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I'm trying to model a ww2 fighter plane but stuck at the cockpit. As we know it's made of metal bars with pieces of glass in between. Just wondering what's the common method for such models.

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Shall I model the metal bars as solid first and add glass planes or is there a way to model them as a whole and then add some sort of transparent textures to it?

Thanks in advance!

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There are many ways to do this, obviously.

I recommend, for the best result, to first model the whole cockpit, completely ignoring any seams and materials, just getting the shape perfectly right using subsurf and as many or few loops as you want to use.

Then, you can use the retopo tools in Blender to model a relatively fine mesh over this base-shape, fully concentrating on the right topology following the aluminium or glass surfaces. Because, through the retopology-tools (surface snapping), you don't have to worry about the three-dimensional shape at all, you will get one perfectly fitting mesh with the edge loops in the right places.

All you have to do then is to separate (Y > Split) the sections that are made out of different materials and give them some thickness through a solidify modifier or by hand. This way both the glass and the metal will look good from all angles because they have real thickness.

I actually wrote a blogpost about this a few years ago and made a screen capture of the process. The Blender Version is 2.49, but all techniques used there are still applicable today: Blogpost (Sorry, it's not a good tutorial, but maybe it helps in some way).

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