Creating City Blocks in 3ds Max - Part 3 - Road Works

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

Creating City Blocks in 3ds Max - Part 3 - Road Works

In this tutorial, you work on the roads that make up your first city block. You start with the main arteries and then move to the smaller parts. Additionally, you learn how to subdivide the roads to ensure you are using different road markings that include lane dividers and pedestrian crossings.

Notes

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

Transcript

1
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Now that you have some reference for road layouts, you can use that reference to build your city block roads.

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There are various ways to building roads, some more sophisticated than others.

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Generally, the hardest part in the workflow is subdividing the roads so that you can map them differently, based on various road markings.

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Depending on the complexity of the scene, you may need different textures for different road parts.

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These can include markings for multiple lane roads, intersections, stop lines, pedestrian crossings and others.

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These difficulties will usually dictate the kind of workflow you end up following.

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Here you will experiment with various techniques and learn the pros & cons of various approaches.

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First, you'll bring into 3ds Max the reference you created so that you can base your models on that.

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In 3ds Max, open the file you saved in the last movie.

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If you need to, you can use the file named CityBlocks_Roads-start.max you downloaded for this tutorial.

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The scene is empty at this time; only the units, rendering engine and rendering output resolution have been set.

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Maximize the top view using the icon in the bottom-right corner or by pressing Alt+W.

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When pressing Alt+W, remember that the mouse cursor has to be over the view you want to maximize.

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Use the top view to create a 300mx300m plane primitive.

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Zoom back a little and use the Move tool to center the plane to the world.

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Open the Slate Material Editor and create a Standard material.

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Double-click the node to edit the material properties.

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Set the Self-Illumination to 100%. This will make the reference image bright at all times as it won't be affected by the scene lights.

19
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Add a Bitmap node to the Diffuse channel.

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Browse and select the reference image you created in your favorite paint program.

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In this movie, I will use the file named _Block-A.jpg. I recommend you do the same if you're following along.

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You can always revert back to your own designs or road layouts once you understand the concepts.

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Make sure the material is set to show in the viewport and apply it to the plane object.

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Dismiss the Material Editor when done.

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In the top view, press F3 to show the view in shaded mode and press G to dismiss the grid. You won't need it cluttering the scene.

26
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You may also want to bring down the level of detail on the plane object.

27
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This is the time to pause and consider the approach you want to take.

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There are globally two main approaches to consider:

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One is based on 3D mesh geometry such as the plane you currently have, another is based on a 2D spline approach.

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Both are valid and in fact offer you multiple "sub"workflows.

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If you elect to work with 3D geometry as you have here, then one approach is to convert the object to an Editable Poly.

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You can then slice your way around the mesh using Edit Poly tools such as Edge Connect,

33
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Chamfer and Poly Insets.

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The difficulty in this approach is keeping the underlying texture in check.

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If you're not careful, moving sub-objects can distort the reference image.

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When working at a vertex or an edge level, you can prevent that from happening by using Preserve UVs.

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When working at a poly level however, such as when insetting a face selection,

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this doesn't work well.

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There are ways around that. However, the workflow you will be using here bypasses that problem.

40
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Looking at a road layout from the top view, it seems logical to use a 2D approach to build the grid.

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It does seem like a straightforward affair to draw splines that follow the reference image.

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Let's try it out: First, enable the snap tool and then right-click it and set the mode to Endpoint and Midpoint only.

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Dismiss the Snap Options dialog.

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Next create a line,

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which goes around the city block and make sure it is a closed spline.

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You could have used a rectangle too, but you would have needed to convert it to an editable spline anyway, so both approaches are fine and valid

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Next, click the Line tool again and uncheck Start New Shape. This ensures that subsequent shapes are attached to the original spline.

48
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Create the two main center roads by snapping to the perimeter's midpoints.

49
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Press S to disable snap mode for now.

50
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Go to the Modify panel and enter Spline mode.

51
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Select the perimeter,

52
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and outline it by -10.5 meters, which is the width of the three-lane road.

53
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Next, select the two center lines, check the "Center" outline option, and outline them by 14 meters.

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This is the total width of the center arteries, two lanes in each direction.

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Press F3 to temporarily hide the reference texture.

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To clean up the intersections, use the Trim command.

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Switch to Vertex mode and delete any residual vertices on the perimeter.

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The remaining vertices are not necessarily welded properly just yet; there are some that are simply sitting on top of one another.

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Select all vertices and click the Weld button.

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You may want to select them again and ensure they're all set to corner mode for this linear setup.

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You can continue using this technique for the smaller roads but this should be enough for now.

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Press F3 again to go back to a shaded view.

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With the spline you created still selected, apply an Edit Poly modifier to turn it into a mesh object.

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Note the sub-divisions on the roads:

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They were created without your input and would require quite a bit of clean-up before the mesh can be usable.

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And so, any way you look at it, whether you approach this form an Editable Poly or a Spline level, work has to be done around road intersections.

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My personal approach is to start with that, and then build the roads by connecting intersections.

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It is an approach that works well and gives you the most flexibility.

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Most importantly, it creates clean geometry that makes it easy to map properly with the needed textures.

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Move on to the next movie to learn about that procedure.

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Tags
  • 3ds Max
  • Animation
  • Modeling
  • Scripting
  • 2014
  • Environment
  • Workflow
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