This part can get somewhat tricky. Looking at the reference, we can assume that the crossguard is symmetrical in more than one axis. This means we have only a small section to model, but knowing how to do this can be somewhat odd for most beginners. The idea behind this piece is to model half of the crossguard from the reference, excluding the bottom half of THAT half. Afterwards we simply mirror it once, then again in another axis.
To do the crossguard we are going to use splines. For those who haven’t used splines I will demonstrate for most of the pieces, some you will have to do on your own. I will try to make it as simple as possible.
The first step is to draw an outline around the crossguard using splines, here I will demonstrate how to use splines. If your view is a bit cluttered from the grid, turn it off by right clicking on the viewport name (top left corner) and click show grid. If the sword looks too blurry for this task, go into viewport preferences (Customize => Preferences => Viewports) then click configure driver and set a larger texture download size, OK, then reboot max. If you want max to run smoother and a bit less cluttered hide the grip by going to the Display toolbox and with the grip selected hit Hide Selected. If you would like to uncover the hidden part anytime, go back to the toolbox and hit Unhide All.
We have no need for the other viewports, so its best to maximize the top viewport (‘W’ by default). Grab a line (Shapes => Line) and decide which side you will draw, it doesn’t really matter. I will do the left for this example. With the line tool selected, set the initial type to corner and drag type to corner. Click and hold at the middle of the end of the grip where the crossguard goes, and drag while holding shift to the end going left or right. Shift will ensure that it stays completely horizontal.
If the line is a bad color and you have trouble seeing it against the reference change it to another color by going to the modify toolbar and clicking the color next to its name (line01 if you haven’t changed it). With the line selected convert it to an editable spline (Right click in viewport or in modify toolbar). Now we have to draw the harder part of the crossguard. To use splines efficiently first take a look at the curves on the crossbar. Places where the curve is constant we need only one spline. Here’s an example of how were going to place the splines:
With the spline still selected, in the modify toolbar under geometry, select create line with Polyconnect selected. Click the point on the spline that isn’t aligned with the center of the grip, and then click the end points of all the curves I illustrated above, on the last one right click to get out of the create line mode. Do not click back to the starting point when done, were leaving an intentional gap in the middle of the crossguard. Here’s the ugly thing we have so far:
Nothing spectacular. yet! Change into vertex mode on the modify panel and select all the vertices except the first one we made. Right click on a selected one and click Bezier Corner. Select the second and third vertices you made. Notice those two green handles? That’s how were going to make everything fit nicely. Drag the handles on a selected vertex around, see how it transforms the line? Try playing with the two green handles on the inside of the two selected vertices to make them line up with the sword. Here’s a screen shot of mine lining up nicely, take note of how my bezier handles are placed. Mine are a tad sloppy in the picture, its just an example for now.
Continue along and complete the rest, if you find a vertex you placed earlier is not placed correctly move it, then continue back to the bezier handle adjustments. Here’s a screen shot a quick redone crossguard and what its bezier corners looked like excluding the reference picture:
Don’t worry about that extra point for now. The handles on the very last curve are stretched to a great amount, this can lead to some problems later on. I found they didn’t effect my sword in the end, but if you want to make sure no problems arise from that we will have to refine it. With the spline selected in vertex mode after you lined it up and the curve matches the sword, click the refine button then halfway in the middle of that curve and right click to exit the refine mode. The curve should be much nicer.
The next task is to create the depression at the middle of the crossguard. For now we simply create a two segmented spline like mine below. Make it as a new spline, don’t use the create line method discussed not long ago.
Create another one, this time slightly larger than the last one. Convert them to editable splines. What we need to do is make these splines connect so afterwards we could apply a modifier to turn it into a mesh. First we need to change the height of the larger spline. In either the front or side viewport change the height of the larger spline, the higher you go, the larger the depression the sword will take. With one spline selected attach the other one through the modify panel (under geometry) after you found a good height difference between the two splines. We need to connect the two different splines using the create line method. Make 3 lines, one for each two verts that are close to each other. Do NOT make the line attach to the splines however. Make the line so its just next to the verts on its own, like below:
We separate them because if the current splines are smooth/bezier corner type our line gets very messed up, it inherits the properties from those splines. Press ‘S‘ to turn on 3d snap, this will be used to align the verts of the 3 new lines we made to the colors shown in the picture above. We need to make it so it snaps to the vertices.
Right click the 3d snap icon at the bottom of the screen, deselect the grid point and select vertex. Make sure its on 3d not 2d by holding down on the icon and selecting the one that shows 3d. Start with the green pair: while in vertex mode, select a vertex and move it to one of the green points, then the other vertex to the other green point. If it asks to weld coincident endpoints select no.
See how the line goes from the bottom spline to the upper spline? That’s what you need to do for the others as well. Line up the open side of the depression spline to the crossguard spline like so:
We need to start piecing both together now and surface the spline so its actually a mesh we can see. The objective now is to break the splines into subsections each with 3 or 4 sides. If you have a spline closed with 3 or 4 segments, it will surface into a mesh. Before attaching them together, align the depression’s bottom spline to be at the same height of the crossguard spline. Attach the two different editable splines we have now. Start off connecting the bottom right of the crossguard spline to the bottom of the depression spline. You shouldn’t be doing anything with the lower depression because its already good to be surfaced, when we mirror the finished product it will be closed with 4 segments.
