1:100 Zaku Kai - Experimental Blender Model
My Zaku plans have been pretty well realized in 3-D for some time now, but it can be hard to visualize exactly how the MS, as designed, will look in different views. For this reason, I've decided to try my hand at making a 3-D computer graphics version of my design, so I can spin it around all I like. The CG model started off very crude, but it's gradually been taking on a much greater level of refinement, and now work that I'm doing with the CG mesh is becoming my main point of reference for work with the physical model.
In some ways this effort is a bit of a sidetrack: I'm eager to put some kind of stamp on my plans and begin building in earnest. But to me this is a very interesting diversion. I've wanted to know how to make 3-D CG models for some time, and now I'm finally learning how to do it. I feel like Blender doesn't provide all the editing tools I would hope for (as a modeler used to working with solid materials, it's a little disconcerting that Blender offers so few tools that let you actually think of the CG model as a "solid" of some kind rather than a collection of polygons and vertices) but it's a very fun process all the same. At this point I have most of the major parts laid out, though just about everything is missing some piece of detail or some refinement to the structure.
As I mentioned above, as the Blender model's getting more refined, it's becoming my testing ground for changes to the design. It's much easier applying experimental changes to the CG mesh than it is to redraw the paper plans each time I want to make a change - plus I've used data taken directly from Blender to build some of the physical model parts. It's basically reached the point where I may not bother making a final set of "master" paper plans - the paper design process was very useful but since the Blender model is a true 3-D reference it's more useful in some ways.
At this point I've rigged most of the model, allowing me to experiment with poses like this one (it turns out my Zaku Kai will be able to kneel - though rather awkwardly, and only if I give the chest and hips sufficient flexibility). From here I want to finish the rigging process so the model will be fully animatable - I want to animate a walk cycle and maybe a few other things - and continue the detailing process to make the CG model a much better representation of how the physical model will look.