While the concept of building 3D modular models is simple, 3D programs aren't set up well to model to a grid or modular fashion by default. In this video I'll walk you through the processes necessary to set up MAX so that you can model easily convert MAX's default units to a measurement system more friendly to modular modeling.
- [Voiceover] We'll have to do some housekeeping in our 3-D program before we start modeling. 3-D programs by default are set up to get you going right away, however modular modeling requires we change the settings for the units, the grid, and a few other tool sets. Let's take a look at the changes we want to make to the units first. Now to start with I'm going to reset this scene so that I have a clean scene to work with. I'm gonna drag out a box. I'm gonna turn off my units first, and just drag out a box as we normally would.
Now, this particular box is not set to any particular unit scale, you can also see it's not snapping to the grid in any particular way, and that's because we haven't set Max up correctly yet. So, to start with I'm going to go to Customize and Units Setup. Now, it's important to mention at this point that units are only units within the 3-D program that we're using and every program uses different units. Even if the units are named the same, they may not actually transfer the same from one program to the next.
So you could see here how I have my units set up. By default, Max is set to either US Standard or Generic Units. And those are fine for most modeling, but they're not going to help us much for modular modeling. Now, I've set mine up to Custom and I've renamed them UE4 units because that's eventually what I was going to be using these assets for. You can call them whatever you want in this and mine are going to equal 2.56 centimeters.
And again, the centimeters don't really mean real centimeters like we have in the real world, it's just a naming convention so that we can define volumes and spacing within Max. Now the 2.56 will work as long as we go to System Units Setup and within this window we're going to make sure that one unit, which is this unit right here, that one unit equals one centimeters.
And you can see you have some other choices here, different programs are going to require different setups. So before choosing your Units Setup and copying my units exactly, make sure you decide what these assets that we're going to be building are going to be used for, look up what the units setting should be in Max for your game engine or the final output that these models are going to, and set that up at this point in these menus.
Everything else in this course will be the same. So if you're units are different than my units, that's fine. The numbers might be a little bit different that you see on the screen, but none of our snap settings or templates will be any different. But, if you try to export UE4 units into, say, Unity or another game engine, it's probably not going to work very well and yours might be too big. Now, one thing to keep in mind with this is I'm modeling these at four times the regular UE4 units scale.
I'm doing that because Max has a problem with the grid and how it displays things in the viewports that we'll talk about here in a little bit. If you want to export these at the exact size that will work in UE4, then I would change this to .250 which is 1/4 size and then we would export them as FBX files. You can scale anything right here, up or down, but I'm going to change mine back to one for the time being.
Now, our units are set up correctly. You'll notice nothing really changed in the viewport, but our box would export at the proper size at this point. Even though nothing changed, now our Units Setups have changed so that our FBX files and our exports will be correct once they export from MAX. As you can see the units we work with are very important to the export of our models. If we work with the wrong unit settings, we're not going to get the right results that we want.
At this point, check the units settings for your particular engine and the recommended settings for Max.
He first introduces the modular pipeline in Max and the basics of making modular models. Then Christian shows how to ensure your texture maps align to the grid, and places objects in the scene to build the complex final structure—an ornate castle—shown at the end of the course. With a little patience, attention to detail, and the skills learned in this class, you can create design kits that speed up development and result in more realistic and immersive game environments.
- Setting up the workspace, units, and grid
- Modeling the main walls
- Working with back-facing polygons
- Creating base objects
- Building modular elements
- UX mapping modular meshes
- Changing materials