The next step was getting the wheels and rims more correct looking.  I enlarged the center of the rims and added the nuts for the hubs.  Also I added a disc brake inside of the wheels rather than have it all blacked out by the lighting. On the front of the car I added a grill, running lights, signal lights and headlights. 

This next series of images gives you good views of the car body from the rear.  Taken from the original drawing is of course the body itself, the rear body quarter panel with the top arch and the rear window. 

Here you can see the original placement of the tires and rims. The body again at this point was still in the original placement that matched the original drawing.  In other words it is to low.  That and the fact that the tires are set to far into the body to be believable. 

I moved the wheels outward at this point which worked out very nicely but the wheel openings are to small as I said earlier in the post. 

Finally I have the wheels and opening corrected with the right body height.  But now what stuck out was the rear window.  Way to small!  It would not do.  So that would be the next step. 

I proceeded to make the rear window larger and with this process it cleaned up the entire look of the rear of the car.  

This is a good look at the side of the car before I finished off the wheels with the disc brakes.  I like the rear window and roof line now with the larger rear window.  Much more believable. 

 With the rear of the car I started playing around with taillights and a name plate for the car.  "Altara" I came up with from an old SciFi movie that I remembered so I thought it would be a good name for this sleek looking vehicle.  The rear of the body was recessed for the lights and no tail pipes.  I thought would be good as an electric car. So no tail pipes. 

Lastly I changed the glass in the car to clear instead of gloss black.  This made it look much more like a vehicle instead of just a model of one.  I still can put a lot more detail into the car by finishing out the interior with all the it needs but for now this will do nicely. Enjoy the images. 😀  

Friday, June 9, 2017

The Couch Table Project Is Completed!

It's been a difficult week trying to force myself to work on any projects while I was at home.  Not that the projects I am currently working on have given me any grieve or the fact that I have lost interest in them.  The weather here in the Midwest has finally given me and everyone else just perfect conditions to be outside to enjoy better weather than we've seen over the past couple of months at least.  Bright, warm and sunny have been the words that best describe the weather for the past week.  But even with all of that going on I have managed to put the finishing touches to my couch table project over the past couple of days.  (In between long motorcycle rides of course.)

So with this post I thought I would let everyone get caught up on this project and pass along detailed information about how I put it all together. 

This is a photo of all the wooden parts that were needed to create the little couch table. All of the wood was select pine.  I choose this as it is very inexpensive and the wood is nice and straight without any knots in it.  Also pine is a very easy wood to work with so it was an simple choice to make.  

Starting in the upper right corner is the top of the table which measures 16" x 20".  This had to be pieced together using 1 X 6's and a 1 X 4 and pocket holes to get the dimensions I wanted.  I used my Kreg pocket hole jig to make the mounting holes and assemble the top together.

Next to that are the two cross supports for the table. These are 1 X 4's 20" long.  Below the table top are the two legs of the table.  Again 1 X 4's 25.5" long.  The smaller piece to the right of the legs is a 1 X 2 X 18.5" long piece that already has the pocket holes drilled into the ends of the part.  Lastly are the four tapered pieces that make up the feet and table supports for the project.  Again these parts are 1 X 4's that are 15.25" long.  They are all tapered down to 1 1/2" tall on the ends with a nice radius to finish them off.  These parts also needed pocket holes as shown so that they could be mounted correctly in the assembly.

As I did not have an assistant to help me hold the leg and table support assemblies together while installing the mounting screws for it I created this simple little jig out of scrap wood.  Just a few wood screws to hold it all together did the trick nicely.

Here I have one end of the leg assembly mounted into the jig and ready to be screwed together.  I put the pocket holes on the outside of the assembly so that the screws when installed would not split the end face of the cross member. If the parts were reversed the pocket holes would be on the inside of course and also point the screws in the wrong direction causing problems when assembling the parts together. 

Here is what the leg and table top supports looked like once the parts had been assembled.  The little jig did the trick nicely as installing the pocket hole screws went very smoothly.

Here the table has been completely assembled.  The upper table top support assembly and the leg assemblies have been mounted to the legs of the table.  This was just a matter of squaring things up so the table sat nice and flat on the floor and screwing in four mounting screws at each of the upper and lower positions where the assemblies mated up to the legs of the table.  With the screws for the assembly on the inside of the table the outside legs covered up the pocket holes on the outside of the assembly giving the table a very nice clean look that works very well.  The table top itself was then slid into place on top of the upper supports  and held in place using 1-1/2" metal "L" brackets and wood screws from the underside of the table.  Again this way I could keep everything nice and clean looking on the outside surfaces of the table. 

The last few steps to finish off the table were just a matter of sanding everything nice and smooth and then applying a stain and three or four coats of varnish.  I was not sure about the finish on the project until I had put the first couple of coats of varnish on the table.  Then I stepped back, took a good look and put my seal of approval on the project. 

It will be a nice addition to my living room when I want to sit down and watch TV while eating dinner or playing on my laptop.  Total cost for the little table came to around $30.  A far cry from the $100+ table I had stumbled across last Christmas and it will serve my purposes just as well. 

One last little thing that I need to do with the table while I am writing this is to add some small felt pads to the bottom of it so that I won't scratch up my hardwood floor when I am moving it around on the floor.   So my efforts once again have been worth the time spent to create this little table.