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

Setting pivot points for buildings


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Creating Urban Game Environments in 3ds Max

with Adam Crespi

Video: Setting pivot points for buildings

Once we've gotten the building's design, ready we'd like to import it into Unity or a game engine. However, there is some final cleanup we need to do to make sure it's really ready for import. The first is this still a design model. There is lots of parts, nothing is named, there might be extra stuff and modifier stacks, it's messy, which is just fine for design. And we took some time to get the feel for this model and get it looking right and the unwraps right and everything works like the existing building. That's great! However, if I were to bring this across into Unity it would be another story.
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  1. 4m 47s
    1. Welcome
      55s
    2. Understanding the design process
      47s
    3. What you should know before watching this course
      14s
    4. Software requirements
      47s
    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
      36s
    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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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
Subjects:
3D + Animation Modeling Rendering Game Design
Software:
3ds Max
Author:
Adam Crespi

Setting pivot points for buildings

Once we've gotten the building's design, ready we'd like to import it into Unity or a game engine. However, there is some final cleanup we need to do to make sure it's really ready for import. The first is this still a design model. There is lots of parts, nothing is named, there might be extra stuff and modifier stacks, it's messy, which is just fine for design. And we took some time to get the feel for this model and get it looking right and the unwraps right and everything works like the existing building. That's great! However, if I were to bring this across into Unity it would be another story.

I've done this as an example. Here in Unity I brought in the building and I've imported its materials as assets as well, applying them so I've got the upper floor and cornices. However, when I bring this in, everything comes with it. This is a bit of a mess. I'll open up the Project window as tall as it can go and open up that scene. As we can see we have several dozen objects and their mesh controllers and all sorts of stuff with it. This is messy. In Unity every object requires a draw call, every texture requires a draw call.

What I've done unnecessarily is put in maybe 60 or 70 objects for my game engine to think about as part of displaying one building instead of one object to come in with one texture to display on one building. So I'm possibly slowing down my gameplay. We want to streamline it before we bring it in. I'll go back to 3ds Max and show how to do this. In 3ds Max we want to look over our objects for any issues as much as we can. I'll look at this with an eye towards odd smoothing groups, odd shading, stretching textures etcetera, but I may see some minor issues here and there.

Part of getting this ready for export is to attach it together as one object, transitioning from a design model to an exportable model. I'll make sure I save the design model as a separate file first or save the export scene as a separate scene so I don't lose the editability in case I need to go back. These are instance objects. What I'll do is make this object unique. It doesn't really matter which one I start out with as long as I have one that is. Now I'll convert this to an Editable Poly by choosing Convert To Editable Poly.

I'll attach it to everything. Right-clicking and choosing the dialog next to Attach. In this dialog we can organize here. Right now I have a Display Geometry filter on. No other button is depressed, meaning I'm only showing the geometry. Additionally, I only have one object selected. I'm going to scroll down and make sure I don't see anything else odd and then in my selection filter I'll check Select All. Now it's going to attach everything to that object. When I press Attach it's gives me a warning.

How would I like to attach the Material IDs to the object? I can come back and deal with that one in a minute. I'll hit OK. I do see a little issue pop up on the side. Apparently, in the attaching I had some weird smoothing groups happen. Smoothing issues are noticeable by odd shadows or dark lines where they're really shouldn't be one on a flat wall. However, this is an easy fix. I know this is all flat. I made it so. I'll right-click choose Polygon and select this whole mass of polygons.

Then I'll scroll down to the Smoothing Groups and Clear All and that issue goes away. I'll right-click and choose Top-level. I'm just about ready. I could probably clean up my materials, although I will see some places in Unity to handle that. I need to name this. We'll call this Building01. That way I can find it when it comes in. In a city I may end up with Buildings 1 through 45 very easily. I also need to move the pivot to a place where placing in Unity is fairly straightforward. Right now the pivot is well up about the fifth floor and kind of in somebody's corner office.

Not the best place. To do this I'll go into the Hierarchy tab and check Affect Pivot Only. I'll also configure my snap by holding Shift+Right-clicking and making sure that Pivot and Vertex are both checked. I can use the Align tool or I can use Snap to move this pivot down where I need it. So if I am moving this building adjacent to a sidewalk I can put it precisely on. I'll show the Align tool as one method of aligning a pivot. I'll click Align and align the building to itself. The Align tool starts out with whatever settings were in there last.

What I'm going to do is align this from Minimum to Minimum or Minimum to Maximum until I get it where the pivot of the building goes down to the base. If I try a few options I'll find one that works. In this case, Y and Z from maximum to minimum seemed to do it. I'll hit OK when it's ready. When you align a pivot you want to make sure it's as close on to the place you're going to position the building as possible. I have it down on the floor correctly, but I need to move it over to that corner. I'll register my snap on it.

Notice the yellow ring on the pivot showing that it is snapping and I'll bring it right over onto that corner of the building. I'll uncheck Affect Pivot Only and now this is ready for export out. As a test if I press E for Rotate and spin the building, it does spin around that corner. So if I needed to flip this building 90 degrees to be on a different block to flesh out my city, it would be fairly easy. I can also snap it down to the sidewalk, again to avoid leaks in my scene. The thing to stress here and the thing you should watch out for is keeping your scenes clean and making it difference in your mind into the scene between a design model, where you maybe moving lots of elements around to get the feel of a place right, and the final model for export which should be as clean as possible so that we're reducing the number of draw calls leading to one building having one draw call and a better game.

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