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

Extruding cornice elements from polygon edges


Creating Urban Game Environments in 3ds Max

with Adam Crespi

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Video: Extruding cornice elements from polygon edges

Now it's time to model. I've added on to this drawing additional linework showing mesh lines in green and shaded in yellow to show texture modules. So you can see actually the whole top floor is one big texture module. This will give us the vertical relief panels, a small and a large horizontal, a large section of cornice, and a section of table. If we do it this way, we can tile this texture all the way around the building. I'll miter the material right here at the corner and the texture will simply flow on to the extra geometry.
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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

Extruding cornice elements from polygon edges

Now it's time to model. I've added on to this drawing additional linework showing mesh lines in green and shaded in yellow to show texture modules. So you can see actually the whole top floor is one big texture module. This will give us the vertical relief panels, a small and a large horizontal, a large section of cornice, and a section of table. If we do it this way, we can tile this texture all the way around the building. I'll miter the material right here at the corner and the texture will simply flow on to the extra geometry.

At the end then, this'll be limited geometry using part of a texture module. I'll go into 3ds Max and the first thing I'll do is measure the distance between windows using a poly plane, because it looks like the cornice sits on the top of the window and the bottom of the next window up, matching this arrangement. So I'll start out with that. Then I'll use the Extrude and Bevel tools to make the additional cornice elements. Here in 3ds Max, I have the existing model of the building from previous exercises. Notice that I've kind of tuned up the textures a little bit, getting the brickwork looking sharp, adding little detail to the window and the sill, and generally giving it another pass.

It's perfectly okay to do that. It's very fine to look at the first pass of work and say, "That was a neat learning exercise. Let's do this again." And I did it here and I think I got a better result from it. The other thing I'm doing is I've added in a direct light. And this direct light, which is really just big enough to catch the scene, has raytraced shadows. So I can take advantage in Max of using the Realistic+Edged Faces Display Mode and see the elements shadow as I make them. After all we're after shadow lines. That's the big deal here, and I want to know that I'm doing it right.

I'll start out by pressing F for Front View. Then I'll hit Ctrl+Right-Click and make a plane for measuring. I'll snap this plane onto any convenient vertices. And really what I care about on the plane is the Length, 48. I'll do this technique quite often, using a plane or a rectangle to measure, especially between points that are not aligned with each other and I need one dimension, rather than using a measuring tape which may give me a different measurement. I'll delete the plane and go up to the top of the building.

What I'll start out with here is another plane. Ctrl+Right-Click and choosing Plane. And I'll snap this plane cleanly all the way across the building. Really I don't care that the Length is 0. I'm going to come back and change that. What I care about is it's snapped cleanly across from corner-to-corner. I'll put in a length of 48, 2 Length Segments, and 1 Width Segment. This will give me the geometry I need to match the mesh lines I had drawn. I've moved the plane up and now I'll snap it down to the top of my windows.

I can already see the shadow lines are emerging where I want them. It looks like based on the reference that I need to move this edge up slightly. I'll convert this Plane to an Editable Poly, select Edge, and move this edge up maybe five or six inches using the Transform Type-In. Alternately, you can just pull on the Y-axis, turning off Snap, to get in the right place. I'm going to watch the X, Y, and Z fields down here at the bottom to see how much I'm moving. That's good! Now I can spin over into an isometric view and move the top edge out to give me that protrusion on the cornice which is important in the silhouette.

I'll use the Transform Type-In for this, moving out by -12 on the X. This gives me the downward facing polygon that will be mostly in shadow but has detail. Finally, I'll extrude this edge back. I'll right-click and choose the dialog next to Extrude. Alternately we can simply choose Extrude and move this later. I'll extrude it out to give myself some geometry. The danger with extruding like that is we do get a base width, giving me an extra piece and moving that edge down.

This is a case to actually use the dialog in extrusion. That way I can take out this base width by zeroing it and putting that extrusion where I need it to be. If you notice, I didn't care about how far it extruded. What I'll do is now use my Snap tool, first on the Y and then on the Z axis, to get this in the right place. I'll register on an edge and snap over to the existing geometry. Then I'll take it on the Z axis, register on a vertex, Spacebar for selection lock, and snap it down onto itself.

Now I know it's in the right place. I need to make the rest of the cornice. What I'll do in this is back here in the front view use Bevel to make the whole module. Then the texture will tile across. Alternately, I can do it in pieces and see if there's any geometry I need to eliminate. I'm going to take the first approach. With the edge selected, I'll use the dialog next to the Extrude tool again on the right-click menu. I'll spin around into an orthographic to see this properly. Once I've got this polygon flattened out, using this Edge dialog to go in the right direction is really useful and easy.

I'll make this first one -120.0. That way the edge pops out. If you notice, it went in the wrong direction. Sometimes we need to check this and take the negative out or add one in. +120.0 gives me my wall. Now I need to go back and look at the reference drawing and see if I'm getting enough length and width in here. Where I've gone to so far is from the bottom of the window all the way up to that first line. I need to add in some extra mesh lines in here eventually. But first I'll extrude out for that cornice.

I'll hit the plus to apply and continue. The extrusion went out to 120, which is too far. I'll change that distance to 18 inches. Now I've got the throw or the reach on my cornice to give me a shadow underneath correctly. I'll hit the plus and change to a negative. This one will go -12. Hit the plus again, I'll come up, and now I can extrude and move, or extrude, move, and shape later. In this case, I'll hit the plus once, twice.

This gives me geometry but it's in the wrong direction, but now I've got the steps in my cornice I need. The last part then, I'll go into a side view such as the Left or Right, and move this up where I need, looking at the profile. I'll switch over in orthographic here to Left. I'll also press F3 to go to a wireframe and check OK. Now in my extrusion, I can pull this up where I need. I'll pull it up and out to give me the proper throw on the cornice.

Then maybe switch to Vertex and move this as it needs to be. Now I can start to get the feel on my cornice in the right way. That big, big shelf there that's going to cast my shadows. Switching back to a shaded view, it looks like I'm in pretty good shape. I've got big shadows off this, self-shadowing, and it's ready for smoothing groups and texture. I also need to miter this corner here. A quick technique for mitering corners is to switch to a wireframe and start to move these edges out until we get a 45.

What I'll do sometimes is to measure that distance and move as needed. I'll copy that length and move my vertices. If I did this to an exact extrusion, I could also move it. And I'll make this miter by grabbing these pieces and moving them. My cornice is almost complete. What I've done is to move these vertices out, measuring the distance, and creating a miter so that when I mirror this over at a 45, it'll match exactly.

I've created in the cornice those long shadow lines as well as the pieces that really need to stick out in silhouette, remembering that the back side of the building, which would be here on the right, is effectively blank brick. It's made to go next to another structure. The last part then for shadowing is to take this top edge by selecting Edge and extruding it straight back. I'll right-click, pick the dialog next to Extrude, and give myself some dimension, just checking OK.

Now I can use my Move tool and snap to pull this all way back to the wall. I'll work on the Z-axis first, pressing Spacebar for selection lock, pulling it down, then switching to the Y-axis, and snapping all the way back. The important thing with cornices is to think of them often as long-spanning elements, similar to the vertical elements we added on the building in previous exercises. In this case, this cornice, which appears to be one monolithic piece, will actually get three plus texture modules.

The texture will simply span onto the miter and over here to cap the end where the texture repeats, we just don't have the extra windows. This would be simple geometry but will give me the shadow lines I need, and that's the important part because it's really up in the air for everybody to see.

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