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Explore the world of modeling and texturing 3D game props and assets in Autodesk Maya. Author Adam Crespi provides strong technical modeling techniques, from blocking basic forms and leveraging simple parts and reusable textures, to simulating real-world detail like dirt, wear, and grain with UV maps and ambient occlusion. The course includes workflow and integration considerations such as planning UV space for projection, and also steps into Mudbox and Unity for further refinement.
I have got the rough plan of my chair in place, and I have got a good reference image. I'm ready to get in the Maya and start blocking out this form. I have got some key heights and sizes I know I need to make sure I get in the right place, the seat height, the back height, and the width and depth overall. Here in Maya I have started a new scene, and I'm going to check my units. I'll go to Window > Settings/Preferences > Preferences. In my Settings I'll put my linear units in inches. If you want to work in metric, that's fine. Just make sure you got the right heights in place. I'll click Save, and I'll start out with a box.
As we have seen previously. I'm going to make myself a bounding box, and I'll put this bounding box at 0, 0, 0. Now, put in the sizes. What I had said on the chair--and I'll go back to look at the reference on it-- is that it's about 14 inches wide, 14 or 15 deep, including the curve of the back legs, and 34 tall. 14 inches across the front should work nicely. I'm calling it 15 inches because there is this seat, but then there's this back that curves out, so that gives me probably 15 from front to back overall, 34 tall and a seat height of 17. I'll go into my polyCube1 attributes, and I'll put the width in here at 14.
Here is the height at 34 and a depth of 15. I'll put two divisions on the height. I'll zoom out, and there is my box in place. If I look in the transforms, it's at 0, 0, and I need to raise it up. I'll put Translate Y at 17, and now this chair will be on the floor, assuming my finished floor is at 0. We can see when I turn on the grid, that this bounding box is centered on 0 and down on 0. When I make the chair, it will come in automatically on the floor, and that way it'll light right, and it'll also sit down in case I have physics applied to it, because I may want to walk into a room and kick over a chair.
Thankfully, this edge loop corresponds correctly to my seat height without my having to move it. If I need it, I can always pick it and move it up and down, but this will work well for now. What I'll do, then, is press Ctrl+A to go to the channel box and make myself a new display layer, creating a new layer and assigning the selected objects. I will rename this layer Bbox, bounding box for short. I'll click Save, and I'm ready to block in the form. What I'll do to start is get some boxes in for the big pieces. I'll start out holding Shift and right-clicking and choosing Poly Cube. I'm going to make the seat. I'll make in, well, any old box here.
What I'm going to guess at is that the seat is 14 inches wide and about 13 deep, the rest of this width is accommodated by that curved leg. I'll put the width in here at 14 and the height I'm going to put at 1. I'll put the depth at 13, and now I'll use my align tool to get it in the right place. I'll press and hold the spacebar for the Hotbox and choose Modify > Align tool, I'll align it on the center, centered and forward to the front then I'll press W for move. I'll pick this seat and snap the pivot holding V and D onto one of the corners. I'll pull it down and snap onto that edge loop, and now I'm going to make the legs.
In looking at front legs, they're basically boxes, but they do need to taper at the bottom. It's a little bit lower than halfway, so I'll snap a box in and then put an edge loop down there. I'll hold Shift and right-click and choose Poly Cube. I'll click and drag in a poly cube and release for the height. I'm going to make the height of this 16, because I know that this is an inch thick and 17 inches up. I'm going to put the width and depth here at 2 and 2. I'll put the Subdivisions Height at 2 as well, and I'll move it into the right place.
In this case. I'm going to align to my bounding box choosing Modify > Align tool. I'll align it to the bottom up to the front and out to the side. I'll zoom in, and now I'm going to move it in a little bit. The chair has a little bit of a lip here where the top overhangs the leg. I'll use my relative transform, and I'm going to pull it back by a quarter inch putting -0.25 in the X and back by a quarter inch in the Z -0.25 as well. I'll hit Enter, and there's that lip.
