Tutorial: Tyre Treads

Blender Tyre Tutorial

Let me firstly say that this is not a step by step beginners tutorial. I expect you have knowledge on how to get around blender, at the very least know the basics when it comes to 3D modeling.

There are plenty of ways to create tyre treads and this is just one of them, but I find it works well. You could say that this tutorial is a Blender version of Ruban Morales 3D studio max tutorial which is posted at 3Dtotal.com.

OK, lets get started.

Firstly don’t open blender yet, go out there and google a tyre and find a tread you’d like to use as a reference.

Once you found your reference open up blender, split the 3D view in two, make sure one of the 3D windows is unlocked then select a different layer. Click on “View”, “background image” then load your reference image into the 3D view.

Phase 1

I have decided to use my reference as a guide in designing my tyre tread, of course you could model the tyre tread exactly as it is in your reference image but wheres the fun in that.

Modeling the tread.

Get rid of the cube in the middle of the screen, then replace it with a plane (you should now be in the top view). Go into edit mode, select all the vertices and move them to your right so that they pass the center point of the object. 

Modifiers are located in the button window I will be using a few of these in this tutorial, if you don’t see it try pressing F9.

Now add a “mirror” modifier, you can use the “Do Clipping” option to join the mesh vertices to the mirror by dragging them to the object center. From the top view start to model some tyre treads with your reference as a guide(note the pattern on the tyre). After your happy with the look of the tread, add an “Array” modifier, this will help show-up any flaws in your design.

You may notice that the array makes a copy to your left, simply change the X value under “Relative Offset” to 0 and input a Y value so that the copy and original mesh are close together.

The tread design, with an array copy.

Now extrude the tread a few times, add a Subsurf modifier and correct any flaws, change to side view,  then select all the bottom most vertices and delete their faces (these faces will never be seen so we do not need them).

It should look a somthing like this, as seen from below.

Extruded Treads

Now that the hard part is finished, the fun can begin.

Click to Disable the SubSurf modifier “during interactive display” its circled in red in the image below. If Subsurf is activated when we execute the next step it will slow down your the 3D view.

Now up the “count” on the array modifier… for me its around the 40 mark. Make sure you save your progress up untill this point. Press the apply button on the Array modifier.

After the Array modifier has been applied.

Lets begin to shape the tyre… Like the subsurf modifier above do the same to the mirror modifier.

Add a Lattice to the scene, scale it so that its width and height covers the width and height of tyre object. Now go back to your tyre object add another modifier this time choose the “Lattice” option. In the Ob: input, type the name of your Lattice. Select the Lattice Object again and increase the number of U point, then press Tab, for edit mode and shape the Lattice which in turn will shape the tyre. Make sure the Lattice modifier is at the top of the Modifier stack.

Shaping the Tyre Step 1

Now there is one last modifier which we must add. But before that, add an Empty from the top view into the scene, Scale it up so that its clearly visible. Press the “n”  button on your keyboard to bring up the Transform properties panel and make sure that all the location values are 0. Now select your tyre Object and do the same, then add the “Simple Deform” modifier, change the default “twist” to “bend” and move it up the stack so that its below the Lattice modifier. Your tyre might look a bit crazy at the minute a few more steps will fix those bugs. In Ob: input for the Deform modifier type the name of the Empty, if you followed my instruction all you have to do now is select the empty and type the following in the transform properties panel, RotX:90, RotY:90. if it still looks wacky, its just a matter of rotating the Empty(increment of 90) along multple axis to get the right bend. If you got it working there should be a slight bend in your object pointing downwards, to make a complete circle increase the “factor” setting until the two ends meet.

Shaping the Tyre Step 2

After enabling the mirror modifier you may find that your tyre isn’t as wide as you want it to be this can easily be rectified by modifying the Lattice (if you find that there are too many segment go back to previous save and change the amount in the array modifier). When your happy with your tyre press the apply button on the “Lattice”, “Simple Deform”  and “Mirror” panels.

Finishing it off.

All we have to do now is fill in those gaps between the treads, and the easiest way to do that is with another object. First though we need reposition the tyre’s object center, so find and press the “center new” button, then press Shift+S in the 3D view and choose cursor to selection. Add a circle object with its default setting, after that its a simple task of rotating extruding and modeling until the remainder of the tyre finished.

The final tyre! Woot

Well I hope thishelps, of course this tutorial is not only limited to tyres but can also be applied to modeling things like Jewelry.


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