Recently I have been working on a project that required a drone delivering a logo, already a rather complicated project. The issue I found was that there were very few quality drone assets that can be used commercially.
This means that I had to design and model my own. To help keep me grounded to current trends and make it more believable, I made a storyboard of a selection of DJI drones in the style that I was going for.
One full day of modeling and comparing and tweaking and comparing again and I had the main model, basic materials, and initial rig set up.
The importance of the planning stage
One of the first things I like to do before I even open Blender is to make sure I have a clear idea of what I want to achieve in the final result, and not only that, also have a good idea of how I will achieve it as well.
For example I knew for this project I would need a drone to deliver a logo in some manner, however I spent the time deciding if it should be a banner, some sort of paint spray effect, etc and finally arrived at the decision to use a box delivery.
Having a clear idea of what you are going to create and how you are going to execute it is critical, as it helps you make better decisions during the design process rather than just making things up on the fly. This approach helps save time and also ends up in a better result usually, while allowing you to adjust during the projects development.
The importance of the iterative approach
When working on any but the most basic projects, it is important to approach it iteratively, and recognize that it doesn’t need to be perfect on the first pass. Making a lower detailed pass to make sure all your main ideas work well in harmony with each other will make it much simpler to solve issues you can’t foresee very well in the planning stages.
Once you have a first pass with all the core elements and it works well, then you can start making repeated passes adding detail equally to the scene or model. The number of passes will depend on the scale and the detail of the scene or model you are working on, but the approach remains the same. Start simple, and build from that working foundation. Designs also end up being a little more modular and organized, making it easier to edit.
This is the result after around three or four passes. The first pass was blocking out the main shapes of the body, frame and motors. Next pass was basic connectors and props, followed by adding more detail to specific elements.
The importance of flexible plans
Knowing when an idea is not working and being able to try something else is critical, as no plan is perfect and you will run into all sorts of snags along the way. Being able to ad-lib on the less important things to uphold the main concepts helps with speed and efficiency while adhering to the standards set in the planning stages of the project.
If you follow a similar method in your own projects, you will see that it helps a lot with solving some common issues that I used to always run into when I would just jump into Blender and start by adding a plane and going from there. Then I’d try and figure out what I was actually doing after and hour of modeling. A lot of backtracking and compromises due to a lack of planning that can be easily avoided.