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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.
Sometimes in the construction of your environment, you need buildings with sloped roofs. What we've looked at so far are largely flat roofs, where the roof sits inside of the walls a little bit and isn't visible from the street. Occasionally though, we may be modeling houses, we may be modeling barns, or similar structures that really need a sloped roof. What we want to do is construct these as elegantly as possible, with a minimum of polygons but recognizing that the roof is one of the largest elements we are going to see. We are going to see a large expanse of thatch or shingle or steel or whatever that roof is made of.
Additionally, we're going to see the edge of the roof and we need to make sure that's detailed correctly. To lay out roofs, I will start out with the building so I can look in a Top view and see a footprint, pressing T for Top and Z for some Zoom Extents. To lay out a roof, what I will begin with then are rectangles, splines or shapes. They give me the line with a throw of the eves, how far out do those come from wall? I'll start up a Rectangles. The first rectangle I will make will define how far out the eaves go. In this case, I'm going to put a roof eave all the way around, that we don't see the edge of the wall, that there is actually a slope all the way around the building.
I will begin this one with a 2 foot x 2 foot rectangle or 24 on a side. Then using my Snap tools and the Spacebar for Selection Lock, I will start snapping rectangles around my roofs as a measuring tool. Holding Shift, I will clone this rectangle. A Copy or an Instance is fine for now. It doesn't really matter. These are construction objects. I will pick it. Occasionally, I'll hit X, which turns off and on the Transform Gizmo.
That way I can find a vertex that would normally be hidden and distort where I'm moving. I will clone this around until my entire roof is done in rectangles at the corners. Sounds rather odd but very helpful. I can put one here, although I do have reference of both of these I am going to use with the Spline. The next step in making a roof is to actually lay out the roof planes. Most often we need a ridgeline in a sloped roof, and ridges tend to go in the middle or equally between the walls.
Additionally in a roof, when two roofs meet, we will have one from one side, and one from the top here. They will meet at a 45 on both places. I'll use a rectangle to lay this out. The first thing I'll do is use my rectangle to measure. Actually this isn't on the roof but I'm looking way down in the bottom right corner at the Width, 240. Then I'm going all the way over and looking at the Width of the rectangle here. 432 and a Length of 192.
That's an important one to remember. Now this isn't exactly the full roof. It's too big. What I need to do is actually make one plane and so in here under theLength I will actually put divided by 2 and let Max compute it for me. I will move this rectangle down to match up with my eave lines. Remember this Length 96. I will convert this to a Spline, right-click, and choose Vertex and move this top-left vertex in on the Transform Type-In by 96.
This will give me a 45-degree corner. I'll take a minute, fill the roof with rectangles as I've shown. Move their vertices and show what it looks like when I'm done. So I have taken my rectangles, cloned them around, and moved vertices as I need. What I need to do now is to get rid of this twistiness or the curve in the roof, as these should be straight. When you draw out a shape, those corners may be whatever the default is set to. As an example under a line, the Creation Method is Corner, with the Drag Type being Bezier.
What that means in a rectangle then is if we make it, it looks like a rectangle, we convert it to an editable spline, and any one of these corners we thought was a corner is actually a Bezier corner vertex where it has handles to give influence on the connecting segments. What I will do is pick my splines, select their vertices, both or just all at once, and right-click and choose Corner. I can do this at any point but it's helpful to see sometimes, where those curves are as part of the process of making the roof.
I've straightened out all the vertices, literally converting them to corners so that the adjoining segments are perfectly straight. I'll fill in the last part of the roof. For this I will create a line, by holding Ctrl+Right-Clicking and in the line, just to make sure it stays straight, I will make the Drag Type Corner, in case I accidentally click-and-drag. I will fill in the last part with a triangle. Close the spline and I'm ready. Now I can start to make my roof a surface.
For each part, not all at once but uniquely, I'll right-click, choose Convert To: > Editable Poly, and if I switch to a Shaded mode I can see where that is taking on a surface or it's a solid. Converting to a poly gives me the rest of my roof. The important thing I think is to do it one at a time, so you can spot any possible issues. Occasionally, you may have a more complex shape that's not closed and will disappear. And if it's overlapping with something else, it may be hard to tell what's missing.
I've made my roof or so it would seem but it's still flat. What I will do is I'll take this roof and move it up above the wall, so I can see clearly and then attach it together and elevate the middle. I have moved my roof up above the walls. Now I can start to attach it together, picking any one of the editable polys, right-clicking, and choosing Attach. Then I will select the other roof planes. Now my roof is almost ready to move. If needed, you can weld vertices.
I'm going to leave these alone for the moment. So I don't get any accidental smoothing from roof plane to roof plane. That is they stay flat. I will go by Vertex and select those ridge vertices. I can do them all at once. So if there is different ridges at different heights because of different roof runs or how horizontal it goes, I can do it one at a time. For this, I will grab on the Z- axis and pull up till it looks right. In this case, I am designing on-the-fly. What I've got is a sloped roof.
It's economical in polygons. As we can see in my Polygon Display, which you can toggle off and on with the 7 key. The total polygons I have selected are 5 or 19 vertices. That's pretty slim considering the amount of geometry it covers or the amount of texture it will show. Now I can take this roof and sit it down correctly on the walls and I am ready to fill in the edge detail, such as the soffits and fascia.
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