Thibault Caradec (otowa)

82 replies · posted

BC1-1908 Homework, Thibault Caradec

Ok, let's go then. While watching Kent's livestream, I decided to start already my blocking. 

I'll give some background for reference :

My profile :

Hobbyist. I tried to use Blender a few times over the last years but never got into it, only completing very random youtube tutorial, not learning anything really. I decided on an Andrew Price's advice in one of his video to subscribe to CGCookie, and I'm halfway through in the Modelling Bootcamp. I also participated in the vehicle contest after the Hard Surface Modelling part 1 tutorial. 

My project :

According to Kent's guidelines, I decided to choose the sword as a goal, but for some variation, I chose a japanese katana. The main reason is that, in my dreams of "what could I do with Blender?", representation of japanese samurais is one of the main things.

My working planning

Each day, I take the train for 1 hour and a half to come back from work. I plan to use that time to progress in my homework. I'll be updating  this thread with my progress, problems and questions each day. 

Reference images :

Scale reference






Let's see how good (or bad I can make it)

  • Day 0 :

    As it's already late here in France, I just used the time during the live stream to perform the simple blocking of the katana. 

  • crew

    THIS is how to start a homework thread! I thoroughly enjoy the background info, your goals, and why you chose the katana. The reference images are perfect and the model is well on its way too. Nice job ootowa 👊

  • Day 1 : Tsuka ito

    As soon as I decided to go for a katana, I knew that the tsuka ito was going to be one of the hardest part to do. 

    The tsuka ito is the piece of fabric (silk, or leather for example) that wraps around the handle (the tsuka). 

    The difficulties I foresaw  and the adopted solutions were : 

    -Complexity of the wrapping pattern

    If you look carefully, the material is wrapped around itself in a very specific pattern. 

    As Kent suggested to keep things pretty simple (well that's what I understood at least), I cheated by reducing the level of complexity by modeling just two rings of material reducing in width where they cross each other, one going behind the other. 

    -Shape of the handle

    The whole katana is bend, which can become complicated for this kind of things. 

    I decided to replicate my starting double-ring with an array modifier, and, then curve the pattern with a Beziers, and I think it turns out acceptable. 

    That's it for this day 1. It went much better than I anticipated. As for the "inside" of the handles (behind the tsuka ito, and is called the "same"), I think I will use texturing in week 2 to give some detail, unless someone here can suggest an easy way to replicate this kind of "texture"

    • ootowa Nice work so far!  You're really going for it!  As for the sharkskin texture under the wrapping, I'd probably leave it for the texturing phase.  It'd be easier, anyway, and since the majority will be under a wrapping, less important than the big features.  I would use a voronoi texture and follow a similar process for Kent's water shader, but instead of pushing the "bump" inwards, push it outwards. Hopefully that makes sense. Let me know if it doesn't and I'll do my best to simplify.

    • ootowa May I suggest something?

      For the shape of the handle, in stead of using a curve, model it straight and then use a Lattice Modifier to get the curvature.

      I'm not sure if that is better, but it does have some advantages.

    • spikeyxxx Could you tell me what benefits I would get? I remembered the curve technique from an old youtube tutorial, but I noticed theyr use lattice in the jellyfish tutorial I started recently. But I'm not sure to know why one would be best than the other. 

    • ootowa It would bend the whole handle consistently. You could use the Lattice for the wraps and for the underlying structure.

      Look at my barrel, for instance, I modelled everything straight and then added a Lattice. This way the rings and the planks get bend the same way.

      I'm not sure if this makes sense to you, but if not, don't be afraid to ask.

    • spikeyxxx Yes it does, I'll give it a try, thanks!

    • silentheart00 I tried the voronoi and it's going somewhere, but first I'd like to have them all forming nice circles, and second I'm not even sure this is the way I should go. (I used shader node on the displacement channel).

    • ootowa Maybe add a Colour Ramp to the Voronoi? The circles will be flat (usually) if that's what you're looking for as a base, and then you can tweak it some more. Might take a bit to get all the circle separated but it can be done.

    • ootowa In stead of that Multiply node, you should use Vector > Displacement node!

  • crew

    Now I know the proper name of the katana grip pattern. It inspired me to do some youtubing. Learning new things everyday!

