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Follow a practical guide to building 3D cityscapes for games. IAuthor Adam Crespi constructs a city block in 3ds Max utilizing low-polygon modeling and advanced texturing techniques. The course shows how to model common city elements such as buildings, intersections, curbs, and roofs and explains how to expand a city quickly and easily by reusing existing geometry in a modular way. The course also sheds light on simulating real-world detail with baking, lighting, and ambient occlusion techniques and offers a series of best practices for exporting to the Unity gaming engine.
In this chapter, we'll continue the development of our building, looking very closely at major elements of silhouette. In the workflow so far we've looked at the middle section of the building, the modular repetitive elements, and now it's time to look at the top where a lot of times buildings make a statement. This is the top, the hat if you want to think of it that way, where it's most visible, it's probably the highest part of the building and often there is extra ornament or detail up there, especially on an older historic building such as this one. In this example, this building has two -part cornice, with a lower table, or frieze and even pilasters with ionic snails up at the top.
And then finally a more elaborate, engraved or cast cornices with relief panels and at the top several steps in cornice with, I believe, egg and dart moulding or something similar. The question we need to ask for games then is really how much are we going to see? Given that we're going to see it a view something like this at the best, where we're back far enough to see the whole building if we can get there across the street. And hence the detail becomes stuff going on, versus being able to see every scroll and finial and every piece in there.
What we want to look at first then is what is the lighting in the scene and how are we handling detail regarding that light? In this case, this photo was shot fairly early in the morning, about 7:30 or so, and the lighting is fairly general. It's a little bit overcast and while the building shows decently, the sky is definitely kind of a blown-out white gray and the lightings fairly even. In other times of the day these cornice elements may cast stronger shadows and so the first thing is really where are the major mesh lines that are going to cast the major shadows, as differentiated from, where is the detail that's essentially flat as we've seen much detail is, that really needs to show up as stuff going on versus a particular shadow element? On this building, the major mesh lines that cast shadows are easily visible scrolling over to the edge of the building.
Most often buildings are essentially two-sided. This building has two nice faces and on the back here, which we can't see, is fairly raw, common brick or something similar and it's meant to be adjacent to another building, not have windows all the way around. High-rises like we can see in the background maybe four-sided, where they're meant to be viewed all the way around, because they sit back from the street. As we saw in the white box chapter on modern structures, they may sit up on the podium and we are able to see all the sides.
This one, we can tell it's two-sided. Instead of wrapping around, this corner simply cuts off and gives us a great tool as a profile for understanding the mesh lines we need to make. I'll employ the same technique on this building of previous chapters, drawing mesh lines straight on the photo, on a new layer, to get an understanding of the major elements that need to cast shadows. I'm going to change my brush from Multiply back to Normal and up the Opacity to 100%, so that as I draw on this photo I can clearly see the mesh lines.
I'll start up on the top of the cornice or nearly so, looking at the difference between planes and the cornice, the vertical and the horizontal. This is one place for a mesh line. Another major mesh line maybe right underneath it, or right above it, for a change in trim. Finally, I definitely need a mesh line out here, the farthest out part of the cornice, and one along in the corner, probably one of the deepest places. This is only giving me 1, 2, maybe 3 or 4 polygons to make of this whole corner section all the way along the building.
I have another major mesh line at the bottom of the frieze or entablature, this relief or carved area here. Possibly a mesh line on top or the bottom of the small bracket. These windows and their modules here? That's all flat texture. We can tell it is because it's not standing out in silhouette immensely. Right here this edge is basically flat. I definitely need a mesh line at the table, or frieze or whatever we want to call this here and one underneath. This is going to cap the windows at the top of our middle section and probably at least one or two more along it.
Again, I'm really trying to delineate detail that's flatter in texture from major shadow casting elements that if the sun is more direct or straight down, will cast a shadow onto itself. The major cornice elements are an example of it. To continue this, I can also start to block in or mark in areas that will be texture, that will require additional time, and I'll often do this in a separate color. I'll work in a Polygonal Lasso and make my way along the building, blocking out large areas and modules that will need attention to detail in time as part of a texture sheet.
I'll fill this in blue, again on a new layer, and just pull back the Opacity. This is the start of a plan to be able to get the cornice looking right. Recognizing that this is obviously an area in the building where the developer or builder has spent a lot of money and time in design, but tempering that with the lens that we're going to stand back and see it from the street level. And so we can reduce it to major shadows and stuff going on, versus every picture pronounced in exacting detail.
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