Unwrapping Meshes of the Alternate Dauntless Versions

After a long break in August and September (I had to finish a demanding project in my daily work) I am back. This week I made a “slow start”: because in my last July post I finished mapping the SBD-3, now I mapped in the UV space parts that are specific to the alternate Dauntless versions: SBD-1 and SBD-5.

Let’s start with the SBD-1: when you switch into its scene, you can immediately see the gray elements that are not mapped in the UV space (as in Figure 62‑1a). These parts are specific for this version:

Figure 62-1 Unwrapping elements that are specific to the SBD-1

It did not require a lot of work ­– just to unwrap few additional meshes in the UV space. You can see them in Figure 62‑1c). I placed their faces in the same location, as their counterparts from the SBD-3. In Figure 62‑1b) you can see the SBD-1 model after this update.

Then I had to make similar work in the SBD-5 scene (Figure 62‑2). The engine cowling of this model contains more differences, thus it required more time:

Figure 62-2 Unwrapping elements that are specific to the SBD-5

When all the meshes in all SBD models were unwrapped, I had to export them into a 2D drawing. (I will need such a picture as a reference for painting various textures). I prefer to keep it as a scalable vector drawing, thus exported it into an SVG picture, which I can edit in Inkscape (Figure 62‑3):

Figure 62-3 Exporting the unwrapped meshes into a SVG drawing

The standard Blender command allows you to export only the single mesh of the active object. Some years ago I wrote an add-on which exports into SVG all selected objects at once. (You can find this add-on and learn how to use it in the III volume of this guide). It is extremely useful for such a model built from multiple objects, like this one.

Inside Inkscape I placed the exported objects onto a layer that has the same name as the defualt UV map in Blender: UVMap. (In the next posts I will prepare in Blender some other alternate UV maps, thus this naming convention is important).

Internally, I split in Inkscape the contents of the UVMap into five sublayers (Figure 62‑4):

Figure 62-4 Inkscape: two layers for the common elements

Two bottom layers (Color, Common) contains the elements that are common to all three models. I created Color layer for the future use. It contains just the fixed parts of the wing. I am going to use a separate texture for the national insignia and various technical labels. On some SBDs the stars on the wing lower surfaces were so large that they will require the seam line directly on the leading edge. Thus for this purpose I am going to create an alternate UV map for the wings. I will place it in Inkscape on additional Decals sublayer. Then, to create the UV layout for the insignia texture, I will hide the Color layer.  When I will need the UV layout for the camouflage texture, I will turn off the Decals layer, and make the Color layer visible.

Why I did not simplify this drawing, creating in Inkscape a separate layer for each texture that would contain all the required objects? Because in such a case I would have to duplicate all of the common objects – sometimes several times.

The progress of my modelling project is not like a “waterfall”, it more like a spiral. From time to time I have to return to a finished stage, and fix something there. That’s why I always try to have just “one string that controls all”: in this case it means having single instance of every mesh in the Inkscape drawing. When I have to modify something in the corresponding Blender mesh, I will need to update just single element in this drawing, instead of multiple instances in the “simpler” version.

I use the same method as described above for obtaining the UV layout for a particular Dauntless version. There are three sublayers, named: SBD-1, SBD-3, and SBD-5. In each of them I placed just the elements that are specific for these version. For example, Figure 62‑5 presents the contents of the SBD-3 layer:

Figure 62-5 Inkscape: contents of one of the SBD-3 layer

When you combine it with the basic layers (Color, Common), you will get the complete UV layout for the SBD-3 (Figure 62‑6):

Figure 62-6 Obtaining a complete UV layout for a given Dauntless version (SBD-3)

(Of course, at this moment this layout contains only the left side of the model. I will update it later, adding the elements from the right side).

In this source *.blend file you can evaluate yourself the current version of the model, and here is the Inkscape file.

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