I have been following Daverave's excellent Tank track using ncloth thread and saw a jerry can he was modeling for his tank. It has a kind of challenging surface to model so I could not resist giving it a go.
For the body of the can I tried a bunch of methods but in the end I started with a single poly plane at the rectangular part in the middle of the can. I extruded that rectangle to its lowest point. Then I added some cuts and extruded out the X shapes (at the lowest point). Then extruded back up to level with the top of the rectangle. Then extruded the edges outward from the X shape (at the highest point) until I had a plane with the X shape and the rectangle in the middle. Then matched the outer profile. Then added cuts uses cut faces where the can tapers front and back. Then extruded the depth. The rest of the can body was just adding some support edges.
This is the modeling method I use when I find it hard to figure out how to cut in support edges when starting from larger primitive shapes . By starting from a single plane I can progress in small steps and keep the geometry under control.
The cap was fun to model. It is fully functional!
The handles were easy to model the outer shape but because of the open cylinders and plate at the front I had to add thickness. Maya has no thicken! I spent a lot of time fighting with the bajiggered over lapping edges created from maya's extrude.
Just as an exercise I took the darn thing into modo and used the thicken tool and was done in 5 minutes. I think I spent an hour fidgiting with the maya extrude mess!
I would use bump mapping for the 20L and other embossed text.
It was a pretty fun project.
Dave, if you want the .ma file let me know you are welcome to it.
Here is a slightly more refined version:
"If I have seen further it is by standing on the shoulders of giants." Sir Isaac Newton, 1675