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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.
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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