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By Gunnar @ Magna Mana

Modelling an SDS Bee

Making of the Bumble-Bee

Within the bounds of a house internal project the task to model a bumblebee was bestrewed on us. Because out company (Ed: MagnaMana) has been working with the software from Realsoft Oy for years it was an easy decision to produce a small tutorial, for beginners working with the new “Realsoft 3D V4”, on the side.

Firstly we want to advise you that basic knowledge about the user interface of Realsoft 3D is a prerequisite. Additional information can be found in the online-manual which can also be found on the website of Realsoft 3D. To repeat this wrist straining literal work would take up most of our web space. We would like to suggest a path in this tutorial, which you don’t and shouldn’t follow to the word. Fell free to go your own way.

At the beginning of every serious 3D project there has to be a fair amount of research. First we watched countless episodes of the German cult series “Biene Maja”. Frustrated we had to realise that it as a dead end because not a single leading role featuring a bumblebee. So we dove into the vastness of the Internet on the search for suitable pictures. Sadly the pictures we found where inadequate and the only information about this insect was of biological nature.

Did you know that the male bumblebee has 13 antenna segments while the female only has 12?

Luckily a stuffed bumblebee agreed to model for us. Like any good Post Production House we have a microscope to our disposal to study out bumblebee in detail. So we went straight to work and got our illustrator to sketch our bumblebee for us, which turned out pretty well.

The hardest part was done. Because with the tools that Realsoft 3D has to offer a standard HB pencil is no match.

First we determine the proportions with the help of three SDS-cubes, which should represent the 3 sections of the body. To these we will add further detail in the course of this tutorial.

To warm up (don’t let your thoughts drift in the wrong direction!) we will start with the backside (the abdomen) of our bumblebee because this was the easiest part. The last cube was subdivided with 2 cross-sections. This is done by selecting the edges that are to be subdivided and first apply the split- and then the add-tool. Then we use the smooth-tool to subdivide it further.

In point editing mode the characteristic form of the backside is tweaked into place. The bend tool was a trusty helper in this phase.

To avoid surprises we will now make a short excursion into the wonderful world of Realsoft’s 3D modelling tools. If you are familiar with other 3D packages the unorthodox use of the general tools will come as a surprise. These are not bound to a modifier-box neither do they use handles. They can be applied interactively at any portion of the object (numeric editing is also possible). As a reference the object geometry and the input plane, which can be regarded as a plane, which can be paced feely in space, are used to apply the 2D effects. By default the input plane is linked t the camera. However this ca be changed with the right mouse button / input plane. This can result in some petty interesting work methods. In our case we can say that the general tools work in the camera’s plane and so we should stick to the side view while using the bend tool.


Now it’s your turn again. Bend the cross-sections into the desired position. To make the segmentation of the backside more believable we modelled the segments edges in face-editing mode. To do this we select all faces behind the segment’s edge we want to create are apply the group-subdivide tool (or pull at handle 1 of any one of the selected faces whilst pressing the CTRL-key). (Picture 03)

In addition we add another cross-section to each segment to strengthen its definition. (Picture 04)

To emphasize the tip of the abdomen we select the last vertex and bevel it by pulling handle 1. (Picture 05)







The middle vertex is to be edited in the same way and moved slightly down. The face that results from the bevel is to be extruded (pull at handle 2 while pressing CTRL) to create the connection to the torso.

The cube representing the torso should now be subdivided with the smooth tool. Then the two bottom edges are to be bevelled (handle 1+CTRL). The resulting faces are then extruded a little (handle 2+CRLT). (Picture 06) Throughout whole bottom surface of the torso we add cross-sections. (Picture 08) This will allow us to freely model the insect’s hip and the joints where the legs are connected. We then modified the whole torso by tweaking it into place a little.

Because Realsoft doesn’t have an interactive symmetry-tool one should pay attention in out next step that the selections should be made on both sides of our bumblebee. Our next step will be to add the joints for the wings. In the upper left corner of the torso, there where one would imagine the wings of an insect to be, we add another vertical cross-section. We then bevelled the edge we created in the last step (handle 1+CTRL). The resulting faces are then edited with the extrude- (handle 2+CTRL) and subdivide-tool (handle 1+CTRL). (Picture 09) Because our Bumblebee has 4 wings, like all insects, we need two of these craters on each side. With the lower smaller crater it’s only necessary to extrude and subdivide the face. (Picture 10) After a little tweaking the torso should look “insectish”. (Picture 11)



And now you will have to use your head. Take what in future should be the head and apply the smooth-tool. With a little imagination one can create a nice oval head shaped object. We just moved the points into the appropriate position.

