Tank Tracks

On January 22, 2012, in Tutorials, by Admin

Making Tank Tracks:

Quick and easy tank tracks using DupliFrames and Path Curves.

The first thing we’ll do is model one section of our track. After creating your model,
switch to ‘Object Mode’ and press ‘Center New’ to reset your objects center. You may need
to adjust this later. Slight adjustments of the objects center will dictate where in follows our
path.It may be a good idea to apply any rotations or scaling you’ve done to the track section.
I usually do this after modeling something. You can do this by selecting your object and pressing
CTRL – A and select Apply scale and rotation.
Since I plan on making my tank face the front view (Num pad 1), I’m going to switch to the side
view to create my path (Num pad 3). I’ll be looking at the side of my future tank.Press ‘Space Bar – Add – Curve – Path‘ to add the path that will be the outline of our track.

If you’ve never played with Paths before, it’s basically a line with points on it that you can move,
rotate, scale, extrude and subdivide similar to a mesh. In the end, we’re going to be copying our
track section around this path. For now, we’re just going to move / add the points of the Path
to create the outline of our track.
Here, I’ve just move the path up under my track section a bit. I selected the last point in the path
and began extruding (‘e‘) new points to create the outline of my track.
Once we’ve made it all of the way around our outline (you can stop short one section), pressing ‘c‘ will
change the path into a closed loop which is what we want to represent our track. If you need to, you
can go back and edit your outline. You can select 2 verts next to each other and press ‘W‘ – Subdivide.
This will insert a vertex between the two selected ones allowing you to go into more detail. It won’t
be necessary to go into extreme detail.
Next, we will parent our track section to our path. Right Click on your track section first and then
SHFT – Right Click on your path. This will select both of them with your path being the active object.
Your path will be the lighter shade of pink indicating it is the active object.
Parent your track section to your path by pressing CTRL – P and selecting Normal Parent.
It may be necessary to clear your track sections origin so locates correctly on your path.
Select your track section and press ALT – o.
You may need to change the Track setting for your track section so that it is orientated
correctly on your path. Select your track, and while in Object Mode (F7) look for the
Anim settings tab. If you need to, try different track settings until your track section is
sitting correctly.

With your track section selected, under Object Mode, under the Anim settings tab, click the
Dupli Frames button to begin copying our track section around the path.

When you turn on the Dupli Frames button, you will see the No Speed button appear.
Turn that one on as well. This will prevent the the track section from ‘speeding up and slowing down
as it’s duplicated around the track. It will have an even spacing once this is turned on.

Now, switch back to your Path Curve and enter Editing mode (F9).

  • Make sure the Curve Path and Curve Follow buttons are turned on.

Under the Curve and Surface tab,
you’ll want to start adjusting the path length.

When you begin adjusting the path length, you’ll notice the spacing between your track sections will
start to change. Adjust the length either higher or lower until the spacing between the track sections
is correct.

Once you’ve adjust your path length to get the correct spacing, switch back to your track section
and set the Dup End frame to the same number as the length of your path. This will cause the track
section to be copied one complete rotation around the path. Not too few and not too many.

That’s all there is to it. You should have a complete track at this time. You can copy the track and curve to
create a second one. You can also go back and adjust the shape of your curve and the tracks will remain

If you’ve finished editing your track and wish to have just a complete mesh, simply export it as an
.obj and import it back in. This will give you a completed mesh with out the need for Dupli Frames.

Good luck with your modeling.Scott

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