As it happens, almost every vehicle needs a tire, My Subaru model did, so I found some tuts, and built myself a tire. I watched this tut at blendercookie on how to model a tire, to get an idea on how to build one of these things.
It turns out you start out flat, mash together some modifiers, apply a few of them, bend em' around a curve and extrude out the sides, and you end up with a modelled tire. Or thats how I built this tire anyway.
Just to note, you don't always have to model the tread in the tire, for some types of models, a bump map or a normal map would be good enough. But then again, you can derive a normal map from the modelled tread and bake them onto a lower res mesh ;) For this purpose it will be a modelled tread! woo!
So I started out with modelling the tread flat, just the raised part, getting the basic shape. Had a reference image of the tread set on the background and modelled the shape of the treads, just a small repeating section. Began with a plane, then extruded the depth and deleted the bottom faces.
The next step was to fill in the empty space between the tread, just filling quads where the fit, and some triangle faces to fill some of the crevices. Selected the center of the tread, and using proportional edit gave the tire a sight curve, a rounder shape.
Next a NURBS circle was needed, to conform the tread into a circular shape using a curve modifier on the tread, added an array modifier to the the tread, then set the length to fit the curve, adjusted the spacing using constant offset instead of relative offset. [NOTE: Tweaking the merge threshold and the spacing between your treads is needed on the array for every different tire.]
For my tire I did apply some of the modifiers to get past some of the kinks like some problems with array merging and to extrude the sides of the tires, but it should be possible to make a tire while keeping all the modifiers. I also added some subsurf later and creased some of the edges to sharpen the tread.
So there you have it a pseudo tutorial on the process I used to build a tire. Image composite over at my Tumblr image drop!
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