Game Prop Creation in Maya
Illustration by Mark Todd

Working with hard edges and subdividing


From:

Game Prop Creation in Maya

with Adam Crespi

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Video: Working with hard edges and subdividing

In this video I'll look at sculpting a high poly model, starting out by subdividing and hardening some edges. What I'll do is take these three boards and combine them. This way instead of projecting one at a time, I can project all three. As each of them will have a cage that runs around the board for projection. I'll select them. As a note, I'm here in face, and I need to right-click and make sure, I'm in Object mode before I combine. Otherwise Maya will return an error saying there's no object selected. With them all selected I'll choose Mesh and Combine.
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  1. 7m 22s
    1. Welcome
      43s
    2. Using the exercise files
      1m 35s
    3. What you should know before watching this course
      23s
    4. Setting up the workflow
      4m 41s
  2. 46m 16s
    1. Overview of modeling a large prop and planning for modular textures and models
      6m 53s
    2. Blocking out the overall form
      6m 14s
    3. Adding curved panels
      3m 26s
    4. Rounding the corners
      6m 46s
    5. Unwrapping the face frame
      6m 39s
    6. Unwrapping the sides
      5m 8s
    7. Moving and sewing UVs
      5m 23s
    8. Laying out the UV coordinates
      5m 47s
  3. 1h 50m
    1. Overview of the texturing process and PSD networks
      4m 43s
    2. Creating a bump map for the sides
      10m 55s
    3. Adding details to the bump map
      8m 6s
    4. Drawing the bump map for the front
      7m 51s
    5. Adding details to the panels
      7m 45s
    6. Painting the diffuse texture and planning the layers
      3m 35s
    7. Painting the base coat and the logo
      5m 24s
    8. Adding labels and other markings
      10m 45s
    9. Adding soft rust
      8m 32s
    10. Adding rust bubbles
      8m 58s
    11. Setting up a library of gas pump textures
      6m 40s
    12. Painting dirt and rust variations
      5m 23s
    13. Weathering away the paint
      5m 1s
    14. Converting bump maps to normal maps
      5m 36s
    15. Testing the maps
      11m 8s
  4. 1h 28m
    1. Overview of modeling small props
      1m 59s
    2. Modeling a sledgehammer
      6m 11s
    3. Modeling a pry bar
      6m 26s
    4. Adding detail and hardening edges
      5m 28s
    5. Unwrapping as part of building a texture sheet for small tools
      8m 27s
    6. Modeling a metal ladder
      8m 51s
    7. Unwrapping and cloning
      8m 46s
    8. Placing the clean texture
      8m 39s
    9. Laying out a texture sheet for multiple tools
      8m 37s
    10. Painting rusty steel
      7m 46s
    11. Adding dirt and wear
      5m 42s
    12. Planning for optimal texture usage
      7m 37s
    13. Painting dirt and age variations
      3m 42s
  5. 1h 45m
    1. Modeling furniture using simple parts and reusable textures
      2m 53s
    2. Planning and analyzing the modeling of a chair
      4m 56s
    3. Blocking out the basic form
      8m 24s
    4. Adding detail and softening edges
      6m 42s
    5. Refining the silhouette
      12m 9s
    6. Blocking out the form of a round chair
      7m 39s
    7. Adding detail and softening the edges of a round chair
      5m 20s
    8. Unwrapping as part of building a texture sheet for furniture
      14m 36s
    9. Planning the modeling of a table
      3m 14s
    10. Blocking out the basic table form
      4m 41s
    11. Adding legs to the table
      7m 6s
    12. Breaking up the model for texturing
      7m 55s
    13. Laying out the wood texture
      9m 29s
    14. Reusing parts to make a round table
      10m 12s
  6. 39m 23s
    1. Understanding the importance of painting textures from scratch
      2m 9s
    2. Creating the initial grain lines
      4m 43s
    3. Adding value variation across the grain
      2m 22s
    4. Warping the grain
      2m 50s
    5. Adding knots
      4m 27s
    6. Colorizing the grain and planning for stains
      6m 53s
    7. Cutting out boards for a UV layout
      5m 26s
    8. Adding patina and wear to a final texture
      10m 33s
  7. 1h 2m
    1. Understanding the importance of a low poly count
      4m 46s
    2. Overview of normal maps
      9m 26s
    3. Overview of the high-poly projection pipeline
      3m 10s
    4. Planning the UV space for projection
      5m 29s
    5. Working with hard edges and subdividing
      7m 22s
    6. Adding details by beveling and extruding
      6m 50s
    7. Fixing geometry
      7m 39s
    8. Using the Sculpt Geometry tool and soft selection to add dents
      9m 32s
    9. Baking the high-poly model onto the low-poly model to produce a normal map
      8m 21s
  8. 51m 4s
    1. Overview of Mudbox
      4m 26s
    2. Preparing for a smooth export to Mudbox
      7m 43s
    3. Importing from Mudbox: Choosing the right resolution
      5m 9s
    4. Using the sculpt tools
      8m 30s
    5. Painting
      8m 58s
    6. Exporting paint layers from Mudbox
      1m 35s
    7. Extracting and exporting a normal map from Mudbox
      6m 2s
    8. Importing and assigning objects and maps in Unity
      8m 41s
  9. 41m 4s
    1. Overview of ambient occlusion and specularity
      5m 55s
    2. Setting up ambient occlusion as a texture
      7m 3s
    3. Using ambient occlusion as a foundation for dirt
      6m 44s
    4. Using ambient occlusion as a foundation for rust
      10m 5s
    5. Painting a specular map
      6m 48s
    6. Streamlining the import process: Placing maps in the right channels
      4m 29s
  10. 21m 46s
    1. Overview of importing into Unity
      3m 15s
    2. Preparing and exporting props to Unity
      7m 54s
    3. Cloning props in Unity with different looks
      5m 21s
    4. Adding lights to test smoothing and textures
      5m 16s
  11. 22s
    1. Next steps
      22s

