Creating City Blocks in 3ds Max - Part 2 - Basic Scene Setup

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Industry
  • Design Visualization
Subject
  • Animation
  • Modeling
  • 2014
Products
  • 3ds Max
Skill Level
  • Intermediate
Duration
8 min

Creating City Blocks in 3ds Max - Part 2 - Basic Scene Setup

In this tutorial, you lay the foundation for the first city block. This includes working with reference images, deciding on the project scale and setting up 3ds Max accordingly.


Notes

  • Recorded in: 3ds Max 2014
  • This tutorial is intended for use with 3ds Max version 2014 or higher.

Transcript

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Before you start working on your project, you first need to decide on some basic facts:

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You need to address the general scale of the project, and the sizes of the individual city blocks.

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If you are planning to make the city blocks tileable as is the case here, you also need to consider their general design.

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Take a look and consider these three variations:

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They are different as far as the smaller inner roads are concerned but the main arteries are generally similar.

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This was done on purpose so that when you start tiling the city blocks, the perimeters and the center crossroads line up perfectly.

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Also the symmetrical nature of the perimeters and central axes work equally well if the city blocks are rotated in increments of 90 degrees.

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In fact, this would create even more variation as the inner roads and the building lots would look even more random this way.

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Of course, you still need to learn to build these city blocks, and you'll be starting from scratch.

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Each one of these city block squares are 300m x 300m, and you will use these dimensions in your project.

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Open or Reset 3ds Max to start a new project.

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Typically, the first thing you'd want to do is set up your scene units under Customize > Units Setup

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For this project, set your System Units Setup to Feet instead of the default Inches.

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There are a couple of reasons for that: First, this is a large scale scene that will span to hundreds or even thousands of feet.

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You probably won't need accuracy down to an inch.

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More importantly, we may be using the scene at a later time for some Autodesk Revit Interoperability.

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Interoperability between Revit and 3ds Max works best when 3ds Max's System Units are set in Feet.

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This will be discussed more in detail in due time but for now, choose Feet as a System Unit.

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For the Display Units, you can set them to metric or imperial to suit your needs.

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Personally, I like to use Meters for Architectural projects.

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Click OK to accept the changes and exit the dialog.

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While you're at it, you may want to make a few additional changes before moving on.

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Typically, in architectural environments such as this, it is rather common to use the Mental Ray renderer.

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From the Render Setup dialog, switch the Production Renderer to mental ray.

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You also may want to use a different render resolution than the default 640x480.

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Use the HDTV (video) preset instead. For the purposes of this tutorial, I'll set it to 960x540 but you can opt for a larger resolution if you want.

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Close the dialog and save your file.

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Before you start building the city blocks, you may want to sketch some reference images in a paint program.

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These images seen here represent three plausible variations and were easily created in Adobe Photoshop.

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You can use other paint programs or even a hand sketch might do.

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In Photoshop, create a 300x300 pixel image. This is by no means a high-end resolution but it will do for learning purposes.

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The 300x300 pixels represent the 300x300 meters,which are the dimensions of the city block.

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Choose a color to fill the background. I'll use beige or tan color for this.

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Set guidelines at the center of the image by dragging the horizontal and vertical rulers.

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Create a new layer and switch the color to black or dark gray.

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Using the Selection tool, select the whole drawing. You are about to draw the perimeter roads.

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The perimeter roads are three-lane wide on each traffic side. A lane is typically about 3.5m wide (or 12 feet).

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Three lanes are therefore about 10.5m wide represented by 10.5 pixels.

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Since you can't really draw half a pixel, you'll round it up to 11 pixels.

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From the Edit menu, choose Stroke.

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Specify a width of 11 pixels and a location to the Inside of the selection and then click OK.

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Click outside the image to cancel the selection. Next, you'll work the center axis roads.

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Create a new layer between the perimeter and the background.

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Change the main color to a medium to dark blue.

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Select the Brush tool and change the palette to Square brushes.

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The central roads are two-lane wide in each direction, so that's four lanes in total.

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A total of four lanes translate in a 14m wide artery.

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Set the brush to 14 pixels and then choose the Pen tool.

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Set the brush to 14 pixels,

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and then choose the Pen tool.

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Click a point to the left of the image, on the horizontal guideline.

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Hold shift to draw a straight line and click a point to the right of the image.

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Next, right-click inside the image and choose Stroke Path.

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Ensure it is set to Brush mode so it can read the brush adjustment you made and click OK.

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Right-click again and choose Delete Path.

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Repeat the procedure for the vertical main central road.

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Once that is done, you can create yet another layer for the inner, smaller roads. Place it between the background and central roads layers.

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These are only two lanes wide, so set your brush to 7 pixels (representing 7 meters).

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You can also choose a different color for them.

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With that in place, use the Pen tool to create the inner roads.

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Make sure you delete a path after you're done with it, otherwise, you're just extending an existing path.

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When you are done with one layout, hide the layer, create a new one and built a new, different layout.

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The more layouts you create, the more variation your cityscape will have but for this project, we will stick with three.

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If you'd rather do more, by all means feel free.

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Once you've saved these out as separate files, you are ready to use them as reference in 3ds Max.

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This is what you do in the next movie.

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Tags
  • 3ds Max
  • Animation
  • Modeling
  • 2014
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