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Blocking out the basic form of a building

From: Creating Game Environments in Maya and Photoshop

Video: Blocking out the basic form of a building

Once you've got the basic plan in place, you can start to block out components of your design. What I'll do usually is estimate distances based on my concept art. As an example, doors are a terrific way to measure and estimate distances. I'll zoom in on the door on the cashier's area. Doors typically, in most North American buildings at least, or one of two heights unless they obviously look different or custom made. Doors are 6'8" tall or 8 feet, and these are standards throughout the country.

Blocking out the basic form of a building

Once you've got the basic plan in place, you can start to block out components of your design. What I'll do usually is estimate distances based on my concept art. As an example, doors are a terrific way to measure and estimate distances. I'll zoom in on the door on the cashier's area. Doors typically, in most North American buildings at least, or one of two heights unless they obviously look different or custom made. Doors are 6'8" tall or 8 feet, and these are standards throughout the country.

The way I can tell if a door is six foot eight or eight feet is where the handle is. We can see that the handle and the small handle right here are just about midway across the door, maybe a little bit below half of the knob. What that means, being that the handle was about three feet off the floor, is this door is six foot eight tall. If the handle looks like it's at the lower third of the door, the door is eight feet tall. So this door is six foot eight tall and about three feet wide. If we call this six foot eight, or almost seven, reasonably, we're looking at ten feet to the top of these windows, and hence ten feet to the top of the garage here.

If that's ten, there's probably another four maybe to the top of the building. I'll press Ctrl+0 and zoom out and see if that estimating holds. Again, it looks like ten feet here and another four. That works nicely, giving me two-foot panels on the garage doors as well. If we've got fourteen feet tall reasonably, this building comes out to-- well, let's see. Three feet, probably eight or nine.

We'll call it nine. That gives us twelve and another two feet is fourteen, another nine is twenty-three, and probably reasonably another twelve feet or fourteen feet coming out to, let's say thirty-six, to give us a nice even number. 14 x 36. I will go into Maya and start to block out this form. Here in Maya, I'm ready to begin modeling. Remember that as we showed in the workflow video, I've customized my UI a little bit.

I'll press and hold spacebar for the hotbox, and we can see I have gone into the Hotbox controls and clicked on Show Polygons, Polygons Only. I've also clicked on the space to the right of Maya and turned off the Range slider, the Time slider, and the Command Line. I've left the Tool Box and Status Line on, and I've also turned off the Shelfs. I'm using Ctrl+A to go back and forth between the Channel Box and the Attributes, and that gives me a lot more space to work in. To block out a building then, I'm going to go into my Preferences and set my units in feet.

I'll choose Window > Settings/Preferences > Preferences. In the Settings I'll make my Linear units feet. This isn't the actual model, but it's rather a bounding box. I'll hold Shift and right- click and choose PolyCube. I'll click and drag out a PolyCube and come over to the INPUTS in the Channel Box. I'll make the Depth 36. I'll put the Height at 14. And I need to get a width.

I'll press F to show it, and we can see that my gas station is much too skinny. Back here in Photoshop, I can estimate the side. If I know that this is twelve feet--having three and nine here, we'll say--reasonably I'm looking at probably close to twenty or twenty-two for the side here. I'll check out one of the other views and see if that holds. Again, reasonably, that's probably twenty feet from front to back. Back here in Maya then, I can make that Width 20.

This is the main volume of the gas station, and it's important to put in a bounding box to avoid model creep. What is model creep, you might ask. It's when you start modeling something and the model seems to grow a bit. What you thought was going to be a six-foot person actually ends up closer to eight and looks rather odd. So by putting in a bounding box, we can say all the modules of the building need to fit inside this box by the time we are done. I'll add in another one for the canopy on the front. What I'll also do is zero out the translation on this, selecting by clicking and dragging the X, Y, and Z Translate and pressing 0.

Then I'll come back to the height on the Y, and put it in at 7. I've turned off my grid, which I usually do for working. Turning it on again, though, shows me the grid is at the bottom of the box. That way the floor is at zero. So when this comes into the game, it's going to sit down on the ground plane if I have one. I like to do this with structures so that rather than working in free-floating space, things start out at zero, and that way anything I make is automatically on the floor or on the ground.