Now I'll pick these edges either by vertex or edge, and I'll pull them down. I'm going to move them down in the Y, let's say an inch and a half, and I think that loop is at the right place. I'll right-click and choose Object. If you notice here. I'm right clicking, and it's giving me a different dialog, because I'm not on a mesh line to start. Now I'll right-click on a mesh, and there's Object mode. My leg looks pretty good in the right place, but I need to taper the bottom. What I'll do is spin underneath, and in this case I'm going to scale a face pressing F11 for face and picking the bottom. I'll press R for scale and V and D to move the pivot. I'll put the pivot for this face on the corner, and I'm going to hold Ctrl and scale on the Y axis to taper that leg in, looking at the scaling factor down in the lower left of my viewport down to about 0.7 or so. There is the tapered leg.
The idea here is before I really get into modeling serious detail around wrapping. I'm going to block in that basic form, making sure that I have got all the elements roughed in and in the right place. I'll put in the back leg and then the other pieces are just boxes I can snap between. What I'll do for the back is to make a new box. I'll hold Shift and right-click and choose Poly Cube. I'm going to make a poly cube that's fairly slim. I'll go into the Inputs, and I'll put the width and depth at one and a half and one and a half. I'll make the height 34, and I'm going to give this some divisions along the length.
Actually, I should make the height 33, as this chair had a bulge or a crown we will call it in the back, so the leg only comes up to about 33. On the height I'm going to give it some subdivisions. I'll try it at 6, and this will let me bend it. It's a very shallow curve, and I don't want to spend too many polys on it, but I do need to have that arc in there. As I don't have my Shell showing, I'll press my spacebar for my Hotbox. I'll click in this space to the right of Maya and turn on Shell. I'll go to the Deformation Shell, and there is the Nonlinear Bend tool. I'll put a bend on this, and then I'll press Ctrl+A to go to the attributes.
In the bend1 there is a curvature. I'm going to add a little bit of a curvature to this back curving it appropriately. What I need to do is to rotate this bend over, so it goes in the right direction. I'll press E for rotate, making sure I press and hold E and left- clicking anywhere to see if Discrete Rotate is on, and I'll rotate the bend 90 degrees over. Then I'll see if this looks right. And judging here in a side view, I think I have got the bend pretty good. I'll turn off the grid and just pull back the curvature a little bit, it doesn't need to be a lot, and what I think I'll also do is take the Low Bound down.
What this does is straightens out that back leg just a bit, so it's straighter on the bottom, more curved on the top. I'll right-click and choose Object. Right now, I have got the bend handle into to the mouse which is why I'm getting this dialog. When I pick the object and right-click, I can choose Object mode, I'll delete the history by pressing Shift+Alt+D and move the leg into place. It looks like I have got this back pretty well, and it does actually sit forward, notching into the seat a little bit. I'll pull that in and see if it's in the right direction. It looks pretty good.
The last part then is to get it in the right place, holding Shift and aligning by pressing Modify and Align tool on the hotbox to that bounding box. I'll pull it in and just move this leg in a touch, that way the back can have a little bit of a taper. I'll bring this in by half an inch and go back and check my reference once more. What I'm doing here is really blocking out that chair, making sure I have got it all in the right size and proportion and saying do the elements before I have highly refined them look right? Is the seat in the right place? Does the leg have the right taper? And is the rear leg curved enough.
If I mirror these over, and I'm imagining what it looks like to mirror, does it look right? Is it too chunky or too thin? When I put the stretchers in, will it work? It's important to model it in pieces and block in that form, making sure you get roughed in elements before you start refining and adding too many faces in to deal with. I'll keep blocking it in, mirroring over, and adding in the simple boxes such as the stretchers, skirts, and other elements, then I'll see if I have got the proportion right, and finally, massage the detail a little bit if I need, pushing things up and down as they need to be right on to the reference.
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