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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'm ready to start getting in some of the additional details that really get the silhouette going. The ladder in the back is a key one, as that's a real signature piece here and really shows up in the silhouette when we look through the chair. I have got that key arch in the top and the legs are in place. I have tapered them down, and I'm also ready for the skirts here. This is one of those things that seems fairly obvious, but I have seen people miss it. In furniture like this, it's very difficult to join a flat top to a leg. And so what we need to do is actually join the legs to a skirt that goes between them and join the top to the skirt, that way those connections are easier to make.
To make those I'll go into a Side View, and I'll use my Snap Tools to get that in place. I'll hold Shift and right-click and choose Poly Cube. In this case, so I can see it clearly, I'll turn on the Wireframe on Shaded. I'll snap this cube in, pressing V for Snap and clicking on a vertex and snapping up to an opposite. Occasionally, it's not going to work, sometimes it's finicky if there's multiple vertices overlapping, and that's okay. The trick here, and I see this quite often, is to start out maybe in a different view, a Perspective like this and try that cube again.
I'll press Shift+Right-click, choose Poly Cube, and run it from the outside of the leg. I'll click and drag and let it go over to this leg snapping onto that vertex and dragging up for the height holding V to snap if I need. In this case, the height doesn't matter too much because I am going to adjust it later. What I think is I'll come in and put the Height at 2, then I'll put the Width maybe a little bulkier, here it is at .75, and I am going to get it onto the front leg. I'll hold Shift, select the front leg and on my hotbox, choose Modify and Align tool.
I'm going to align this onto the front leg, front to front. Then I'll align it top to top, and now I need to model it into place on the back because I have introduced a taper in the seat. What I'll also do is make sure I move it in to get that extra shadow line going. I'll pick it and move it in by -.25, or a quarter inch. I'll press F9 for Vertex and pick the back vertices. I'll probably spin mostly in a Bottom View and slide them on the x axis to come in, watching out that this edge here stays as parallel as I can get it.
It's okay to have a little bit of a taper. It adds character to the chair, and it's such a small area under here that I don't mind it not being perfect. Additionally, I want to make sure that this skirt lands cleanly in this leg. We can see here I may also end up moving some stuff around just so I get all the little shadow lines in the right place. I'll go into the Side View and see where this actually landed in a wireframe. We can have things clip through gently. I can try to get it as close as I can and what I think I'll do is just move these vertices in, keeping them roughly parallel and then pulling them over.
I'll actually let it clip through here. That's okay to do as it's not going to affect anything in a solid single mesh. I need to economize this a little bit. I'll press F11 for face and select all the faces. Then I'll switch over to Shaded View by pressing 5 holding Ctrl and deselecting the three visible faces. The two ends in the top are hidden by other pieces of wood so I can delete them. I know I'm going to mirror this. So I'm going to make one, unwrap it, and then clone it. I'll take this piece, since I have already got it roughly in place and clone it down to be the bottom stretcher.
I'll press Ctrl+D to clone, V+D to move a pivot, and snap it onto the bottom. I'll pull this down right onto that vertex that's where that taper actually starts. Now I'll come back in here by edge, select the two edges, hold Shift and right-click, and Bridge. I had already set my Bridge to be zero divisions, however, if you forget to do that--or you're in a clean install of Maya where the Divisions are at the default--you can go into the Poly Bridge Edge, and there's Divisions at zero. With those two edges selected, I'll press W for move and pull them down.
I am going to say that it's roughly half that height of the original. I'll make sure this goes into the right place. It looks pretty good like this, and I'll just check the thickness, maybe it needs to thin down a little bit, or I can leave it alone. I'm working by edge here. You can really work by edge, face, vertex, whatever you'd need. As long as it's coming out right, you can select and move different things to move that chair around. I had picked two edges, which by definition take this face with it, which is really what I wanted to move. I can clone this stretcher over to the other side, and now I'll work on the ladder in the back.
Once I have got the basic form blocked out, what I'm doing is adding in pieces that really contribute to the silhouette. When we stand back, and we look at this chair, that skirt, and that stretcher are very prominent, and we need to see them in place. When we see the chair more from the front, seeing the front stretcher, and that ladder back are very important. I'll go into my Front View, and there's my chair, and I'll use the same technique holding Shift and right-clicking, choosing Poly Cube and snapping right between that back. I'll snap these elements in, and this time it liked it. I'll drag up for the height and spin around in the Perspective.
Now what I'll do is change the depth of this block over. I'll go look at the reference and see how big it needs to be. In my estimate, they're about as tall as this side stretcher, call it maybe an inch and a half, if that big. I'll take this Depth back down to an inch and a half. I'll make the Height three quarters of an inch, and then I'll take this piece and pull it back into the chair. What I need to do is actually add a curve to this. In here I'll put the Subdivisions Width at 3. It doesn't have an arch top necessarily, like the top of the back does.
What it needs is a curve to accommodate a person sitting. By putting in three subdivisions I have got just enough geometry that I can take these middle faces and pull them back slightly introducing a slight bend in that piece. Now I'll rotate it pressing E for Rotation and spinning it. What I'll watch here is that this edge on the left of this ladder is the same degree of rotation, or is parallel to this edge of the back, it's a little bit more, and I think it's in a good place. Now I can take this and clone it.