    The only advice I have regarding the wrap pattern is that the criss-cross feels a bit too flat in your model. Like it's losing volume, especially when seeing the handle as a whole. I think there's room to make the criss-cross protrude out a bit more. This photo for example:

    As for bending the arrayed pattern, a lattice is a great choice. Also a Simple Deform modifier set to "bend" would do the trick too.

    And I 100% agree with silentheart00 that a voronoi procedural texture would be great for the underlying handle.

    It's so cool to see your process for creating the shape. This thread can now serve as a worklog for others to learn from. Way to go, Thibault.


  • Wow nice! I really like that you show us detailed work in progress!

  • I like katanas and this reference looks fantastic. This thread is like an tutorial and very interesting and helpful.

    Thank you for effort

  • Day 2 : Handle various parts

    This day has been dedicated to blocking out and starting to details some parts of the handle of the katana. Namely, the Kashira ("butt cap"), the Fuchi (Metal parts near the guard), and the Habaki (simple metallic part at the base of the blade).

    Nothing was very fancy about the blocking out. No special difficulties, or trouble to either obtain the desired shapes or the hole of the Kashira.




    Detailing is an other journey. I decided to start with the Kamon (Family Crest) on the Kashira. Kashira can have very complex sculpt on them, but a Kamon is simpler and a good training for me.  14-D-8 had my choice.

    I decided to go for vertex modeling, and use of an array modifier to replicate the petals. After a few issues, and despite a very bad vertex repartition I obtained what I wanted. 

    Second difficulty after the modeling is to actually put my relatively flat Kamon on the bend Kashira, wich I achieved using a shrinkwrap modifier.

    New problem : It's now completely flat on the Kashira. I'm not sure about which way to go. I thought that maybe I should only... Hmmm. I'm writing this while working on it and I found a solution...

    What I did : I flattened my Kamon completely, and added a Solidify modifier after the shrinkwrap. I had to make it flat, otherwise the "thickness" faces I has on my original model would go crazy with the solidify modifier. 

    Damn that was tricky! I'll have to tweak the solidify mod for the final thickness but that may wait a little. My main problem now is that the edges are super sharp on the petals with the solidify... Hmm...

    Raah, the train's almost at home. I have to stop for now, maybe I'll get back to it at home... So much to do before submission...

  • This is looking fantastic so far! 

  • great work ! can't wait to see the finished sword. :)

  • Day 2 - Continued

    Ok I decided to get a few things done before calling it a day :

    First, I started to model the attachment of the butt cap with a hole in the grip and a leather piece attaching both together.

    Then I decided to start taking care of the blade. The topology is incorrect, so there's a need for fixing near the tip, but it's already not too bad. 

    Where I'm at now :

    Tommorow will be Tsuba (guard) day!

    By the way theluthier , are we supposed to prepare a scene? Or is it just bonus? (I see quite a lot of people doing it).

  • crew

    Wow this is becoming quite a thread! The detail you're covering both in the model and the worklog is pure gold.

    are we supposed to prepare a scene? Or is it just bonus? (I see quite a lot of people doing it).

    Definitely a bonus, not a requirement.

  • Small hint for today's later update :

    Regret : Regret is a feeling of sadness or disappointment, which is caused by something that has happened or something that you have done or not done. 

    Example : He decided to model a nice elaborate Tsuba as the highlight of his Katana for CGCookie. He then had  some regret because of the complexity of the task. 

    See you soon, people. 

  • Day 3 - Tsuba Day

    So... I've been looking at this kata quite a lot, now that I'm close to completing the modelling. 

    2 things in my mind : This handle fabric looks too... not sure about the correct term here... Stiff? Straight? I need to give some randomness to it. If someone can suggest a good way to make it appear more natural, let me know



    Anyway... The second thing is that the central piece of the katana is the Tsuba. And it's a good display for decoration. 

    Tsubas come in all sorts of shapes, material, colors, themes...etc...

    To give my model some substance, I decided I should go to something somewhat elaborate, but that looked reachable to me. 

    That was my choice:

    The method was simple, but tedious. Like for the kamo, I went for vertex modeling. And damn that was loooong. It took me all my train time (so 1H30) of adding vertices, duplicating feathers, mirroring wing, and doing the head. 

    So I ended up with the following flat result, that I then extruded.

    I added a disk below it, and used a mix of Bevel and Subdivision Surface modifiers to get the sharpness of the contour, and the roudness of the global shape.

