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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.
In this chapter we'll descend from making streets to buildings, looking at techniques to make modular buildings that are easily cloned and form a kit of parts we can use to make other buildings that share elements and textures. We'll start on this building, a typical city fabric building showing older construction, stone below, brick above, and a one story cornice and frieze at the top. What I've done is to start to sketch out major mesh lines on the building, to give me an idea of how to lay out the modules. You can see that these pair of windows and sill clone all the way up the facade.
Therefore if we needed, we could actually stretch this building taller or shorter and make another structure for a city. In 3ds Max we had a street layout from the previous chapters. In this case, I have turned off the blocks and sidewalks except for one block and left the streets on. We're ready to add a building into this space. What I'll do is in a Front view start to layout rectangles. On the Creation menu under Shapes there is a Rectangle object and the neat thing, why do I like rectangles here, is that rather than just using a ruler I can put in an exact length and width in feet or in inches.
What I'll do is I'll check against the reference. In the reference I'll gauge the floor to floor height as well as the width between major features, such as these vertical pilasters on the building. In this building I could count bricks and a standard brick being 8"x3"x4" would give me an accurate measure. It's like the building has a ruler built-in, but I'm going to gauge it roughly based on the windows, that these are probably 5 feet tall, giving me give or take 10 feet from floor to floor. The floor running right through the middle of this brick spandrel.
The spandrel is the piece of wall above and below windows here, concealing the floor and other structure. I'll also make this module the width of these pilasters, going if this is 10 feet tall, roughly 10 feet wide with a 2 foot wide brick protrusion, giving me 10 foot, 2 foot, 10 foot, 2 foot. Notice that I've rounded off my dimensions. The actual dimensions of the building, if you could get out there with a tape measure, may vary slightly. Things do vary when they're built. That's fine. For our purposes and construction making it even will be much easier.
Back here in 3ds Max then I'll make the length of my rectangle 10 feet. Remember we can add in 10 feet and it'll convert inches for us and I'll put the Width in of 10 feet as well. Now I'll make other rectangles that stand in for the window opening, not necessarily both windows, but really where do the window sit and am I getting the proportion right of wall to window on the side? Referencing back to the photos if this is 10 feet from floor to floor, this window is 5. If this window is 5 tall it's probably three wide as a good guess or maybe two and a half feet.
We can always resize it. Given that this is two and a half, we have two and a half, 8 inches or one brick, two and a half, giving us 5 foot 8 inches centered in that rectangle. Back in Max then, we can either make a new rectangle as I've done and put the dimensions in, or we can take the existing rectangle and clone it by pressing Ctrl+V as a copy. Then in the parameters for this rectangle I'll put in my length, 5 foot 6, to accommodate the sill, and a Width of 5 foot 8, which gives me the windows.
Because objects think their center is in the center by default, this rectangle is now centered on the existing one and there's my module. And I can use this to gauge the size and say, does this work if I clone it? To clone objects then I'll select both, press Spacebar for Selection Lock, make sure my Snap is on, 2.5 works fine, and that the snap is configured on vertices. I'll on go on the y-axis only, hold Shift, and click and drag from the top to the bottom.
This pulls up to Clone Options dialog and I'll put the Number of Copies at 6 to start. What I have then is a reasonable idea of how these windows will stack up and what I'll do is look at the proportion of wall to window opening and gauge it against my reference. Am I getting enough windows in here versus the amount of wall I need? And it looks like I could be a little bit taller on the windows and getting maybe too much wall above and below. When I cloned I cloned as an instance.
We can see the Make Unique button is available here. That means if I change one they all change. I'm going to make my windows a little taller, 6 feet, and again I'll gauge the proportion of wall between windows to window opening. This looks better. The windows are little taller. Now I'm ready to build the mesh that actually fits inside this template.
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