Join Adam Crespi for an in-depth discussion in this video Establishing visually permeable boundaries, part of Creating Cityscapes in 3ds Max.
Bounding a city is as important as deciding, what does that city look like? The reason for this is simple. There's an enormous amount of detail in a city. And if we don't decide really quick how to bound our city, we'll be faced with making more city and making more city and making yet more city. What we need to do then, is to establish visually permeable boundaries, because cities very rarely end arbitrarily. This is a hard boundary here.
Puget Sound. Where the city of Seattle has grown up along the water, and we've got the Alaskan Way Viaduct and Alaskan Way as the last street here on the water. I'll take a quick look in a street view. And see how this city actually ends. Here I am in Alaskan Way. And I'm looking out the the E Hotel and here's some of the cruise ship terminals. We can see across the way, Bremerton and Banebridge Island. And in this case we're seeing the actual end of a city. The city has flowed out to hit the water.
The little fingers of city, the piers, have reached out, but this is a hard boundary. And it's okay to see the ocean here. For example, if you're down in California, and you're at the beach, you're seeing the end of the continent. And, that is okay to just see ocean out there. The downside is this only feasible in some places, because when we turn around here, we can see lots and lots of city. I've taken some street views and I'll jump into Photoshop and take a quick look at those to see when we're standing in a city, how do we bound that city? Here in Photoshop.
I've opened up some of the reference imagery in the reference folder in your Exercise Files. Streetview1, 2, 3, 4, and under construction. What we can see here, and again this is the Belltown area of Seattle, is that this city is bounded visually by turning streets. It's also bounded visually by buildings. That the sky I can see only exists in this view. Above those buildings, so as long as I see sky above a variable skyline, I'm okay with seeing just sky.
There's nothing in any of these views to say that the city ends distinctly, but rather that the view is visually permeable, even though it may be blocked somewhere down in the street level. In this case, we're looking south. We can see that the street, or the city grid, has changed and so we're looking directly at a building. And that's a great way to block a street, is to have it T into a building, or the street turns. Here's another view, in this case looking north, with the Space Needle actually being to the right of this view.
And we can see here that the trees sort of get together, and actually that's Seattle Center blocking the view. It's a large super block, or blocking condition capping this street. Here's another example. A hill. In this case, we can see, well, somewhat over the hill. At least enough to suggest that off in the distance, there is more because we can see the traffic lights. Right in there. The big deal, though, is that the hill, again, let's us block some of this city. We can have a hill and simply not be able to go on the other side because of a drop-off.
And we can bound our city, even though it is visually permeable. Lastly, I'll look at my under construction jpg. And the reason I inserted this one in here is to show how the character of the city changes at different heights and can help us block the view. We can see in here, that this brand new still under construction building, has a section down below that matches the character of some of the other buildings we've seen. About a four or five story section. And we can tell it's going to have a brick veneer put on it. That's what all these different shelves are, they're the window sills and so on.
And it's ready for brick. It'll match in the character of the surrounding city. But then we can already see above it, there's taller building, well, pieces going in. It's a good way to kind of block it. Where we, declare a datum, at which there's a height change and building change, and we use those tall buildings to block parts of our view. They can be viewable in a visually permeable boundary. That is our tall buildings can be viewable, in the distance to block the view. And we just can't seem to get to the base of them, because it's blocked by the occasional road closure, or hill, or cliff, or whatever it is, or a T intersection.
And although we can see it, we can't get to the edge of the city, but it never feels like it's in the same place. In any of these views, we can't identify a consistent boundary. There's no seawall, there's no fortress, there's no freeway that wraps around the city to ring and holds us in. It's visually permeable. And we think, that's the operative word, we think that the city will keep going, even though in reality it's carefully restricted by us, the designers.
- Conceptualizing the city
- Planning the city in Illustrator
- Drawing buildings
- Laying out the city grid
- Creating tree and lighting elements
- Building a reference structure
- Modeling streets modules and fixtures
- Creating referenced objects and mental ray Proxy objects
- Exporting layer markers for compositing