Creating Urban Game Environments in 3ds Max
Illustration by Mark Todd

Creating roads


Creating Urban Game Environments in 3ds Max

with Adam Crespi

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Video: Creating roads

One of the most important textures we need in our city are the roads we drive on. We need these in miles and miles of tiles and tiles. It's very easy to end up with city blocks worth of roads very quickly. The road then that we drive on is really a mixture of painted pieces and procedural textures. In this case, looking at the reference photo, we can see that the asphalt is a grain structure, dark and light with things overlaid like road lines, gutters, oil stains, and so forth.
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  1. 4m 47s
    1. Welcome
    2. Understanding the design process
    3. What you should know before watching this course
    4. Software requirements
    5. Using the exercise files
      2m 4s
  2. 14m 36s
    1. Identifying key contours and shadows in concept art
      1m 59s
    2. Analyzing concept art for texture
      2m 28s
    3. Choosing between modeling and texturing
      1m 43s
    4. Understanding the limitations of normal maps
      2m 26s
    5. Analyzing concept art for key shadow details
      3m 10s
    6. Identifying shadow details as generated or painted
      2m 50s
  3. 44m 57s
    1. Planning the visible overlaid history in a city
      3m 6s
    2. Planning a "wedding cake" building: Base, middle, and top
      2m 50s
    3. Planning a modern building: Base and shaft
      3m 1s
    4. Designing the zoning: Planning the visible uses of buildings
      6m 43s
    5. Laying out city blocks
      2m 36s
    6. Planning modular textures and geometry: Streets and sidewalks
      4m 1s
    7. Texturing intersections
      3m 13s
    8. Modeling modular curbs, gutters, and ramps
      5m 7s
    9. Modeling modular street elements
      3m 14s
    10. Modeling corners with ramps
      5m 56s
    11. Unwrapping sidewalk elements
      5m 10s
  4. 38m 9s
    1. Laying out rectangles and planning how to clone geometry and texture
      4m 59s
    2. Using layers to organize construction elements and actual models
      3m 51s
    3. Extruding edges to form major shadow lines
      5m 17s
    4. Testing the module for correct floor-to-floor heights
      1m 41s
    5. Trimming down the module and cloning
      4m 10s
    6. Stretching the vertical elements to minimize geometry
      7m 10s
    7. Unwrapping the elements for correct proportion
      7m 48s
    8. Laying out a texture sheet for a façade
      3m 13s
  5. 39m 50s
    1. Making brick texture
      6m 23s
    2. Adding detail to the diffuse texture: Sills and arches
      4m 24s
    3. Adding stone accents
      7m 47s
    4. Layering color in window frames and doorways
      8m 39s
    5. Copying diffuse layers for normal map foundations
      2m 7s
    6. Desaturating the diffuse map copies and prepping for normal maps
      3m 42s
    7. Converting bump maps to normal maps using nDO
      6m 48s
  6. 1h 2m
    1. Analyzing the necessary silhouette and geometry
      5m 24s
    2. Examining existing buildings in different lighting conditions
      3m 8s
    3. Planning cornice elements
      3m 32s
    4. Extruding cornice elements from polygon edges
      9m 12s
    5. Assigning smoothing groups for optimal shading
      4m 31s
    6. Unwrapping cornices for lighting
      8m 43s
    7. Modeling sloped roofs
      7m 16s
    8. Adding fascias and soffits
      5m 21s
    9. Adding fascias and soffits for gable ends
      7m 31s
    10. Texture sheets for roofs
      8m 1s
  7. 13m 55s
    1. Arranging, aligning, and cloning modular elements
      3m 26s
    2. Setting pivot points for buildings
      5m 48s
    3. Reusing elements: Exploring possibilities in modular building design
      4m 41s
  8. 40m 3s
    1. Creating a texture library
    2. Creating rusty corrugated metal texture
      7m 53s
    3. Creating stone texture
      4m 42s
    4. Creating wood texture
      9m 50s
    5. Creating rough brick texture
      7m 44s
    6. Creating roads
      9m 18s
  9. 38m 44s
    1. Using the Walkthrough Assistant to assess texture needs
      4m 46s
    2. Drawing detail at the right size
      3m 30s
    3. Understanding tiling and non-tiling textures
      2m 57s
    4. Deciding when to use tiling and non-tiling textures
      3m 2s
    5. Using multiple mapping coordinates
      4m 3s
    6. Using multiple unwrap modifiers
      6m 47s
    7. Unwrapping objects a second time: Planning an unwrap for a light map
      7m 46s
    8. Unwrapping a building façade using overlapping texture elements
      5m 53s
  10. 30m 25s
    1. Understanding ambient occlusion
      1m 50s
    2. Assessing the quality of occlusion as a cinematic mood
      2m 48s
    3. Overview of the Ambient Occlusion shader
      5m 9s
    4. Baking maps using the Render To Texture dialog
      3m 15s
    5. Using occlusion as a foundation for dirt
      5m 28s
    6. Using occlusion from detailed models for texture
      5m 54s
    7. Baking lighting
      6m 1s
  11. 25m 18s
    1. Preparing for Unity as a world builder
      2m 26s
    2. Importing into Unity and recognizing limitations
      4m 12s
    3. Importing elements with detailed materials
      5m 59s
    4. Setting optimal texture sizes and resizing in Unity
      3m 12s
    5. Setting up a naming convention and scene management
      7m 40s
    6. Renaming tools in 3ds Max
      1m 49s
  12. 1m 21s
    1. What's next
      1m 21s

