Modelling complex glass cockpit canopies

I’m trying to model an elongated, spherical greenhouse canopy similar in concept to a ww2 He111 bomber - but I can’t get the struts by loop cutting and extruding without making a fantastically complex geometry.

So my next thought was to use paths to trace the strut contours and extrude those individually, then fill the gaps with faces.

Before doing this I thought I’d ask if this is the way to go.

I’ve also tried using “inset extrude” however what I’m trying to do is make a round greenhouse - window panes held in by a framework - I hope this picture makes it clearer as to what I mean:

If I take a basic poly-sphere, select an edge, then extrude, it’s a sphere so I’m not working in just one plane, and the shape tapers so the top face of the extrusion is not always flush.

I understand I might need to extrude in the direction of the normals to get round this, but as I simply want the framework, maybe it’s just easier to start with circles, extrude and rotate as needs.

The first thing I would try is to make a basic object that matches the general surface shape. This can just be a sphere that has been stretched and scaled accordingly to match top/side/front views. Give it a subsurf modifier to make a smooth shape. You can then build the canopy frame on top of this shape. The most straightforward way would be to make a simple mesh of faces that roughly are in the correct position and layout. You can then add a shrinkwrap modifier to shrink this frame onto your original guide surface. Adding a solidifier modifier will then give the frame some depth. You can have a subsurf above the shrinkwrap to give a smoother fit to the surface. Once you have this you can then apply the modifiers for further fine tuning and adding smaller details.

Thanks for the pointers Richard - I’ll read up on the modifiers

I’ve included a rough of what you’ve suggested

Do you have a picture of the canopy or is made up by you?

While I’m not modelling this - the concept is based on it:

But my real issue was looking for a way to make a spherical lattice work that meant I wasn’t having to shift a lot of vertexes about. Having followed through with Richard’s advice for using shrinkwrap and solidifier, I got to this

Not perfect but better than what I was getting before I posted and for much less effort.

Any tips welcome though.

for some reason the first image link got broken -

Usually what people do when making a canopy is they model the overall shape of it then
where there are struts edge loops are added. In blender Edge Loops can be added by
selecting a bunch of edges in a row and pressing Ctrl + R and middle mouse wheel is used
to set thee mount of cuts made.Ctrl + E gives you a good set of options for working with
Edges as well as the Add On - Mesh: Edge Tools. That can be found User Preferences.

Also, seeing how this is symmetrical then there is no point in modeling the whole thing at one time.
Just model half of it and use the Modifier - Mirror. In fact if it’s the same all the way around then really all you need to model in one quarter of it and use Mirror.

There is also the option of modeling it without any thickness and then using the Modifier - Solidify.
I personally don’t really like it because I keep getting strange results with that Modifier but that
could very well be my fault.
Maybe that Modifier could help you make what you want to make.

ok thanks for the tips JDA

just on a technical point the He111 canopy is asymmetrical with the forward mg station slightly offset on the central axis

I took a close look at this planes canopy and there really isn’t much symmetrical about it
so you’re kind of stuck building something like that like in the real world piece by piece.
That is not something you can just use Spin Duplication, Arrays and Mirror to quickly make.
It’s a very unique framework design. It’s not difficult to make just time consuming.