Procedural fighter planes

julien's Avatar


21 Aug, 2022 07:52 PM

Hello, I tried Nodebox a little bit last week, and I tried to generate a bunch of fighter planes, to learn how to draw with nodes (fighter planes are angular and quite symmetric , so I thought that it could be a good start.

I'm quite happy with the result, even if for the moment my nodes are a total mess and that I'm sure that I can optimize all of this (a LOT of random nodes and point nodes everywhere). I wish I could curve some angles (like the edge of the wings), but I couldn't figure out what to do for the moment (I believe that the curve node in Cartan library would help).

I also want to add some details on the cockpits, like metal frames, but it was again a lot of random points / point on curve to add, so I will try later. Some targeted greeble on the fuselage can also be cool.

After some fiddling (and some tutorial reading), I was also able to dispose planes in circle, automated with the number of planes. This makes me happy :).

Tell me what you think, and if you have any suggestions for additions, please let me know!

This software is really cool, can't wait to plot some of them!

  1. Support Staff 1 Posted by john on 21 Aug, 2022 10:54 PM

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    These fighters look GREAT! I'm quite impressed. This is an excellent use case to test out "drawing with nodes".

    Even when I'm making one-offs, I've learned over the years to parameterize as I go - not just node subnetworks like "fighter", but internal nodes as well, like "cockpit" and "wing".

    For even more fun, try this: make a big circle, feed it into a point on path. For the T value, hook a frame node to a mod node with 100 as the modulo value. When you hit Play (lower left corner) you should see a dot going round and round.

    Now take one of your fighter jet nodes, hook it to a translate node, and hook the other port to that point on path node. Now your fighter is flying in circles!

    It won't be turning though; to do that use a rotate node. You can hook the modulated frame node to a convert_range to convert each 100 frames into 360 degrees and feed that into the angle port. You'll also need to feed the current location of the plane into the rotate's origin port. Voila! A fighter that turns as it flies.

    To preserve this flight for the ages, use Export Movie from the File menu (this will also make the animation smoother). I leave it you to figure out how to adjust the speed.

    It's a short hop from that to aerial dogfights. And then, with train nodes and a track laying system, you can have your own model train set! Your fighters can even take out a railroad bridge!

    What fun! Thanks for sharing.


  2. 2 Posted by julien on 22 Aug, 2022 02:02 PM

    julien's Avatar

    Yes, I made subnetworks for each elements, exactly as you said (wings, engines etc. see 1st image attached).

    But each node is… messy (see 2d image for the wig network :'( )

    I have to tidy all of this.

    Good idea for the animation, for the moment I used frame number to change the number of planes over time, or change the seed. I don't know how tu change the fps in the export video.

    Next step = tidy the nodes and change the position of planes: I will try some real formations, and I'd also like to try a placement like aircraft bone yards, more compact than a grid, with some lines face to face, like a diamond / hexagon grid

  3. Support Staff 3 Posted by john on 22 Aug, 2022 07:16 PM

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    You can't actually change the FPS. Nodebox always exports MP4s at 25fps.

    What I meant was, you can change the apparent speed of your jet as it orbits by multiplying or dividing the frame number. You can even use my easing node to create accelerations, bounces, etc.

    If you ever really need to change the FPS there is a workaround. You can use "Export Range" to create PNGs of each frame and then use a 3rd party tool to form a movie at whatever frame rate you desire.

    As for packing your planes I believe you will find this an interesting challenge. My alt_grid and stack_tight nodes may come in handy.

    Good luck with your tidying! It's an art form, much like flower arrangement.


  4. 4 Posted by joe.s.clay on 03 Sep, 2022 04:11 AM

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    This is a really cool first project. Nice work!

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