Better Modeling with Meta/Pep/P.N – Tutorial 1: Introduction

Discussion in 'Tutorials' started by Jaybats, Jan 21, 2008.

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  1. Jaybats

    Jaybats Member

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    You can choose to move several points at the same time by Left-clicking on them with the Shift key down, or with a rectangle using Left-click & Drag (with Rc depressed in the Edit Options panel) or the Rectangle select tool.

    If you mean moving the outer edges to coincide with the cross section, first select all of them while in Left-side view (or other view), the switch to Front-view (F3) while they are still selected. You can still simultaneously move all the points using the menu controls or the handles.


    For the next installment, there will be a slight change in the sequence; we'll go into multi-part objects first then texturing...i hope to get around to taking the screencaps this weekend...
  2. Fishcarver

    Fishcarver Active Member

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    JB:

    PLEASE AND BY ALL MEANS CARRY ON WITH YOUR TUTORIALS.!!

    These are excellent, and once I clear my plate of carving WIP I intend to follow this series line by line.

    Sincerely, Your canadian friend,

    Jim
  3. JT Fox

    JT Fox Member

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    That's how I ended up doing it. It got messy with all the points, but then I found the "Hide" function which made life a lot simpler.

    Looking for towards the next tutorial so I can start adding the wings etc.

    Cheers JTF
  4. Jaybats

    Jaybats Member

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    Good idea JTF, I hadn't actually used that function at all since I normally kept track of the selected points/lines through the difference in colors. Hiding the unselected parts makes sense, makes the Drawing Area less cluttered, and easier to align to the image.

    For everyone, there are two ways to go about this:

    (1) As JTF suggests, use the Hide button on the Edit Command Panel. First select the Faces you wish to temporarily hide from view, then press Hide. Leave only the faces you are manipulating, and shape it as if it's the only object on the screen. When you're done, press Show and you will see that the hidden faces/lines/vertices did not change except those directly connected with the faces you manipulated.

    (2) Click on View on the Main Menu, and check "Show selected parts only". This better used only when the Drawing Area is set up to show Faces. If your viewing options (upper left corner of the Drawing Area) have Pt, Ln, and Fc depressed, all the faces of the object will be shown, but without the various lines and points that make it up. You can still select individual faces because you can see the object and point to where the particular face it is. If Fc is not depressed, nothing will be shown until you click on the screen, but since the object is hidden it's not easy to find the right face. Select the faces/lines/points you want to edit, manipulate the selected parts as necessary, then uncheck the option in the View menu. Note that you can only manipulate the current selection; if you click on anything else in the Drawing Area the part is automatically de-selected.

    Try these two options with a multi-sectioned box to get a feel for how its works.
  5. Master-Bruce

    Master-Bruce Active Member

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    Jay, this is a great tutorial here, I'm learning meta with your help here. I usually use Truespace but wanted to learn Meta too.

    I understand what you're saying about projection, but how do you load and apply the actual texture? Is this coming in another part?

    Also, I'm eager to learn UV mapping.

    Looking forward to seeing what comes next. Thanks alot. :)
  6. Jaybats

    Jaybats Member

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    Tutorial 2, Part 2
    BASIC 3D SCULPTING & TEXTURING FROM SCHEMATICS


    C. Making a multi-part 3D object

    We continue to make the other parts of the Orbital Inspection Pod. We shall now create the “wrap-around bars” that are in the front, sides, and underneath the main pod.

    Remember the Primitive Outline and Arrow Handles when you select a Primitive, and before you press the Create button? The outline actually shows where the Primitive will be located. Using the Arrow Handles, you can move the location where the Primitive will appear. This allows you to pre-position subsequent Primitives so that they do not overlap or fuse with previously created ones.

    First, do the part on the nose. Zoom out a bit so you have more room in the Drawing Area. Again, select Primitive, and then the Box until the primitive’s outline appears. Before you press Create, move the cursor to the Arrow Handle pointing to the front of the Pod, left-click on it, and drag the outline to the front of the Pod so that the entire box is clear of it.

