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Week 14 - April 4th - Making Models, oh and a JCA!



Just Snuck it in! Its still Wednesday in England, just!

I've spent most of today cleaning up after the gale force winds lashing the North West of the UK. We lost a drain pipe, 4 fence panels and most of a 20m high Conifer (tree) came crashing into our yard. Sooo this is not what i planned to do but its a direct response to some questions about model making and in particular the F-35C we showed a while back.

If you are a follower of UK Defence procurement you'll know the saga of the F-35 and the CVF Carriers well. If not then in a nutshell; The previous UK government chose the F-35B (STOVL - Short Take Off Vertical Landing) under a procurement project called the Joint Combat Aircraft, then we got a new coalition government who started a huge cost saving exercise in the UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) called the SDSR (Strategic Defence and Security Review) aka Strategic Defence Spending Review if you are financially minded. This wrought a swathe of spending cuts and cancellations, killing numerous projects and thousands of jobs. One of the few things I did personally agree with was the switch to the F-35C (CATOBAR - CAtapult Take Off But Arrested Recovery) version of the Joint Strike Fighter.


The biggest reason I agreed with the move was the change in the CVF carriers and what it meant for interoperability with France and the US navies. With the STOVL Harrier and the F-35B we could land on any of their carriers. But they could not land on ours. With the more conventional F-35C we could share decks more readily, giving us better opportunities for training and cooperation. And the 'C' has other distinct advantages. Its cheaper, carries more fuel and weapons and is arguably cheaper to support over its lifetime since there are more C's on order with the USN etc.

And its easier to model... less doors and fiddly bits ;)


I get asked a lot what tool I make my models in and how i do it. The honest answer is that its a mix of CAD, various 3D apps and BIS own O2.

My background is Aerospace engineering so I've spent a lot of time working in 3D CAD packages, CADDS 5 and CATIA mostly but I've done a lot of stuff in AutoCAD too. More recently Ive just been using O2 and Modo. (There a story about buying modo off a Reseller that i will relate another time - but in short buy always buy direct. It will save you lots of drama). If you follow the RKSL thread on the BIS forums you will probably know I'm a fan of O2. Alot of the early RKSL models were almost exclusively made in O2, specifically the Lynx and the Typhoon. I like the simplicity of the interface and the cost (ie free) and if you are willing to spend some time with it you can make some very good models with it. But now the accepted standard of models in the ArmA2 community is much higher than it was. With the demand for more detailed models and textures the need to use a good 3D tool has increased. You really do need to be able to sculpt and bake models and textures now just to be accepted as "good" in the community it seems.


I've found that getting good reference pics is the key to making good models. I pretty much save every interesting image i find these days. My research image archive is over 80gb with a further 30gb of movies. In Modo, O2 or Max getting a good background 3 view drawing will make your modeling life so much easier. if you can't find a decent schematic, try photos. The F-35 was partly made from an old 3 view and about 20 photos i pieced together in Photoshop. The photos are obviously the far more accurate source.


Modelling is only half the fun though. I've often found myself remaking large areas of models so that i can animate it properly. In a lot of my commercial jobs, especially TV and film stuff its embarrassing how low poly/quality some of the models are. You make to a spec that often means a plane wont have any landing gear since it will only be on screen for a few seconds. In ArmA2 you will spend far more time making an addon than you will with most projects that end up in the popular media .


I've always taken great pride in getting everything working properly in our addons. The landing gear must fold up correctly and not stick out of the doors or fuselage or it really bugs the crap out of me every time i see it. With the F-35 - see we're getting back on topic - its proved to be a bit of a nightmare. Working out the hinge points, the sequences etc. Don't get me wrong I love this part. Well the techie geeky part of me does, but its not always quick or simple especially if you want to make it look as realistic as possible.


One of the biggest dramas was fitting all the Weapons in the F-35's bays. Getting a 2000lb to sit nicely in the bay with an AIM-120 AMRAAM is proving a bit difficult and required quite a lot of fettling. We're going to try and support the widest possible range of weaponry for the F-35 but its not going to be the full selection, Even after we add support for external stores we don't have the time to model every possible combination.


But it all comes down to having fun, even when its a pain in the arse trying to land on a CVF Wink

Have Fun,

Rock, UNN, Messiah and CBFASI


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