When I was in middle school, I was obsessed with using Google Earth to explore the world. I especially loved its 3D feature. One day, while looking at 3D buildings in London, something caught my attention. I saw a 3D Singapore Airlines A380 placed at Heathrow Airport. As an aviation geek, I was thrilled. Never did know that one could create 3D airplanes. I thought to myself, I must learn how to create 3D planes. That’s how I started to use Google SketchUp (later acquired by Trimble). I’ve been in love with modeling with SketchUp ever since.


The beginnings

In the beginning, I had little experiences and skills in 3D modeling. I wasn’t able to create any 3D planes from scratch. However, I was able to learn how to paint liveries onto the planes. I understood that there were two options to decorate a 3D model. The simplest was to add a photo texture. A more time-consuming way involved creating a 3D version of the logo, intersecting the logo with the plane, then coloring the intersected area with different colors. Comparing the two, I found out that SketchUp compressed images used for photo textures. This resulted in a horrible pixelated image. Not content with the quality of photo textures, I went ahead with the more complicated way. Working with 3D planes shared by other SketchUp users on the 3D Warehouse, real-life picture of airplanes, and three dimensional components made by myself, I was able to decorate one aircraft after another. The decision to use real-life picture of planes as reference was due to the wrapping effect. Wrapping makes logos look distorted on airplanes when compared to the original vector logo. Referencing real-life pictures, I can more accurately decorate the plane.


First attempt at modeling from scratch

In 2013, the Airbus A350-900 took off for the first time. Noting how models of the A350 on 3DWarehouse lacked in accuracy and quality, I decided to start building my very first 3D model. I looked up YouTube videos on how to create 3D planes with SketchUp. I started by looking up blueprints of the plane. With the blue print, I started modeling the fuselage. I drew a 2D circle that was the size of the cabin (front-view). I then used the pull tool and scale tool to make the 2D circle 3D and gradually become the fuselage. Smoothing the edges and using the intersect tool for doors and windows, I completed the fuselage and went on to create other parts of the plane. Finally, I created an A350.


Learning and refining

I was really proud of my first 3D model plane (pictured left above). However, I later found out that my model still lacked in accuracy. There was much room for improvement. A year later, I re-made an A350. This time, the details were much more refined. Moreover, thanks to the 3D Warehouse community, various modelers downloaded my A350 and started working on adding more details. Finally, the significantly improved new A350 model (pictured right above) was completed. With this experience, I was more confident when I later went on to create a model of the Mitsubishi MRJ-90 (pictured below).


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