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Watch the Online Video Course Creating Urban Game Environments in 3ds Max
5h 54m Intermediate Sep 07, 2011

Viewers: in countries Watching now:

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.

Topics include:
  • Understanding the design process and software requirements
  • Analyzing concept art for texture and key shadow detail
  • Planning differently styled buildings
  • Laying out city blocks
  • Organizing construction elements and models using layers
  • Cloning geometry and texture
  • Testing the module for correct floor-to-floor heights
  • Arranging, aligning and cloning modular elements
  • Building a texture library
  • Creating stone, wood, and brick textures
  • Constructing texture sheets
  • Drawing detail
  • Using occlusion as a foundation for dirt
  • Preparing for Unity as a world builder
3D + Animation
3ds Max
Adam Crespi

Creating roads

One of the most important textures we need in our city are the roads we drive on. We need these in miles and miles of tiles and tiles. It's very easy to end up with city blocks worth of roads very quickly. The road then that we drive on is really a mixture of painted pieces and procedural textures. In this case, looking at the reference photo, we can see that the asphalt is a grain structure, dark and light with things overlaid like road lines, gutters, oil stains, and so forth.

To begin then I'm going to start with a large clean section of asphalt and then add in my wear and tear, my stains and my lines. I will begin with a new document. In this case I will set the document large, 2000 on a side. I will run this document at the standard resolution of 72. RGB and White is fine. I am making it big, 2000 square, so when I downsize to 1024 square I force Photoshop to blur. By not making it an even multiple, it's not a half resolution or twice the size, I force Photoshop to interpolate, getting me a better look overall.

I'll fill this first with the 50% gray, choosing Edit > Fill or Shift+F5 and under Use 50% Gray. Then I will make a new layer and fill this as well with 50% Gray. I use 50% Gray in textures a lot because it gives me a base for filters such as grain or noise. Rather than having them act on white and maybe missing components, gray lets me have range up and down or lighter and darker. I will choose Filter > Noise > Add Noise.

In the Noise, I will try a Gaussian Noise at 11, 10, 12%, whatever works. Monochromatic is good here as well, keeping it all gray. Finally, I will set the blending mode of this layer to Multiply. We have a clean section of asphalt. However, if we zoom in, we can see it's pixilated. This might dance a little bit or crawl as part of the texture. Now we want to reduce this before adding the lines. I want to choose where I want my lines blurred and not have Photoshop make them fuzzy on the edge.

I will press Ctrl+Alt+I and downsize this to 1024 square. For this road, I'm going to do three lanes in each direction plus a center safety lane, giving me a total of seven lane widths. Seven doesn't go evenly in the 1024. We come out with roughly 146 and change. I will put the extra pixel out on the outside in case I need a little extra on the road. To start that, I'll choose my Marquee by pressing M and under Style, do a fixed size.

I will make the width here 146 and the Height as well 146. Although really it doesn't matter. I just need the Width. I will land the Marquee and press Ctrl+R for Rulers. I will drag a ruler from the left side over and snap it to the Marquee. I am going to repeat this process across, landing guides which will serve as alignment for my road lines. I have seven lane widths across, maybe a little more in the right side but that's fine. Roads can be a little bit uneven.