    I guess it's ok and I could leave it like this. But I have at least to clean the head a little (damn it looks derp compared to the original!) and if you look at the reference, all of the golden parts have some ... bumpiness to it, where my model is completly flat on top. The thing is I modeled without thing about that so if I want to update it I'll have to find a trick. 

    Edit : Of there will be some positionning issues as well...

    • ootowa I guess that both your issues could be solved in the shading phase, Bump is your friend, although I'm not sure how Eevee is handling Bump. There must be some tricks to get that working. But I don't think that should be concerning you during the modelling stage.

      And your Tsuba ( is that correct?) looks great! You did that in 1.5 hours? Amazing!

    • spikeyxxx Thank you. I'm trying to play a little with the "randomize" tool and it gets a little less generic in terms of shape. It looks less like repeats... Hmm... Not sure about the way to go...

  • Trying to randomize the handle fabric to get a more natural look... What do you guys think? 



  • Ok.

    Added some kamon near the guard, made the crane look less derpy, and fixed some blade topology. 

    I consider myself pretty much done with the katana. Since I still have time, I may had a sheath, and maybe a menuki, which is a decoration put just behind the fabric of the handle.


  • Day 4

    Not much to say today, just added a sheath and a stand. I may prepare a small simple scene if I can.

  • Homework Week 1 Submission

    Additional shots

    • crew

      ootowa This thread is proving to be a wealth of insight. Thanks for taking the time to share so much about the process and the project in general. I've googled and youtubed more about katana's in the past week than I ever before!

      I'm glad to see that you randomized the shapes in the grip wrapping. I watched a timelapse video of the wrapping process and clearly there's significant effort to making the pattern *perfect* (at least as perfect as by-hand can be). So there is a perfection involved in this particular model but experience has also taught me that perfect is often more boring than interesting in CG. So the choice to randomize is a good one.

      In fact I may suggest randomizing a little more. It's a "soft" recommendation though. Right now I can't really see the randomization unless I'm close to the handle. If I could read a little more of the grip silhouette randomness in a full view of the katana, that'd be ideal. If you don't agree with the note, I understand. I see a plenty of reason to leave it as is now. To make it more random would make it feel a little more used and less pristine, which may not be what you want.

      The detail in that tsuba! Looks great and surely a tedious task. Nice job!

      Overall you probably won't be surprised by the A+ I'm giving you. You clearly have put a lot of effort in the project so far, the model is high quality, and sharing the insight is invaluable.

      Keep up the good work! 👏

    • ootowa Nice effort!  This is coming along very well.

    • theluthier Thank you!

      Yes, the process of katana making is quite fascinating.
      As for the randomizing go,my problem is that, when increased, it would separate the leather strips enough to get the hande part beneath it being visible. And as I already applied the array to randomize, it's a little complicated to go back. However, on the good advice of smurfmier1985 , I kept a copy of the fabric part before applying array in an other collection. I may give it a go. 

      But I have to catch up and watch the chapter 2 of the chest tutorial before tomorrow course also!

  • Week 2 - Day 0

    Ok, so texture painting is pretty new for me. I used the chapter 2 of the chest course and what Kent explained during the stream to start working on it.

    On my model, the most important display for texture will very likely be the katana blade. 

    Katana blade specifically have a very nice "temper line" (called Hamon). These come in a large variety of form, size, and can separate two different colors of metal, the cutting edge being a hardened part compared to  the rest of the blade. 

    Some references

    The tip of the blade can also have different patterns.

    So during the stream, I just decided to try to get confortable with the texture painting tools, and to give a first go at a very simple pattern inspired by this:

    So I simply applied the modifiers to my blade, marked the seam on the cutting edge, UV unwrapped, and started painting to, "just try".  This is neither the final shape or what my goal is, but at least I start to have an idea on how it works :

    Edit : Don't mind the lower part of the texture, I started horizontally until Kent said that rotating your UV island may give you more space to work with...

  • ootowa Thibault even with not watching the model this thread is a wonderful effort, it is a pleasure to see the work in progress. Then watching to that sword it is already very beautiful, which going to just powered by the shading and lighting.

    My A is just nothing comparing to your A+, there is a mile difference in originality

  • Hmm... I tried to get to a more complex temper line, but I may be seeing things too big, and in the end it just look like blurry ugly waves... That's frustrating...

    Maybe I'll stick to the simpler one? Hmm...