By Zach Goldstein
Before I begin, I would like to say that I have always been a huge car fanatic, and I am constantly inspired by the amazing new auto designs I see on the road and online. There is almost always some sort of exotic sports car parked conspicuously on my desktop background, and I am often inspired by what I see. When I stumbled upon the images of the new Maserati Gran Turismo, I was immediately inspired by the beautiful wheels it sat on. I knew as soon as I saw them, that I would have to try and recreate them in my favorite 3D program, Blender!
Another challenge I faced was cutting the holes for the lug nuts. Figuring out exactly how to do this can be a little challenging sometimes, but if you look at the close up wireframe I used for the banner image, hopefully you can get a clearer idea of what I did. I added an extra edge loop to the end of the spoke which happened to give me just enough vertices to fit in an 8 sided circle. I'm sure there are other ways you could go about doing this, but my method seemed to work well and kept the mesh pretty clean at the same time.
Modeling the inner part of the rim and tire are pretty basic. The most difficult part was just making sure everything stayed in correct proportion. It took a little while to get the tread to work, but I only had to model the outer most part of it since that's all that would be seen from the camera angle I chose. Here is another instance were the Spin tool is highly useful for speeding things up. Simply make one tread patch that looks correct and then use the Spin tool to duplicate it the correct number of times. After I completed the tread, modeling the Maserati badge and lugs was a pretty easy task, and I had pretty much completed the rim and tire.
Next up was the brake system. A true exotic will always have an impressive set of huge disc brakes, usually paired with flamboyantly colored multi-piston calipers. The Gran Turismo is no exception! Since it was difficult to see all of the brake in my reference pictures, I googled "big brake kit" and found plenty of good shots of a performance braking system by itself. Most of the modeling for this wasn't too difficult, and I scaled and extruded basic shapes to get most of it done. Again, I used the Spin tool to simulate drilled rotor holes by using carefully arranged small black tubes. This is a lot easier than trying to actually cut holes into the rotor and if you make sure you turn off the specularity on their black material, you can't tell in the final render. The Maserati text also took a little while to finish because I had a hard time finding the correct looking font. I finally settled on DEFTONE.tff, which was the closest I could fine to the original, and was free to download online.
The great thing about a close up still is that you can get away without having to model everything. Setting up the car fenders took a little while to get just right, but I still saved a lot of time by not trying to model the car's entire front end. At this point, you will be doing a lot of test renders to make sure everything lines up and looks good from the camera angle. Once you get all the models set up correctly, you can experiment with lighting and texturing. For my scene I decided to use 2 Area lamps, one primary white lamp, and a slightly dimmer blue secondary lamp. It gave some nice shadows and added some more color to the scene, and the blue light reflecting on the spokes really made the red brake caliper stand out. All of the textures are internal materials except for the disk break which is an image mapped texture. But even though I was able to get some good effects from Blender, I still had to go tweak the final render in Photoshop to add a few more cosmetic touches to give it that studio look.
As for now, this is about all I can give without going into excessive detail of every step. Hopefully this tutorial has been of some use to you, and that perhaps you found a new idea or method which you may put to use in one of your own future projects.