Polygon Modeling of a Handgun using Blender 3D 2.49: Part 2

Allan Brito

November 2009

Modeling the hand wrap

Set the view to front again, and select the vertices pointed in the following image. This time we will need two extrusions.

Select the vertices in the top-left corner of the model, and move them down to align them to the image. Then, select the other three vertices shown in the following image and extrude them once:

As the extruded geometry doesn't fit the guides of our reference image, we will have to select and move the lower vertices and place them as shown in the following image. They don't have to be exactly in the same position, but they should be placed in such a way that the shape of the model looks like our reference image.

Remember that you can also select the vertices with the brush select tool. Press the B key twice, and then you will be able to paint the selection.

Right after you place the vertices in their new positions, make another extrusion. By the end of the extrusion, try to place the lower vertices aligned with the right side of the guidelines.

Just by looking at the image, you'll notice that one side of the model won't be aligned. So, select the vertices on the left or right (any one that isn't aligned with the image) and move it until it gets aligned.

By now, the work will be a repetition of extrusions until we have our model created. Select the vertices pointed in the next images, and extrude them until you get the final shape. At this point in the project, you should be familiar with the technique.

It's important to remember that for those operations, most of the alignment of the objects with the reference image is done by eye.

At the end of each extrusion, use the S key to set the size of the new geometry until it fits with the reference image.

If you prefer, the transform ation can be executed in face select mode to speed up the selection of the faces used in the extrusion.

Here, we'll use the Skin Faces/Edge-Loops option again to connect the two selected faces. Sometimes, the faces created with this option will be generated with a Set Smooth option selected. This may cause the faces to look odd and have a different set of shading from the other faces. To make it look exactly the same as other faces of the model, select the created faces and click on the Set Solid button.

If you don't know where this button is located, you will find it in the Editing panel.

After the Skin Faces/Edge-Loops option is applied, the shade of the object will look a bit strange. This is because the smooth option of Blender is being used. Use the Set Solid option to make the faces appear in flat shade mode.

A big part of the modeling is complete, but there are a few parts of the weapon missing. Our next task is to create additional parts of the gun, such as a detail for the hand wrap and the energy tank. For this project, we will create different objects for those parts to make our modeling easier.

As you can see in the following image, we have created a big part of the gun with a well-organized topology and a fairly clean mesh, which is represented by a minimum number of faces and vertices, made only by quad faces. This type of mesh can be easily edited later by using subdivisions and new extrudes, which is a good reason to keep it as clean as possible.

Modeling the small and removable parts

The first part that we will model is the energy tank for the gun, which will be placed in the lower front section of the weapon. The energy tank has two functions: It works as an energy source and serves as a place to hold the gun with both hands.

In order to place and align two different objects, a few extra tools that we haven't used before will be required. The 3D cursor, for example, is the most powerful way in which Blender places objects exactly where we want.

To begin, select the model that we've already created and try to select the vertices pointed in the following image. When the vertices are selected, press the Shift+S keys to call the snap menu, and choose Cursor -> Selection to make the 3D cursor jump to the position of the vertices.

With the 3D cursor placed at the right position, change the work mode to object. Add a new cube object and move the cube until it gets placed in the positions shown in the image below. Note that the cube is moved in object mode. For this move, we can use either grid snapping or vertex snapping. If you want to use the grid snapping, hold down the Ctrl key while you move the cube using the grid lines to place the cube at the correct position.

Another way to snap the cube in the right position is by using a tool called vertex snap. With this snap option, we can place objects using other objects as a reference with a simple drag-and-drop action. You will find the vertex snap tool in the 3D view header represented by a small magnet icon. By clicking on this icon, you will enable the vertex snap mode and disable the grid snap.

This tool uses the interaction between two objects. For instance, we can select a sphere model to place it above a table. The sphere will be moved and placed in a position related to the table, which makes the sphere the source object and the table the target object.

When the magnet icon is clicked, a few extra options will appear right next to the button. The first one will determine if the objects should be aligned with a rotation to the snapping target. The next option allows us to choose from several snapping elements.

There are basically four different snapping elements, which are as follows:

  1. Volume
  2. Face
  3. Edges
  4. Vertex

Each one of the options will use an element of the target object to snap the object. The last three will use faces, edges, and vertices. But, with the first option, we will use the whole volume of the model to snap. If you want to use this snap option, a good choice for this will be the vertex.

