When I modelled the pump bottle last term, I had ordered the sub-assemblies in the way that the original product had been packed together. When it came to creating multiple configurations, I realised that movability of parts between different assemblies was tricky. This time, I made sure all the moving parts were in the top level of the general assembly; this included the arms and the nose pads.
In hindsight, I’ve realised that although the nose pads move in the real product, it’s not super necessary to show that movement. It’s also probably easier, in terms of real-life manufacturing, to assemble the frames and the nose-pads as a single flat piece before attaching the arms. Nevertheless, my general assembly ended up looking like this:
(Learning that I could crop views was a huge help in making this drawing simple and readable).
I had put a lot of effort into making the tortoise-shell plastic look realistic in the modelling window. Unfortunately, I didn’t think to check the appearance in the rendering window until it was time to render. Because I’d used a granite appearance to get the speckled look, when I wanted to render it, the reflectivity of the material looked like rock.
I basically had to redo everything. As you can see below the appearance in the two windows is completely different. They way that transparency works is also completely different – and gold looks way too yellow.
Finally, I had to create a human head so that I had something to model the glasses on. I’ve made a human head before using Maya and that seemed like a much more sensible program to be making that kind of shape in.
The purpose of the exercise was to learn how to use the free-form tool. In the image below on the left, you can see the limits to my success. It uses push-pull graphical editing in a really black and white way. Furthermore, the program’s not quite powerful enough to freeform an entire head, so it must be done in bite-sized chunks. As we all know, human faces don’t contain neatly separated features; the eyes meld into the nose and cheeks which, in turn, form into a mouth.
I gave up when it came to the nose and just did a lofted surface. It made way more sense given the constraints of this program, though it was difficult to match it up to the head surface (bear in mind, I wasn’t using any reference images for this model as I wanted to see if I could pull it off freehand).
The “tangency to edge” = “curvature” option is a bit of a saving grace of the freeform tool. After playing with the tool some more, I was able to make some lips, a chin and some really lumpy cheek-bones. I stabbed the head with a pair of sunnies and voila! (I was at least smart enough to measure my head before starting to get the scale right).
I consulted the internet to see how other people had built heads in Solidworks… it didn’t look fun.
Finally, my lecturer showed us how to do a better job of it. I feel like this whole course, I’ve been trying to make something work and then realising after I’ve done it that I was doing it all wrong. The lessons definitely sink in a lot more when you learn it the hard way.
First, obviously, start with a good image as reference. I put my glasses in the assembly before anything else so that I could make them fit perfectly on my model.
I created the most beautiful loft from three simple splines tracing the contours of the face. Previously I’d been trying to make a closed surface with just the head, but it works much better as an open surface with a neck.
I used the freeform tool to shape the eyes and ears. I cut out the nose hole then created a lofted surface. Then I cut the edge of the loft away and used a filled surface with tangent edges to blend the nose into the rest of the face.
With a finished head and glasses assembly, I was finally able to render out some images:
And of course, an animation. I didn’t put much into this animation as I’m sure there are much better programs (such as Key Shot) to do it in. I’d rather devote more time to learning those down the track than get invested in this one.
For my final submission, I had a host of niggling errors in my files. I submitted it four days early with the plan to fix it later. My lecturer, who is one of the busiest people I know, spent his Sunday morning screen-recording a workaround for me. It was awesome. I learnt how to fix a really annoying problem, but of course was greeted by new tiny annoyances; my decal files weren’t outputting anymore.
In the end, I stuck with my original submission.
I’ve been overloading my core subjects with my internship all semester – I planned this because I thought last year was a bit slack. I had not anticipated the massive step-up in workload that second year has been. I’m taking it as a lesson in prioritising and letting go. So long as I learn as much as possible, I’m happy with any passing grade. I can spend hours tweaking measurements and repackaging files; or I can start thinking about the next project and apply what I’ve learnt there.