    [​IMG]

    Shift your viewpoint to the Left-side view if necessary so that you ca see the outline of the box clear the Pod. Leave a little bit of space between the edges of the box and the pod. Then press Create.

    [​IMG]

    Now that you’ve created the box in front of the pod, turn off the Faces if needed, and in the Left Side View (F1), Zoom in to the area of the nose. Use the Move Button to select the vertices/corners of the box and change its heights and lengths, until you arrive at the wedge-shape attachment in front. At this point there is no need to be exact, just approximate the shape of what’s in the schematic. You can turn the background image on and off at any time to see more clearly.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    This, however, would have changed only 2 dimensions of the box. Press F2 to go to the Top View, and you will notice that you still need to change the last dimension. This time, to ensure proper centering of the two sides, use the Scale buttons to shrink the box to the width of the nose of the Pod. Do not use a single rectangle to encompass both the box and the front end of the Pod; you will also affect the proportions of the Pod’s front. Select the sides separately by using Select, Left-Click and drag over one side, then Shift-Left Click, and drag over the other side. Then use press the Scale button.

    [​IMG]

    Since this need not be very precise, instead of the using the “0.99” reduction technique you used earlier, you can use the Scale Square Handles that appear once you press the Scale button on the Command Panel. Just click on the Square Handle that is aligned with the directions in which you want to change the proportional distances, and drag accordingly.

    [​IMG]

    Still on Top view. Move the Background Image so that the Top View is now aligned with the outline of the main Pod and the front wedge piece. Then, click on Primitive again, but this time move the outline of the box to the side of the pod instead of the front, and create it. Use the Move or Scale buttons again to shape the new box into a long rectangular piece that reaches from the front wedge to the other end of the pod.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Now you can cut the single rectangular box into sections using the Knife tool. Press Knife, and note the default position of this Tool is with the topmost box depressed. Those boxes indicate what the Knife will do to Lines and Faces.

    Identify the points at which the box needs to bend in order to wrap around the Pod; these points are the same points at which the Pod’s exterior changes its angle to create the conical slope. Move the cursor to just outside the box, Left-Click and drag until the outside of the opposite side of the box.

    [​IMG]

    Try to make the cut as straight as possible so that the new points/lines created are aligned. If they are not aligned, then Select both points, open the Selected Menu on the Main Menu, then click on “Align vertices”.

    [​IMG]

    Meta will then show you an Option box asking along which axis you wish to align the vertices you have selected. There 3 axes to choose from, and usually, Meta guesses correctly that you want to align the vertices according to the View you are using, i.e. you want to straighten out a line that is crooked from your current perspective. Press OK and you will see if it guessed correctly and has straightened out the crooked line/mis-aligned points. If not, use the Check boxes to select the correct axis. You can align points along up to 2 axes simultaneously e.g. they are aligned from both the Top View and the Side View. If you make a mistake in selecting the appropriate axis, the points will converge on one spot; you will find it out by changing your viewpoint. If this happens just Undo it, and try the other axis.

    Divide the box until it has the same number of sections as the Pod. The dividing lines between sections of both the Pod and the bar should be aligned.

    [​IMG]

    After the dividing, Select the entire bar or all of its vertices separately, and switch to Left-Side view. Press Scale and reduce the height of the bar so that it corresponds with what you need for the wrap-around bar on the side of the Pod.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Since this will make the box overlap with the Pod in Left-side view, thus making it difficult to select them separately, you will need to move the bar above the Pod temporarily. To do this, press the Move button immediately without clicking on anything else, while the bar is still selected for the scaling. Notice that the Square Handles for scaling change immediately into Arrow Handles for moving. When that happens move the still-selected bar up above the Pod until it’s clear of it.

    [​IMG]

    When done, you can then “mold” the bar to the Pod. Switch back to Top View (make sure it’s Orthographic, not Perspective, in the top left corner of the Drawing Area). Select the dividing lines of the bar and move them so that the ends will “touch” the ends of the corresponding line on the Pod, thereby shaping the bar according to the shape of the Pod.

