Creating City Blocks in 3ds Max - Part 22 - Creating Low-poly Buildings with Building Maker

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Industry
  • Design Visualization
Subject
  • Animation
  • Modeling
  • Scripting
  • 2014
  • Environment
  • Workflow
Products
  • 3ds Max
Skill Level
  • Intermediate
Duration
11 min

Creating City Blocks in 3ds Max - Part 22 - Creating Low-poly Buildings with Building Maker

In this tutorial, leverage the Building Maker tool, a tool that helps you automate many of the steps required to create low-polygon buildings, using an intuitive and unified interface.

Notes

Transcript

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Now that you understand the basics of the workflow, it is time to check out a tool called Building Maker.

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Building Maker helps you create low-poly buildings, by making the tasks and procedures you just learned about even easier.

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It combines all the needed functionality inside an intuitive, easy-to-use interface.

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Keep in mind that Building Maker is not a "City Generator" as some of the available commercial products are.

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It is only meant as a fast alternative to create buildings by extruding splines and assigning materials in an easy an intuitive way.

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I designed and conceived the workflow behind Building Maker, but it was written in Maxscript by my co-worker Martin Ashton.

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Martin is our in-house MAXScript guru and has helped me before on many occasions. Thank you Martin for your help, yet again.

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To run Building Maker, simply use Maxscript > Run Script.

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Locate the BuildingMaker.ms file and run it.

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The interface is very straightforward and is meant to appeal to all users of 3ds Max, irrespective of their level of expertise.

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Close or minimize Building Maker, you'll come back to it in a moment.

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Open the file CityBlocks_Bldgs-bmakerstart.max. It shows the same familiar city blocks you worked on in the last few movies.

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To use Building Maker, first you need some 2D footprints.

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As before, you can create them directly in 3ds Max or if you have a few ready in CAD software, you can import them into your current scene.

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Use the Import tool to import the file named Footprints.dwg that you downloaded for this tutorial.

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This is a simple AutoCAD file with multiple 2D shapes drawn to represent building footprints.

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When you import the file into 3ds Max, you get a dialog with various options.

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Note the default option that says that objects are derived by the Layer they are on.

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This effectively means that all objects on the same layer come in as a single object in 3ds Max.

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This method works in most scenarios but not in this one, as you need to access the 2D shapes individually.

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Use the Entity option instead.

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Under Geometry Options, make sure the Weld Nearby Vertices option is enabled, as you need to deal with closed polylines,

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If the imported 2D shapes are not closed, you will have a hard time capping extrusions.

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Click OK to dismiss the dialog and import the footprints.

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There are many, and if you press H to access the Select from Scene dialog, you will notice they all have the same name.

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Go ahead and select all polylines in the list that bear the same name.

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You need to rename them to ensure they have individual names for Building Maker to work properly.

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With the shapes selected, use the Rename Objects dialog to give a base name to the splines.

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Use the base name "BM" that stands for Building Maker, "-FP_" (FootPrints_) and enable Numbered with a base number of 1.

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This ensures the splines are named BM-FP_01, BM-FP_02 and so on.

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If you prefer to have three digits, you can use the base name "BM-FP_0" instead.

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You may need to revisit the Rename tool if and when you have more than a hundred shapes though.

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Dismiss the Rename dialog when done and create a new Selection Set named FootPrints to make selection easier.

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Always remember to press Enter after specifying a Selection Set name.

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In AutoCad, all these shapes were created at Z-Level=0 . However, in 3ds Max, the building lots levels are 0.15m off the ground.

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And so, make sure you move all the shapes a relative 0.15m displacement in Z.

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You're now ready to use Building Maker on any of those footprints.

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Some are simple; others are more complex, representing buildings that have multiple footprints.

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Since this is your first time using Building Maker, you will use it to reproduce the same brick building you built manually earlier.

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Zoom in on the corner lot and open Building Maker again.

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The left side of the window has the functionality to build various levels in a building hierarchy.

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The right side lets you edit various parameters.

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To create a building, you start appropriately by using the Create Building button, and then picking a 2D spline.

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This creates a volume representing the building's street level, which you can now adjust to your liking.

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For example, there are options to manage the Start and End capping of the extrusion.

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More importantly, you want to assign textures and material to fit that level.

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Instead of going to the Material Editor and fiddle with material types and map nodes, all is done from within the Building Maker interface.

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To assign a color texture, simply click the Browse Color Map button.

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Browse and select the same ground level texture you used for the brick building in earlier movies.

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Similarly, browse and select the matching Reflection Map.

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Building Maker follows the principle you have learned before and also works in Real-World dimensions.

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This means that you need to enter the real-world dimensions of the texture you are using, which is shown in the file name.

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If you use your own textures, it is recommended you include that information in the file names.

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As you define the Width and Height values, the extruded volume automatically adjusts.

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If you need to nudge the image position, you can offset it in one of three directions. In this case, a slight Z-offset works well.

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To create another level above this one, use the Add New Level button.

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The building switches to XRay mode to make spline selection easier.

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Pick the same spline as this building only has one footprint.

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A new volume is created above the previous one.

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Incidentally, there are two buttons to toggle Xray mode and wireframe mode. This is roughly the same as using Alt+X or F3

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Now that you have a new volume for repetitive typical floors, go ahead and select the correct textures for them.

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Adjust the real-world dimensions accordingly.

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Here, you may want to alter the number of repetitive floors in the building. To that extent, use the Height Multiplier value.

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This adds any number of floors without distorting the textures or mapping coordinates.

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Use Add New Level again to add the penthouse.

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Make the necessary adjustments to the textures and possibly the Z-Offset value.

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To create the roof, start by adding a new level for the gravel surface.

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Make sure you cap the end part to get a flat area.

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Apply a gravel texture that you like.

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Note that the dirt textures do not have a real-world dimension set in the file name.

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That's because you have a bit of leeway in textures like dirt, sand and grass as far as real-world dimensions are concerned.

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Set this one to about 10mx10m, and then reduce the Height Multiplier value to create a thin slab.

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You still need a parapet to go around the roof and it needs to be at the same level as the dirt texture.

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With the gravel slab selected, use the Add New Element button to add the parapet.

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You now have two volumes or "elements" at the same elevation, right above the penthouse.

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Zoom in and notice how the new volume and the gravel slab are fighting one another for display priority.

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This is because their side polygons are sharing the same vertical planes.

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You can change that by making the parapet protrude a bit using the Start Width or End Width options.

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To make the volume look like a parapet, enable the Level 1 and Level 2 options. This is the same as adjusting the levels on a Bevel modifier.

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You can even remove the End Cap for the parapet as we are meant to see the gravel surface.

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For a simple Diffuse color, use the appropriate color swatch and define a color, or pick one from the scene.

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The nice thing about Building Maker is that the building hierarchy is preserved at all times.

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This means if you decide to change the number of typical floors for example, all floors above are automatically adjusted.

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By the same token, you can edit the Base spline and all dependent floors adjust to that change.

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On that note, if the base splines are imported from other applications, chances are the individual segments are set in Line mode.

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This prevents you from creating curved walls.

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This is an easy fix though, all you need is to select all segments that make the base and turn them into Curve mode.

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From that point on, you can use Bezier handles on vertices and run with your imagination.

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Save your file. In the next movie, you explore a bit more of Building Maker's functionality.

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Tags
  • 3ds Max
  • Animation
  • Modeling
  • Scripting
  • 2014
  • Environment
  • Workflow
1 Comment
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| 5 days ago
Will the script for this tutorial be updated to the Arnold Renderer?
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