Before aircraft make their way into the Infinite Flight world, they must be heavily researched, linked to animations, and mapped to our in-house physics engine. Before they ever leave the ground, they must be modelled in 3D space. This crucial step is where our 3D artists work their magic.
Jarno Deken is a 3D artist for Infinite Flight. After working for a major Dutch airline for 14 years as an aircraft engineer on various Fokker, Boeing and Airbus types, he needed a change of pace. While working as an engineer, Jarno was freelancing creating 3D aircraft models. His journey with Infinite Flight began in 2012, and now creates mainly exterior aircraft models and liveries full time.
I had a chance to chat with Jarno and ask him some questions we get asked often that are related to building aircraft for Infinite Flight.
When you start work on any aircraft, what are the first steps?
Once we have decided on which plane will be added next, we gather all of the documentation and other reference material that will shape the project. This could be anything from AOM’s (aircraft operating manuals) to detailed photos taken during real life walk-arounds. One detailed item we also gather is a so called 3-view drawing, sometimes called a blueprint. Simply put, this drawing shows you illustrated outlined shapes of the aircraft from one side view, front view, and top view. Without the 3-view drawing we can’t initiate the project.
As we're chatting, the A350 is currently in development. What were the first steps in creating the model for the A350?
Like with any other model project, we started with setting and loading up the 3-view drawing in our modelling software. From there we outlined the fuselage cross section using a cylindrical object, which we modify to the shapes from the 3-view drawing.
What are some of the tools of the trade involved for you to create a 3D model?
We have our main modelling program which is 3Ds Max from Autodesk. For creating the textures and templates, we use Photoshop from Adobe. We also use a bunch of other small programs to help us with speeding the process up.
What parts of the A350 will you work on and what parts do others work on? At what point do you pass off your work to someone else?
This totally depends on how busy we (3D artists) all are. I work mostly on the exterior model together with the liveries. Once that is done we look where others are, and decide from there who does what to speed things up in order to complete the project.
How long does an aircraft take to build from your end?
It depends on how complex the project is. With the A350, we had issues finding the right reference material to work with, which resulted in delays in starting the project. We also enhanced our latest 3D models compared to the one’s we started with in the early days of Infinite Flight. This easily tripled the amount of time for us in creating an aircraft model from scratch.
One important thing to note is that smaller planes like a GA aircraft can't necessarily be added more quickly. Since the aircraft is smaller in polygonal size, we have the space to add more and more smaller details. So eventually you end up with the same time length. To give you a rough ball park figure I would say it takes between 6 to 9 months to complete the exterior model from my end.