Virtual Studio Setup:

On Maxforums, which is a 3D Studio related forum I frequently visit, many new people tend to ask on how to set up a virtual studio for using blueprints or sketches as guides for your modeling. So, here is how to do it with two different flavors.

There are ofcourse other variants of doing this and what I explain here is how I personally set it up. Others use boxes with normals flipped, others use UVWs for the cube or plane and so on. Personally I feel that planes sized after the image is the easiest and quickest way of doing this, since you can set it up in a minute or two.

I also recommend you to save time and accuracy by organizing the images themselves. Locate some distinguishing features on the sketch/blueprint (like a nose or rearview mirror) and line those up on one big image, and then cut that big image up into similar sized images that only contain one view each.

The Plane Version of the Virtual Studio Setup
First, you have similar images as this:
- Front (150w x 250h)
- Side (150w x 500h)

Create two materials in the material editor. One for the front and one for the side, using the respective bitmaps as diffuse maps. Remember to tick [VISIBILITY IN VIEWPORTS], the blue/white checkered cube that's clickable under the diffuse map parameters. Name the materials as "STUDIO - FRONT" and "STUDIO - SIDE"

Now, set all the viewports to [SMOOTH] or [SMOOTH WITH HIGHLIGHTS].

Now we are ready to create the studio. Create a plane which you name "STUDIO - FRONT", now, make sure it has the same dimensions as the front image. 150 units wide and 250 units high. Right click on the plane to bring up properties and make it UN-renderable and not to cast shadows.

Now, COPY the plane by SHIFT+ROTATE the plane 90 degrees. Modify this plane to be 150 units wide and 500 units high and rename it to "STUDIO - SIDE"

Now, with the material editor open, drag the "side" material to the "side" plane, and the "front" material to the "front" plane.

Flavor: Outside
Now, by using the axis constraints move the planes to by VERY far off on their axis, so that you wouldn't really see them in the perspective viewport. By doing this they will still be visible in the FRONT and side viewport but without cluttering up the perspective. Note that you will only be able to see the side plane in ONE viewport since planes by default are one sided.

Of course you can also have the planes closer to the model so that you can see them in the perspective viewport, but I don't really use that myself, in that case just move them so that their edges touch for example.

Flavor: Inside
Another way of doing the setup is by having them all in the middle, or variations of only having the FRONT view in the middle of the object you are modeling. The good part about this is that the plane will mask off the vertices that you would see on the back of the model and can make modeling a tad easier.

By the way, here is an old rendered image of mine where the Virtual Studio setup is visible. This studio setup is of the OUTSIDE flavor:

Click image to view Full Size.

Model is still a WIP, and is a M20 Greyhound scout (no cannon).

Just for Statistics