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Watch the Online Video Course Game Prop Creation in Maya
9h 33m Intermediate Aug 20, 2012

Viewers: in countries Watching now:

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.

Topics include:
  • Planning for modular textures and models
  • Blocking out the overall form of a prop
  • Moving and sewing UVs
  • Laying out UV coordinates
  • Texturing with bump maps
  • Converting bump maps to normal maps
  • Unwrapping and cloning objects
  • Breaking up a model for texturing
  • Painting textures from scratch
  • Adding detail with beveling and extruding
  • Baking high poly model onto a low poly model
  • Painting in Mudbox
  • Importing and assigning objects and maps in Unity
  • Adding lights in Unity
Subject:
3D + Animation
Software:
Maya Unity 3D
Author:
Adam Crespi

Working with hard edges and subdividing

In this video I'll look at sculpting a high poly model, starting out by subdividing and hardening some edges. What I'll do is take these three boards and combine them. This way instead of projecting one at a time, I can project all three. As each of them will have a cage that runs around the board for projection. I'll select them. As a note, I'm here in face, and I need to right-click and make sure, I'm in Object mode before I combine. Otherwise Maya will return an error saying there's no object selected. With them all selected I'll choose Mesh and Combine.

Remember that combining or extracting or separating doesn't disturb UVs, it's transparent, meaning that the UVs are still applied to the faces regardless of what object they're part of. I'll delete the history. As we can see over here in my Attribute Editor, this is getting a little bit long. I'll press Shift+Alt+D. Alternately, I can choose Edit > Delete by Type > History. There's my objects, and we can see I've got them as different pieces, there is the color, there's a bump, and there's blinn4, and really these materials are just my experiments in the normal map.

For now, it doesn't really matter, as I'm going to replace these with a normal map later. What I may want to do though is streamline a little bit. As part of the baking process in a later video, we will see Maya put a normal map in the material that's applied. So to streamline it a little bit, with this object selected, I'll right-click, and choose Assign Existing Material > Color. This takes it back to just the raw color on here. There is no bump or normal applied, and I'm ready to get in and start subdividing and sculpting. There's different ways of doing this. A lot of folks will go in the Viewport and press 1 or 2 and what we're seeing here is that it's doing a smooth preview, it's trying to show how it looks when it's subdivided, where every polygon is divided into four for every one iteration of smoothing. However, this gets me blobjects, or pointy or cigar-shaped pieces that are really not the boards I want.

