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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.
When we are adding a cornice on a building, we need to recognize the kind of lighting we'll be dealing with. It's very common to have most of the subtlety and sophistication in the lighting for a game baked-in or rendered as part of a texture. Where it looks like it's lit, in reality it's actually just the color. Then in the game you add maybe one large light, which simulates the sun and gives you your direct shadows. For a cornice, we can talk about them in terms of needing general light and direct light. In this case, this previous exercise is cornice.
Most of the cornice is in general light. A lot of the panels such as these relief panels are always in light. They don't really shadow. The major shadow element is up here at the top, but it's got this extra piece in it, so it's really shade not a direct shadow, because it's a hard corner. In other buildings, we see different things in different lights. This building as an example has a very large cornice that protrudes out, which will cast a very, very big shadow down on the facade. This one, the cornice is fairly flat.
We can really paint in shading in shadow and not worry about directly casting shadows. This will let us simplify the geometry considerably, so it's almost flat all the way up. This building is an extreme example. We can really handle this cornice here as texture. Do we need to have actual geometry to make that? The answer is not really. It'd be very difficult get to this side enough and close enough on this building to see this grey cornice elements stick out at all and the shadow underneath it, even on a sunny day, is really kind of a dark range.
We can paint that in Photoshop also, because it's straight. This building is an example of a cornice needing dynamic shadows and lighting. We can see in here it's a two-step. A lower green sill or table that's underneath the windows and up above a two- part white and green cornice. These are fairly flat and even with their limited depth we can still see a shadow line pretty well. The big shadow line is actually from the lower piece, where even though it only comes out by maybe a foot at the most, that shadow extends all the way down and has a very hard line on the flat facade.
That's a place where we need to have geometry to make a direct shadow. Most of the stuff up above we can probably get away with a flat polygon and texture. Finally in another building, we can see we need a mix. We have brackets underneath this cornice. To do these in geometry would be excessive. This building would be huge and slow down gameplay. So most of this would be handled in texture where we'll fake in the shadows. However, we need to cornice to stick out, because it goes so far out that we get shadow all the way down on the windows.
We probably need some of this brick banded geometry to give extra shadow lines, but again, most of it is done in texture. We'll have enough geometry to worry about dealing with the windows and their deep openings. This building to get fairly complex fairly fast and we really need to question in it, how much do we need to see accurately, and how much given the lighting on it can we fake in, where we have a dark range versus needing a hard shadow?
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