Creating City Blocks in 3ds Max - Part 21 - Finalizing a Low-poly Building
In this tutorial, you make use of the macroscripts you created that automate repetitive tasks to complete the first low-poly building you started earlier. You will be able to witness how macroscripts can cut down your production time extensively.
- Recorded in: 3ds Max 2014
- Scripts used: http://areadownloads.autodesk.com/wdm/3dsmax/HTM-PRJ_cityblks-BMscripts.zip
- This tutorial is intended for use with 3ds Max version 2014 or higher.
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With the custom scripts in place, you are now ready to finalize your first low-poly building.
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Continue working on your scene or open the file CityBlocks_Bldgs-simplebldg.max
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You already have the street level volume you created earlier, and now you use the newly created custom scripts to add more floor levels.
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To do so, you need first to select the base spline.
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It may be a bit difficult to select the base spline without selecting the building lot or the extruded volume first.
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However, it's easy enough to select the extruded shape.
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Because the extruded shape is a child of the basic 2D spline, you can therefore use it to select its parent with a simple line of code.
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Open the Listener window and type in the line: select $.parent
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This effectively tells 3ds Max to select the parent of the selected object, represented by the $ sign.
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Drag the line of code to your new toolbar
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and give the button the label: Select Parent.
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Dismiss the Listener window. Now you're ready to proceed.
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Make sure the Street Level volume is selected and then pick the new Select Parent button. The original 2D spline is now selected.
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Now pick the Create Floor button to create a new extruded volume for the upper floors.
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A new volume is created with the appropriate modifiers. Move it up in Z to see it better.
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To set it at the right elevation, make sure it's still selected and then pick the Align Level button and select the floor level volume.
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Bingo, what took a few clicks would have taken substantially longer to do using a fully-manual approach.
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You still need to adjust the modifier values once you know which bitmap you intend to use.
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Open the Material Editor and create a new Arch & Design material.
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As a Diffuse Color map, assign the bitmap named: OLD_BRK001_L2_W9xH6.24_DIF.jpg
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Double-click the bitmap node and adjust the Real-World dimensions based on the information in the bitmap name.
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Since the Real-World height appears to be 6.24m, you can use it as a starting point for your extrusion height.
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Add the bitmap: OLD_BRK001_L2_W9xH6.24_REF.jpg as a Reflection Color Map.
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Adjust its Real-World dimensions as well.
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Make sure the new material is set to show in the viewport and assign it to the newly extruded shape.
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If you need to, adjust the vertical position of the UVW Map Gizmo.
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This where things get interesting: Because the UVW Map is based on proper Real-World values, and it is evaluated AFTER the Extrude modifier,
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this means you can change the extrusion height and add more repetitive floors without risking distorting the texture.
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Let's do one more floor level for the penthouse, which has a slightly different texture.
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Use Select Parent/Create Floor/Align Level to add a floor level on top of the typical floors.
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This appears very easy now that you know the sequence.
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Add a material based on the bitmaps: OLD_BRK001_L3_W9xH3.4_DIF.jpg
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Make sure you adjust their real-world dimensions. The width remains at 9m but the height is at a smaller 3.4m value.
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Adjust the Extrusion value accordingly, apply the material and make sure it's visible in the viewport.
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As before, adjust the vertical position of the mapping gizmo until you are satisfied.
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Which brings us to the roof: In many cases, if your POV is at street level, you won't need to bother with it.
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As is often the case though, you may need a diving view on your cityscape and this means you need to have a roof of some sort.
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To create a flat roof, you can use a similar workflow to before, i.e. by creating another level at the top of the penthouse.
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Since you only need a flat surface, simply disable or delete the Extrude modifier.
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The UVW Map modifier takes care of converting the 2D poly into a renderable flat surface
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Create a new Arch & Design material using the Matte template, and assign one of the gravel/dirt textures to it.
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Make the necessary adjustments; I'll use real-world dimensions of 10mx10m for this one.
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Again, make sure the material is set to show in the viewport and assign it to the roof.
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It's better but still doesn't look right. You need a parapet around the roof to make it look better from above.
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Add another floor at the same level as the rooftop.
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To create a parapet, you will need multiple extrusion levels. The Bevel modifier will help you there.
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Select the Extrude modifier and then disable it.
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Try to add a Bevel modifier; you will notice it's not listed.
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Like Extrude, Bevel works on 2D splines, not geometry-based objects.
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Because of the UVW Map modifier on top, the object is now regarded as a poly object, not a spline.
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Temporarily disable the UVW modifier so you can squeeze a Bevel modifier underneath it, and then enable it again.
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Now it's a question of adjusting its parameters.
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Make sure capping is disabled, and specify a Level 1 height of 1m, that's a little over 3 feet.
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Now enable Level 2 and set the Outline to about -0.5m to create a lip.
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Finally, enable Level 3 and specify a Height of -1m to go back down to the gravel surface level.
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For a material, you won't need to get too fancy. A simple Arch & Design material in Matte mode will do.
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For a Diffuse color, you can extract a color from the immediate surroundings using the color picker.
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Finally, let's take a look back at the importance of the original 2D shape.
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You've already made use of it to help with some of the scripting lines.
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Most importantly, because of the method you adopted by making use of Reference duplicates,
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all extruded floors are still dependent on the original spline.
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This means you can select it and edit it, and all floors will respond to that change.
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Try it out: select the original spline and add an Edit Spline modifier to it.
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Go into Edge mode and move some of the edges so that windows are not chopped off anymore.
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You can of course also work in vertex mode and adjust tangents for more wacky designs.
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Notice how nicely all levels react to the change.
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Keep in mind that even though the geometry is light, the use of Reference duplicates and multi-modifiers can be calculation-heavy.
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This means that when you know you are done with a building design, you would want to collapse it to an editable poly object.
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To do that, start by selecting the street level floor.
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Convert it to a poly object and then use the Attach tool or Attach Multiple to add the upper floors.
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Make sure you use the Match Material IDs to Material to ensure you do not lose any work you've done on materials and mapping.
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You are now left with a simple building based on an editable poly,
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this particular one with a very reasonable 73-poly count.
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In the next movie, you take low-poly building creation to yet another level, by learning about and using a free script called Building Maker.