I will use these guides as placement for my road lines and guidelines to paint my oil stains. I will paint those in first. I will make a new layer. Press Ctrl+D to deselect and zoom out. When painting, I find especially for straight lines, it's easier to start outside of the document, hold Shift, and drag down so that the line is straight. I will set the blending mode to Multiply and paint in a fairly dark gray to start with a big soft brush. Notice my Hardness is at 0, my Size is 300.

I will start outside of one lane, hold Shift, and click and drag down. I will repeat this process through all the lanes. Initially, it doesn't look like much. Then I will downsize the brush and lay another line down. As we can start to see in this one lane I am building up, we get the wear down in the middle of the road, along with any oil and drips and exhausts that have spilled on it. I will downsize the brush one more time, maybe two or three, and lay a centerline down.

I have even wear on my road starting from top to bottom. I will go through and repeat this for all six of my lanes, leaving the center safety lane alone. I have cloned my oil stains and touched up the painting a bit, finishing all six outside lanes, but not the center safety lane. This gets less wear than the main traffic lanes. If I zoom in, we can see that the staining is gently in the center with some bleed to the sides. Now I need to paint my paint my lane lines. The trick when painting a tilable map with lane lines is to choose a multiple or an easily divisible part of the overall texture size.

As my texture is 1024 square, I'm going to make my lane lines 128 long and see how that looks. I will make a new layer and zoom in so I can test the size of my marquee. I will press M for Marquee and choose a fixed size. For the Width, I'll try 5 pixels. That way I can center it evenly on one of my guidelines. For the Height, I will put in 128. When I lay down a line, check and zoom out, I'll gauge the proportion. If I repeat this every so often, do I have too much lane line or not enough? My guess at the moment is it could be a little shorter.

I am going to make the Height of this 100. I'll have to remember that when I repeat this. I will zoom in on one of my guidelines. Really it doesn't matter which one. Lay down my Marquee and fill it with white or yellow, depending of your choice of lane line. I will deselect, press V for Move and move this line over, centering it on that guideline. Mine is snapped to the top of the image. Zooming out, we can see the start of a lane line. Now I will clone this layer and use my Offset tool to move it down exactly, choosing Filter > Other > Offset.

For the repeat on this, so it tiles seamlessly, I will move it down 256 pixels even though the line is 100 long. That repeat will go evenly down the drawing for ever and ever. I will repeat this process twice more finishing out the lane lines. When I press Ctrl+Semicolon, to turn off the guidelines, we can see my lane lines on the road. I'll go to the top lane line layer, press Ctrl+E to merge down, and now all of my lane lines are on one layer.

I'll take this and clone it across to fill in my other lane lines and then show the end result. I have cloned my lane lines across. You may wish to take the ones on one side and move them down to the bottom of the drawing, so that the dashes don't line up from side to side on the road. This is an artistic choice. The last thing to do is use this same method to paint in the yellow lines in the middle. I'll start this out so we can see how it looks. Pressing Ctrl+Semicolon turns on my guides again. I'll zoom in so I can see for placement and I will start out with a fixed size marquee, a Width of 5 and a Height of 1024.

I will land this marquee on my drawing, centered on that line, and I'll fill this marquee in, well, road line yellow. I want to make this on a new layer as this center is a different construction than the dashed lines. Now I need to move my marquee over. I can do this by pressing M and then using the arrows to nudge. I'll fill this next marquee with black or nearly black, and finally I'll use a fixed size marquee in the same way from the lane lines to make the dash inside of the center safety lane.

I will use a Height of 100 in my marquee again. Landing the marquee next to the black and filling in yellow. I'll repeat the technique of cloning and offsetting this line and show how it looks when I am done. There is one side of my center safety lane. Now I just need to clone this layer and flip it over. I will clone this layer, holding Alt and dragging, and then choose Edit > Transform > Flip Horizontal.

Now I will take the clone of the center safety lane lines, turn on my guides again so I can see, and snap this into place. We probably need to zoom in, press V and use the arrows to nudge a little bit. You may wish to flip these back and forth so that the lines alternate, or you can keep them aligned together. If you would like to flip them, choose Edit > Transform > Flip Vertical. Now I have got an offset pattern. My road is ready. I have got oil stains, lane lines, center safety lane, and the feel of the asphalt.

If you would like, you can add in other texture or other repeating objects such as manhole covers. As one final variation, we could put in a gray along the side if your road needs a gutter. Judging from my reference pictures, the asphalt goes straight to curb so I am going to leave mine alone. This is ready to save out and map as a tilable texture onto those miles of road.

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