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 Subject: WIP: Simple Morphing Chess Piece - Advice On The Knight?

3dcheapskate opened this issue on Sep 08, 2010 · 24 posts

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  3dcheapskate    ( ) ( posted at 8:52AM Wed, 08 September 2010 

Starting with a fairly simple pawn, I've already got acceptable morphs for the bishop, rook, queen and king (bottom right of the attached image - they all still need a bit of tweaking). But the knight is proving to be more of a challenge, partly because it's the first 'organic' shape I've tried to model. I think I have the profile about right (tweaking necessary of course!)

Because this is a morph from my basic chess piece (the pawn) I can't add/delete any vertices - I've got to model it from the faces I've got - basically a sphere on top of a sphere on top of a sphere on top of a cylinder (with spurious faces/edges/vertices deleted and appropriate vertices merged to get a single closed surface). So obviously there are no nice edge loops associated with the mouth, nose, eyes or ears. I don't think this is an issue as I don't plan for the knight to animate - it's just an end-point for a morph.

There obviously need to be sufficient faces in the appropriate areas to model the detail of the horses head. I've played around a bit with the nostrils, mouth, and ears, and I think I have the general approach for these, although more work is obviously needed. But I don't think I've left enough faces to model the eyes (which I plan to do in a similar way to the nostrils).

Any advice, ideas or suggestions would be most appreciated, as always!

P.S. I know models of chess pieces are ten-a-penny, but this is mainly another learning exercise for me, a bit of modelling and morph creation practice. And as long as it ends up half-way reasonable it'll be released as a freebie.

P.P.S I'm posting this on both DAZ and Renderosity forums.

I occasionally post stuff that's not stupid...

  tantarus    ( ) ( posted at 9:08AM Wed, 08 September 2010  · @3700664

Find a side view reference image of knight figure, put in Right view. Grab the Magnet or Brush tool and tweak the shape. Way too dense mesh to work with for my taste, but if you want to practice that would be easy road.

Open your mind and share the knowledge!

  3dcheapskate    ( ) ( posted at 10:00PM Wed, 08 September 2010  · @3700930

Thanks tantarus. So that's what the 'View>Background Image' is for!  I already had a reference photo, but hadn't realised I could actually set it to appear in the modeler - doh!

I'm very interested in your 'too dense a mesh' comment (please bear in mind that I am still a relative novice!). There are 1664 faces - each sphere for my starting point had 16 rings of vertices, with 32 vertices in each ring. This seemed to me, at that time, the minimum needed to get a good enough 'roundness' on the pawn, while allowing enough flexibility to manipulate the shape into the other pieces.

But looking at the result I see your point. If I was to remodel from scratch (maybe I will, maybe I won't!) what sort of face count (or number of rings/segments for the spheres) would you suggest?

Also, since the very top of the pawn became the tip of the knight's nose, the faces all converge, making the mesh even more dense here. Maybe I should slide some of the edge loops back from the nose area to the eye area? This would perhaps give me the extra faces I need to model the eye?

I occasionally post stuff that's not stupid...

  tantarus    ( ) ( posted at 6:12AM Thu, 09 September 2010  · @3701010

Starting with a primitive is so called "box modeling", but start with very low poly. Egg 8 sided cillynder, 8 sided sphere, default cube, etc. Move points around and get general shape, dont worry about smoothnes and details at that stage. Just get proportions and general shape. Gradually add loops with Knife tool only where needed, and again move points to get volume. Look model from all angles all the time, as what look good from one side looks totally odd from another side. After you have low poly base, subdivide it. Most apps have control cage, meaning you only need to tweak that points from low poly and its shaping the hi poly preview. SubD will smooth allot of areas that need to be defined, so add loops where needed to control the smoothnes. This is just rough explanation, but there is allot of tuts. on the net.

Open your mind and share the knowledge!

  airflamesred    ( ) ( posted at 8:36AM Thu, 09 September 2010  · @3701043

The way Tantrus has pointed out is also the way I would have done it. Is there any reason behind the morph route?

  3dcheapskate    ( ) ( posted at 9:45PM Thu, 09 September 2010  · @3701308

Tantarus - thanks again. I've read, and been given similar advice many times, but I seem to have a problem in actually following it! I still end up with overcomplicated meshes. You wouldn't believe how long it's taken me just to get this far, so I won't remodel from scratch - I think I'll follow your initial advice about tweaking the shape to match a reference image.