    [​IMG]

    Start with the end corresponding to the wedge in front of the pod, then do it with the rest of the lines until you have the box wrapped to the side of the Pod. Since the box is well above the Pod when seen from the side, by switching between the Left-side View and choosing the sections in that view, and then switching to Top view, you can mold and manipulate the bar without accidentally affecting any parts of the Pod. You can further adjust the various widths of the sections of the bar by selecting and move the outer vertices separately, after the inner vertices have been aligned with the Pod.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Now to duplicate the side bar without having to go through the whole process again, make sure the Fc in the Edit Options Command Panel is depressed. Switch to Left-side View, and select the entire molded bar, make sure all the faces in the bar are highlighted. Then on the main menu, click on Selected, then Mirror.

    [​IMG]

    This brings up an Options menu asking you along what axis the mirror will be pivot or reflect, i.e. in which direction and location you wish the mirrored object to be created. Choose YZ since that is the “upright” axis for the wrap-around bar. Then click “OK”. You should now have the wrap-around bars for both sides.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Switch to Front view, and select both wrap-around bars. Then Move them down to the sides of the Pod.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    You can adjust the individual corners of the front of the bars to coincide with the corner of the front piece.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Now using the same techniques except for the mirroring, make the bar that is located in the lower front side of the Pod.

    [​IMG]

    By now you should already have all the main components of the full Orbital Inspection Pod.

    [​IMG]

    Later on, you can make further adjustments to the shapes of the bars by moving the appropriate vertices, or create smaller details like vanes; all the techniques you’ve learned thus far are applicable.


    D. Applying textures to a 3D object.


    Texturing in MetaLE uses simple operations; it is only with Meta shareware that UV Mapping is available. MetaLE takes a flat texture image and projects it onto the faces of the 3D object in either of 3 ways, best illustrated by using the familiar image of a world map and seeing how it is projected onto a sphere.

    [​IMG]

    The first projects the image flatly from 1 direction; imagine you had a movie/slide projector and projecting the image on anything other than a flat surface. It doesn’t matter that the surface is bumpy and 3 dimensional, from the projector’s point of view it will just project the image and the light will fall where it is directed. With the map and sphere, you end up with this:

    [​IMG]

    If you look at the image from behind the projector;s viewpoint, the image looks the same, i.e. you can see the map, but if you go to the side of the object it is completely distorted by the shape of the object on which it is projected. Exactly behind it, you see the map reversed like a mirror image; every ray of light simply goes straight through the sphere. This method is the simplest and most useful for just about any kind and shape of 3D object.

    The second method wraps the image around the object in a cylindrical manner. Imagine wrapping paper first bundled into a tube around the object, and then the image on the paper being projected towards the center of the tube. Since it is a tube, the wrapping creates a projection that only has lateral sides, and no “top” or “bottom”. All rays of light meet at the "poles" of the cylinder horizontally, so a distortion occurs at the top and bottom if those areas of the object are not as vertical as the sides.

    [​IMG]

    This method is best for cylindrical objects (naturally) or any object that has some kind of duplicating wrap-around pattern. A very good example is the stripes and details on the surface of conventional rockets and missiles.

    The third wraps the image around the object as a sphere. So the image is projected toward the center of the object from all sides (360 degrees all around, top-to-bottom and side-to-side).

    [​IMG]

    Personally I’ve never actually needed it, because it's most prone to distortion (in fact this is the only time I've had to use it). You probably will need it only if you're actually modeling a spherical shape that has a detailed texture.

