Make A Real Antenna

Easy when you break it down into tiny parts.

The Blend.

Become a better Blender artist in 5 minutes each week.

By Samuel Sullins

The Blend

I’ve been putting this off for the longest time.

I really didn’t want to model an antennae.* It sounded like a lot of work.

Turns out it’s not that hard. Only took me an hour, and now I have an antennae to use in any project.

Before I started, I broke down my reference image and figured out what individual parts I would need, then created all of those.

Then all I had to do was assemble my antennae. In today’s Blend, you’ll follow the exact process I used. You’ll end up with one of these:

Cycles screenshot

A useful detail that you’ll have for any future renders. So it’s worth putting in the time now.

And if you need industrial or sci-fi windows for any project, here’s how to make them:

Don’t forget to vote for the next Blend! ↓

Today’s Technique

First, let’s break down the antennae. It’s made from repeating 7 different parts all over the place, and finally adding wires at the end.

I’ve labeled the parts “A” through “G” so we can avoid saying things like “select your quad-symmetric axial co-coupler.”

All of the parts are very low poly—this works because we’re never going to look at them up close.

First, make the easy parts.

  • Part C: A long cylinder. You’ll use lots of C’s throughout this project; fat ones, thin ones, and thinner ones.

  • Part G: Add a torus, then TAB into Edit Mode, select one whole half of it, and stretch it by moving it directly outward.

Now you need to make part B. This is the junction box for the wiring.

  1. Add a cube.

  2. In Edit Mode, make it a little taller.

  3. Select all but the back face.

  4. Press Control + B to bevel those faces and make rounded corners.

  5. Select the center faces on each side and press Alt + E and choose “Extrude Along Normals” and extrude them inward.

  6. Add a cylinder to the bottom.

  7. Inset the back face, then extrude it outward.

  8. Mash a cylinder into the back.

That’s it for part B. Now we’ll move on to parts E, D, and A.

These parts are all very similar. To make them, you use a combination of cylinders and distorted cubes. The cylinders are where they’ll connect to part C’s, and the cubes are there to connect the cylinders together.

Once you have your E, D, and A, you can make your F.

F is a very key part—it’s the tiny little holder that will attach the wires to the main part C’s. It’s just two flat cylinders with another connecting them. Don’t worry about its length. You’ll have to edit that later anyway.

Ok! All parts completed. Next, you’ll build the “main” antennae array. Here’s what it looks like:

This is very simple, really. One long part C, with a lot of part A’s attaching more, thinner, part C’s.

To make some bent pieces, tab into Edit Mode on a few of the part C’s, add an edge loop where you want it to bend, then select the end of the cylinder and move it a little in a random direction.

You’ll notice I also used a part D to make an interesting bit stick out of one end. This helps it seem random and realistic.

Once you have the main array, you’ll make a smaller array to go above it, and a central part C to attach them to:

After you have that, you need to add a second main part C. It’ll be connected using a part E and your part B. You may need to edit your part B here to make sure it all its cylinders line up nicely with the part C’s.

Now you need one last antennae array for the bottom. This one gets a part G on it:

Next, add two part C’s more legs. In Edit Mode, give them a loop cut in the middle so you can bend them slightly for a more supportive shape:

You’ve completed the antennae arrays!

Now all you need to do is add wires. These are simple Bézier Curve objects. Simply press Shift + A then choose Curve → Bezier.

Tab into Edit Mode on the new curve. Use the handles to position the curve like a wire. Select an end point and press E to extrude more points if needed.

To give the curve some thickness, click on the curve icon in the Properties Panel and open the Geometry subsection. Turn up the Bevel to add thickness to your curve, but don’t make it too thick.

I placed four wires on my antennae: two leading from the base to the junction box, and two leaving the junction box to hang in the air:

One you have all the wires placed, there’s only one step left: adding part F.

Duplicate part F’s all over the place, wherever your wires need support. Tab into Edit Mode on each one and adjust it so it fits the wire perfectly.

This is tedious but necessary.

Finally, after all those, you’re done! Join everything into one object, add a blackish material, and start sticking it on buildings.

Samuel’s Selections

Today’s featured render is by Shweta Sharma:

This render is very simple, which is why I liked it. Something about it feels very realistic, like it was shot on a cellphone or home camera.

The lighting also feels like accurate indoor lighting.

Extra Tip

Sky’s the limit with antennas like these. Just be sure you don’t stick too many of them on a building; there are never many of these on any building I’ve seen.

Pick next week’s topic.

Reading this online? Cool but still that’s a bit strange. You know you can just subscribe and get this in your email right? You won’t have to try to remember to come here and check for new posts all the time.

*I have no idea how to spell “antenna.” Is it “antennae?” Or is that some kind of Latin plural? Is there a different way to spell it in the USA vs Europe? I can’t be bothered to look it up, so the spelling is inconsistent at best. Beware.

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