Airflamesred - "Is there any reason behind the morph route?" - it was just an idea I had. There are hundreds of free chess piece models available (far better than I could hope to make at present). But no morphing ones, at least none I could find. So I thought, "why not give it a shot?".

The real problem is therefore creating a single mesh that is capable of being transformed into any of the six chess pieces. The rook's castellations and the queen's crown effectively set the minimum number of vertices around the model's circumference, and I knew the knight was always going to be the biggest problem.

I suppose I could have started by modelling the knight and then trying to morph it to get the other pieces, but that seemed even more awkward.

(btw - my DAZ thread on the same issue if here http://forum.daz3d.com/viewtopic.php?p=2507837)

I occasionally post stuff that's not stupid...

  tantarus    ( ) ( posted at 5:26AM Fri, 10 September 2010  · @3701371

Dont get frustrated, you seem to be persistent and willing to learn. Find some other theme to model and start with low poly, tutorials will give you pointers but dont follow them blind. Use them as inspiration and practice allot ;)

Open your mind and share the knowledge!

  3dcheapskate    ( ) ( posted at 5:32AM Sat, 11 September 2010 · edited on 5:41AM Sat, 11 September 2010 · @3701740

Well, the mesh is definitely far too dense! I tried continuing from what I had - I was quite pleased to start with, as it definitely began to look like a horse's head! But there are just too many damn faces, and they're all being squashed up under the neck.
So I decided to do as I was told and start simple. A simple 128-face sphere is actually okay for the top of a pawn, so I started with that. And I can easily manipulate this sphere to get the cross for the king, the crown for the queen, or the rough shape for the bishop. The rook's castellations are just about acceptable but need more thought.
As for the knight, the 128-face sphere can be twisted quite neatly to form the basic shape for the neck, but  I added a second 128-face sphere for the actual horses head. (I haven't incorporated this extra sphere into the other pieces yet, but it will give me enough faces to do the slot in the bishop and make the others a bit more fancy)
For the details on the knight (i.e. eyes, mouth, nostrils and ears), maybe the easiest approach would be to extrude the appropriate faces to give me extra vertices in just the areas I need them? These extra vertices will simply flatten into the original faces for the other pieces.

Thanks again Tantarus/AirFlamesRed - this seems a much better approach. I have plenty more WIPs that I'll take a fresh look at now as well!

I occasionally post stuff that's not stupid...

  airflamesred    ( ) ( posted at 7:15AM Sat, 11 September 2010  · @3701758

I shall look forward to the results.
best of luck

  odf    ( ) ( posted at 2:07AM Sun, 12 September 2010  · @3701982

As this is for practice, I would actually use the 128-face sphere topology as is and try to shape it into a very stylized knight. Forget about details, just go for basic recognizable shape. I think that might actually be a very good kind of exercise for beginners: take a fixed, very-low-polygon topology and see what you can do with it.

Or since the sphere has these annoying poles at the top and bottom, maybe you could use a cube and subdivide it twice, which would give you 96 faces.

Have you met Antonia?

I did not jump. I made a tiny step and there conclusions were. (Buffy the Vampire Slayer)

  3dcheapskate    ( ) ( posted at 10:14PM Sun, 12 September 2010 · edited on 10:16PM Sun, 12 September 2010 · @3702332

odf - I like it. Fits with tantarus' "...Find some other theme to model and start with low poly..."  idea too. But I also find that deciding (and posting my intention) to release a model as a freebie does wonders for focussing my mind - and it does need focussing!

I think I'll split this project into two: a basic morphing chess piece for release as a freebie (using the two spheres, plus an extra cylinder primitive for the base) by the end of this month; and a "let's see what I can make out of a 96 face cube" project.

I occasionally post stuff that's not stupid...

  3dcheapskate    ( ) ( posted at 2:54AM Mon, 27 September 2010  · @3707717

After many abortive attempts at modelling a knight from a twice-subdivided cube I came up with this. The shape seems recognizable enough to me, and loading the obj into DS or Poser I can render a recognisable knight (from a side view at least - the top and front views needed more work). I din't use the bottom face of the cube - I deleted it and simply extruded the bottom edges to give a starting point for the radially symetrical base.

