The pommel can certainly be the hardest piece of the whole model were putting together unless you go about it in the best way. I spent countless hours (and many retries) trying to model this piece, and I even cheated on it for the renders. This part of the tutorial took me the longest to create because I wanted to try to find a better way to make this part of the sword as well as making it much more similar to the reference we have to work with. After much profanity and a few tips from friends I think I found a good and easier way to model this rather complex piece.
The first thing to do is get the splines laid out. Working in the top viewport draw splines along the main features of the pommel (take a glance at the pictures below). Do not worry about every small detail like the mouth or eyes. This can be done easier later on when it is converted to an editable mesh. Only work with a quarter of the model, we will assume each side is symmetrical for now. Remember to add the depth to the splines using the front viewport.
Its helpful to see what’s happening when moving splines around at this stage. Ensure your not in sub-object mode, hold shift, then drag the splines you made next to where they are right now. A dialog box will appear, select instance and hit ok. Apply an surface modifier with a path topology of 2 to the instanced splines. This will show you the end result develop as you go along. If you want to get a bigger picture, mirror the instanced piece as an instance in both axis. Refer to the crossguard piece with the mirroring if you don’t quite understand what I mean. Don’t worry about edges not meeting up completely, its only used to see how things are coming along. Here’s what I have modeled for the spline section, and its surfaced instances to the left of it:
One of the hard parts is on the side of the mouth, my only tip for that is to keep trying!
We’re not aiming for complexity here. We are just molding something simple to work with. Do not model the pointed end at the top of the demon, it will be easier to do as an editable mesh.When your content with the splines and basic look of the model, attach the instanced geometry together and form one whole mesh like the one below. Be sure that it is an editable mesh afterwards.
To get the spike at the top of the demon simply grab all the edges at the opening of the head and extrude outward.
Select the scale tool and scale the selected faces down to nothing! The spike is now done! Do not weld them all together as it may cause problems when we meshmooth the whole thing.
The next task is to make holes for the horns we will be doing. Using the top viewport and the reference picture try to find out which polygons will need to be axed to make room for them. Here’s a picture of mine, they lined up nicely. If yours do not, adjust the vertical rows of vertices (from side viewport) to make the horns fit better.
Delete those polygons from each side. We must make the horns now which will be accomplished through a loft. A loft is a 2d shape extruded along a third axis. A shape and path are needed. For this loft we will be using a square shape instead of a circular shape. This is because it would be a pain to attach it to the base of the model if we used a circular shape. If you’d like, the vertices around the deleted polygons can be reshaped a bit to be more circular.
Now forward to the actual loft.
Grab a rectangular shape (Toolbar -> Shapes -> Rectangle Shape) and viewing the pommel at the side, place it where the polygons were deleted and try to make it the same size. Convert it to an editable spline. You may have noticed that I deleted four polygons. If you did too, you must change the rectangle shape to have more vertices to match up with the same amount of vertices with the hole in the pommel. We can do this in a breeze just by refining the rectangle done the same way in previous pieces. If you deleted 4 polygons like I did, add a vertex to each side of the current rectangle to match it up. If you moved around the vertices on the base of the pommel to form more of a circular shape, now would be the good time to adjust the shape of the new splines to match up. Here’s an example:
Mines a bit more of an oval because I rushed through this part. Don’t worry if yours is too because we will likely have to adjust it again as the lofting can often turn out a bit awkward.
We’ve constructed the shape of the loft, we need the path next. The horns spiral, so we will start with a helix for the path. Create a helix shape in the front viewport, this can be found under the same place where the rectangle shape is. Don’t worry about making it look right, just place it. The values I found best are shown in this picture, apply them to your helix shape properties. Convert the helix to an editable spline.
It should look similar to this now (in red):
The values set for it might need to be changed depending on how much yours differs from mine. The spline is about half the height (when looking at it from the front viewport) of my pommel:
With all that done we need to get the loft completed. Select the shape for the loft then grab the loft button (Toolbar -> Modeling -> Loft Compound Object). Under Creation Method select Get Path and click the helix in one of the viewports. It should look like a mess! Deselect the loft completely then select the loft again and go to its properties and take a look under the Deformations section.
Make your graph look like mine. Its much like a spline so it shouldn’t be of much trouble. Put the last vertex to 0. Create a nice curve by inserting a bezier vertex from the drop down menu and adjust it using the move tool. Your horn should look much better now, but often its generated so it doesn’t go along the path spline (the helix). Rotate yours around so it has the right orientation. I had to rotate mine 90 degrees in the side viewport to get it into the right orientation, yours might be different. In doing so, some of my vertices don’t match up, but its not a big deal. Under Skin Parameters of the loft, give it 0 Shape Steps and around 3-7 Path Steps.
I did mine quickly over again, and this is what I have now:
It doesn’t perfectly match up with the reference but produces something very close! If you would like to get yours perfect, you can play around with the helix and the loft will adjust itself accordingly.
The base of the horn may no longer match the main piece of the pommel if it was oval-ish. Do not change the horn but adjust the vertices around the cut holes on the main piece to match up the horns vertices better.
Go to the loft’s properties and deselect Cap Start under Skin Parameters. We don’t want the polygon generated at the bottom of the horn to be hidden inside after we connect the two pieces as it will cause smoothing problems. Apply any small last changes to the loft and when your ready, convert it to an editable mesh and attach it (Properties -> Edit Geometry -> Attach) to the main pommel piece but make sure you don’t attach it right next to the main piece. We want some room to work with for the welding.
The next task is to get the two pieces together which shouldn’t be anything hard for you by now, but I will introduce the target weld method which should help speed things up! You should have matching vertices, one on each object which will connect to the corresponding one on the other object. Enable 3D Snap and while in vertex sub-object mode select target weld. Ensure 3D Snap is set to vertices and not grid points (right click the icon if you forgot how). Simply click and drag one vertex to the other to connect. Here’s an example for one of mine:
Repeat this so the horn is fully attached to the model. If you followed my directions and kept the horn a good distance away from the main piece, simply select all the vertices and shift them over:
Common sense would prove to us that we need another horn of course! This can be done rather easily. Select all the polygons that were originally a part of the horn when it wasn’t attached, and hold shift and copy them to the other side of the model. Flip the new horn so its orientation is correct, put it as close to the main piece as possible, select all the vertices around the cut area which are next to the new horn and weld them together.
Congratulations, you did it! You’ve modeled the whole sword top to bottom. This part may seem incomplete, but the other details can be effectively done through texturing, bump mapping and displacement.
If you don’t want to rely on materials to make up for the rest, by all means add in the detail through the geometry. If you decide to do it this way, make sure you know what chamfer vertex and edge does, as it will come in handy for adding details. Also, if your wondering how to do lumps the horns, select every other circular section and extrude inwards or outwards. Make sure your extrude is set to local and not group.
If I have time in the future and this tutorial goes to good use and people enjoy it, I will try to add more details about texturing. Give yourself a pat on the back and take a glimpse at your masterpiece. Head on over to the next section so I can wrap this whole thing up.