I'll press F8 for Object, W for Move, and Ctrl+D to Clone. Before I clone, I may want to unwrap. What I'll do though is clone this briefly and the reason to clone it is to check, did I get it right? I'll pick both and pull them up. There is 2 and one more. With three of them in place, even allowing for some slight movement and knowing that I'm going to delete them when I'm unwrapping, I need to check it against the reference. What we are looking for here in the silhouette is that when these are cloned, they don't look too thick.
It looks like my need to be higher and a little bit thinner. What I'll do also to check this is go into Viewport 2.0, and I'll turn off the Wireframe on Shaded and make sure at Viewport 2.0, that I go into the dialog, and I'll turn on the Multisample Anti-aliasing. It's good to test it this way. This way you see if your edges are holding up or if the jaggies in the edge are obscuring a possible detail. What I can see I need to do here is to take all of these elements and slim them down. I'll press R for scale and make sure in Scale by pressing and holding R that I am working in the objects axis.
I'll scale them in on the Y axis just a little bit, and then I'll pull them up. I'll reduce the spacing and see if I got this right. I think I have got my ladder back in a pretty good place. It's curved, and I can see that curve when I look down on it. As that default controller is 2 meters high, there's a good chance of seeing a chair in a view something like this. So it's important to see that subtle curve. From the front, the ladder back is working nicely and from the side I get my elements and even obliquely, I can see just a little bit of that curve. I have got my single stretcher and skirt in ready for cloning to the other side.
The last thing to do is to add the seat detail. What I'll do is rough in some of the faces here. It's not that we need an enormous amount of variation, but it does need to have a little bit of geometry to wiggle. I'll try introducing some edge loops, holding Shift and right-clicking, choosing the Insert Edge Loop tool and using equal edge loops. I'll try putting in 4. When I click on this, you can see I have broken the edge flow as part of that bevel. What I may need to do is click several times. There are those on the front and back, and now if I click on that edge, it wants to go in the middle.
That's not what I'm after and so I'll switch over. I'm using the multiple edge loops to get where I still have the existing edge flow the original edges in the front divisions. Now I'll hold Shift and right-click and use my Interactive Split tool. I'll go from edge to edge, and I will hit Enter to accept it and go from vertex to vertex, really using those existing edges I have got as markers. I'll hit G and repeat this once more. One more repetition, and I have got enough geometry in to start to make the seat.
I'm not going to go in and carve in the seat. I accidentally hit F8 there, thinking I was done, I was going to get out of it. It's important when you're using a tool like this to remember to accept the tool, pressing Enter to finish splitting that edge. What I am going to do here is add a little bit of variation. If we look at the original, we can see that the seat is carved in and really what I'm after is that I have got a dip in the front. I can introduce another edge loop along here if I need but I don't want to spend all the geometry to carve in a seat and many chairs are fairly flat.
So I am going to economize here and say I'm varying away from the reference, instead of having a fully carved, almost tractor style seat, what I am going to do is put in just a little bit of wiggle. I'll press F10 for Edge and zoom in, and it looks like I have the minorest of errors to fix. My split polygon didn't quite go in the right place. I'll spin around and see if I need to fix this in the back, but the back looks good. Occasionally, this happens, and it's worth seeing how to get out of a jam. I'll press F9 for Vertex and under Edit Mesh I'll choose the Merge Vertex tool.
What I am going to do is merge these vertices together, stitching them closed, making sure I have got one vertex there at each corner. Now I'm ready to add the seat in. What I'll do is press F10 for Edge, W for Move, deselect. I'll make sure that I reselect and deselect my edges. I'll pick this edge, hold Shift, and pick the other one. I am going to pull these down slightly and then pull the middle one up. This gives me just enough contour in here to make it believable that the seat has some contour going on. It doesn't have to be huge.
As long as we have got some variation off a flat seat, it looks pretty good. If you'd like, you could come back and split this polygon, quadding out this mesh, but I am going to leave it alone for now. It's going to triangulate when I bring it over anyway. And so I am ready to start unwrapping my chair. There is one more thing I need to do. And hopefully, you spotted it in the top too. Those edges need to be softened. I'll hold Shift and right-click and choose Soften/Harden Edge. I'll soften them all up and come back and harden pieces. My Viewport 2.0 is giving me some interesting looking things.
I'll switch back to the High Quality for this one, or over to the Default Quality so I can see it better. What I need to do is make sure that all of the top is soft, all of these edges stay hard and all of these rings around are soft. I'll press F11 for face, pick the bottom face, hold Shift and right-click, and harden it. Only that harden is not available. I'll choose Normals > Harden Edge. I'm going to do the same on the front, holding Shift and double clicking to select a face ring, picking G for repeat last. I'll do the same on the side, and we can see this geometry hardening up nicely.
Now I'll come back and pick the top edges on my curve. I'll pick one, hold Shift, and double-click to end that selection. It looks like I have got an issue here and again what we are seeing is because I have broken that edge flow, I need to do some unique selection. I'll harden them and harden these. As we have seen previously, I always want to work over my hard and soft edges, making sure that things are exactly hard or soft, not somewhere between. There is my seat, and it looks pretty good, and I can tell I have got some contour going on.
Without being excessive on the polygon count, it's definitely not just flat. I'm ready to start unwrapping. I'll unwrap and then start to clone things over, laying out elements on the texture sheet and making the most out of a small amount of wood grain.
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