How to model a tennis ball

Here is a tutorial to model the tennis ball, transcripted for blender from this maya tutorial.
The idea came to me after I read the first post in this thread.

Before we get started, I have to warn you that this is probably not the most optimized way to achieve this. I intended to make it the same way as the original tutorial, but under blender, not Maya. Also, I like the topology made this way.

I’ll often switch between the selection modes, from vert to edge to face. I’ll tell when I change, but won’t repeat how to do it. The selection mode buttons are at the bottom header of the 3D view (edit mode only).

The first one from left is Vertice selection, the second edges selection, the third faces selection.
(notice : you can do it all only with vertice selection, but it’s sometimes quicker to switch)

Now let’s get to it.


1) Start with an empty scene (delete the cube (XKEY) in the default scene). Hit SHIFT-C to get the 3D cursor to coordinates 0,0,0. It should stay here. Anytime you move it unpurposely, hit SHIFT-C to get it to center again.

2) Switch to top view (NUM7).
Press SPACE -> Add>Mesh>UVSphere

Give it 8 segments and 8 rings. You should get this.

Move the camera a bit down.
Press AKEY twice to get sure all verts are selected. Switch to face select mode. Unselect the faces as shown (SHIFT+RMB).

Press XKEY -> Faces to get rid of those unwanted faces.

3) Switch to edge selection. Select the edges as shown in white.

Delete those edges with XKEY > Edges to get this.

Back to Vertices Selection mode, select vertices by twos to create edges (FKEY) as shown.

Delete the shown vertex (XKEY).

Make an edgeloop where shown (CTRL-R).

Select vertices by 4 and make faces (FKEY). Add two edgeloops as shown.

4) Switch to side view (NUM3). First move the backmost vertices so as they are arranged as a quarter circle.

Do the same thing in top view (NUM7) with the selected vertices.

Now the tedious part : arrange the vertices so as they look like the picture below.

From time to time, you can hit “To Sphere” in the “Mesh Tools” panel (Editing set, F9), to get everything match to a sphere.
Tip : try to match roughly the positions in each view, one after the other, it will work pretty good.

5) We’re going to duplicate this eighth, then mirror it.

Hit SHIFT-C to ensure the 3D cursor is at center. Make the pivot the 3D Cursor in the pivot menu.

Now in EDIT MODE, select all, hit SHIFT-D to duplicate, then immediatly hit ESC not to move the mesh part.
CRTL-M to invoke the Mirror menu, select X Global.
Select all again, SHIFT-D, ESC, CRTL-M, Y Global.
You now have half a sphere.

Duplicate this half again, and mirror it along Z Global.

Now, do not deselect this half, hit RKEY to rotate, ZKEY to constrain rotation around Z axis.

Rotate the half sphere 90°.

Use CRTL to make 5° shifts in rotation (watch the leftmost bottommost corner of 3D view to see the amount of rotation).

The vertices should match with the other half. If not begin again or try to move them a bit.
Hit Rem Doub to remove double (Mesh Tools)

6) Now switch to top view (NUM7) and make loop cuts (CRTL-R) as shown.

Look at the upper left quarter of the ball, still in top view. Select the vertices as selected on the screenshot.

Hit CRTL-E > Edge Ring Select.
The “seam” loop is selected! (Does this feature exist before 2.42?)
Press SKEY and apply a slight scaling down.

Select all the vertices, hit CRTL-N to recalculate all normals outside (this will prevent some strange cuts in the ball).
In modifiers, add a Subsurf (Catmull), and under the Link and Materials panel, select Set Smooth.

There it is!

Feel free to download the .blend file!

thanks! I remember that I followed the tutrorial ones i was using maya (long time since), and I could’t remember my password to my maya account, so could’et try the tutorial again and see how it work’et… Now I remember, thanks to you… :smiley:

i finally did the tut and realized if anyone is having trouble copiing the screen shots wen moving the verts around then just save the image and load it up as the background in blender

do u know how to make the fuzzy texture?

I was completely lost at that part. I understand what you’re saying but I DON’T understand how you moved all three vertices into that position at the same time unless you moved them singley?.. >.<

I moved them one by one… . hehe

Thank you for this tut. It was easy enough but still challenging for a Blender new comer like me. Now I can update my avatar (gray cube) to the next level :slight_smile:

o love the grass but the fuzz on the ball is a little much

nice tutorial, very well done solid use of images.

Excellent procedure. Without bumpmap, quite realistic, pure and naturally model, Thanks reywillow !

Thanks for your comments, and I’m glad the tutorial was used.
And I have to thank Chriter B who had written this in the first place.

And yes, for step 4), the moved vertices are all selected so as to show which one to move, but they are indeed to be pushed one after the other.

Be well all


thanks for translating that maya tutorial to blender, it is quite helpful :slight_smile:

It’s not letting me delete the faces. HELP!!!

It’s not letting me delete the faces. HELP!

that sucks

Thanks for that. Learnt a bit, plus made a very nessesery model for the Cuby movie!


this made me realize I don’t think about topology enough, I just head into it hoping texture maps will save me. wouldn’t a spherical displacement map work almost as well? not to malign your excellent tut. this is one of those good ones that uses most of the essential modeling tools without being too confusing. and considering english isn’t your first language (it isn’t right?) it’s clearer than most english speakers’ writing. good job!

here’s my tennis ball, ain’t it pretty?

@NodeRanger: Actually, a good disp map would perfectly do the trick, the only tedious thing is to obtain the right Cassinian oval on the map before wrapping it around the sphere. This method seems to give a good unwrapped tennis ball cassinian oval.
Depending on what level of detail and precision you want, you can also use one of the alternative tutorials on the blende.orgr mediawiki.
And yes, English is not my native language :wink:

@r0bf: pretty nice one, but the crease may be a bit too large. Nice texturing on the fluffy part.

yeh I got lazy :(, every time I’d try to fix the crease it ended up more trouble than not, though it may just be the angle there as other renders it’s not as apparent, worst trouble I had was that there are 4 seams around the sphere cutting it into quadrants, can’t find why they’re even there as the seams are connected by single vertices around the sphere, all kinda weird really. the texture itself was actually a hack job of sorts, as I’m bout newb as they come I just sorta guessed on how texturing works using the blender manuals explination of unwrapping an object,

being a total nubbin I just kind slapped the texture together like this since when I tried to stay in the lines it always had a texture seam, quick question, does the texture need to cover the black lines around the outside of the unwrapped model?

then I just used a noisemap using normals… I so have no idea the how’s or why’s but it didn’t turn out too bad for being my first model in blender I don’t think.
is there a better wayto achieve this? – edit >As far as the seams being too wide, after lookin at it I believe that’s the textures fault as the grey seam colour shouldn’t run along the entire seam area, running some green along the outside faces and leving the central grey fixes this up right nice =) <–

another problem I had though maybe slightly off topic, I can’t seem to make the ball rotate in object mode, I have to use edit mode to do this, which fails for animating the object :frowning: any quick ideas on why this occurrs?