Advice needed, trying to 3D model an elliptical part on a StarWars ship

Hi folks, newbie here. Been learning Sketchup Free (iMac Snow Leopard Ver. 10.6.6) for use in scale modeling Star Wars ships. One Im particularly fond of is Boba Fett’s Slave 1 from Empire Strikes Back. These ships onscreen were actually real scale models made by master modelers at ILM and I’d love to try to recreate the real 1/24 Studio Scale Slave 1 in Sketchup, possibly getting it 3D-Printed (via upgrading to Sketchup Pro if all goes well). The ship’s fuselage appears to be primarily a group of curved surfaces blended into a hull, also a skirt and a set of wing wells. I’m basing most of this off side/top/back/front photos of a very small but also very accurate 1/144 scale Bandai Slave 1 model. The first part I’m trying to make in 3D is the bottom “Skirt,” which is a set of asymetrical elliptical shapes bent around the ship’s hull. I figured starting with a 3D dome stretched over the outline of the skirt in top view would be the best way to go. But the real tricky part is when the Skirt rises upwards in the Z-Axis/Plane where it gets asymetrically narrow and meets the ship’s hull. I don’t if this complex curvature/shape can be done without plugins/Sketchup Pro but I’ve seen several forum questions answered with very cool/slick ways of accomplishing the objective. I’m hoping y’all can chime in with advice on the best way to tackle the Skirt. Again I’m new to Sketchup, but 24 yrs ago I worked for an architect/engineer drawing house plans in CAD for about 6-7 yrs (he just checked my stuff before blue-printing…). So I do know the basics of 3D extrusions/etc (ARRIS CAD…old stuff!!). I’m sorry for the super-long post, btw I’ll try to put up a few pics of the Slave 1 scale model. I think I read in the forum instructions that images/etc should be posted separately from the text in a forum topic’s post…plz let me know if interpreted that wrong . Thanks, and def hope to hear from ya!

This is a pic of another guy’s (pro scale modeler) version of the Skirt area which he created in Rhino3D, then he actually built it with styrene I believe. I thought these pics would easily show what I’m trying to recreate in Sketchup:


Without plugins this may be difficult to be very precise at but here might be a method to start with. I created a sphere, then elongated that sphere with the scale tool into an ellipsoid or egg like shape, this can be further refined by also making it narrower and playing with different dimensions. I imbedded the ellipsoid in a plane to be use for cutting, and then I rotated the shape so that it intersects with the plane asymmetrically, producing a blunter front and elongated rear. I exploded both parts and intersected them, then trimmed the excess. You might have to do some trial and error to achieve the exact shape you are looking for. You can then further refine the created skirt with the scale tool. Just an idea.

I wouldn’t want to try this in the web version!

Just download SketchUp Make 2017 for desktop, you are going to really struggle at this as a new person without plugins.

You don’t need Pro if you are just doing this for fun but some plugins are paid for. You are also going to want to cut the panel lines into the mesh that will be tough using only the intersect tool but not impossible.

I used intersect to create the panel lines here:

For the base shape I would make it in Blender and import it but if you insist on using Sketchup then watch some car building tutorials online the plugins and methods will be similar.

Just a quick reminder that many people forget about the underlying geometry. Turning Hidden Geometry on allows you to work with sections of a smoothed surface.

This isn’t meant to be the shape you want, just a demo of how the hidden geometry works.


You’ve all given me some great ideas to run with and I really appreciate it. And I def agree about getting the Sketchup Make. The one drawback is I’ve been stuck with an older OS, Snow Leopard on Mac. The reason for that is I have a lot of older plugins for music/studio stuff (Pro Tools/etc). I wanted to avoid upgrading my OS to a current one b/c those recording plugins will have to be upgraded (which are now a different format) and I’d virtually have to buy them all over again just to keep using them…Anyways I did try Box’s idea awhile ago (altering the hidden geometry of a dome) it was working well but the one problem I ran into was: how do ya perfectly match the Dome (using the Scaling Tool) to say, a top view outline of the Skirt? Obviously 1 or 2 polygonal segments of the Dome can be stretched to those points but the rest of the dome was all off. I tried to Move some the Dome’s segment edges to meet/match the outline but it was very hard. I did figure out how to use the Axes Tool to align on some of those segment’s surfaces to cut arcs (which is required @ where the Skirt is split to an opening where the wings come sticking out) and it worked great for that. I also thought about this: making a thin angled curved Face, and using Follow Me to trace around the Top view outline of the Skirt…but the problem I then see, would be how to warp/stretch certain areas of the Skirt b/c it’s not the same curvature all the way around… and don’t have a clue how to do that! Btw, I would upload an animated pic of what I’m talking about but I live way out in the sticks and the only internet connection I have is my iPhone…crazy, I know! Anyways I really appreciate the advice everyone.

Whilst not the best model if you look at some of the ones uploaded to the 3D warehouse you can see how they created the shapes.

You can download older versions of Make that should run on older OS’s.

Box, this is a very good tutorial. I have been using SU for a good while now and this taught me some very valuable lessons on how to take advantage of using hidden geometry

For those who do not have or cannot afford the SubD, this can provide some ideas of how to do some things “on the cheap”.

Once again, thanks a bunch

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Yeah that illustration helps quite a bit. So is there a significant difference b/t Sketchup Make (an older version)and the Sketchup Free 8.0 that I downloaded? I assumed (dangerous I know) they were essentially the same but just a different name for the newer versions. Will certainly be checking that out. One question: I saw several video lessons about the Sandbox tools, could they be very useful in this type of modeling? I know it’s primarily for landscapes but it is a way to essentially “skin” something with mesh, correct? Another question, besides using the Smooth surface options to round off segments of 3D geometry, say, a dome…without plugins, is there a way to further round off the edges of where two connected segments meet? I tried using the Axes Tool but it only aligns to one diagonal segment not both. Sorry for the wording, wish I knew a better way of explaining things! Thx

It all depends on how close to the real model you want. You can achieve the general shape with native tools l, if you want a like for like replica you will struggle without plugins. There are a bunch of new features with make 16/17 that are not in 8 but sandbox tools are only Pro I believe.

I actually made Slave 1 years ago to a pretty high degree if I can find it on one of my backup drives I’ll send it to you but don’t get your hopes up I lost a lot of data when I moved country :frowning: water damage.

Gotcha, yeah send it if ya got it, I’d love to see how ya made it, thx

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