    Note that, as you can see from the outlines of the image superimposed on the 3D object, by default Meta will initially align the outermost pixel of the image to the outermost point of the object. Whichever projection you use, whatever part of the image is “caught” by each specific face becomes its texture. Regardless of the actual shape of the 3D object, it picks up the image projected onto it from the direction it comes from. If the plane of the face is not exactly perpendicular to the direction where the projection, the image naturally gets distorted. It is only undistorted when when viewed from the exact angle & direction the projection comes from, from any other angle it looks bent or stretched or compressed across the non-perpendicular face it is on. The key to texturing is understanding not only how an image is projected onto the object, but also keeping track of these distortions so that they can work for you, instead of against you, in texturing the object properly.

    Now, whichever projection you use, whatever part of the image is “caught” by each specific face becomes its texture. Regardless of the actual shape of the 3D object, it will pick up the image projected onto it from whatever direction it came from. If the plane of the face is not exactly perpendicular to the direction where the projection, the image naturally gets distorted. The key to texturing is understanding not only how an image is projected onto the object, but also keeping track of these distortions so that they work for you, instead of against you, in texturing the object properly.



    1. Applying a single flat texture to a 3D object

    To texture an object, first you need to create a Material with a texture. Download this texture, which is the side view of the Pod cropped from the main schematic (this process will be explained separately), and place it in the Texture folder in the main Metasequoia folder.

    [​IMG]

    Activate the Materials Panel by clicking on View, Materials Panel in the Main Menu. There should be a “mat1” listed in the Materials Panel; if there is none, just click “New” to create it. Then double-click that “Mat1”. This brings up an Options window for that material. Click on the “Ref” button beside Texture, and then point to the file name of the texture you’ve downloaded. It should then appear in the blank space, and you will see the globe on the upper left corner show the texture wrapped around it. This turns the texture into a useable material.

    [​IMG]

    Now go to Left-side View (F1) and select the entire Pod. Make sure that all Faces are visible, selected, and highlighted; this means that in your Edit Options Command Panel and in the Drawing Area upper left corner, the Fc buttons are both depressed when you use the Selection rectangle.

    [​IMG]

    Click on Selected, then “Set materials to faces…” This will apply the material and the texture to the faces of the Pod. Until you get used to pre-orienting the texture file, you will initially find that the texture is incorrectly oriented so that it is applied in weird ways. Here, it appears that the texture was wrapped with the left side of the image pointing to the top of the Pod.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    To properly orient the texture, first click on Map in the Command Panel, then in the Mapping options window, press the Flat mapping button. Meta will ask you if you wish to lose the UV coordinates, press Yes (because they’re not properly assigned anyway). This then “loosens” up the mapping, and by turning the view toward an isometric view with the Right-click-drag button, you now the texture being projected flatly from the front of the object. This is the default orientation of the flat projection; whenever to press the Flat mapping button it will start from this position.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    To orient the texture properly, press “Rotate” on the Mapping options button, and then “Property”. This brings up the Mapping Property window, which similar to the Scale Options menu controls, allows you to control very precisely the position, size, and angle of the texture. On the Screen you see the familiar Rotate Handles, don’t touch them for now.

    [​IMG]

    On the Mapping Property window, leave the Position and Size alone and just concentrate on the angle. Since the texture is currently flat against the rear of the Pod, you need the left side of the texture aligned with the front end and the right side of the texture aligned with the rear, you need to rotate the texture 90 degrees to the left. Highlight the zeros on the top row next to “Head” (short for “heading”, like with an aircraft; the other two refer similarly to aircraft orientations). Enter the number 90, which stands for 90 degrees heading, and the click on the “Apply” button.

    [​IMG]

    Notice that the texture on the surface has changed, but it is still not properly drawn. This is because the length and height of the texture does not coincide with those of the Pod’s. To make it align, press “Fit selected” on the Mapping options window. Now the texture appears to be properly oriented.

    [​IMG]

    When you’re done, press “UV” on the Mapping options window to “lock” the texture map on the faces.

    [​IMG]

    This technique works well with most objects, including rounded cylindrical objects that do not have complicated details on their upper and lower areas, where the details are concentrated in the middle (e.g., airplane fuselages) or where the texture is needed only in the side view (e.g. most cars). In any case, as long as there is a flat "side" you need to apply a texture to, whether it's top, left, bottom, etc. just change your viewpoint in Meta and apply the texture.

