Comet 4 - Seats

Crew Seats — Comet Cockpit

In earlier posts, I described how acquiring more original manuals, as well as more visits to real aircraft, had enabled me to increase accuracy and detail. At the same time, I have been steadily migrating the project from AC3D to Blender. This is not something to be taken lightly. One reason is to have simpler workflow. I used to model in AC3D then export to Blender to bake shadows. As each project evolved, that became harder and harder: a Blender plug-in wouldn't import the AC3D file well enough, so I had to start exporting in an intermediate format, and ... bah! Too much!

Another reason is Blender's vastly superior materials handling. Gone is the need to do so much "colouring-in" with Photoshop, which simplifies the workflow again. In particular, I can have (many) separate UV maps for each object, though I find I only ever need two: one to imprint a surface with a texture (leather, for example), and the second to produce a baked output for X-Plane. It also means the resolution of that output can be changed really easily. I might have to wait a long time for it to render, but I am no longer bound by the resolution of a PSD file I created years ago. As processors and graphics cards improve, I will be able to improve and enrich detail.

The trouble about having a project that spans decades is how old some of my earlier work now is. As I move from one object file to the next, migrating them to Blender, some of it stands up well enough against my latest work, some does not. The crew seats were modelled years ago and clearly needed an overhaul. I have since acquired de Havilland drawings, remembered to take pictures under the seats in real cockpits, and remodelled the seats entirely. The seats now look like proper buckets, the arm rests and cushions look cushier, and the seat base and mechanism has far greater detail. Please note that the images are renders, not in-sim.

Pilot's seat, showing (clockwise from top) arm rest (stowed), fore-aft wheel, pulleys and cable, tilt adjustment screw, fore-aft lock pin, up-down handle (just visible), rotate release.

Pilot's seat, rear view, with a clearer view of the seat height lever and mechanism, also the zip on the back, which is not a photograph as it used to be and is now modelled properly.

It's taken a great deal of work to get this far, endless watching of Blender tutorials, and experimentation with test pieces. The seats are the first product of this work. The next will be the quilted lining ...

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