Blender 3D: Noob to Pro/Simple Vehicle: Wheel

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You should already know how to:

  • Make a mesh
  • Navigate the viewport
  • Extrusion
  • Create, edit materials

This section will recap and introduce:

  • Forming faces
  • Subsurfing
  • Merging vertices
  • Object naming

For our premise, envision jeep tires. They're not too sleek but rather rugged for all kinds of terrain. We need a tire that can handle any obstacle in its way.

Model the tire[edit]

Hit NUM1 to set front view ( XZ coordinates ), then delete the cube.

Create the outside of the tire[edit]

Add a cylinder (SPACE > Add > Mesh > Cylinder alternatively Shift-A > Add > Mesh > Cylinder for newer versions)

use 32 vertices, set the radius to 4, depth to 3, and un-click the "Cap Ends" button (For 2.6x choose Cap Fill Type: Nothing).

Create the inside of the tire[edit]

Change to NUM1 view and make sure you are in Edit Mode.

noob note: To get the same orientation in 2.72 I rotated the newly created vertices by 90 degree on the x-axis. Same for the hubcap vertices below.

Select all vertices, hit EKEY (for blender 2.5X and on-wards, also hit ESC then "Alt+EKEY" and choose INDIVIDUAL FACES) and extrude the individual faces into the circle by moving the mouse.

You may either type in -1.2 and hit enter, or Hold SHIFT CTRL while extruding the faces until the sides come in -1.200 units (in older versions of blender hit NKEY first)

Create the outside faces[edit]

Rotate around the model and you'll notice the outside of the tire doesn't yet exist. Let's remedy this.

Go back to NUM1 view.

Invert selection (SPACE > Select > Inverse)

Newer versions: CTRL-I for inverse selection

Press FKEY to create the missing faces, in the menu that pops up select auto

Newer versions: no auto necessary.

Checking the outer mesh Reduce the width

noob note: these steps aren't working on 2.69, filled outer faces one by one in my case. unless theres a better way to do it.

noob note: You can use the F2 addon in Blender 2.69 to create faces quickly. Select an Edge and press F and it will create the face based on the direction of the mouse

noob note: In 2.69, it's better to use solidify after doing control CTRL-F than the above process. In edit mode, select all, then press CTRL-F, select solidify in the menu, and type 1.2 for thickness.

NOOB NOTE I had the same problem in 2.69. I simply reversed the process. I created the cylinder with a radius of 2.8, and extruded the faces POSITIVE 1.2. After subsurf, the tire look almost like the pictures, and has the added advantage of a more realistic inner edge without needing creases. There are no inner faces, but that is realistic, isn't it?

noob note: If you are using Blender 2.69, you can click E -> Esc then do the above process instead of use this process, everything gonna be fine.

noob note: With latest Blender versions, click NUM1, then select all the vertex, click E, click ESC, then S and move the mouse till you get the internal wheel part. The move to side view (NUM3), and switch on the wireframe to see the internal vertex (which should still be selected), use again S till they are vertical-aligned with the external vertex

Subsurf the tire[edit]

Now it's time to make the tire look like a rugged tire.

Return to Object Mode, and apply a subsurf modifier (use the Add Modifier control (it looks like a wrench) and select Subdivision Surface - select VIEW level 1 or 2 to the mesh. The tire will now look like a bead necklace. ( If not, remove doubles by going into edit mode -> select all -> WKEY -> Remove Doubles. )

Crease the edges[edit]

A little creative use of creases will restore our tire.

Check that Limit Selection to Visible is off ( now called occlude background geometry on 2.49b).

Enter Edge Select mode

Bring up the circle selection tool (AKEY to unselect all, then CKEY).

Use the scroll wheel to change the circle selection size to be in the center of the tire, between the inside and outside edges. This will select all of the inside edges, as well as the triangles on the side of the tire, as in the picture below. In 2.68 or above you will have to hit ENTER to confirm the selection.

Now press SHIFT+EKEY to Crease these edges, you can type 1.000, and press ENTER, or hold CTRL to pull in steps till you see 1.000 in the status bar at the bottom of the view window.

Note: in 2.68 and above the outside edges of the tire don't crease using the above method. What worked fairly well is to use CTRL-I to invert the selection, then in face mode, hit EKEY -> ESC -> Alt-E -> Individual Faces and move the mouse to create a tread pattern on the tire.

Noob note: DO NOT turn the 'limit-selection' tool on for the above selection, also you MUST be in Edge Select Mode or the triangles will not get selected.

Noob note: Make sure that you are in orthogonal view because in perspective view you are not able to make this selection.

Applied subsurf Crease the edges

Model the hubcap[edit]

The tire is almost done. Let's add a simple hubcap to it.

