The blade should be a breeze as well, don’t let its look scare you as its quite simple. The first thing we are going to do is an outline of the upper portion of the blade. Starting at the ricasso, where the blade starts unsharpened. When drawing the outline, exclude the edges on the blade. Take a look at this example:
Complete a side of it, and mirror to the other side as an instance. Now using the original spline, draw the edges we skipped. Here’s what my final result looked like:
Another flaw I never fixed in my sword (which I knew something was wrong but couldn’t put my finger on it) was the small edge just below the ricasso.
See my error? Look at the blade reference. I need another vertex there otherwise it wouldn’t be sharp at all. Add a vertex in there after studying the reference to know where I mean. Now we need to give the sword depth. Select the edge and lower it to whatever amount your content with. Correct some of the splines that go a bit odd, if any.
Now’s the time to connect both sides and make it a single piece. Do the necessary fusing/welding to ensure its all good for when it comes around to surfacing it.
Getting ready for the surfacing, start patching up the sword like I have. Apply a surface modifier to and fix any problems. Once fixed, it should resemble this picture below:
Mirror the surfaced blade as an instance and line it up with the original. Notice we still have lots to do, but the blade part should look complete and flush with the instance. The part where I was talking about the one extra vertex I missed, you can see why we need that in the first edge after the ricasso. This picture doesn’t have that as it is the mesh from an old file and thus has the flaw. Also my blade here is somewhat too thick, I changed this around later on incase your wondering.
Next attach both splines, top and bottom. The long edged section of the blade is fine but we have all the gaps in the unsharpened areas. Once together you have to connect the verts of the top unsharpened part to the bottom unsharpened part so it will surface.
Here’s a few of the many verts you will need to put a line across. Go along the sides and join up the two swords where its unsharpened and has the gap in between in the picture showing the two surfaced sides. When done take a look at it with the surface modifier active to make sure there are no flaws. If you get a bunch of ugly lines going across the surface like the picture below, check “Remove interior patches” on the surface modifier.
The picture above is what it should look like by now. A complete blade with no gaps or holes in the surface. This picture is from my actual sword awhile back, the flaw on the first edge is noticeable here. Its also been meshsmoothed once. Here’s a picture of an old WIP render for the blade with a slapped on material (thickness unadjusted):
Decide how many path topology steps you want because were done here. I used a higher number than before because it will not look good with a low number and meshsmooth if you plan to meshsmooth it later on. Although I used a meshsmooth in the above picture example I recommend not meshsmoothing it because of how the blade was made.
There’s one more thing to do before completion. You might notice some places where it twists and turns near the edges have an ugly dark rippling effect.
This is because of the smoothing groups. Make sure your content with the blade before we go onto this next step. Convert the blade to an editable mesh by right clicking on it in a viewport and use Convert To… Apply a smooth modifier (under the modifiers tab) and deselect auto smooth. The black ugly splotches and certain areas should look better, but… now we got no smoothing! Oh no! Whatever you do, don’t meshsmooth. Meshsmoothing will help make it look better, but essentially its just covering it up and adding unwanted faces.
Our task now is to put groups of faces into different smoothing groups so it looks a whole lot better. Take a peek at the reference and examine the blade. Look at the ricasso then work your way down on the flat surface with your eyes. That’s going to be a group right there, excluding the edges and sides. The next group will consist of the faces that make up the sharp edge, they look somewhat darker from the way they reflect the light in the reference picture. The last group will be the unsharpened edged which you can’t see from the reference. Putting them into separate smoothing groups will eliminate those ugly splotches. To do this, we will convert the blade to an editable patch (Right click => Convert to… => Editable Patch).
*I have noticed (thanks to a visitor) that I have done something wrong here. I dont have time at the moment to fix this, but you are not supposed to convert the object to an editable patch when its already an editable mesh. Delete the editable mesh modifier and add an editable patch modifier. I will double check to see if this is right when I get time*
Converting it to an editable patch will make it easier for us to put everything into the right smoothing group. Once the blade is an editable patch, in the modify toolbox under Surface you will see this:
The View Steps is the number of subdivisions it goes through in the viewport display. Raise the value and lower the value to understand what it’s doing. It’s nothing different from Path Topology when we surface splines. Render Steps is, you guessed it, how it shows up in renders. To make it easy for us to select parts of the sword for smoothing groups drop the view steps to 0. Your sword should look blocky. Get into patch subobject mode and select all the faces of the flat part of the blade. Here’s mine:
I recommend using the top viewport and holding down CTRL while using drag selects. Problems can occur when using the viewport, using this method also selects both sides at once. Make sure your drag selects never go over the edge of the blade in the top viewport near the ricasso, if you do you’ve selected the unsharpened side or edge and we can’t have that. Use ALT with a drag select to deselect certain patches. When you’ve found them all scroll down a bit in the modify toolbox to find the smoothing groups box. Deselect the one and select two.
Every face is defaulted to a single smoothing group (one), by deselecting one and selecting two we are saying not to smooth with the edges or sides of the blade and to smooth only itself. The perspective picture above is after I changed the smoothing group, you should notice it looks somewhat cleaner than before. Lets continue on to the edges of the blade.
Maximize the top viewport and use the drag select to select the edges like I have here. See the spot where the big edges end, close to the ricasso? Be careful of what you select there to not to select the unsharpened side of the blade.
Here’s a picture of how you should be selecting the edges, use only the tip of the selection box to grab the edge in the middle to ensure nothing else gets selected. Also, the flat part of the blade we assigned to smoothing group 2 is not selected in that picture, you can tell by the horizontal white lines. Once you’ve selected the patches like I have in the picture, deselect smoothing group 1, and assign smoothing group 3.
Now if we did this right, we don’t need to spend time selecting the smoothing group on the unsharpened edges near the base/tang of the blade. Under the smoothing group options, click Select by SG. You should have 3 smoothing groups, click group 1 and hit ok. The unsharpened sides should light up. If you have problems with your groups, hit the Clear All button and start over. It shouldn’t take more than 2 minutes so its no big loss.
Now you may up the viewport steps to see the blade in more beauty and with no smoothing errors. There is still a couple more tweaks I noticed that could be done that I never got around to when making my blade. There STILL are a few smoothing errors based around the unsharpened edges. Take a look:
Smoothing doesn’t work right when it comes to tight corners like those. The solution is to break it down into more groups. I’ll let you do that on your own, here’s a picture of how the groups should be if you get stuck:
The yellow part can be in the same smoothing group as the blue I believe because it doesn’t do much as they are not connected together. Don’t worry about the very bottom of the blade as that won’t show in the final product.
Now the smoothing should be perfect! We are done the blade! Your sword should be looking very deadly so far. We have one more piece to go, the pommel. This piece I am somewhat shaky about to do because of the poor reference picture.