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Once we have a cornice element modeled, we need to think about smoothing groups and the polygons to get that detail to stand out right, because we aren't dealing with very many polygons. In this model I've modeled the cornice and I've taken out the middle section and incorporated a version of one of my upper floor modules as we can see. What see I've done in this is to take the module, clone it, and reuse the UVs as much as possible. I'll open up the UV Editor and show how those layout briefly. What I've done is I've taken the existing texture sheet, cloned it ,and added a few pieces.
This area up above is where I'll lay out my cornice elements, the squares and relief panels, these are here for size, just these color elements. And then clearly we can see the window element from the previous model as well as the side elements and sills. What I've done then is to stretch out this large polygon and incorporated in a rectangle with a graphic on it that is part of the entablature, the relief that's carved in. Later I'll come back and add cornice detail the tiles cleanly across, from square to relief and so forth.
Now we need to work on smoothing groups and the idea on the smoothing group is that we have limited geometry we need to interpolate as a curve. Right now we can see I've got some curves and some hard shadows and some areas that really can't decide how to react properly, such as down here. When you extrude edges, you may get original smoothing groups propagating or hard or soft looking polygons that may be can't decide what they're doing and simply take on what they were before. To even this out, because I like a nice hard-line right here at this detail, I'll drop down to the Editable Poly in the Modifier List.
3ds Max is going to tell me that the world is going to end and I'm going to say yes that's okay at the moment. I'm not going to change any geometry or move it around which will affect my UVs. I am just going to play with the smoothing groups. I'll right click and pick Polygon and first I'll pick this polygon and the one above it and clear off the smoothing. That should do pretty nicely to bring out that edge and I'll check and see. I'll scroll down to the Smoothing Group rollout and clear these.
In Polygon Smoothing we can see that some but not all of these polygons are in group 11. That's what the blank means. And both of these are in group 23, which is why they are sort of looking curved. I'll clear them and when I release the selection, we can see cleanly I get that hard line back. That's my detail. I'll make sure that the top polygon as well is not in the smoothing group. That way it didn't try to curve over this crisp edge.
I'll repeat the process up on the top. We'll see a drastic change. At the moment once the display resolves, we can see where this should be a round, I have two polygons and I have a crisp edge. We can also see some odd kind of bubbly looking shading where this polygon can't decide to be smooth or flat. I'll fix this by clearing off all the smoothing groups and then show how to assign the smoothing to two polygons. So I cleared off all the smoothing of all of my polygons.
If I pick any one of them, none of the polygon smoothing groups highlight. What I'll do to put a curve in this top cornice is select these two polygons, picking one, holding Ctrl and selecting the next, and then putting them into a smoothing group by clicking on the button. You can see the immediate change in the shading. Now these two polys, which I know have a hard corner, try to look round. They interpolated curve. I'll right click and choose Top-level. Now these look round. This is the roundness I want in that cornice and when I back out far enough, roughly impersonating a street-level view, it looks like a round cornice and I have the detail I need.
The important thing I'm also doing is backing out to check, saying reasonably from eight or nine stories below, does it look close enough in a curve, including right here at the edge in silhouette that it is believable as the cornice I need to make. I'll check it one more time against the reference, and I think I've got the cornice. Smoothing groups are a great way to add extra detail and make sure that things are either crisp or round. The important thing is not to let 3ds Max decide, but rather to go in and put them in yourself.
So the things are either crisp or round and not sort of one way or the other.
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