I'll add another box to put in the canopy, and then I'll start to model modular elements. Back here in Photoshop then, I can estimate the canopy. It looks like this canopy sticks out almost as far as the width of the building. If this is twenty, this is probably easily eighteen out here. And again, if I said this is four feet tall up to the rooftop, it's probably two in the height of the canopy. It also needs to line up cleanly with the garage door. What I had said is that the edge of the garage door is twenty-three feet in, and so this canopy needs to come over thirteen feet.

I'll make another box, holding Shift and right-click and choosing PolyCube. I'll drag it in and pull it up for the height. I'm going to make a Height of this 12. I'll put the Width at 13, and here's the Depth at 18. Now it looks like I'm little off in my width and depth. I can either fix this or rotate it around. I'll put the Width at 18 and the Depth at 13, and now the box for the canopy and the island is in the right place.

Finally, I'll use my Align tool to get these in the right place. I've got my canopy bounding box selected, and I'll hold Shift and select the bounding box for the station. On my hotbox, pressing and holding the spacebar, I'll choose Modify > Align tool. I'll align them front to back, bottom to bottom, and spin around and side to side.

There is my bounding volume for my gas station. If I stay within this, I'll get the proportion right and things will line up where they're supposed to. It's important to do this to block out or box out that basic form first, any key elements or major volumes, before you start modeling. That way our model stays in the right proportion and right size as you have planned it out.

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This video is part of

Image for Creating Game Environments in Maya and Photoshop
Creating Game Environments in Maya and Photoshop

45 video lessons · 6638 viewers

Adam Crespi
Author

 
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  1. 8m 26s
    1. Welcome
      42s
    2. Using the exercise files
      1m 37s
    3. What you should know before watching this course
      22s
    4. Setting up the workflow
      5m 45s
  2. 18m 51s
    1. Identifying key contours and shadows in concept art
      3m 25s
    2. Analyzing concept art for texture possibilities
      4m 19s
    3. Adding perceived detail through texture
      2m 20s
    4. The limitations of normal maps
      2m 57s
    5. Analyzing concept art for key shadow details
      2m 43s
    6. Identifying shadow details as generated or painted
      3m 7s
  3. 34m 35s
    1. What is a module?
      3m 15s
    2. Overview of the snap tools and precision modeling techniques
      6m 30s
    3. Blocking out the basic form of a building
      7m 5s
    4. Designing modular elements
      6m 29s
    5. The iterative process: Assembly and teardown
      3m 35s
    6. Planning for occlusion and texture stacking
      7m 41s
  4. 47m 10s
    1. Adding foundation elements
      8m 28s
    2. Modeling a high-poly roll-up garage door
      8m 35s
    3. Improving building details
      5m 35s
    4. Building an island and a canopy
      12m 53s
    5. Constructing high-detail doors
      11m 39s
  5. 21m 58s
    1. Adding door elements
      7m 43s
    2. Building a roof
      4m 11s
    3. Modeling light-tight walls
      5m 14s
    4. Adding miscellaneous elements such as air conditioners, signs, and steps
      4m 50s
  6. 35m 38s
    1. Mapping UV projection types
      7m 33s
    2. Moving and sewing UVs
      7m 34s
    3. Planning a texture sheet
      10m 49s
    4. Stacking UVs
      9m 42s
  7. 42m 53s
    1. Overview of ambient occlusion
      6m 46s
    2. Overview of the Transfer Map dialog and baking
      6m 4s
    3. Baking occlusion using the Batch Bake dialog
      7m 20s
    4. Using occlusion as a foundation for dirt
      12m 3s
    5. Baking a normal map using the Transfer Map dialog
      10m 40s
  8. 56m 23s
    1. Assessing the size of elements on a texture sheet
      9m 41s
    2. Drawing detail at the right size
      13m 22s
    3. Using tiling and non-tiling textures
      11m 29s
    4. Painting layers of dirt and wear
      9m 25s
    5. Painting specular and transparent textures
      12m 26s
  9. 44m 38s
    1. Cleaning up, exporting, and importing the model
      15m 19s
    2. Importing textures and marking them for use
      6m 52s
    3. Adding lights to test smoothing and textures
      7m 6s
    4. Refining materials
      14m 22s
    5. Viewing the final project
      59s
  10. 17s
    1. Next steps
      17s

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