    2. Applying multiple textures to a single 3D object

    Naturally, since the image is flat but mapped across a curved object, there will be distortions in the areas where it is most curved in relation to the texture’s current alignment.

    [​IMG]

    With more simpler objects that have angular faces and simple textures, a single Material is often enough. But in this case, since we have a more complex shape, we need additional textures. This is where the Top and Bottom textures can come in. Download them to your textures folder.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    For multiple textures you can keep track of the materials (only one texture per material) by naming them. Just double click on the material in the Materials Panel, and change the name on the upper middle box. Name the first texture NXPod Side. It is a good idea to give the material the same name as the texture file; this helps you keep track of the textures especially when you will use Pepakura to unfold the model.

    Then, create separate materials for each, named NXPod Top and NXPod Bottom. Switch to the Top View (Orthographic) of the Pod and select the Faces on the top side of the Pod (press the Select button and then Shift-Left-click on each face) that have the most distortions, leaving only the faces with very little distortions. Also select the top sides of the wrap-around bar.

    [​IMG]

    Highlight the NXPod Top material in the Materials Panel, then Selected and “set materials to faces” This applies the NXPod Top material, but again oriented improperly. Press Map on the Command Panel, then the Flat texture box to “unlock” the texture. The outline again appears, showing the texture oriented flat ad facing the front. You need it to face upwards, so press Rotate, and enter “90” beside Pi[t]ch, and press Apply.
    You will notice that the texture now faces up, but is oriented in the wrong direction, with the front end toward the left. Enter “90” in beside Head[ing], and press Apply. Now you that the texture is oriented properly but off-centered and not in the right size.

    [​IMG]

    Close the Mapping Property options window, press “Fit selected” on Mapping options, and then use the Scale and Move buttons in the Mapping options window. Orient and align the top texture by manipulating the Square or Arrow Handles until you have more or less aligned image of the top texture with the image of the side texture. No need for absolute perfection yet, just learn how it’s done. When finished, press “UV” to lock the top texture to those faces.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Use the same procedure to change the texture of the distorted faces at the lower side of the Pod, including the bar at the bottom, using the NXPod Bottom material. Take note of how the Mapping Property panels work, generally you enter either 90, 180, -90, or -180 degrees beside either one or more of either Head, Pich, or Bank to orient the texture along the 6 possible perpendicular directions.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Next create materials called NXPod Front and NXPod Rear, using the textures below.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Separately apply the materials to the front (including the front of the bar) and the rear of the Pod. Remember, initially the texture may not be properly oriented, so just press Map and then the Flat texture button to unlock it, then the “Fit selected” and Scale buttons to achieve a better fit. When done, press UV to lock the textures.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    You should now have a relatively good monochromatic beginner’s cardmodel of the Orbital Inspection Pod.

    [​IMG]


    *A Special Note on Meta Texturing:*

    Each material with a texture can be mapped onto a set of faces only once. This means that if you have assigned a material across several faces, you cannot adjust the fit of one part of the texture to a face without also affecting the fit of the other faces. For example, in the Orbital Pod you want to adjust only the fit of the first row of faces, and not the last row. You will see that there's a limit to what you can do, because changing the fit (whether by Scale, Move, or Rotate) also changes the fit of the rest of the texture everywhere else.

    The solution to this, without UV Mapping, is to use two materials using the same texture. In the Materials Panel, highlight the texture, then press Clone. This duplicates the texture; apply this to the faces you wish to fit differently. Since it is a different material you can manipulate it separately from the original, even though both are using the same texture file.

