Kent Trammell (theluthier)

1,434 replies · posted

Collab 2020: Modeling Heavy Equipment (Backhoe)

Accomplishing a BIG project TOGETHER

Starting in March 2020, I began a large stream project to model a comprehensive, highly-detailed Caterpillar 434E backhoe. Please watch the first stream (first 3 minutes of abridged version at least) for an overview.

It's a straight-forward project of building a complex model over an extended period of time. The spin on the project is that I want your help to accomplish it! If I build some parts and you build some parts, we will finish this thing much quicker. Plus the contribution format will include reviews, the potential of having your piece(s) assimilated into the final model. Not to mention large quantities of XP are at stake 🤑

NOTE: This is an involved project reserved for Citizen members.

Collaboration Details

The general idea is that I kickoff stages of the project via live stream, which is typically once per month. For the time in between streams, you choose a piece of the backhoe and apply what you learned from the stream to that piece. For example, the first stream covered initial block out. So between stream 1 and stream 2, your job is to pick a piece and block it out.

This is the repeating protocol for each Assignment Period (between-streams):

  1. Signing up for pieces of the model. I will be maintaining a Google Sheet to organize piece selection and grading. Following this URL will give you the ability to comment. The sheet is sectioned vertically and color-coordinated with a backhoe image. To sign up for a piece, right click on an empty cell below your desired piece section and click "Comment" (CTRL + ALT + M). Comment your name or username and I will fill it in officially as confirmation.

    Remember that it is OK for multiple people to model the same piece. But lets try to have at least one person assigned to each piece before doubling up.

    2. Project file structure. We're going to use Google Drive as a means to sync a single working directory among all contributors. See this thread about details and how to get set up.

    3. Submitting your piece for review. Exactly one week before the next stream is scheduled to be broadcast, your piece is due. In the "Attempt" cell of the spreadsheet, paste a download link to your .blend file via Dropbox, Google Drive, or equivalent hosting service. This will earn you at least 10 XP each week.

    4. Review. On stream I will review each submitted piece and decide which will be assimilated into the master model (in the case of multiple submissions of the same piece). The purpose of the review is to generate feedback for you work and advice for improvement.

    5. Assimilation. If your piece makes the cut and is assimilated into the master model, your name / username will be added to the object in Blender. You will go down in history as a definitive contributor to this epic backhoe model!

    Once the model is completely done, I plan to render a short demo reel showing off the model and crediting all contributors. It should be a rewarding conclusion to all the work we will do!

Assignment Prompts

I will reply to this thread after each stream with a [big] assignment post denoted by a  📣 emoji in the title. There I will clarify instructions about each Assignment Period.

Online Resources

Reference Images


This is THE thread

We will centralize our collaborative communication between the streams and this thread. Ask any and all questions pertaining to the Backhoe project here.

  • Ok, here's the link to my finished part. Everything properly named in the outliner and finished.

  • crew

    I can definitely say that I have learned a lot during this live stream journey. This is probably the most instructive project I have done and a great introductory into hard surface modeling. Thanks theluthier for guiding us along. 

    Well said blanchsb , I can honestly say I also have learnt so much from the live stream, but also from everyone involved, especially those who have put the time and effort into posting video tutorials, and for the guidance and support in the DOG pound.

    • So true! Actually, I completely forgot that we have had gold nuggets from most members of the team.

      It is great learning all around. I have learned quite a bit from looking at how others modeled certain things, now that I stop to think about it.

      And the side-bar tutorials too! spikeyxxx  and his “never make a tire without this” video!

      Being on a team like this has felt way different than modeling on my own. Lot’s of fun interactions and I have to say I have gotten to know a lot of people who I have looked up to on the course.

      Oh, that reminds me: ppfbourassa and adrian2301 how are things coming on our combined hydraulics projects? We will want to work together this week to get our combined file submitted.

      I am almost done with the modeling portion of my assembly and am ready to do a final collab before submission for a final fit check on my end. I should be ready for that by end of day today or tomorrow at latest.

