The Novelty Screwdriver

Hey, thanks for taking the time to look at this thread. I have started the modelling phase on a long term idea of mine that never quite got going, until now. I have decided to post progress here for a couple of reasons: The external eyes that might be able to see how to do things better than I am doing them, and as a self motivation to actually try and get this finished in the long run (this is my first serious project in Blender and I have worries that I may get frustrated somewhere down the line and abandon it, which is something I don’t want to happen)

I haven’t got very far as of yet, I have just modelled 2 of the main pieces and added some materials in. I have absolutely no experience with lighting, materials and textures so this is all new to me, and although I am pretty happy with how they look so far, I have no doubt whatsoever that someone could point out extremely easy ways to improve upon them. So here is what I have so far:
Additional Linked Images:
Handle Wire
Lid Wire
Larger Render - Texture Close Up
Reference Photograph

The models themselves were created on subsurf level 2, however the renders are set to subsurf level 4 to get rid of some of the slight imperfections that were appearing on lower settings. The materials are supposed to resemble plastics and were created in the following ways: The yellow handle was just a yellow material with a very slight bit of ray mirror applied. The rough red plastic is based on a leather material I found in the Material Repository and has 2 layers of texturing (1 cloud and 1 voronoi) and some slight ray mirror, and the smooth red plastic is almost exactly the same settings as the rough red plastic, but with the textures not added. There is obviously no surface that the objects are sat on, I just replaced the default blue background with white on rendering. The scene is lit with 1 spotlight and one lamp. Feel free to ask if detailed settings are needed for any advice.

I’m mainly looking for crits on the wires and materials at the moment, the lighting is something I will address when there are more objects in my scene. Also bear in mind that I’m modelling this as if it was brand new, rather than in the tatty state (with poor flash control) that is seen in the reference image – photography isn’t my strong point.

Sorry there isn’t an awful lot to comment on so far, but more will be posted in the not so distant future (hopefully by the weekend). Many thanks to anyone who replies :cool:

The following bracketed section is only background information on the project and basic story/character idea. Feel free to ignore this if you aren’t interested in that sort of stuff, there is no information in it that will be relevant to anyone just wanting to c&c this. I thought I would include a little write up as I find it interesting to read where people get their ideas and inspiration from and figured others may be in a similar frame of mind. Hopefully the length of this post hasn’t put people off, none of my follow up posts here will be anywhere near this length I hope.
I’ve been using Blender in my free time for a little over a month now and I’ve started to get used to how things work. It has been a bit challenging and time consuming to learn as I had no past experience in 3D programs, so working with the view ports and all the tools was quite over whelming at first. After starting and abandoning several simple and more complex modelling experiments to try and get going, I have decided to start on a project that I have been planning on attempting for a long time now (long before I heard about Blender)

I was given a Sandvik Coromant screwdriver (with inter-changeable bits that allow you to only use one screwdriver for the 2 standard types of screw heads in 3 variable sizes) as a gift by my father many years ago, and have had lots of use out of it - as you will probably be able to see from the reference photograph included. However, I can’t remember ever seeing one for sale (not one that is under 10cm in size like this is anyway) so it occurred to me that it would be fun to create some kind of fake promotional advert for it. I have the brief storyline planned and have began to create a simple storyboard to make sure I had a reasonable work flow once I get to the animation phase. I haven’t set a timetable out for this, mainly because I don’t know how often or for how long I will be able to work on this at a time. Being still very new to Blender, I am not the fastest modeller around so things will definitely not get done as quickly as some of the more prolific and vastly talented posters on this forum.

The idea for the project came when I was bored and messing around with the spring that is inside this, trying to make it adopt human-like poses, gestures and mannerisms, so naturally the spring will be the only character in the scene, and the rest of the screwdriver will just be un-animated parts. It sounds rather simple, but I hope it will turn out how I have planned it as I believe finishing this would vastly improve my knowledge of Blender and allow me to do things better, and far more time efficiently in the long run. I’m quite dreading trying to rig a spring so that it can bend, stretch and compress in every direction without its structural shape deforming though (I’m thinking it might need to be a softbody?).

