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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.
For games, we want to maximize the use of one texture on as many objects as we can, thereby referencing the texture again instead of reloading or opening a new texture, which uses more memory in the game and may cause a slowdown in frame rate. For this building, as I have the same brick on vertical elements and the modules made in previous lessons, I want to use one texture sheet. That way I get continuity in color and can adjust brick accordingly to map between different objects. The first thing I will do is assign the material to these objects, the same material I used on the verticals.
I will put it on one so we can see it clearly. We can see that the original UVs have been distorted by the modeling process, this is fine. What we want to do is under the Modifier List, add an Unwrap UVW Modifier on. With the Unwrap Modifier on, we will go into the UV Editor, flatten the faces, and then align them on the brick where we need.
With the Editor open, it's difficult to see what's going on. The first thing we'll do is under the CheckerPattern drop-down pick the texture we're actually using to display. There is our texture sheet laying on to the polygons. Now, we'll take these polygons, right-click and select Face or Vertex. Select all the polygons and under Mapping, choose Flatten. We'll flatten them at the default. 45 on the Face Angle Threshold and the Spacing .002.
All of our intersections in the mesh are at 90 degrees. So flattening like this is a great way to break objects apart and maintain the proportion of one element to the others. In the Mapping, first in the Quick Transform I will rotate these 90 degrees around their pivot. Now, I have got the brick in the right direction. I may need to force a redraw by scrubbing slightly in the view here to get the brick to lay on. I will press the Spacebar for the Selection Lock.
With the Selection Lock engaged, now I can move these elements around nicely. I will scale them and move them. The important thing here in scale is to watch the brick from the vertical element to the courses of the brick around the windows, scaling all the elements together make sure that the brick spans cleanly. As I scale them up and down, we can see the brick size changing on the object. What I will do is scale them in and switch to Move and move the elements down to match. One of the things to watch out for is continuity.
We made sure that in this module this element would line up cleanly at the bottom of the windows where there is a mortar joint. In scaling, I am going to get as close as I can. If needed, I can even move vertices ever so slightly to align so that I go from mortar joint to the bottom of a brick and the texture appears to be seamless on the next module. I will also watch out for the connection between the vertical element and the module. Do the bricks line up as well as possible or as close as somebody can see reasonably see? It looks like my brick needs to be just a touch bigger.
I will scale this out. Notice that the background color of my texture module here is the background color of the brick. So if I need to spill over slightly, as I am going to do, I will get a clean line-up. I will hold these UVs off the edges of the editor, zooming in to check and lining up as well as I can. I can always come back and adjust the mapping on one or the other, but I think I am in pretty decent shape. So we can see a little adjustment is all it takes to put it in the right place. That maybe a little extra scale.
I am going to get these as close as possible. The other thing I have as my ally in this is this will be possibly several stories up and have shadow lines obscuring that transition. I will press Spacebar to unlock the selection. Now, I can take the other texture elements, such as the side of the window here, pull them over next to the mesh or even inside the window and get them aligned, so that the brick flows cleanly around that opening.
In the interest of time, I will take the texture elements and align them and show what it looks like when I am done. As we can see both in the viewport and in the UV Editor, I have taken the sides and cleanly aligned them on top of each other, these green rectangles with their vertices highlighted. Actually four, all four vertical sides here lapping over, sharing the same UV space to economize on textures. There is simply not enough brick here to be able to see that it's really the same brick from vertical to vertical. The windows in the final won't be bricked in; they will have their own texture.
Those I can stack as well, make smaller, and place inside the openings here in the brick. I will select them, move them down and stack them on each other, place them inside the opening, and scale them down. One of the things I am doing is taking advantage of different materials to affect different sizes of UV elements. These windows are slightly smaller because they are painted wood adjacent to brick, therefore I can scale the element down without a loss of continuity, as we can see here in the view of larger and smaller bricks.
Once these window elements have their window texture, it will look fine. The same goes for the sill. We can just see it down here in brick. I will rotate down to be able to tell. This will disappear, this will be in white stone, and I will probably put a matching white up above on the header. I've still got extra texture space left over in the other window opening. I can either stack other elements in or use it for something else, like corners and stone elements in the future. I will close my editor, right-click and pick Top-Level, and assign the same material to the other objects to check for continuity, at least one or two, holding Ctrl to add to the selection, pressing M for Material, and assigning that material onto those.
What I am looking for in the unwrap as I press F4 and turn off Edged Faces is any gap in continuity. I have a small one right here at the top where I need to scale these elements ever so slightly to fix it. In the interest of time, I will scale and fix the texture elements and show the result when I am done. I've fixed that minor issue in the editor by moving the vertices ever so slightly to make sure that the brick lines up from top to bottom of the module. Right here in these bricks is where the sill will go and texture, further reinforcing the illusion. We're only leaving a few bricks adjacent to each other, covering anymore minor issues.
In this movie, we looked very closely at unwrapping techniques: using a texture sheet and matching the polygons to them versus unwrapping things and figuring out how to put the texture on. This technique of making a texture sheet first and aligning elements on them is very powerful when you use it on things that need to line up, like brick. We've also looked at stretching vertical elements along a building to economize on polygon usage, making sure that they are as slim as possible while still maintaining the shadow lines, and then mapping them using Rotated and Scaled mapping to get a tiling texture to repeat all the way up.
You can use this technique or both techniques on one object with one texture, to get one material to do multiple things on one building and look like, well, of course the building it's supposed to look like.
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