    • crew

      This made my Monday. It's been a special project for me. The way everyone has taken it and run with it. The quality of modeling work, the sharing of tips and side-bar tutorials...While this community has always been cut above the rest imo, nothing quite like this project has happened before . The DOG Pound Revolution! ✊ 

    • crew

      We couldn't do it with out you boss, theluthier 

      blanchsb and ppfbourassa  when your ready let me know, I think I only need to tweek my little bit of the hydraulics.

    • adrian2301 What do you need me to let you know about?
      Sorry, I've been slacking on these notifications a little.

    • crew

      When your done with the hydraulic file ppfbourassa

      If you have it 

    • blanchsb I have the empties in place, but still have some modeling to do. I'll try to upload in the next few days.

    • 💕💕💕 this was an amazing adventure for sure. can hardly wait to be back at it

    • Well I Came from my small holiday . err how is everybody. well I have to submit but I am not ready yet. I do not think I will submit the backhoe! 😢

    • crew

      No worries sshanr there's still more time if you want to catch up. I'm glad to hear you and other are enjoying holidays though!

  • crew

    Just call me 'Side Show Bob'

    Been working on a little side project last few days, if I finish in time, maybe it could be part of the animation.

    Going to need to watch that wheel tutorial again spikeyxxx 

    • Yeah I would recommend bookmarking that one as part of the Profile Bookmarks. Definitely worth revisiting any time I make tires in the future.

    • Is there an overhang at the sides of the engine hood (red ellipse in the image below) ?

      The hood also seems to have some tapering growing from the vehicle's front up to the windshield.

    • crew

      The red ellipse is a black stripe.

      The taper from front of the hood to the windscreen is a bit of an illusion in this image . I think because the camera angle is more from a corner angle and the black hand rail on the left looks as if you can see the black stripe on both sides. I actually thought that first then looking at other images if there is is very slight.

    • crew

      This image shows there is a taper right at the very front.. Not as extreme as the other image.  I'll see if I can fix that.

    • crew

      I have a taper, but not curved as it should be.

    • crew

      A little proportional editing later......

    • adrian2301 Its a thing of beauty! Seems wierd calling a huge monstrosity beautiful, but it is when you see someone mastering difficult parts like this 🤩

    • crew

      "Little side project"?! If anything I thought you all would hate modeling heavy equipment by this point 😅

      Looks great though! Unsurprisingly 🤘

    • adrian2301 We now have motivation to model more and more things like tree stumps and rocks and any scrap to be loaded into the dump truck; plus the surrounding environment......... This live stream has plenty of opportunity and could potentially go on and on and on and...........

    • Modeling is kind of addictive, it bet it lights up the same parts of the brain that drugs do. They'll soon make 3D illegal.

    • dostovel Actually you don't realize how much that comment really hits home! I do 3D modeling as an addiction recovery activity (not that I am addicted to drugs or anything illegal) but there are tons of things we become addicted to that aren't overly healthy for us. You are completely correct that creating things causes a chemical release (I'm sure dopamine is a part of that). The difference is that it requires work to create as opposed to consuming most other addictive items.

      Most addictive substances come easy and cause chemical dumps which create cravings. I'd rather spend time modeling than with my other addictive behaviors. So much more rewarding.

      The day they make 3D illegal is the day I join the underground modeling ring.

    • Yes, count me in on the underground modeling ring. The password for getting in will be "What did Adrian model?" And the answer is "A Bell, so he'll be worthy of his last name." And then the doors will open. Welcome.

  • Does anyone know where I can find blueprints for a backhoe 434e seat? I have looked for blueprints, but I seem to be looking in wrong places. I'm stuck. Problem is, I don't know what the back of seat looks like. 

    This is as far as I got on a chair. If anyone is asking, I laid off mirror modifier because I hated finding double points in mesh. I will add mirror modifier later. 

  • adrian2301 I found another intersection/collision area. Can you be a big pal and fix it on your side? I am running out of ways to move my loaders arms left and right, lol.

    It's the lifting eye on the undercarriage. It can go forward OR aft OR shrink closer to the chassis, but it can't be there or it will get bent haha.

    My loader arms are moved in 1.8" towards the center from the previous livestream copy in order to make room for the battery box tank-fill and hydraulic connections. I can post my model this evening for better reference. Just doing a little cleanup of object naming.