Create a cylinder[edit]

Be sure you're in Edit Mode

Hit AKEY, once or twice till the wheel is selected

Hit NUM1 for front view

Press SHIFT+SKEY, from the popup menu, cursor->selection, to put the cursor at the center point of the existing tire

Hit space-> add-> cylinder with 32 vertices, radius of 1.9, depth of .5, and make sure the "Cap Ends" button is turned off,

noob note: To get the same orientation in 2.72 I rotated the newly created vertices by 90 degree on the x-axis.

Hit NUM7 for top view

Hit GKEY, then YKEY, then type 2.2, and hit ENTER

Add another tube mesh

Create the outside of the cap[edit]

Hit AKEY once, so that nothing is selected

Hit NUM7 for top view

Zoom in with the MMB till the hub cap fills the view

be sure you're in Vertex select mode

Make sure Occlude Background Geometry Mode is off

hit BKEY for box select, then holding the LMB drag the box along the top edge of the hubcap.

Hit EKEY on the popup select Only Edges, then hit ESC, to create the edges we will need

Hit SKEY, then SHIFT+YKEY to only move in the XZ axis, then type in .35, and hit ENTER

Hit GKEY, then YKEY to only move the Y axis, then type in .35, and hit ENTER

Shorten the hubcap width

Create the Axle Cover[edit]

We'll merge these vertices together to create a flat surface.

Hit EKEY, on the popup select only edges, then hit ESC, to create the edges we will need

Hit ALT+MKEY on the popup pick at center. Blender will reduce the 32 vertices to 1.

Hit NUM3 for side view

hit GKEY, then YKEY, to only move the Y axis, then type in -0.4, and hit ENTER

Scale in the front vertices Pull the center vertex in

Final sizing of hub cap to tire[edit]

The final mesh editing is to scale the hub cap to a size that is slightly larger than the hole of the tire.

hit NUM7 for top view

position the mouse over the hubcap, and press the LKEY to select the entire hubcap

Hit SKEY, then SHIFT+YKEY to only move the XZ axis, then type 1.48, and hit ENTER

Hit NUM3 for side view

Hit GKEY, then YKEY, to only move the Y axis, then type -1.11 (use -0.77 if you want your hubs sticking out), and hit ENTER

Renaming the Wheel[edit]

The last thing to do is to rename the wheel so we can find it easier later.

Enter Object mode and select the wheel only.

In the Link and Materials subwindow in Editing (F9) you'll see the Active Object name box. It should read OB:Tube in the grey box. This name was created because we started with a tube mesh. In newer versions, it will be cylinder instead of tube.

Click on the button and rename the object to something like 'wheel'. Save your file where you'll find it later and continue to the next step.

Noob note: although not something you should normally do, if you wish to create separately named objects for the hubcap and the wheel you could initially create them both separately in object mode, or split objects in edit mode with P (seParate) or in object mode, join objects with CTRL+JKEY (can cause side effects).


Rendered tire

Change the materials to make it look like a tire. One object can have multiple colors/textures, as you will learn in future tutorials.

If you'd like to race ahead, then refer to the materials section for an explanation on how to do that, or to the Blender manual: Multiple Materials

Creating a more complex tire[edit]


Start by loading a basic cylinder and rotating it so it rests on its side.


Next, remove the faces from the top, and bottom of the cylinder.


Now Press the 5 key to enter orthographic view.

Then press 7 to view the front of the cylinder.

Then Select Cut loop and slide in the your tools menu and make a cut .5 to each side as shown in the picture.


Next, make 2 more cuts .4 on each side, then 2 more .9 on each side as shown.


Next, press the b key to enter box select mode.

you will want to select all the middle faces.


Next. grab the X axis bar as shown, and while you're holding it type .5

Then press the A key to select everything, then grab the red x axis bar again, and type .5 to squish the whole wheel.

then use the b key to reselect the middle faces


Now, with the Middle faces still selected rotate them so they look similar to the picture shown.


Next, select all the faces beside the middle and rotate them all in the opposite direction so it looks similar to the picture shown.


Next press the A key to unselect everything.

Then start selecting faces as shown in the picture. Continue this all the way around the wheel leaving 1 space of unselected faces in-between each row.


With the faces selected press the S key to scale them. while scaling type -.5 then press enter.

noob note: under Blender 2.71, I had to extrude (EKEY then ESC) before scaling.


Next, select all of the side edges as shown and Then grab the white circle as shown and type .7 then press enter.

Then grab the red bar as seen in the picture to move both sides outward slightly.


repeat the last step, but this time when you grab the red handle type 1.5 as shown in the image.

noob note: under Blender 2.71, here again I had to extrude (EKEY then ESC) before scaling.


You're done!

Feel free to add the hub cap from the previous wheel, or one of your own design.