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This course is a practical guide to constructing 3D buildings that can be used to populate video game environments. Author Adam Crespi starts with a gas station taken from a photograph—retrieving measurements and dimensions with modular blocking and planning techniques in Adobe Photoshop—and then re-creates the building in Maya with polygonal modeling and advanced texturing techniques. The course shows how to model elements such as walls, doors, and roofs, including stacking UVs on a texture sheet, and also sheds light on simulating real-world details like dirt, wear, and grime, using ambient occlusion and normal baking in a high- to low-poly workflow. The final chapter shows how to export the model to the Unity gaming engine for final cleanup and rendering.
In games we use texture to add a lot of detail to a model. This differs radically from a film pipeline where everything might be geometry. In a game then, what we're going to see is that a lot of the realism is implied through a texture. The dividing line between geometry and texture is silhouette. If we can see it in silhouette, it needs to be geometry. If we can see it in a flat plane, it can be a texture. As an example--and I'll zoom in on the canopy to show it-- this scratching indenting up here is a texture.
There is nothing in this, although it looks really nice, that is popping out in silhouette. It doesn't show up in a side view. Whatever we see this scratching indenting and bubbled paint, it's only against that same face. However, this curve shows up in silhouette. Likewise, the framing under here is actually done in texture. We can't really get anywhere and see under that enough to see that framing, and it's all so dark. We can tell by the lighting here that it's generally all in shadow.
So as long as there is stuff going on in the canopy here, that's done in a texture. The same goes for the doors. Although these doors appear to have a lot of detail, really it's all flat. Between the combination of the diffuse texture, a normal map, and a baked ambient occlusion, we can make this detail really pop out a flat polygon. This door is example of geometry if we were to include it, for two reasons: one, it might need to swing open--the player may need to access the space-- two, even if the player can't swing it open, it will stick out and show in silhouette here.
And so this needs to be geometry. I'm also going to say that this foundation element is geometry. It's going to share text or probably with the pieces above it, but it sticks out a little bit, and this will make the building look not quite perfect when it touches the ground, again disturbing that silhouette ever so slightly, as we can see here in the building adjacent to the ground, just enough variation in here that makes it convincingly real. If this came straight down to the ground, we'd save a couple polygons, but it would look too perfect, and that wouldn't match with a dirty, crunched texture we are going to put on.
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