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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.
With all of the objects of our sidewalk modeled, we are ready to start to lay out a texture sheet. The idea with the texture sheet then is we are going to have multiple UVs of multiple objects stacked over each other, sharing one texture to economize on texture size and UV usage. For a sidewalk like this, really what we care about is that we have a grid pattern in the sidewalk that's interrupted by new pores of concrete for things like driveways and curbs and ramps. So as long as we get most of the sidewalk texture right, occasionally it can crash into a driveway and visually we are okay with that. We see that in the city.
For the ramps, I will texture one and then clone it later. So as you can see in the model, I have some of my ramps in place and some gaps where I'll put in others. In the sidewalk, I will right-click and choose Isolate Selection to show this cleanly. The sidewalk is one object that's been all attached together and collapsed to an editable poly. All the smoothing groups are cleared off and it's just a series of blocks basically. To lay out the texture on this object, I will add an Unwrap UVW Modifier available in the Modifier List.
In the Unwrap UVW Modifier, I will open the UV Editor to better space out the UVs where I'd like them. When the UV Editor pops up, we may want to make it a little bit easier to see. I will make this a little smaller so everything shows on screen. I will also turn off the CheckerPattern and zoom out so I can see my objects here outlined in green. What I like to do when unwrapping is work side-by-side in the Editor on one side and the viewport on the other.
I will right click and choose Face in the editor, select all the faces of the objects, and under Mapping, choose Flatten Mapping. I'll make the Flatten Mapping just the default. A Face Angel Threshold of 45 will explode the curbs and sidewalks cleanly. When I press OK, I get this. All the curb elements are the same size and proportion as are the sidewalks and now I can stack their UV shells very cleanly, so that they use up one small slide of my texture space, reserving the rest of it for other things.
I'll pick these shells and move them over the others. Getting fairly close, I will use the Align UVs tool to be able to get these in the right place. All of my sidewalk elements are stacked cleanly here. What I will do is right-click and choose Vertex and select all of one side of the vertices and on the UV tools, right up at the top of the Quick Transform, is the Align Vertical. I will align them vertical and then choose the other side, just dragging window all the way down.
aligning vertical keeps all their UVs together. Notice I have staggered the edges in here so that a grid pattern on the sidewalk elements isn't always in the same starting place on the same UV. That way if I have things on that sidewalk, like different concrete, gum, dirt, whatever's on there, it shows up in a different place on each piece. Now we'll do the same thing with my curb elements, which right now are scattered all over. I will align them as well as I can and then use the Align Vertical tool to get them all lapping over.
Now I've got all the elements of the curbs aligned together as well, using the Align Vertical tool. Note that if you need, you can fly out this tool and choose different ways of aligning. Right now I am aligned to the center. I have also used down here at the bottom the Select By Element UV Toggle, which is very handy in moving things around, allowing you to select one vertex or one edge and select the whole UV element. Now I'll take this whole selection and move it over fairly close to my sidewalk and if I need, I can move some stuff in.
This is an elegant use of this texture space, where I can do one sidewalk texture all the way down at a fairly low res and it will look like a sidewalk, saving the texture space for other elements in here. The next step would be to unwrap the driveways and corners the same way so that we can align them over those existing shells and they will share textures, reserving that texture space as one texture sheet from basically all of our sidewalk and streetscape, allowing us more room if we need for plazas, steps, wider sidewalks, even things like different paving around or under cafes.
What we have seen here is that if we plan carefully, we can really economize on our texture space, lapping over UVs to a tremendous degree so they all share one texture in a way that will seem, well, seamless and non-repeating to the viewer of the game. But of course, they look like sidewalks with the right dirt and grunge on them, but if we happen to see the same dirt on another side of the block, nobody is going to notice. That's the art in forming these kinds of repetitive elements.
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