The last texture for my model contains various elements that in the plastic kits are delivered as the decals: national insignia, radio-call numbers and various service labels. I prepared it as another vector drawing in Inkscape:
I exported this picture to a raster file named color-decals.png. It has transparent background, because I will combined this image with the other components of the color texture, prepared in previous posts.
It seems that Douglas used a high-quality paint for their SBDs, because I cannot find any trace of chips/flakes, even on such a worn-out aircraft as this from VSMB-241 (Figure 76‑1). However, you can see some scratches on the center wing, trodden by the crew:
In the photo above, the minor scratches are yellow, because Douglas used a yellow layer of Zinc Chromate primer below the camouflage paint. (The interiors were painted with another layer of the Zinc Chromate, mixed with Lamp Black to obtain a darker, greenish hue).
However, the larger area along the leading edge was often trodden to the bare metal, which you can see in the photo. This scratch has a typical, irregular band of the primer around its borders. In this post I will recreate these abrasions.
In this post I will work on the weathering effects of the color texture, while in the next one I will add scratches and some other remaining details.
The weathering effects that you can observe on the aircraft from WWII era are quite “dramatic”. The paints used in mid-20th century were not as chemically “stable” as the contemporary coats, thus they could change their hues in few months of intense service. The archival color photos below show an extreme case of this effect (Figure 75‑1):
These photos were taken by Frank Sherschel on 14th November 1942, for the “Life” magazine. The SBD-3s depicted on the pictures belonged to VMSB-241 squadron, stationed at Midway in that time. Marines received these aircraft in July 1942, but all of them were already used before – most probably on the U.S. Navy carriers. I think that in November 1942 these SBDs had accumulated about 10-11 months of the war service. I will use them as an extreme case of the weathering. (It is always good idea to recreate such an ultimate case in the texture, because you can always make your model “newer” by decreasing intensities of the weathering layers. On the other hand, you cannot use more than the 100% of their intensities, thus you cannot make your model “older” than you initially painted).
The color (also known as “diffuse”) map is the most obvious texture, which you can find on every model for games. In my models it is composed of three separate images: the camouflage, the dirt (stains, soot, etc.), and the markings (national insignia, tactical numbers, warning labels, and all other similar stuff). In this post I will compose the basic camouflage texture.
Some time ago I unwrapped the left side of this model (see this post, Figure 62-3). Now I had to complete this work, creating remaining elements of the right side, and unwrapping them on the UVMap layout. The final result looks like the model in Figure 74‑1:
For the precise mapping, I used here the color grid image, which I already used in my previous posts. Note the different square colors on the left and right wing, as well as the different letters on the right and the left tailplane.
I already finished the bump map (in the second-last post), so it’s time to introduce another texture: the reflection (ref) map. It alters the basic reflectivity (gloss) assigned to the material. In addition, it also alters the material “roughness”. (In the typical CG materials the roughness and reflectivity are coupled in an inverse proportion). These two parameters are important, when you have to paint an oil streak or a soot streak. Both are black – the difference between them lies in their reflectivity.
The effects of the ref map are most visible inside these areas of the model that actually reflect the light:
Figure 73‑1 shows two renders of the same model: the upper one was created without any reflectivity map, the lower one uses a basic ref map. (I created this texture around the technical details of the aircraft skin).
This post is a small digression about a modeling technique that you may find useful.
There is a detail on the bottom surfaces of the SBD center wing: an opening, made partially in the cover of the fuselage belly (Figure 72‑1):
The difficult part of this detail is its flange, stamped in the fuselage cover. I just have two photos of this element, both of average resolution. On both of them you can see a typical circular recession, made around the opening in the belly cover. In fact, such a feature is quite common in the sheet metal design (you can see plenty of such stamped flanges in various places inside your car). This is a minor detail, too small for any serious modeling, but too large for recreating it with the textures.
Although the technical details of aircraft skin are symmetric in general, there are always exceptions. For example, look at the bottom surfaces of the SBD (Figure 71‑1 shows them on my model):
As you can see, there are several details that are not symmetric. (In addition, let’s do not forget about the asymmetric opening under bottom covers of the fuselage, visible on this picture – see Figure 70‑9 in my previous post).
So far I mapped only the symmetric half of the wing on the UVTech texture layout. It occupies a significant portion of the space. Such a size allowed me to draw all the technical details in higher resolution. The plan was that both wings will be mapped in the same points of the UV space, because most of their structure is symmetric. For the few asymmetric details, I was going to prepare additional areas, intended for the UV mesh faces that contain these elements.
In previous post I have enhanced the bump map texture effect, using two different images. This is the continuation on this subject.
Have you ever noticed that the classic stressed skin of a real aircraft is not ideally smooth? It is more visible in the areas where the skin is thinner, especially on an old, “weary” aircraft (Figure 70‑1):
The wing on the left (Figure 70‑1a) belongs to a SBD-4 (BuNo 10518) from Yanks Air Museum in Chino. This wing was recovered separately from Guadalcanal (circa 1980), and restored a few years later. This aircraft is in flyable condition (registered as N4864J), but has not flown since its restoration.
The wing on the right (Figure 70‑1b) belongs to a SBD-5 (BuNo 28536) from Planes of Fame, also in Chino. This wing was also recovered from Guadalcanal, in the same time as for BuNo 10518. This aircraft was restored, registered as N670AM, and made its first flight in 1987. Since that time it has been flying during various air shows.
Originally I was going to describe the finished bump map in this post. However, when I started writing it, I discovered that I have enough materials for at least two subsequent posts. Thus I decided to split this text into this and the next article.
There are many small openings in the aircraft skin. For example – perforation of the SBD Dauntless wing flaps, or small slots for control surfaces actuators. It would require a lot work to model each of such details “in the mesh”. What’s more – it would make the model meshes much more complex, which would hinder the UV mapping, and so on.
Fortunately, there is a much simpler solution for all these small openings. Just draw their shapes as black objects on white background, then use this picture as so-called opacity map (Figure 69‑1):
As you can see in figure above, the final result does not differ from the openings modeled “in the mesh”.
In this and the next post I will describe my work on the first of the textures required for the SBD Dauntless model. It is called bump (height) map. I use it for recreating all of the minor details that are visible on the aircraft skin.
However, before I begin this work, I had to put my model into more “natural” surroundings. I imported the environment (World) and the material settings from my previous model (the P-40). You can see the initial results below (Figure 68‑1):
Of course, the propeller of this aircraft is static, and there is nothing in the cockpit and under the engine cowling. Do not worry, this is just the first approximation! The principle is that you should work with the materials in the final environment. Otherwise the final result may not look as you want. In this case there is an outdoor scene, full of the sunlight. (Every painter will tell you, that everything on the picture depends on the light: many details would look quite different in the indoor lights and their soft shadows).
As you can see, I decided to start this work with an ideal, smooth and shiny material. Each new texture that I will apply will make it more realistic.