SketchUp, but when you're just not into houses

Hello. I’m new to 3D CAD and 3D rendering. This is my model of a U.S. Army M1A2 SEPv2 Abrams tank.

The tank is modeled in SketchUp Pro 2022 and rendered in V-Ray 6. Sometimes I use Photoshop’s Auto Contrast tool on the finished render, but no other post work is applied.

The emphasis on this model is accuracy. I can’t create the beautiful renders of you experienced guys and it takes me forever to do just about anything as I fumble my way through this, but dimensionally and shape-wise I believe this to be one of the most accurate Abrams models outside General Dynamic’s engineering office! (I put in a LOT of work getting that stuff right…)

A VFX professional friend of mine once asked me to send him the .obj (?) file of this. When I did he literally rotfl because it’s so bad. The earliest parts of the drawing are ludicrously high resolution, because I didn’t want circles that looked like stop signs, so I maxed the segments on everything. The main gun tube, for instance, is approximately five terabytes… xD

Thanks for reading. :slight_smile:

Off topic (please do not consider as offense.)

Technically I’m amazed.

Morally: Why don’t you put in a LOT of work getting that stuff even better e.g. a food processing machine…instead.


impressive but…

wait what ?

how did you end up with a 5Tb file for the gun barrel exactly ?
I enjoy modelling stuff just for the sake of modelling, with various resolution, but how ?

A few years ago they built a startup campus near me, 11 000 m2 on 7Ha
The complete BIM files represented less than 5Tb. pretty sure it was about 4.

They were using revi…archicad ? using dedicated servers to store it all and to allow easy access, the very first thing they did on site was to pull the fiber to the on-site offices.
You mean to tell me that in sketchup you made a file containing a 5Tb gun barrel ??

I may have exaggerated the file size a little. :smile:


no… Dezmo says his message is off topic.

you have to click on the arrow in the message next to “off topic”

you’re in topic here indeed with your 5Tb gunbarrel :wink:

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Aaahhh… I thought I’d messed up again! Thanks for that. :smile:

Ah, okay, I get you now. If it helps, this isn’t some “I like killing things with tanks!” project. It’s an integral part of a Abrams replica build project to be used in a movie. (And the movie isn’t about “I like killing things with tanks!” either.) :slight_smile:

Also, thanks for the compliment. It’s appreciated.


As someone who’s modeled dozens of such things (physical, not in SketchUp), I share the sentiment. Also, growing up, I used to rant at how much the movies got wrong, like Rommel using US M60 Patton tanks (ironically) in the movie Patton. In recent years, Hollywood has gotten much better at getting the details right, and it certainly looks like you’re on it.

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The options were:

  • Cheap and bad cgi;
  • expensive and good cgi;
  • a fully-functional replica.

The bottom line was an all-steel 1:1 replica worked out a lot less expensive and faster to create than any good cgi version. Cheap and bad cgi would have doomed the project. The movie is likely to appeal to the kind of people who know a lot about tanks and the Gulf wars, therefore, as you say, getting it right was a critical issue! :slightly_smiling_face:

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Or the inflatable versions used to deceive Germans before D-day…


Heheheh, but not likely to fool tank nerds and veterans! :laughing:

I just wanted to chime in with this story.

While I was studying in Edinburgh, there was an election for the University rector, and a guy called Mark Ballard, who was a Green party member of Scottish Parliament (he was contesting Boris Johnson as it happens).

This Mark guy was a pacifist, hated war, nuclear disarmament, all about the environment etc. He was also rumoured to OWN a WW2 tank - he was obsessed with, and loved - tanks.

I wonder how much of this is true, but we all have our shadow selves that we have to tend to huh?


Impressive work

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Human nature is fascinating! Many tank enthusiasts have offered their .02c on this project. One guy demanded to know why the replica didn’t include the anti-anti-tank missile system known as Trophy. I told him it was because the replica is for a film set during a period before Trophy was considered for use. (Also it’s because i think it looks ugly as hell.) The guy snorted and said, “Good luck when the ATGMs are coming at you!” and then spun on his heel and stalked away. Not quite sure what it is he thinks the REPLICA tank will be doing… :laughing:


Thanks! I’ve been revising the running gear – drive sprockets, roadwheels, tracks, etc. – and it’s almost ready, so I’ll likely post an updated image or two soon.

Yes, do keep posting progress. I’m not in the movie business, but my sister and her husband are, and I’m a bit of a fanboy of sets and effects.

Hey, interesting! What do your sister and her husband do? Are they in the art, sets and props side?

Here’s the Abrams hull with wheels and drive sprockets:

I got “creative” with the lighting… :grin:

The bearing plates, road arms, sprockets and roadwheels are mostly complete, save a few trivial refinements. That mystery ghost floating idler wheel is awaiting a revised arm, and the final drive enclosure is another work-in-progress. The wheel hub covers are placeholders only. I haven’t had time to work on them as yet. Still requires a lot of additions, modifications and tweaks (as well as the tracks!), but slowly heading toward the finish line.


The world’s nicest factory…

Aside from the cleanest warehouse on Earth, I added the return rollers and the wheel nuts. Oh, and also the turret.


Very nice! With the smooth curves and V-Ray rendering, I could hardly guess this was SketchUp. Hard, horizontal, late afternoon sun can be very striking and it seems to work here, so, hey, why not. If you’re building this as a practical effect, does it move, or do some parts move? Strictly exteriors or interior parts?

I don’t want to hijack your thread, but yes, my sister is a director and her current (2nd) husband is an art director. I remember him sharing photos of his submarine interiors for “Last Resort” which was cool to see in progress. It was through her and her first husband that I got to know Ron Cobb at all. Ron was the one who got me to buy a Wacom tablet in 1993. Just watching him work and I wanted one too, but of course, just having one didn’t mean I could draw like him. He was proof that talent was more important than any hardware/software you could buy. As an architect who does mostly houses, I find watching the creation of this make believe stuff very interesting.

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Hi. Ironically, if I hadn’t come into this as a complete n00b those curves might not be so smooth: I maxed out segments on every circle and arc, not knowing it would blow the model right up to the point my PC can barely handle it. The high end workstation used by a friend at one of the big animation studios groaned when he loaded up an exported .obj file! It’s that bad. :laughing:

There will be one complete vehicle. It’s an E.V. and it’s to be used for shots of the tank driving through the desert (etc.). Also, various sections, mostly int.s, but also partial turret ext.s for closeups and the like, when a full shot isn’t suitable or necessary. These can be truck mounted, or green screened.

Submarine movies and shows are always great. There’s just something about those industrial confines. It’s almost impossible to make something unwatchable if it’s in a submarine.

Cobb’s work is legendary, and you were so fortunate to get to know him. RIP Ron Cobb and Syd Mead. Two giants!

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