These started out as boxes, and the original boxes did have hard edges on it. However, in the smooth preview, they're not respecting the hard edges, and I would also like to have high poly objects plus the low poly. What I'll do then is rename this object, calling it top_boards_low. Now with this object renamed, so I can find it. I'll pick it press Ctrl+D to duplicate and rename the duplicate top_boards_high. I'll hide the unselected one, which is the top_boards_low and start to sculpt the high.

I'll choose Display > Hide > Hide Unselected. In the baking process, we start with a good low poly foundation and a good unwrap. Then once we start to add in poly's, we're propagating the original UVs. Ideally then, the projection is not too many percent outside of the original, we shouldn't have to force Maya to project greatly outside the original, as what we are looking for is local surface detail we can sculpt in. Now I'll look at my hard and soft edges. A quick way to test this is to choose Mesh and Smooth. And in the Smoothing dialog, we can choose Propagating Edge Hardness. I'll see what this looks like.

Typically what I'll do is smooth first and then start to add in some bevels. I'll propagate the edge hardness and smooth the UVs. I'll click Smooth, and I get subdivided boards. What this tells me is that the original hard and soft edges are not quite there. I may have moved them around, or I may have distorted them somewhat. What I would like to do then is make sure I get in here, and on this high poly board harden up all those edges, holding Shift and right-click and choosing Soften/Harden Edge > Harden Edge.

Now I'm going to subdivide this by smoothing it, and I should see those edges maintained. Down here in preserve I'll make sure I've check hard edges, and I'm going to put the division levels up at 2. I'm going to run it exponentially. This is essentially NURMS, Non-uniform Rational Mesh Subdivision. We'll see it referred to in other applications as this, but the process is the same all-around. Take every one poly, divide it into four, for each division level. We have the option here of redirecting that subdivision and the redirection comes from hard edges, creasing, and waiting if it's acceptable in the application.

I'll hit Smooth, and there is my subdivided mesh, it looks pretty decent with a couple of exceptions. The straight boards are just fine as they subdivide nicely and are ready for beveling and generally moving around. The curve board here needs an extra edge, and we can see right there that I'm getting a cross. The subdivided mesh is flowing into the bevel. I'll undo one step and introduce an edge loop or two across here. I'll hold Shift and right-click and choose my Insert Edge Loop tool.

I'll check the dialog, which I usually do because I may have left it in something like use multiple edge loops. I'll put it at relative distance and close, and I'll land an edge loop across here. We can see as part of beveling that corner that I've broken that edge flow, and so what I'm going to do is zoom in, and now use my interactive split tool to land that edge loop across. I'll hold Shift and right-click and choose Interactive Split. As a word here, to those of you who may have used a previous version of Maya, if you go back to the whole object by pressing F8 and then hit Shift and right-click, you've got split, and under Split is the original Split Polygon tool or the Interactive Split tool, we can use either one, it's really up to you.

I'll use Split Poly and land it on a vertex. Come over here to the other side, and snap it on, hitting Enter to finish. I'll zoom around to the other side, and do the same. Wrapping this new edge loop completely around, pressing G to repeat last, and snapping that split right across. I'll hit Enter, and I'll just test that subdivision choosing Mesh > Smooth, it's definitely better although I can see where I need to merge some vertices. On the top at least, those edge loops are not nearly as ragged.

On the side there's still pinching in, and the reason is I need to make sure these vertices are merged. I'll press F9, select those vertices, actually I can select all of them, it doesn't really matter. If they're already merged they're not going to merge further. I'll hold Shift and right-click and choose Merge Vertices, and Merge Vertices. With the vertices merged, I'll try smoothing once more. It's decent, although I'm still getting some interesting issues here, I may need to just go in and straighten that out by hand, or just except it.

Really, what I'm after is beveling these corners, so I don't mind if the interiors here have a little bit of a zig to them, I can probably use that when I start to push it around and sculpt. I need to make sure that I've got my hard and soft edges in place, before I subdivide. And planning in an elegant edge flow to stop that subdivision is important, you may find prior to subdividing, you need to introduce new edge lines in just for the purpose of holding that subdivided mesh out there. We also need to have two objects, high and a low poly, we're going to project from the high into the low, and we need to make sure that the high has enough geometry on it to be sculpted.

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