Many times clients need virtual product recreation for real products that are still in design mode and not built like this Ethernet Cable Model. There are many reasons for a client to need to visualize a product that is not yet in production: testing, verification of industry standards, and needing to present concepts to potential partners to secure funding.
Of course, there are also marketing efforts that might not be related to design stages. Animation and 3D modeling in particular can show elements of a concept that are difficult to capture with physical cameras and videos. Here is one such moment when the product was already designed and built but needed special handling for the marketing efforts, and cameras would not do it justice.
Virtual Product Recreation – Soft Plastic
This process started with actual photos of the cables as references. Then the client sent me the product and I managed to start measuring and making parts proportionately correct.
After the reference stage, general blocking is established and parts and proportions are worked out. One thing about Blender that I like more than Maya is the lattice feature. It is still more complicated in Maya.
The flexible part of the cable, meant to protect the cable and wires inside was fun to create. The difficult part was the divisions and making sure I had just the needed topology and not more. Economy is key in modeling.
Virtual Product Recreation – Start on Connector Part
Establishing the shape of the object from the start is very important. The connector was a challenge due to the specific cuts of the plastic for the wires and cable. Those cuts needed to be semi-rounded on some edges for “fitting” to the female part of the computers or servers–and routers, cannot forget routers.
Creating and refining parts along the way, I had to return to the topology to fix it a few times. That is because some topology is created where it causes sharp cuts and edges where they should not be. It is a bit technical and some artists don’t like it, but I love math and geometry and that type of mental work. It turns out to be fun for me. I know, I am strange!
Virtual Product Recreation – The Wires
The wires… oh, the wires. This part was a lot of fun. Maya’s NURBS system is very powerful and I used it a lot for hard surface modeling like cars. But, the curves system in Blender is by far the most intuitive I have used. I admit, the old curves of 2.79 was weird. But, the curves in 2.8 are great.
Making the wires have randomness was the hard part. I settled on manual randomness created by moving curves. It made a great way to use the insulation as part of the wire. Also, it made it easy to texture later. That was a great surprise.
Virtual Product Recreation – The Measurements
If the client wants the work to be at specific size, say the correct measurements of the product, there is no reason to argue with them. So, you set Blender or the tool you use to create the work so all the parts fit in the final work correctly.
It could be that the client also wants to 3D print your work. It is OK to ask the client in case you know how to set up STL files for 3D printing. (I did ask, they said another artist would take care of it). That lets the client know that you can handle that part, too! Even if they choose another artist, they know you are available.
Virtual Product Recreation – The Transparency
Then comes texturing. Here, you start to see the fruits of your labor. Set a good light. If you have the information of the lighting where the product “might or will be” placed, that’s even better.
Having the lighting information helps immensely to texture the objects for correct color. Blender is very powerful at producing the lights you will use in real life. Learn to make those lights and read as many books as you can about lighting theory and its functions.
Virtual Product Recreation – The Test Renders
These are 4 final examples rendered for the client. They are meant as an approval stage and are not really the final the client will get. For that, more work to set the mood will be done. And maybe add props or environments.
This stage is very satisfactory when you see the fruits of your labor in close-to-finished form.