  • ppfbourassa and adrian2301: I am done with my full assembly and am uploading it here:

    Collab File: Blanchsb_Done
    (update: Current upload date-time: 7-9-2020; 9:38 P.M. CST)

    Hydraulic Lines should be ready to be used for reference. We ought to discuss how we plan to submit our 3 in 1 venture file soon. Or maybe we just upload our three individual copies still?

  • Did everyone check their parts for collisions with other people's parts? Here's the link to my boxes again, we can't wait until the last moment because adjustments will take time.

    I only had a request from Blanch to move my tube thingy because it was intersecting with his other tube thingies, all done there, and then Adrian that said not to move the boxes because they aligned perfectly, so I haven't moved them. I'm guessing everyone is fine with the boxes?

    • crew

      I'm anxious to get assignment #4 submissions in to assess collisions and thoroughness. I've only got a handful of submissions so far so we'll see after the weekend🤞🤞

    • Wait! Stop dostovel ! Omar I am seeing some collisions here and here and here........and there.......and way over there (P.S. Battery Box is FreshtaDeath! :)

      1. Your cap is colliding with itself. I think it might be allergic to the hydraulic lines and is trying to practice social distancing, but now it is crowding the fill port.

      2. My wire just cut through your flange like it was tissue paper! I'm taking the liberty to make use of your 

      3 and beyond: adrian2301 your hydraulics are doing the same thing as my wire, except they are doing it LIKE A BOSS! You my friend would make a great Texan (Go BIG or Go Home!)

      Let this be a lesson to the rest of the team: Collisions = Bad; Collaberations = Good

    • Oh man this is strange. I hope I am looking at this wrong but I am seeing the V4 copy of Adrian's Chassis and the Battery Box Colliding Bad...........I just appended Omar's Battery Box to the V4 file and this is what I can see:

    • I just re-uploaded my copy here Collab File Blanchsb Loader Arms after fixing my wire. Minor change, but still. I'll update the other post as well.

      Current upload date-time: 7-9-2020; 9:38 P.M. CST

    • Ok, for Adrian chassis is as he did, it's a matter of moving the boxes in X a bit and all is good. 

      For the collision with your tubes Blanch, I was trying to move the boxes at first and editing the bending of the guards, but then I said wait a minute, maybe Blanch left the tubes as bezier curves and bingo, it was easier to move the tubes in Y a bit. Can that be done? would you please be so kind and see if that solution pans out?

      And I fixed the cap, nice catch Blanch. Thanks. 

    • By the way, this alone looks so freaking awesome, like a horse from Skynet since The Terminator is so bad at its job.

    • Thanks Omar for looking into the collisions.. Those hydraulic lines near the battery box are actually 2 times too big in diameter and they belong to adrian2301 from our first collaboration. He was already working to correct that and will probably be able to correct the bez curves while he is at it. I left all of my hydraulics as bez cruves because it is so easy to apply them at the end.

      Knowing Adrian I bet he is all over it right now!

      I'm going to leave my latest submission as is. It looks like Kent already added it to the google sheet so I guess this means we each should submit our copies. adrian2301 I ended up putting my hydraulics Collection within my main Loader Arms Collection to make it easier for a proper import for Kent.

      And now time for the side bar: Yes I looks amazing to see the modeling detail that our assemblies have got together. I'm really interested to see if we are going to go down the route of adding materials and textures to this bad boy similar to one of your demo cars. I'm thinking we need some "Authentic Battle Damage" like your Toyota in the repair bay.

    • crew

      blanchsb are you sure about the size of the hydraulics??

      I just checked mine are half inch..

      are they supposed to be quarter inch??

    • The radius needs to be 1/4 inch. The diameters are 1/2 and 3/4

    • This is from page 7:

    • crew

      Ok thanks I did 1/2 inch radius then not diameter, I remember now from what you mentioned a couple weeks ago.

      not been on here a few days and got over fifty notifications just from this thread.

    • If you take a ruler out and measure your lines adrian2301 you will find they are 1" in diameter. Don't worry. I was doing the same thing too homie. I didn't realize it until I was measuring dimensions on another part connecting to my hydraulics and notices something was off.

    • I just realized we hit 8 pages.

