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

Designing the zoning: Planning the visible uses of buildings


From:

Creating Urban Game Environments in 3ds Max

with Adam Crespi

Video: Designing the zoning: Planning the visible uses of buildings

The city is rarely a single- purpose collection of buildings. More often, given the evolution of the city, different activities are plainly visible in different areas, from offices, to warehouse, to retail, to abandon and ruin. In this movie, we'll examine the techniques for the planning and design of zoning in the city. As part of this I'll demonstrate quick techniques for constructing a white box kit of parts of buildings for laying out a city. In this photo we can see that there are different ages, sizes, and purposes of buildings evident in just a few city blocks.
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  1. 4m 47s
    1. Welcome
      55s
    2. Understanding the design process
      47s
    3. What you should know before watching this course
      14s
    4. Software requirements
      47s
    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
      36s
    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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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
Subjects:
3D + Animation Modeling Rendering Game Design
Software:
3ds Max
Author:
Adam Crespi

Designing the zoning: Planning the visible uses of buildings

The city is rarely a single- purpose collection of buildings. More often, given the evolution of the city, different activities are plainly visible in different areas, from offices, to warehouse, to retail, to abandon and ruin. In this movie, we'll examine the techniques for the planning and design of zoning in the city. As part of this I'll demonstrate quick techniques for constructing a white box kit of parts of buildings for laying out a city. In this photo we can see that there are different ages, sizes, and purposes of buildings evident in just a few city blocks.

What we start with here on the right side are older buildings. And these are delineated here by taller retail floors, as we saw before in our wedding cake buildings, shorter floor to floor heights above from second up to the roof, and often a cornice or a parapet. And this extends above the roof and as a way to add a little extra height to an elevation. Beyond this, we can see a larger block of a building, and this may be either a warehouse or in this case a department store.

And this is typified by a larger overall mass, possibly to get a taller roof structure to accommodate mechanical and electrical components, and greater floor to floor height. Beyond this in the background we have tall office buildings. These often have a greater floor to floor height, 12 to 14 feet, a much more uniform facade. Different geometry on the roof than in our standard cornices and the podium we discussed previously. In 3ds Max, I've put together a couple examples of white box elements of buildings and the trick here is we're making massing models, not final models.

On the left side here these three are historic building-sized. This is a five-story historic building with the lower floor being 14 feet tall and 12 feet from floor to floor with a 4 foot parapet. The others follow suit roughly about the same size, give or take a few feet, with mesh lines showing me the floor to floor heights. These next ones are mid and high- rise modern structures on podiums. Again using the mesh lines as part of a box to show floor heights for massing and for rough ideas of texture sizing.

To make one of these I'll start by creating a box. I'll hold Ctrl+Right-Click and choose Box. Clicking and dragging out a box. I'll put in the Length, Width, and Height either on the Parameters in the Creation tab or on the Modifier panel. For a historic building I'm going to make this Length 60 feet. Notice that Max converts for us between feet and generic units, which are set to inches. I'll make the Width 100 feet back to the alley of this building, and a Height of 60 feet giving me either 6 floors at 10 feet from floor to floor for residential or 5 floors at 12 feet for office.

I'll put the Height Segments at 5. Now I need to make the base a little taller and add a parapet. I'll right-click and choose Convert To: > Editable Poly. Holding Alt and the middle mouse I'll spin over to see the top of the building and check Polygons in the Selection menu. I'll pick the top polygon. Notice I've pressed F2 to turn off displaying the shaded selected polygons. Now I'll right-click and choose the dialog next to Extrude. In this dialog these are generic units.

I'll put in 4 feet for my Parapet and check to accept the transformation. Then over on the Selection menu I'll grow the selection 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 times to catch all the floors except the bottom. On the Transform Type-In, access by pressing F12 or on the right-click menu next to Move. I'll move these floors up 48 inches or 4 feet, giving me that taller retail bottom floor.

Finally, I'll right-click and choose Top-level and my white box of a historic building is ready to use. For a modern podium and shaft building, the process is similar. I'll start out with the base of a box, pressing Ctrl+Right-Clicking to access the Box on the Creation menu. First I'll add a podium in, creating the box and clicking on the Modifier tab and then entering a Length, Width, and Height.

I'll make this one slightly larger, 120 feet on a side, and I'll give this one a Height of 20 feet for much larger first story, putting the Height Segments at 1 so this is somewhat oversized of a podium. Now I'll add the shaft on. I can take this box and clone it, or create a new one. I'll take the first option and press Ctrl+V to clone this box as a copy. I'll make the Length 80 feet, the Width 80 feet so this will be a square, and for a Height I'm going to make it 30 stories tall at 12 feet floor to floor giving me a height of 3600 inches.

Now in the Height Segments I'll put in 30. I'm not as worried about extruding the top polygon for a cap, as this will be up at the top of the building and I can put it in later. Really what concerns me here is the massing of the building. Does it have the right scale and the right number of floors I'm looking for? Finally, I'll use the Align tool, clicking on Align with the shaft selected and then selecting the podium, and in the Align tool first I'll align the Minimum of the Current Object with the Maximum of the target, placing them one on top of the other and pressing Apply.

Then I'll align them X and Y Position, Center to Center, and pressing OK, so that the shaft is centered on the podium. To complete this I'll right- click and choose Convert To: > Editable Poly, and right-click and choose Attach and select the podium. Making sure I right-click to stop attaching lest I attach another building to this one. We moved in this chapter from the analysis and planning of a city to the design of the overall layout and placement of building volumes.

Careful construction of a white box city is absolutely essential as it establishes clear relationships of time, place, and function that are evident in the city. Planning the variance in a white box city cements the evolution of place and will let you design a city that grew into being, instead of being hatched overnight complete.

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