    ============================
    (c) 2008 Jay B
  7. Paladin

    Paladin Member

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    Very much appreciated Jay, I have dozens of model ideas in my head but haven't been able to do much with them.
  8. dr_hemlock2

    dr_hemlock2 New Member

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    we are not worthy (oh yeah we are)

    if it was not for guys like you this would seem like a long lost art form which in history is not a good thing..i.e just how did they build stone henge, or the pyramids we can only guess at it. this is history you are making...
    doc
    :thumb::mrgreen:
  9. ekuth

    ekuth Guest

    Frak me. :eek:

    Now I FINALLY know what the proper process is. I was missing the key step of locking the UV and how to use the Head, Pitch, Bank commands.

    I've been rotating and resizing the textures manually using the flat projection method. wall1wall1wall1

    Never understood exactly how it was being projected until now.

    THANK YOU!

    Looking forward to more. :thumb:
  10. Master-Bruce

    Master-Bruce Active Member

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    That's what I'm talking about!!! Thank you Jay.
  11. Dragos

    Dragos Active Member

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    I have problems inserting the background pictures. I click "View" but there is no "Show a backgroung image"

    Attached Files:

  12. Lex

    Lex Dollmaker

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    Thanks for the tutorial on mapping!!! That's exactly what I need!!!
  13. Jaybats

    Jaybats Member

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    I think that it may be because you're using an older version of Meta. Just download the latest one (MetasequoiaLE Ver R2.3b-2) from metaseq.net.
  14. Ron Caudillo

    Ron Caudillo Creative Advisory Consultant Moderator

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    Hi Jay,
    Oh man, oh man, this is GREAT STUFF!

    Got the creative juices going now!

    I especially like the question and answer posts to specific problem areas. When the tutorial is complete, would it be possible to include these into the completed PDF?

    It is really rewarding to see the model take shape so quickly!

    Best Regards,
  15. Dragos

    Dragos Active Member

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    Hello Jaybats, I've solved the problem. My old version it was good . I was the problem. Now I'm waiting the next lessons. sign1sign1sign1
  16. JT Fox

    JT Fox Member

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    This is excellent.

    You are saving me hours of trial and error. I've play with with the mapping but could never get over the distortion. But now the sun is starting to peak though the clouds.

    Q. Do ever need to fix the separate part together to make one or can you leave them as they are for further adjustment?

    Cheers JTF
  17. Jaybats

    Jaybats Member

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    Er, sorry JT, I don't understand what you mean.

    If you're asking about texturing parts separately: you can do it by selecting faces individually. Just use the Shift-Left-click keys; these will allow you to select/deselect multiple faces in sequence.

    If you're asking about part-by-part adjustment of textures, after you've fixed them with the UV button: you can just unlock each material again, although you'd go through the whole Rotate-Fit-etc. routine for each material. To avoid this, don't click UV until you're sure that all the materials fit the way you want them to. That way you can adjust several materials in the same session.
  18. Jaybats

    Jaybats Member

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    Yes, the tutorials will be edited to incorporate the Q & A's.
  19. JT Fox

    JT Fox Member

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    Sorry Jaybats, poor wording on my part.

    Q. Do ever need to ATTACH the separate OBJECTS together to make one OBJECT or can you leave them as they are for further adjustment?

    or

    Q. By the end you have 5 objects. Is it better this way or do you merge then to make one object.

    Cheers JTF
  20. Jaybats

    Jaybats Member

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    Oh! ok, that's a totally different question.

    In the current tutorial, it's all been basically one object with different parts. This can be seen in the Object Panel. Unless you changed any of the Primitive creation settings in Meta, all of these parts form one object. A subsequent tutorial will deal with multiple objects (i.e. each part as a separate object in the Object Panel).

    Whether it's better to have just one object or many depends on the complexity of the model, and the amount of manipulation you need to do. Simpler model forms with few parts (e.g. the jedi delta starfighter w/o hyperdrive, submarines) can be made as just one object. Wiith complex models with many parts (e.g. battlestars), I prefer make each part a separate object so that it's easier to select, manipulate, and texture them individually. You end up with a long list of Objects to keep track of, but make editing the model a lot easier.

    This will be included in the tutorial to make an Andorian Kumari-class cruiser.
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