    • crew

      I'm going to have to resize everything, (brackets included) and re-align with your fine work blanchsb , I will append to my chassis file. Should also sought out the collision with the battery boxes dostovel , I'll submit now as is and try and fix over the weekend and if I'm done re-submit by Monday morning if that's ok with theluthier 

    • I updated my blend file on the link I posted with the corrections I made, you can grab the boxes from there Adrian.

    • To theluthier and all the members of the indomitable DOG Pound, kindly accept my sincere apologies.  Work travel and family commitments have conspired to ensure that I was unable to make much progress on my small part of the project. As such, I regret to say that I'm unable to submit a new file for this assignment. I do hope to catch up with you all on tomorrow's stream and check out how far everyone has progressed. Once again, my sincere apologies to you all.

    • theluthier : Hi Kent and all the members of the Caterpillar collaboration. We had 2 weeks ago corona surge in Meat processing factory in Gütersloh near to my company and because of lot of people were sent to Home office. Certain employees needed to be in office to ensure the production is running continuously. And I was one of the Certain employee. Had long working hours and could not manage to work on DOG further. Sorry guys, I was so much overloaded. 

    • crew

      Oh no rryzen7, sorry to hear that. Don't worry about the DOG, she's in good hands. You stay safe and don't wear out!

    • crew

      aartifact Not to worry! There's still work to be done on the cab interior and thus time for you to catch up if you're able. If not that's OK too. As a team we can carry your torch 👌

    • crew

      blanchsb adrian2301 I did the same thing as Adrian with the hydraulic line diameters: All diameters are double the value I put into the depth parameter (which is "radius" apparently. A mention of that in the tool tip would be nice!) 😖

      This means a significant amount of work to redo all my lines and fittings, as it does for Adrian as well. I say to not update any diameters yet. We'll talk about the situation during the stream.

    • Too late lol.  I'll wait for the live stream regardless with what I have submitted.

      WHAT HAPPENED TO OUR BELOVED MAGNETIC LINKS AND FORUMS???!??? I can't get linked to anything anymore.......

    • looks like forums got reverted, I noticed that yesterday. Dont know if I can make the stream tomorrow...I’m going to try. I really want to see this hugz to all of ya 🤗🤗🤗

  • This is my unfinished file of a chair, steering wheel and side mirror.  In your own file,  just append under File in menu bar and select RITA collection.

    • crew

      rritag Sorry I didn't get to this yesterday! I don't do well with on-the-fly grading 😅 If you could submit assignments by the Sunday night prior the next stream, that's ideal for me to look it over and make notes on Monday so I'm prepared by Tuesday.

      Also if you could create a separate forum thread dedicated to your work on the project, that would be best for focused conversation (rather than getting lost in the shuffle of this massive thread). Here's the assignment 3 post where I outlined this, which no doubt has been lost in shuffle lol

    • That chair is looking grrrrrrreat. Rita. I wanna sit in it now.

    • No worries, Kent theluthier

      Shawn, I laid off mirror modifier, as I didn't want to deal with double points during modelling stage.

  • Here's another video with great close-ups, also from the cab interior:

    For instance:

    which also has a cover:

    And then duerer there are shots like this:

  • crew

    Sorry for the late assignment post, DOG POUND!

    The remainder of this past week I worked to get the interior blocked out in order to make a smooth transition for everyone into the interior. Alas I didn't quite finish the blockout which was needed to write up clear instructions. It'll be the first thing I do on Monday.

  • Ok I made a small comprehensive guide that will hopefully help understand our new workflow.

    • (speechless..............awestruck..................amazed...................appreciative..........................bewildered..................hungry)

    • Great! Very clear!

      Btw: apparently the official CAT 'yellow' (for the logo) is FFC500, which is (1, 0,55834, 0) in Blender RGB (you can also directly type in the HEX value of course). Can you confirm that blanchsb ?

    • This is from the Brand Guidelines spikeyxxx

      The latest CAT Color from their new CAT Hex logo announcement on their website is given below: based on a color picker the color code comes up as:
      RGB: 233/175/16

      HSV: 29/209/117

      HEX: E9AF10 (based on internet converter and cross-checked with color picker on Greenshot program). 

      I tried entering the RGB into blender as 233/256, 175/256, 16/256 but that resultant color is more washed -out. I don't really understand why that would be. The HEX value comes out different too. The calculated HEX value is spot on though.

