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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 detail to a texture of a building, we need to consider the small steps and small details we see in areas like windows where we may see more stepping or level changes in the window frame than there is in the entire facade. The brick is actually fairly flat, but in the windows they have upper and lower frames and a frame around which may have its own trim. We need to paint this in Photoshop so it looks right, even though it's just really a flat polygon. These windows are single hung where the bottom moves up inside of the top.
They also have a wood frame around. We can just see here in this sort of warm tan. To begin with, I'll start out in that diffused texture I had used in previous exercises, where I have my window polygons inside the opening of the window, sized as big as possible without overlapping. What I will do to begin a window is make a new layer. As always, make a new layer for new construction. It makes it easier to adjust and separate. On my template layer, just called Layer 1, as a note, I am going to rename this. I am going to call this template.
That way I can always find it and make sure I turn it off when I save the texture. I am going to select using the Magic Wand with the Contiguous option checked inside of the window. Then I'll expand this selection by a couple of pixels to make sure it overlaps the line of the polygon. Select > Modify > Expand, and I will push it out by 2. Then on that new layer, my Layer 6, I am going to fill it with a window color. I'll go back to my reference photo, zoom in as close as I can, and eyedropper a color. I may want to try a couple of times.
These are looking rather pink and I have a feeling we're seeing a little bit of extra red in the image. I am going to take this color now that I've got it and just pull the Hue around or desaturate it till it's not quite as pink. I am going to swing the Hue a little more towards yellow and brighten it up. Sometimes the reference maybe a little misleading depending on the conditions it was shot in. So we may need to push these just a bit. That looks pretty reasonable. Sort of an off-white buff color.
The first step then is on this new layer to fill that selection and then deselect. Now we have at least a clean blank space for the window. The trick with painting a window is to put in steps of color, to make it look right, as if there was extra framework in there or extra geometry. I'll start with a solid color and then make the frame of the window and finally the window frames around each light of glass. I deselected this so I could see clearly where that color sat. To reselect around a certain layer or a certain color, I can either use the Magic Wand or hold Ctrl and click on the layer thumbnail, and there's my selection again.
The first thing I'll do is contract the selection in to get me the first layer of frame, choosing Select > Modify > Contract, and I will contract in by 4. Then I'm going to fill this with a slightly darker variant of my existing window color. Choosing the window color and pulling the Brightness down by four or five points and filling the selection again. I'll do this one more time. Contracting the selection, darkening the color down, maybe down five points, down to 87, and filling.
What I'm starting to get if I deselect to show is a little bit of color stepping in there that we read as window frames. A lot of times window frames actually do have multiple colors like this or they get different amounts of dirt depending on where they sit. Now I need to make the interior frames on the windows. What I want to do is use the Magic Wand to select that color, making sure that the Tolerance is low. As you can see my Tolerance is too high and it's grabbing all the colors. I'll try a Tolerance of 5, deselect and reselect again.
That works much better. The important piece here is to use the Info palette and look at the height of this to get the size right. I'll go to Window and Info or press F8. I can see that my Height is 336. I want my size to be half of that for a top or bottom of the window. Half of 336 is 168. So I'll make my marquee a fixed size at a Width of 132, which I am getting from the width of that selection, and a Height of 168.
Now when I land a marquee inside this color, I can make sure that it's in the right place. The first step is to make sure the marquee sits cleanly inside, again using the arrow keys to nudge, and then contract it in maybe a pixel or two. This gives me an additional step in the window. Now I will fill this with one more slightly darker color.
Zooming back out shows me a slightly deeper rectangle. And again, I'm going to contract that marquee, this time to provide the thickness of the frame around the glass. I'll contract in by 6. Actually, it needs to be a little thicker. I'll contract in by another 2. It's fine to look at it and do it again. Much better. Now I am going to make the glass. And for the glass, it's not blue as it's a scorching bright blue. It's much closer to really a deep blue purple gray.
Really windows in the outside have a reflection and not much color of their own. So I am going to mute this out and fill here. That will read as glass fairly nicely. Now what I'd like to do is take this whole assembly and clone it down, pressing M for Marquee and lining up my marquee inside that dark window frame, zooming in if I have to. Notice I am hitting Ctrl+0 to Zoom Extents and Z for Zoom to zoom back in. Now I'll hold Alt while in the Move tool and moving that selection and cloning it down to fit in the window frame, zooming in as needed to see if it's in the right place.
With this selection still active, I'll choose Image > Adjustments > Brightness/Contrast and lower the Brightness by 10 or 12 points. Now the bottom of the window looks slightly darker, as if it's a little more in shadow. This is the basic diffuse texture for a window. We can continue to add to it, adding in either localized dirt by selecting colors and then painting, or adding gradients and reflections across. I'll show a little bit of dirt to finish the exercise.
What I'd like to do is to simulate some age in the window, as if the corners here are slightly dirty. As an example, I'll use my Magic Wand with a very low Tolerance and Contiguous on to select the window frame around the glass. Then I'll use my Brush tool, on a new layer of course, to add in some dirt. I'll work in a version of the window color, eyedroppering one of the window colors and then setting it darker. And in the brush, I'll brush with a soft brush, right-clicking to choose my brush if needed.
Hardness at 0 and Size fairly low, brushing in a Multiply at maybe 10% Opacity. It's important to do it in little bits, not just to smear on a giant brush of dirt. And now in the selection in the corner, I'm going to brush in a little bit of dirt just around the edges, almost outside of the marquee so it sort of carries in little bit. That's fine. A little more in the top is okay. And it starts to look like either a mix of dirt or shadow.
Making it irregular is just fine. I can repeat this process all the way around, getting me what looks like a dirty window. When you're painting textures then, you want to step back and look at the pieces you need remembering it's an assembled language that has been there over time. That the building was put up in pieces and has aged in different ways depending on which way the surface was facing. So build up your textures in pieces, using your selection and expanding or contracting to add steps in the color which look like additional levels of trim or detail.
Then on new layers, selecting colors and adding in dirt for acceptable wear, keeping in mind that this will repeat over and over and over on every element you use the texture for.
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