Interested in making an inflatable in MD? How about contributing to a great cause? Either way, this tutorial has you covered.
Get the complete MD project file in the store.
Here are some great links mentioned in the video:
Wayne and I watch YouTube videos and subscribe to many people, including a few woodworkers. Last night while we were eating dinner, we watched Cy’s Corner and The Carmichael Woodshop and both of them had videos building airplanes.
This was part of a special effort that Steve Ramsey of Woodworking for Mere Mortals began with the Makers Care website. He has challenged all makers to create an airplane to bring awareness to the Make A Wish foundation’s need for money for air travel. It is one of the largest expenses they encounter in their wish granting program.
I wanted to participate and although Wayne and I do woodworking, I wanted to use MD. I read the rules for participation and it said all artists, all mediums. So I was excited to get going.
Maker’s Care has sponsors that will donate $5 for every plane that is created and posted to the site. If you want to help out, you can make your own plane and post it, or you can just donate a few dollars directly. It is a great cause and I like the idea of all us helping out together.
Links to the Maker’s Care website is down in the description. Please consider participating, this campaign runs through October 30th.
Here’s my little airplane. It’s an inflatable or blow-up airplane made in MD. I’ve been meaning to do a tutorial on inflatables, so this was a great opportunity.
If you want this little airplane MD project file, I will post it on the website after the fundraiser is over on October 31st. Now I’ll tell you how you can make an inflatable in MD.
The first thing I did was to create the airplane body. I used Copy > Symmetric Paste to make the back side and then sewed them together. Over in the Property Editor you’ll want to set the Simulation Properties > Pressure to about 50.
Another thing I did was turn the Gravity way down. The default setting is -9800 and I lowered it to -1000. This allows you to simulate and not have the plane deform by laying on the ground. You may have to rotate it if it falls over, but that is really easy without gravity.
You can see that the body after inflation does not resemble the 2d pattern. You will have to play with it to get the correct shape. You’ll also notice that we have all these wrinkles at the seams. These are absolutely perfect for simulating blown up plastic. This is what it does and you can’t beat the realism here.
The next step was the airplane front wings. I drew internal lines on the fuselage to attach the wings and froze it in position. This would keep it from falling and made a nice base for the wing development.
The wings are two pieces with Pressure, just like the body. I tried attaching the wings directly to the body, but the wings just fell down at the ends. I ended up making these little attachment pieces to sit between the body and wings. The wings and body are fabric set to the Cotton Setting. The attachment pieces are set to Leather Belt. I made the top attachment piece shorter than the bottom. This helps to pull the wing up so it will sit level.
The inspiration image I was using had this seam in the wing. Most likely it was there for rigidity, so I did the same thing.
Now it was time to do the wings at the tail. I used the same procedure as for the front wings with one exception. I didn’t need to shorten the top attachment piece. Since these wings have less mass, they weren’t drooping on me.
You’ll notice that there are very few sharp corners. Everything is rounded out and this is necessary to get a good shape when you inflate.
The engines were next. I created two circles, one slightly larger than the other. I used the circumference of each circle as the dimensions for the engine body. All of these pieces have Pressure on them.
To attach the engines, I drew an internal line under the wing initially. This didn’t work very well and was too confining for the inflation. I ended up making little 10mm attachment points on the wing and sewing those to the front and back of the engine body seam line. This worked very well.
You may notice that the body changes slightly from each of the project files to the next. I wasn’t happy with the shape, so I kept modifying it as I went along.
Now that all the pattern work was done, it was time for some color and graphics. I decided I would just use color and saturation for the plane and add the graphics with the 2D Pattern tool.
First I chose a base color and played with the Specular Color. This is a plastic inflatable, so I have the Shininess up pretty high. I chose a metal grey for the wings and engines. I chose a bit darker color for the front of the engines.
All of my graphics were created in Adobe Illustrator. I made a separate layer for each and then used the Save for Web feature to save them as PNG files. To import a graphic with the 2D Pattern tool, just select the tool, select a file and click on a pattern. It will ask for sizing, but generally you can just ignore this initially, unless you know what the final size needs to be.
You can use the Transform 2D texture tool or the Transform pattern tool to size and place your graphic. You can use the Copy, Mirror Paste feature on this, just like any other pattern. This is nice if you need to apply the same graphic to another side of an object. Just make sure you don’t use this on text because it will mirror over backwards. You can also move your graphic around in the 3D view using the Transform 2D texture tool located in the top of the 3D window.
I wanted to set up my final render in the 3D view, as I wouldn’t be exporting this object anywhere. I turned off the grid first by selecting Display > Show 3D Grid.
Then I wanted a different background, so I tried a sky image first. I did a right click in the 3D window and selected Picture or Texture Fill, clicked the folder icon and selected my file. To turn off the shadow, select Display > Show 3D Shadow.
This sky really looks bad with this plane color, so I didn’t keep it. Instead I chose the Solid Fill and then chose a new lighter color.
Here’s the final again. I like the shadow, which really shows the plane is off the ground.
This was fun to do and it’s great to participate in something that benefits others. Thanks for watching and please consider a donation to the Makers Care project.