      This is really close to the FFC500 though. All google searches I do come up with something similar to your results spikeyxxx so

      I'm not sure if my eye-dropper method is "fail proof" I say let's use the FFC500. It is close enough.

    • crew

      What an infographic dostovel! Seriously, thanks for putting that together 🤝

    • dostovel Thank you, Omar. Super helpful.

    • dostovel : Thank you Omar. This is very detailed explanation

  • I almost don't want to type after that masterpiece Omar, that is an amazing quality walk-through AND presentation my horned, pink wheeled, chicken headed, cat-tailed friend.

    ...............................................But duty calls (and I got no more kids in diapers so...........)

    dostovel and ketre  theluthier rryzen7 the battery box is rubbing on the soles of the operator's brand new pair of Red Wing Shoes in the cab. As it punches through the floor board.
    At first this was a welcomed addition since he could wipe the mud off his soles while operator-ing, but he keeps tripping over it during entry and exit and almost broke a hip. So he asked me to request a design revision over in engineering.
    I can't say which is the culprit but one of them needs to give.

    Master of Loose Ends is on the lookout from here on out.

  • I made a tutorial video how to set up your Google Drive and cover a few more things. I'm posting a link to the Official Forum for File Sharing since it is a little wordy. You can access it here:

    How to Drive via "The Google"

  • crew

    📣 Assignment #5: Finalize 100% of your chosen Exterior Part

    July 20, 2020  - August 16, 2020

    With everyone within the final 25% range of completing their exterior part, this month I'm confident we can all achieve 100% completion! Just keep progressing as you are, polishing off fine details, smoothing wobbles and finessing topology till it's done.

    The Masters of Loose Ends

    As the complexity of this model continues to increase and contributors schedules / commitment being uncertain, I'm anticipating a potential tangle of nearly-finished pieces and collisions between various parts. I've with blanchsb and adrian2301  about spearheading this tangle, officially declaring them the "Masters of Loose Ends". In this role we can expect them to communicate with contributors about collisions, possibly finish up nearly-finished parts from other contributors, and generally ensure that the final assembled backhoe model is done DONE.

    However at the moment it would be a LOT of work to tie up all the loose ends; too much work. So at the onset of this month we need all committed contributors to finish up their respective parts. I know this project is a passion project for us and it should take a backseat to real-life. A few contributors have gone quiet and/or didn't submit any progress this past month. If you're mentioned in this list, I'm simply about the likelihood you will being able to finish your part this month:

    If you could please reply to this thread with an update about finishing your part, it's appreciated! Again, as a passion project, any and all reasons you may be unavailable to finish your part are completely OK!

    For those already finished with their exterior part

    I know several of you have finished your exterior part. If that's you, please go ahead start on the interior!

    1.  Choose an interior part from the assignment 6 spreadsheet by commenting your username under the part of choice. I will confirm your choice by pasting your username into the cell.

    2. Create a new forum thread called "Backhoe Contrib - Username - Interior Part Name"

    3. I will reply to your thread with info about beginning your interior part model. The reason being that I blocked out most interior parts and want to explain how to best start the process. If I don't reply to your thread within 24 hrs of commenting on the spreadsheet, please mention me in your thread!

    Assignment Submission

    I've added 2 new tabs to the Google Sheet labeled #5: Finalize 100% exterior and #6: 50% interior

    The names of contributors are carried over from the fourth assignment. To submit for assignment #5 or #6, contributors just need to make a comment containing a link to their .blend file in the Attempt cell beside their name

    The DUE DATE for assignment submissions is AUGUST 16, 2020**

    All aboard the File Sharing & Linking Train

    A big update to our collaborative project organization is the utilization of File Sharing via Google Drive and .blend library linking. Please get setup ASAP! I've written an guide here, Shawn made a great video walk-through here, and Omar created a super helpful info graphic to make the process clear.

    Everyone working this way will be important for streamline the process. Plus it's a taste of how professional pipelines function.

    Confusion is inevitable - Just ask!

    I fully expect head-scratching moments with the new file sharing + linking approach. If you're confused please don't hesitate to ask! And that goes for anything about the project.