Keep working to try to get what I did in the picture above. You will notice I added a few new verts on the spline. This is often necessary when modeling like this. To add a new vertex to use, while in segment or vertex mode on the spline, click refine from the modify toolbox and click the spline where you want a new vertex, as described earlier. If it asks to weld coincident endpoints select no. Go about the spline and add the necessary new lines to it. If your working on a different design, remember: you need 3 or 4 closed segments to produce a mesh when we ‘surface’ it. This shouldn’t be too much of a challenge, if you have trouble with seeing what I did for the top, here’s a picture to aid you.
Its generally advisable to stick with 4 segmented closings, there is a tri on ours near the top right corner, but it shouldn’t cause trouble for us. Once done, we should weld everything together to ensure there are no tiny gaps between the verts, which may cause problems when we convert it to a mesh. Using the same values you did before for welding, select every vertex and weld. If splines get out of hand and tweak out, drop the weld value a bit and try again until it works.
We have one more thing we should do before surfacing. Right now we have a very flat shape. We need to give it height now.
Select the middle verts, shown red above, and raise them to whatever amount you think would be good for half the height of the crossguard, be careful not to select the bezier handles. Optionally raise the green ones, depending how much you raised the red verts. Now we have depth, but the curves will all be somewhat bad. Before we go any further lets surface the object so we can finally see what we have so far in a more understandable manner. Make sure the non highlighted verts on the outside DON’T get moved in their height. Add a surface modifier to the spline from the drop down menu in the modify toolbox. Make a material, any material, and check the ‘two sided‘ box under shader basic parameters. Now take a peek in the perspective viewport.
This is what mine looks like, and hopefully yours. If yours turns out with gaps or holes in it, its most likely because of two things. Surfacing will NOT surface anything with 4 or more closed segments, if that’s not the case, its most likely because some verts aren’t close enough, try selecting each single vertex you see and click fuse (drag and let go, incase there’s a vertex under another one you cant see, which might not be close to the other one). Fuse brings all the selected verts together.
Back to the show, looking at the surfaced splines we can tell they need some work. I’m going to leave most of this to you after an example. Your going to have to switch back and forth between surface and the spline to make the curves a bit better. You will notice that the section that holds the ‘golden fang’ is not as round as it should be. Things get a tad harder now because its on an angle, and your going to have to use more than one viewport to get this right.
It can be tough getting used to working like this, but over time you get to visualize it more in your head and understand what’s going on. Work through the rest of the bezier corners on the verts you raised to give it more of a circular look unless you like it how it is. Also you will have to round the part of the crossguard which meets up with the grip. Remember, this is only a quarter of the crossguard, so you should round only a quarter of it. If your confused, look at the pictures ahead to see what is going on.
Were ready to complete this darn thing now! Here’s what the plan is, shown below. We are going to mirror once in the X axis, then mirror both the joined pieces into the Z axis.
Mirror the selection as an instance in the X axis and set the offset so it lines up very nicely with the original one. It might not be perfectly straight for now. Remove the surface modifier from both and attach them together, if attach doesn’t want to work try converting them to an editable spline again. Get into vertex mode, group select the bottom two verts and fuse them, continue for each two verts that got paired up in the middle.
The red dots show more clearly what verts I am talking about. I missed one in that picture, there should be another one off the screen to the top. Fuse those two as well. Now we have to mirror what we just made the other way around. Mirror the new piece which covers both sides of the crossguard in the Z axis now with an offset so it matches up nicely. This one should be easier because if you haven’t moved the verts which make up the center (bottom of what we see right now) of the crossguard they should all match up without a problem. One problem you might have with this step could come from the depression. If you made it too deep it might cut over to the other side. If this happens switch back to edit the spline and fix the depth.
With the mirrored copy, we can use the trusty align tool again to help us out. With either the top or bottom copy selected, click the align tool and click the other copy. Align by Y position, select pivot point for both Objects. Join the two pieces, and then finalize it by selecting every vertex, and welding with a small value. Yet again, ensure the value is low enough not to cause problems and high enough to weld the verts.
When you think everything is good to go, we come to a point where we must consider how many polys we can afford. Click the surface modifier if it already isn’t selected. See the Path Topology slider? The higher the number, the more faces it gives the crossguard. If you plan on meshsmoothing the crossguard later (I’d recommend) on to make it smoother, I recommend a lower setting like 3 or 2. If you have a powerful system or like long render times (sarcasm of course) assign a higher value. Now convert the crossguard to an editable poly, assign a cap holes modifier to it. This will close up the parts which hold the fangs. Collapse the stack so its back to an editable poly again. Select the new closed part of the fang holder and extrude inwards and bevel it slightly.
Now we add the finishing touch of the golden fang to each end. Create a cone object about the size of the fang, and then create a bend space warp (Main toolbar => Spacewarps). Select the link to spacewarp button (Main toolbar) and drag the cone to the spacewarp. Adjust the spacewarp so it bends the cone somewhat like the reference picture.
Place the fang so its snug against the interior of the inward extrusion (intrusion?) and copy it over to the other side. Lastly, if you want to make it look nice ‘n smooth now we can slap on the meshsmooth. Apply a meshsmooth modifier and the number of iterations you prefer. If you used a setting of 3 or higher for path topology earlier, I recommend only 1 meshsmooth iteration. If you used a setting of 2, use either one or two meshsmooth iterations. Anything more is overkill (if this already isn’t!).
We are done the longest and possibly hardest part of this darn sword. The quillons are next, which are rather easy, especially after this section of the sword. The blade is a rather simple (and fun) part which comes afterwards and it uses the same stuff we learnt from this part!