At the last part of the vertex snapping, we will find the following four options for the snap mode:

  1. Active: With this option, we will use the active object as the reference for snapping.
  2. Median: The median point of the source object will be used for snapping.
  3. Center: Here we will use the center point of the object for snapping.
  4. Closest: This last option will use the closest part of the object used as a source of snapping.

For instance, if we choose vertex as the snapping element and center as the snap mode, when the source object is selected, the center of this object will snap to the vertex of the target object that is closest to the mouse cursor.

To use the vertex snap, select the source object and press the Ctrl key to move the object. A small white circle will appear at the target object pointing out the position of the snapping.

Using any of the options presented, we will have (at the end) the cube placed at the position shown in the following image:

The process now will be similar to what we have been doing all along. Select the vertices of the cube and with the extrusion and transformation tools, subdivide the cube until it fits the shape of the reference image. You may have to make adjustments to the shape of the cube in the process, but it won't require any new technique.

Using hooks to place and align objects

The 3D cursor doesn't work all alone, and together with some other tools, such as hooks, we can work out almost any kind of alignment needed in Blender. Hooks in Blender are mostly used to create vertex animations, and for that they work really great. But here, we will use them to move parts of our model and make them fit in the right places.

Before we create our first hook, we need something to work on, and that's why the first task is to create a new cube. Place the 3D cursor at the same position shown in the following image, next to the hand wrap of the gun. Use the B ke y to select the vertex, and both vertices of the model will be selected. With the snap option, we will be able to place the 3D cursor in the middle of both vertices, which will help in the next step of the modeling.

Now here is the trick. To work with hooks, we have to select a group of vertices and assign to them a hook. When we move the hook, all of the vertices connected with this hook will move with it. It may seem silly, but we can actually place vertices in hard places using this tool.

Let's apply our knowledge of hooks in this project. After the placing of the 3D cursor, create a new cube. While you are still in edit mode, select the vertices in the lower left corner of the cube. Press the Ctrl+H keys to add a hook to those vertices, choose the Add, New Empty option to create a helper object called empty, and assign the hook to this new empty.

An empty object is a type of helper that can be used in a lot of situations, from animations to modeling. It can't be rendered, nor can it receive materials, which makes it perfect to use as a reference for modeling and deforming models with hooks.

Repeat the same process for all the vertices in the other three corners of the cube. Make sure that each corner has its own hook.

With the hooks created, we will be able to move the vertices of the model to their right positions. Select the bigger model that was created in the first part of this article, and select the vertices where the 3D cursor is placed in the following image. When the 3D cursor is placed, select the empty related to the upper-right corner of the cube, press Shift+S, and choose Selection -gt; Cursor. You will see the whole set of vertices jump right into position.

We can repeat the same process for the empties in the other three corners of the model. By the end, the four corners of the cube will be placed in the right position with a minimum amount of work; it will require only a few keyboard short cuts.

The empty objects will still be there, holding down the position of our cube. Every time we work with hooks, a set of modifiers will be created to control the amount of influence and will allow us to remove the hooks from all, or a single vertex. If you want, you can erase the empty and maintain the position of the vertices, select the modifiers, and click on the Apply button. After that, the deformation created by the hooks will be applied to the vertices, and then all empties can be erased without losing the effect.

To improve the hand wrap, just make the last created cube a bit smaller in the Y axis.

Finally, we can work on the last part of the modeling for this first phase. By now, you will know how to handle this type of modeling. Just add another cube, and by using the tools that we've just learned, such as hooks and the 3D cursor, we can create an object that fits the upper-left corner of the image.

Just as a reminder, we can use either the snap available to the 3D cursor or the vertex snap to place the cube at the right position.

The final touch will be the addition of a cylinder located at the front of our gun.

Our project is in its early stages, but we’ve learned the tools necessary to complete the base model in a few simple steps. Next, the challenge will be to add details and materials to the object. This is only the beginning!


In this article, we began creating the basis for our first project. All of the modeling was based on subdivision, and for that we used the most common tools in Blender to achieve our goals.

So far, we have learned how to do the following:

  • Add a reference image as a background in Blender
  • Set up and configure a background image
  • Model and transform a mesh by using the background image as a guide
  • Select and flatten vertices in a unique plane
  • Use the edge loop tool to connect two separate faces
  • Use the face loop cut tool to add new edges to meshes
  • Use the 3D cursor tool to align and snap faces and vertices
  • Use the hook tool and the 3D cursor to add more precision to transformations
  • Use vertex snapping

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