I occasionally post stuff that's not stupid...

  3dcheapskate    ( ) ( posted at 9:14AM Mon, 27 September 2010  · @3707796

( btw - it didn't take me 14 days just to do that! )

I occasionally post stuff that's not stupid...

  tantarus    ( ) ( posted at 9:28AM Mon, 27 September 2010  · @3707804

This is big progress, you have very good base and enough of points to round it up a bit more. Now UV map it and make textures that will bring him to life. I like the shape of it, nice work.

Open your mind and share the knowledge!

  3dcheapskate    ( ) ( posted at 9:40AM Mon, 27 September 2010 · edited on 9:45AM Mon, 27 September 2010 · @3707808

Anyway, I've decided to use the 96-polygon cube as the basis for the morphing chess piece. The outline in the previous picture is too angular, so I need to round that off a bit. And I reckon that I need some more faces to define the ridgeline where the horses chin and lower jaw tuck into the neck (I think I've just realised one of the purposes/uses of edge loops, and I don't have one there).

Plus I need to bear in mind that I'm modelling a pawn, bishop, rook, queen and king from the same mesh, and each of them will need more detail but in different areas. This has turned into an intriguing exercise for me.

The upshot of all this is that the morphing chess piece will be delayed (i.e. not released by the end of September), but will hopefully be a better model.

Tantarus - thanks for the positive comment*. I think I'll do as you suggest, and develop the morphing version separately (but using this as the base).

I occasionally post stuff that's not stupid...

  3dcheapskate    ( ) ( posted at 1:05PM Mon, 27 September 2010 · edited on 1:06PM Mon, 27 September 2010 · @3707913

Well I'm amazed - I just tweaked the vertices, created a simple texture map, and voila!

I occasionally post stuff that's not stupid...

  tantarus    ( ) ( posted at 1:35PM Mon, 27 September 2010  · @3707918

Very nice

Open your mind and share the knowledge!

  airflamesred    ( ) ( posted at 2:09PM Mon, 27 September 2010  · @3707941

This has turned into a good modeling excerise. And a perfect example to many starting out showing how much can be done with so few poly's. Well done.

  3dcheapskate    ( ) ( posted at 5:33AM Wed, 29 September 2010  · @3708669

Yes, a good lesson in  "less is more", or "Keep It Simple, Stupid!"

Regarding the MORPHING chess piece (which is still my ultimate goal here). I obviously can't use the knight texture map, so a single texture/bump/displacement map will have to work for ALL SIX chess pieces.  
But since I now have a very simple base mesh, a few extra faces to add detail for each piece seems a good solution. I'll post the results back here soon.

I occasionally post stuff that's not stupid...

  3dcheapskate    ( ) ( posted at 6:54AM Thu, 30 September 2010 · edited on 6:58AM Thu, 30 September 2010 · @3709143

And here's all six pieces, created from the same*** twice-subdivided cube (with two extra horizontal edge loops added near the bottom of each piece to create the rounded base). The biggest problem this time was the king.

As always, constructive criticism is very much appreciated.

*the knight actually has an extra horizontal edge loop near the base that I forgot to remove.

I occasionally post stuff that's not stupid...

  airflamesred    ( ) ( posted at 7:27AM Thu, 30 September 2010  · @3709153

Nice, I like that taper on the king

  3dcheapskate    ( ) ( posted at 10:18AM Thu, 30 September 2010 · edited on 10:25AM Thu, 30 September 2010 · @3709206

An animation of the morph using a PP2 created from the model in the previous post (with a corrected knight), rendered in DAZ|Studio.

I occasionally post stuff that's not stupid...

  3dcheapskate    ( ) ( posted at 10:09PM Sun, 03 October 2010  · @3710533

Almost there now, just packaging everything up and testing it. Here's a taster...

I occasionally post stuff that's not stupid...

  3dcheapskate    ( ) ( posted at 12:33AM Tue, 05 October 2010  · @3710933

Now completed and released as a freebie here http://www.renderosity.com/mod/freestuff/details.php?item_id=61836

I'd love to know what people think of it.

I occasionally post stuff that's not stupid...

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