I gather from Twitter that some people find it interesting to follow my approach and progress when building a new model. So here’s a blog post where I will show how a project comes together, with lots of illustrations.
My starting point is to gather references, particularly high resolution photos, and plans with dimensions. Fortunately this one is covered in the excellent “Rockets of the World” by Peter Alway. It’s not highly detailed, but I find if you can get the overall dimensions of major features correct, then it’s not too tricky to fill in the rest from good photographs.
One of the frustrations of working with CGI is that you sometimes find a brilliant free model, but it’s not for your software. And a specific example that has frustrated me is that there are some great models available in Blender format on the NASA 3d object library site:
I wanted to make a dwarf planet, using elevation maps from the Moon, (and maybe Mars?) for realistic craters. I thought it may be helpful to save out the steps, so that others can follow along. Tutorial time!
You will need:
The 3D program of your choice, it should support displacement maps.
A high res source elevation map, these are available online.
An image editor that can edit 16 bit grey scale images.
I started with a slice of elevation map from the rear of the moon, (less recognisable), in the proportions of 2:1