We now tackle the eyes and bevel the edges located on the sides of the front. With subdivide-groups these faces well be transformed into two nice eye sockets. Our new favourite insect should now also receive the matching eyes. We make a copy of the head and delete all faces except the faces of the eye sockets. (Picture 12) And now please follow us into the object settings (double click the copy). In the spec-tab we choose the option “interpolate-boundary” And activate it. Our soon to be eyes should receive another dose of the smooth-tool. A little tweaking and our insect has received the gift of sight.

What’s next?

We select the two lowest faces of the head and create the basis for the bumblebee’s mouth. (Picture 14) It is now up to you to insert a few new cross-sections to add more detail to the eyes and mouth. The points are to be pushed back and forth a little to resemble out drawing. In some cases a little imagination and creativity on your side is in order. (Picture 16) Once again the bevel-tool will be utilised to model the base for the antenna. To do this two fitting points on the forehead should be selected and bevelled. The resulting faces are then extruded inwards. (Picture 17) We are now at the stage then we should divert our thoughts to the sex of our bumblebee, for now we will turn our attention towards the antenna. We create a subdivision-cube, which should have the dimensions of the socket and in the ideal case should also be located in the socket itself. The side of the cube that faces the front will now be extruded. Following that the individual segments of the antenna are subdivided, extruded and then scales slightly larger (handle 1). This is to be repeated as often as ones common sense allows (female 12 segments male 13 segments). But initially this should be done only linear. The curves will be added later. In our case you see that out of reasons concerning the design (well chance played a substantial role too) we stopped at only 8 segments (without sex? In puberty?). We also modified the lower part of the antenna a little. As we mentioned in the beginning or tutorial should not create an exact resemblance of our bumblebee. Let your creativity go loony a little. The bumblebee did hold any grudges against us in any case. By repeatedly applying the bend-tool we will now give the antenna it’s curved form. (Picture 18) Of course we only create one antenna first and then we let Realsoft do some work for us by simply copying it. But more on that topic later.

Lets not forget to model a connection between head and torso. Bevel an appropriate point on the backside of the head and, how could it be any other way, extrude it into a slick neck.







Now we give our bumblebee a ferocious look, at least if viewed up close. The following first mouth tool consists of a flat SDS-cube located in the corner of the mouth. The front faces are then extruded as you indubitably guessed by now. We switch to front view and utilise the bend tool again to bring the object into our desired form and to place it in front or the moth opening. Exactly this bent thingy should receive a few (at least 4) cross-sections. The smaller faces facing the middle of the mouth can now be selected and will soon resemble the ferocious bighting tools. We now select the extrude icon which opens a sub menu in which you should choose “region” and then activate “separately” in the pull down menu. Move the mouse a little and thus create the “teeth”. Keep the selection and extrude again, scale it smaller (handle 1) and you should have a fairly good result by now, what do you think. (Picture 20) Not bad at all, but don’t you reckon that there is still something very elementary missing to make out bumblebee a real insect?

Say, don’t you think that we definantly need a little change of scenery? If you don’t share our opinion just skip the following passage. In any case WE will quickly make ourselves a little horse. Didn’t you just always want a little horsy? Well here’s the quickie: Take one SDS-cube and subdivide it. Grab the points in the back and the front of the top and the four corner points on the bottom, bevel these and extrude neck, tail and four legs. Further extrude the neck and scale it a little, tweak a little and bevel the two points that seem suitable for the ears and extrude them without second thought… don’t be afraid - you are not hurting the horsy.

Follow the pictures and before you know it you have a little rubber horse. Also available in the colours: Red, green, and violet. Practice this little horse once every day and impress friends and relatives with being able to model a little horse in less then 15 seconds.





Well ok welcome back to the insect kingdom (Bzzzzzz).

