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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.
In this video I'll look at how to plan out the modeling of a chair. It may seem like the kind of thing you want to dive in and start modeling on, but it's very easy to get wrong. And as we're surrounded by chairs and use them daily, we tend to have a very instinctual feel of how they should feel and look. What I look at in a chair, and this is a good example to start with is first, the overall height and the seat height. The height of the chair back here is at the height where a normal person average height can reach over, grab the back and pull on the chair, so it tends to be right about 3 feet off the floor give or take. The seat height is also important.
A chair has a higher seat height than let's say a sofa. So this seat may be at 16 to 18 inches off the floor, so somebody can sit upright in it at a table. If I assume that this seat here is at 16, we're probably looking at 32 or 33 up to the top of the back, which seems to work. If it's 16 up to the seat, reasonably the chair is about 14 maybe 13 across and the seat might be 12 or 13 deep. We have another couple of inches, though, back here where this curve occurs.
What I'll do a lot of times is to mark out some key heights in a document like this, and let me tell you this is actually very good reference. There have been enough times from a client I have gotten a Xerox, a photocopy of something that has been faxed over. Now I realize I'm dating myself a little bit here in the technology, but I have had to deal with really awful reference. So being able to search out good reference like this is a boon to modelers. What I'll do is put in some quick height marks. I'll make sure that my brush is set to Normal at full size, and I'll put in a line here and a line there and then some text. I'll put this in at 17 inches.
My text is very, very tiny. I'll hit Ctrl+Enter to accept it and scale it out, pressing Ctrl+T and scaling it up. I don't really care what font it is. I really care what the measurement says right now, and if it's too blurry I can always go back and fix that. I'll add in some lines so that in case I come back to this, I can remember I said, oh, it's 17 inches tall. What I'll do, then, is put corresponding marks over here, up to the top and down here on the bottom. I'll put more lines up here, and it's okay if they squiggle a little bit because this is just really a rough drawing, this will be 34.
In this case I'll take this text, select it by pressing Ctrl+A and change the point size. Here even at 72 it's pretty small, so I'll zoom in and make sure I grab it and make it bigger. We could enter in a custom point size if we want. But it's a working drawing so I'm not going to be too picky. It's a good idea to go through and kind eyeball out the dimensions, maybe even measure a chair you have got. Figuring out the right size, because a little bit off in one way or another is going to look odd. And what we want to avoid is things that are obvious in our daily lives looking just a little bit off, because then we lose track of what's going on, and we say, wait, this doesn't look right. What was I doing in this game? And the immersion of the game is lost. Here's what I'll plan in the modeling of it.
I have got two symmetric legs in front and two in back, so reasonably if I modeled one back leg and one front leg I can clone them over. I have got general purpose blocks under here for the stretchers and the skirt. These are really just boxes that need to snug into the legs, but this shadow line right there is important. I'll use a different color and mark out some key shadow lines. I'll make myself a new layer and draw on that, pressing B for Brush and downsizing the brush a bit. What I'll do a lot of times for chair because the mesh lines are pretty straightforward is make sure I mark out on here key shadow lines, right here where the leg overlaps and goes in front of that skirt, that's a key element.
Another key piece might be right here, and really it's not an exact mesh drawing as we have done previously as much as a thorough accounting or acknowledgment of the key parts of the design. This chair is crafted, even though maybe just a cheap chair. There is an element of craft and design to every piece, and we need to have that come across in our model. Even if the poly count is low, the leg still tapers and these actually do flare out. This curve is important, and this curve at the back as important as well.
What I'm going to do is put a line across here and also a couple down here, and this lets me know that that is curved right there. It's a big deal to get it right and to get the overall silhouette looking like what we should have. If this was too vertical or straight up and down it would look uncomfy, and it would have looked odd, unnaturally un-chair like, and that's what we want to avoid. So when you're modeling, look things over and plan it out a little bit, look at the key details in the model that you know need to come across and look at the subtle curves so you can plan and for your polys there later.
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