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Modeling the 2010 World Cup 'Jabulani' Football
by William 'Proton' Vaughan Web:

modeling the football

Years ago, I was tasked with creating a detailed soccer ball for a client and knew that I would need to model in all of the seams, since a bump map just wouldn’t hold up for any close-up shots. Fortunately, I was lucky enough to come across an amazing tutorial that took what could have been a difficult task and simplified the steps for me, resulting in a perfect final mesh. Visit this url to access the tutorial that walks you through creating a traditional soccer ball.

Over the years, I have used this technique anytime I have been called on to create a traditional soccer ball. Recently, I was tasked, yet again, with creating a variety of soccer balls -including one using the traditional black and white pattern. As the tutorial suggested, I started with a tessellated sphere and ended up with a sharp looking, fully-detailed traditional soccer ball. I then started on the next soccer ball on my list which was the 2010 World Cup Jabulani Soccer Ball.

Unfortunately, starting with a tessellated sphere produced questionable results. It was time to head back to the drawing board. After a few hours, I was able to create the unique pattern of the ball. As with many models, my first pass was acceptable, but I was convinced there was a more refined solution that would produce a cleaner result. The steps that follow are the result of a day’s experimentation with the goal of creating easily reproducible results when modeling a 2010 soccer ball.

By going back and breaking down the model into refined steps, you truly become a better problem solver in my opinion. I’d suggest doing the same on your own projects from time to time.

Getting Started

I started by gathering reference material and carefully studied the design of the ball. The Jabulani ball is comprised of eight panels that are spherically molded. There are two distinct shapes that make up the eight panels and it’s important that these shapes are exact so that they connect perfectly together.

Follow these simple steps to create your very own 2010 Jabulani Soccer Ball:

Although it will seem like we’re starting off heading in the wrong direction, stay with me on this first step. I found that starting with a either a segmented or tessellated ball produced undesirable polygon flow so start by creating a Tetrahedron, using the Platonic Solid Primitive.

Create > Primitives > More > Platonic


Next we need to split the tetrahedron into several sections. Instead of measuring or guessing where to split the polygon faces, we’ll subdivide the object into smaller faces that will make it easier to work with. Use the Subdivide operation set to Faceted three times.

Multiply > Subdivide > Subdivide


To keep the object manageable, let’s give the tips of the tetrahedron a different surface.

Bottom Menu > Surface


Now that we have the tetrahedron sectioned off, we need to remove the excess polygons that make up each section. Simply select the polygons that make each section and merge them into one.

Note: Only merge polygons that are on the same plane and not the entire tip. Use the reference image as a guide.

Detail > Polygons > Merge Polygons


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