This part of the sword should be an easy start for anyone. Its nothing more than a curvy cylinder with other cylinders a couple places. Lets get started…
Above is the image displaying simply what we want to do. The sword’s grip gets thicker in the middle and has grooves at each end (only one end in the above picture). It will look nice and smooth in the end.
The first step is to create a cylinder in the front view port so it is placed facing the correct direction. Match up the cylinder so it just reaches the cross guard and the pommel by adjusting size/width/height/location. If your somewhat confused take a look at the picture below to get an idea. The width of the cylinder should be as big as it can be without extending over the thick part of the reference pictures’s grip.
Turn on edged faces in the top view port (Right click ‘top’ in the top view port> Edged Faces) and assign a colored material with around 30% opacity to the cylinder to help us work better. If you have annoying segment lines from the plane getting in the way then select the plane, go to modify and give it one length and one width segment instead of the default of 4. If your having trouble seeing the reference of the sword, go ahead and raise the opacity to 50%, we don’t need a lower opacity until we get to the splines.
Now, to see things a bit more clear, with the cylinder we just made selected, go to its properties and make it so smooth is not selected. While there you should also make sure cap segments is at 1 and set height segments to 7. Sides could be taken down around to 13 or so if you want less polygons in the long run. I wouldn’t go much further though. Roughly 17 side segments should be sufficient for us.
Convert the cylinder into a editable mesh. Our first task is to select the height segments running horizontally across the grip from the top view port so it matches the reference’s grip. Get into sub-object mode and select vertex. Select the very top row of vertices as well as the very bottom row by holding down CTRL and drag selecting them. Grab the non-uniform scale tool and scale the selection, restricted by X, so it matches up with the top and bottom width of the hilt. Because the grip is symmetrical, we should select both sides and scale them together to ensure that our grip is as well. Next select the 2nd top row and the 2nd bottom row and repeat, continue the process until everything lines up. View the picture below to see what I’m doing, the verts in the middle still need to be done on the below picture. The reference is hidden because it is easier to see this way.
The next task on hand is to create the ends of the grip, which is nothing hard at all. Switch from vertex mode to polygon mode. Select the round polygon at the very end of both sides using the perspective viewport. It looks as if the end pieces of the grip are identical so we can do both sides at once.
The picture shown above is the top view of an end of the grip. All we’re doing is extruding the end polygon multiple times along with multiple bevels along the way. With the two end polygons selected extrude the polygon to match the first outward part of the grip so it lines up horizontally. To make the width the same, bevel the edge. Here’s a few pictures showing the first extrude. The reference is hidden to make it easier to see. The values I used are not entirely accurate, they are just there to show you what is happening.
Continue on for the others. Generally after each extrude it goes bevel out, no bevel, bevel in, no bevel, bevel out, no bevel, and bevel in respectively. Both ends should be nicely sculpted in the end. More detail can be added to the first extrude if you want to make these end pieces of the grip stand out more when we mesh smooth it.
Apply a meshsmooth of 1 iteration, or more depending on your preference. If you think it loses too much detail (An issue with mine I discovered at the time of writing this) select the polygons which make up the ends of the grip (the silver part of the grip looking at the reference) and apply a tessellate modifier to it. Operate on polygons with 1 iteration, THEN meshsmooth. I should warn you that it can make the grip rather polygon intensive in a second so if you want it, think first! The next part is to add the many gold cylindrical pieces between the ends of the grip. There are several ways of doing this, the easiest is to create a cylinder so it lines up like this:
The cylinder should be resting nicely in the groove of the grip’s end. Because there will be many of these, and they are very small we can cut back on faces, drop the height/cap segments to one if they aren’t already are. The sides for the cylinder should be anything from 4-8 for decent results with the smooth option checked. If you are planning on rendering close ups, stay away from the lower numbers.
Try to put the cylinder as close to the very top middle of the grip’s end piece. Select the align tool (Main Toolbar) with the cylinder selected and click the grip from the top view port. Make sure both objects are set to center and check the X Position box, ensure that the other position check boxes are empty. Click OK.
The cylinder should be lined up perfectly in the middle, unless you are making the sword go from left to right instead of top down, in which you would you the Y Position I believe. Go to the Hierarchy tab and click Affect Pivot Only.
What we are trying to do is surround the end piece with multiple cylinders. With the help of the handy align tool and array tool (Main Toolbar) it should be no problem at all, as well as a lesson for those who never used it before. With the pivot highlighted on the screen, select the align tool again and click the grip from the front view port. Select Y-Position and hit OK. We are doing this so we can rotate copies of the cylinder around the grip.
Switch off the pivot mode, keep the cylinder selected, switch to the front view port, and select the array tool. Looking at the reference picture, it seems like these cylinders are actually bumps, but cylinders will do just as good for us. Guess how many cylinders you would like to go around the grip then divide 360 by that number. In the array dimensions under 1D, put the number of cylinders you wanted to go around the grip. Then put the number you calculated in the Incremental rotate column labeled Z. Here’s a picture example of me using 20 cylinders, (360/20 = 18, which I used for the incremental rotate) as well as the result. I used many more for my actual sword.
There are many other ways to get this done with the same accuracy, but this I believe is the best for the job at hand. It’s also a lesson for those who never used the Array and Align tool. Select the cylinders and copy them to the other side and your done. If your not happy with how many you have undo everything to the point of the array and redo the calculations and continue on.
*Gasp*. I don’t know how the grip could have taken me this long to talk about. Our next focus will be the crossguard using splines!