    We're so close. Let's finish strong! 💪

    Going into our fifth month, it's been a long project; a long time to stay committed. I want to encourage us all to keep going on a little longer! It would be a real shame if we fizzled out now.

    Trust me when I say that the end product is going to be worth it. Just look at this WIP assembly!

    Nothing like this has happened before at CGC. The collaborative effort has been stunning. Finish it, we must!

  • crew

    dostovel I feel the battery box was better placed before you moved it in the y-axis. I asked you previously only to move in x-axis, which you did and all was good. There was an issue which blanchsb pointed out with the driver tripping every time they got in or out.

    I think moving in y-axis was the wrong solution.

    Nicely tucked up against the fenders, snug as a bug in a rug.👆🐞

    I could just move the fuel lines as you suggested, however as you can see the box no longer lines up with the fender.No I can't move the fender as it fits with the cab.

    Also on the other side, we have an accident waiting to happen.

    It will be OK if we stick to a nice flat road, but I intend to take this Dog off road.

    I would suggest moving back to the previous position and we find a different solution for the floor of the cab. maybe the pieces should be shortened by an inch or two, or maybe the floor is too low, or a bit of both.

    What do you all think??

  • theluthier sign me up. for the Rear Control Columns.

    My forum page is created here: 

  • Has anyone wondered how far can we push the system?

    I mean if I open someone else's blend file and start working at the same time that person has it open and we are doing opposite things, like I move a cable in Y and they move the same cable in X, I save, he saves, we continue working in the same file on the same model.... our files (Which are the same file) are not going to update as long as we have it open... the changes only get reflected once we hit reload... so I'm working in a ghostly image of something that isn't even there? Which takes precedent?.... so what is happening in the mean time? And that is not even taking into account the time it takes to upload the file when we save, then sync and then internet connection speeds.

    Anyone wants to do an experiment? olds school science way.

  • crew

    theluthier and blanchsb , how should we proceed with tying up the loose ends, have we had contact from any of the stragglers.

    • Word of advice... when Kent tells you to first go into solid view before bumping up the samples to 256 for volumetric rendering, DO NOT say "let me see if my computer can handle it". Especially don't do it if due to the quarantine the computer you have at home is the company's computer.

    • crew

      I've only heard from 1 of the 5 mentioned stragglers 😕 But I'm not too worried about loose ends quite yet. I say we give the stragglers more time to catch up / respond. Maybe even wait till the next stream to begin tackling loose ends. That way we can address loose ends while we progress through the interior.

      What do you think blanchsb adrian2301?

    • Yeah I think that is probably a good idea to make an accounting and see if there is any progress by the next live stream. We can make the plan for the next wave and divy out the assignments as needed.

      Sorry for not responding earlier. Last week my wife was sick and I got a little distracted on Jonathon Lampel's beat saber live stream because kids were pent up inside all week and I was able to make some sabers to get get their energy out, lol.

    • crew

      OK go for next assignments. I may have a look at the hydraulics around the swing frame. I see blanchsb has been busy with his beat saber, looks great by the way, and theluthier is in for some sleepless nights, and I have been working on my own project this past week. Back on it later in the week.

    • adrian2301 I got the hydraulic connections updated for your and my assemblies. I think it looks fairly decent now. Whatdya think? I also matched the latest spikeyxxx Color code for the paint. I also realized I haven't saved my WIP onto my master until just now lol. It should be up to date I hope.

      ppfbourassa I am getting my lines over to you now and we probably should sort out theLoader Arm Connection as well. I will work on the pin this week to get the right width set out.

      I wonder if your lines are a little small for the hydraulics though? I don't think it is a huge deal if you think they are the correct size. I moved one of my lines over to your Tee connection. The other I need to apply some mods tomorrow and get it with a fresh set of eyes. Stay tuned.

  • crew

    Greetings DOG POUND! I've been quiet on the forum the past few days. My wife and I welcomed our new baby girl into the world. I'm happy to say mom and baby are healthy and we're all smiles over here 🥰

    I will likely be unplugged for the next two weeks. But if I get a moment here and there I will try to check in.

  • Hi Everyone! Can somebody tell me how to get the access of the drive folder where final model is uploaded. 

    I checked all the relative thread but could not figured it out.