This was originally intended to be a small Flash animation project that is around 1 minute 30 seconds in length. However, I didn’t get around to doing it, something that I am now extremely pleased about because I will be able to do this so much better (though probably far slower) in Blender than I ever would have been able to in Flash with freehand frame by frame sketch animation, not to mention getting far more realism into it.

The materials for the red plastic are really awesome looking. They don’t really look too much like the reference… like the plastic, but honestly, i think it looks better this way than it would if it were made to look more plastic-like. One thing that popped out, if you really do want to get it to look more like the reference, is the scale for the roughness of it. The bumps are harder to spot in the smaller rendered image, but in the reference image that’s about the same size they are clear as day. So that’s one thing you could ‘fix’ (tho really, i think making it look more like the reference would actually make it appear less-real and more CG looking… dunno why, but shiney, smooth plastic is really really hard to fake in cg… probably because so many default materials have a very plastic look to them)

And that brings me to the Yellow bit… it actually has a sort of ‘gold-like metal’ thing going. You could make it look more plastic with a harder spec, but as i said, it’s a lot more difficult to get that real plastic look just right. One thing you could try to help get that look would be to model that little seam of plastic that runs through the handle. That sort of small detail of the manufacturing, and maybe a couple tiny dents or scuffs or something would probably go a long way to make it look more convincing.

The meshes themselves look top-notch to me. Really, i think adding super small details would be about the only thing you could do to improve them, tho others might see some stuff i’m not aware of. I don’t do a lot of subsurf modeling, i pretty much stick with low-poly stuff. You might want to show off how the metal part looks as well (i assume the screwing part is metal, anyway),

The spring character you describe might be something you could achieve by taking a spring mesh with a lattice to deform it with some squash and stretch and maybe a bendy-bone or stretch bone so it can wiggle around. Maybe a rig of normal bones that’s driven by another bone so it can do teh stretchy stuff without too much of that structural deformation … dunno how much you’d notice that sort of deformation on a spring, tho i guess at extreme stretches with a lattice it probably would become pretty noticeable… I’ve never attempted that before, but it’s highly likely someone else has already come up with a working solution. Try doing some searches.

Squiggly_P, thanks for reply and the comments. I’ve tried to make the rough plastic look as much like the reference as I could but the photograph was taken at night and the flash made some rather strange light reflections off some of it. I have taken another reference photograph from a different angle to show the real life texture and included it as an image further down. I fully agree that the roughness of it might need to be increased looking at the new photo, my texture looks a little flat in comparison.

I agree whole heartedly about the yellow also, I spent absolutely ages trying to get it to look a similar colour to the real life one and gave up for now a while after messing around with settings. I didn’t actually try adjusting to a harder spec, I will have a play around with that and see how it comes along and post progress in my next update.

It would be nice to add in some small details I agree, I originally included the joins in the plastic by separating the meshes into 2 objects but I couldn’t make it look right as the join actually stops as it goes into the spherical end and doesn’t follow all the way around. Again, I will have another go at this and see how it turns out in my next post. Little things like this, as you say, can make all the difference when it comes to realism. The metal part is modelled okay but the reason I hid it in the first image is because the material I’ve used looks terrible as I have added no surface for the pieces to sit on, and no walls/room for it to be in, so it basically just looks white other than the objects it’s reflecting as it’s reflecting only the white background colour. I’ve included it in today’s image anyway along with some other new stuff.

The spring is surprisingly thin in the metal department, which is why I was worried about the deforming thing. I have included a reference photograph of it and the model I did today in the image below. My worry was that if it deforms in a way to make it look thicker then it might be extremely obvious and if it went thinner in places then it might look like pieces were disappearing. This whole project is a learning curve for me, the only thing I have added armatures for is the gingerbread man tutorial so I will have a look at the stretchy bones like you said when I get to that stage. Many thanks for the detailed comments, help and suggestions, it’s extremely useful and I’m very grateful for it.

I have modelled the rest of the pieces, pretty roughly at the moment, there are still some fine details to be added, such as the dents in the screw bits on the sides, the materials obviously need doing for the metal objects and I need to do some mapping to get the company logo onto the red plastic. The objects haven’t been aligned so they all sitting level horizontally yet, I will do that when I have created the table that they will be resting on. Anyway here is the update for today:

Additional images:
Reference Photo of the above scene
Reference photo of the real life red plastic texture