Let’s tackle the task of the legs now. To be more precise one leg, the rest will be added by copying the one. It shouldn’t come as a surprise that we once again take a SDS-cube, and place it into the appropriate crevice on the lower portion of the torso, and extrude like there is no tomorrow. In-between it would be wise to use ant tools that might be useful. Here the following tools would be recommended: Scale about normal (handle 1), bend, scale edge (handle1) applied to the side edges to create the flattened form of the upper leg segment. To create the bulge in the middle of the upper segment it is advisable to add a cross section at this point. (Picture 22) To act as joint you should use a flattened sphere strategically placed. The next segment was quickly be created by copying the first one and mirroring it. That doesn’t look quite right, does it? That’s why we delete those faces, which are out of place, extrude the end face and subdivide it again. Move on normal (handle 2) inwards gives us the new joint. (Picture 23) And then quickly produce another flattened sphere to serve as our joint and the repeat the last few steps for the third section of our leg. When this task is done we should correct the form a little (point editing ect.) and presto the main portion of the leg is done. The remaining segments are just SDS cubes forced into a heart form. Extrude, scale about normal and bend where our main tools in this task. (Picture 24)

To create the other legs it is advisable to copy the first leg and deform it with the modifier-tools (move, bend, rotate, extend). (Picture 25) And while we are at it we can continue with copying antenna and the other 3 legs (instance is also an option but only if the bumblebee will not be animated in future) and mirroring them in top view. (Picture 26)

What our bumblebee is still lacking you might have guessed by now: Wings.

Let us not sit around idly. A SDS cube is placed in the joint socket of the wing and a face, preferably facing back, is to be extruded a few times and scaled to form a sharp point. What we are working on will in the end be the chitin net that stabilises the wing. For the veins that sprout from the main brash we follow the following strategy: In point mode we select the vertices belonging to the edge where the sprout should be. Then we switch to edge mode and the edges of the cross-section should be selected. Bevel these (handle 1 + CTRL). Switch to face mode and deselect everything. Then select only that face where the vein should branch off and extrude it. The web of the skeleton will be subject to your imagination. In this endeavour the tunnel tool can be a good friend and aid in connecting the various veins. Al this should be done in a pain (top- or side view). In the same plain you place a Nurbs-mesh (Nurbs rectangle) with a minimal resolution of 6x6. The “tweaking” you should be well familiar with will bring the mesh into it’s wing form. The edges should coincide with those of the chitin skeleton. Now select both objects in the select window and group them with the function drop to level (right mouse button, drop to level). The level you just created should be selected and given a slight bend with the bend-tool. Then place it in the correct position in the joint socket on the torso. (Picture 27)

The second and slightly smaller wing we created by simply copying the wing we just manufactured and changing it with the scale-tool and a little fine-tuning in point-editing mode (Picture 28)






Fabulous, well done. Just one final detail and you have a new pet. Be so kind and give your bumblebee a second pair of wings with the function duplicate and the mirror-tool. This should be done in top view to get the mirror axis right. (Picture 29)

In general one should be able to identify the concoction on your monitor as bumblebee. In any case it should be enough for a bee.

We will not go into the details of the texture in this tutorial and lay this task into your capable hands. And the decision whether or not your bumblebee should be covered in a dense fur is also yours to make, although in the current weather situation it could be advisable. Simply use the 2D-partices and the option “paint on surface.

We hope to have acquainted you with the SDS-tools of Realsoft 3D in this tutorial. Even though we only worked with a handful of functions. Of course Realsoft 3D has an enormous arsenal of modelling-tools, which sometimes have a variety of very complex functions. But the real advantage of Realsoft 3D is it’s speed with the simple modelling-tools, which if used in unison can lead to faster results then the specialised tools with all those options.

Keep on experimenting with these functions and you will realise that you will be able to create almost any object with minimal amount of clicks and only a few key combinations. Organic objects are especially simple.

We wish you all the best in the future with Realsoft 3D.


Tutorial: Gunnar Radeloff & Bastian Schreitling

Pencil sketches by: Frank Eichhoefer

Special thanks for translating from German into English to: Mark Dauth

Page updated on Tuesday, 25 February, 2003 . For feedback / model submissions or articles - please email us.
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