This isn’t an area I spend a ton of time on, as I haven’t got much talent for drawing. That said, if I just fire up Blender and start modelling I tend to be a lot slower then if I nail down the basics of my concept, at least the proportions and overall shape, before even beginning to model.
In this case my concept was pretty simple… I want to make a jet that is a throwback to classic planes of old like the twin tailed Lockheed P38 Lightning or the DeHavilland Vampire, except with wing mounted engines like the Me-262. However, I want it to appear near-future modern, like a contemporary of the F22 Raptor or F35 Lightning II.
For non plane buffs, I basically want:
Or This (Vampire):
With engines like these (Me-262):
But more modern/futuristic, like this ( F22 ):
Got it? So basically I want a retro style twin tailed jet that looks futuristic.
So, time for some doodling! I have a tendency to start with something really quick, break it down into individual pieces and go from there. This way I get mostly the correct perspective, but I can work on smaller details instead of big picture… I can also quickly decide what works and what doesn’t.
For this, I worked entirely on my iPad Mini using a 5 dollar stylus and the application iDraw, which is a vector based graphic suite for iOS and MacOS. Obviously any sketching app would work, as would paper if you have access to a scanner or digital camera.
Here is my first brain dump of the concept, side and top view:
I'm relatively happy with the top view, but hate the under-wing engine and am not a fan at all of the side profile. I am thinking wingmounted engines don't work too well with the look I am shooting for here.
Instead I am going to switch to a single jet engine, like the Vampire pictured above. Let’s clean up the tail section a bit and move to a single centrally mounted engine, again top and side view:
OK, I'm pretty happy with that look over all, now I’m going to look at the top and wing layout. I start with:
Not really a fan. Doesn’t make a ton of sense for the wing to extend out in front of the air intake. Instead I decide to extend the air intake forward quite a bit, like so:
I like the overall shape better, it’s starting to look more modern, but I am still not a fan of the cockpit, nor have I nailed down the side profile yet.
On to the side profile. I start with a quick sketch of the side, now using the forward wing, air intake and single engine.
I did a quick sketch in black and it’s too fat and not very modern. Drew over it in red more to my liking.
Now it’s a matter of figuring out the cockpit I am still not happy with, as well as the front view.
Started with a 3/4 view of the cockpit area, a rough front sketch, then a slightly cleaner one. Over all, I’m pretty happy with the front profile.
So, I’ve got my basic design down, now the most important part, as a modelling aid and so I get the proportions generally right, I trace over the side and top view of my design using the line tool and end up with this:
The basic outline for the side and top profile of our jet. I am certainly going to win no awards for artistic talent, but it should be sufficient for my needs and over all, I’m fairly pleased with the design concept.
You will see how we use it in the next part when we fire up Blender.