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Modelers Treasure Vault

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Posted 19 February 2005 - 08:17 PM

Below, you'll find some of my various tips I've posted on this forum through time.
Some of the newer guys find it hard to find their way in the labyrinth DS has become...
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Posted 19 February 2005 - 08:18 PM

AIRCRAFT WINGS

Don't to use the extrude modifier on the wings like you do. Due to the smoothing groups you're getting a false impression of the model. The game doesn't handle smoothing groups as good as gmax or 3dsmax.

The trick is to extrude in 2 levels instead of one and then shift the middle vertices outwards. Your wing profile will then look like this :


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Posted 19 February 2005 - 08:19 PM

HOUSECOLORS

Housecolor parts needs to be a seperate mesh object. You can do that either by detaching parts of your model, but that needs careful modelling planing. Remember you can always cut through a model without causing any UV distortion. DO NOT MOVE any vertices, i can't repeat that enough...
Another method i'm using now for my He111 is to make a copy of a part, cut away so i'm left with what is needed and then scale it up a little bit (101%) or so. This has sometimes the adavantage that it takes less polygons to add something then to cut up a model...

Yes, you can have textured housecolors, but it needs to be in greyscale for the best effect. If you look at my B17, you'll see it has textured houscolor parts (like the W on the tail).
If you add a texture to the housecolor mesh, all white is replaced by the remappable color. The darker the housecolor bitmap, the darker the remap color will be, until you reach black...
On my B17, I used some addition lines and dirt areas in dark grey to give them the same look as the rest of the textured plane...
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Posted 19 February 2005 - 08:20 PM

SCALING ISSUES

I see a lot of people wrestling with in-game scaling problems because they do not use a system when they start modeling:

Here's my system :

- obtaining a uniform scaling:
- Customize -> Preference -> General -> System Unit Scale 1 Unit = 1 feet
- Customize -> Unit setup -> Generic Units
use the metric values of the real model in cm
then make the object at 1/20 scale

Example :
An airplane has a realworld span of 12.51m
After rescaling this you mesh should have a span of: 1251/20 = 62.5 units in gmax or max.

scale_ref unit includes script

Attached File(s)


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Posted 19 February 2005 - 08:21 PM

DIMENSIONING

To find out the dimensions of a unit/object in GMAX :

- select the object
- right click and choose "properties"
- At the top you'll find info about the dimensions and face count

In 3dsmax, you can use the "Measure" utility
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Posted 19 February 2005 - 08:23 PM

GENERAL ADVICE : MODELING HISTORICAL MODELS

It is essential that you ALWAYS use 3-views for making historical units. Making a model from pictures is not as easy as it seems. You need to have some good experience and a keen eye for proportions.

Here are a few tips to get started :

1) Use a setup like this one:

(don't stare at the rather high polygons, as the model was made to test my voxelizer script, and was not build for Generals wink.gif )

2) the most essential part is to make sure you have the correct proportions setup when you apply a planar UVmap on the boards. More to the bottom of the UVmap modifier you'll find the button "bitmap fit". When you click it, the uvmap will obtain its proportions from the bitmap, hence the mapping wont be distorted. to

3) To align the 3 bitmaps, you need to go in subobject mode of the UVmodifier and visually align them 2 by 2.

4) Keep you polygon count down and as efficient as possible. If you have a straight edge, you can't have any vertices in the middle of it, or it is a waste of polygons.

5) This does not mean your model shouldn't be detailed. We don't put boxes into the game! My personal rule is to keep the silhouette of a unit as intact as possible, so that a unit is recognisable on the spot...

6) If you ever can't find 3views, come see "grandpa"...he might find something in his tresure chest.... laugh.gif

for more indepth reading try this Suurland tutorial...
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Posted 19 February 2005 - 10:42 PM

QUALITY CHECKING

As quality check, a few things are to be used as criteria:

- Accuracy of a historical model. Use blueprint drawings and never eyeball a model, unless it is really impossible to obtain drawings. Futuristic/fantasy models do not follow that rule...

- Do some research first, because often a model had different looking variations. Know exactly what type you want and gather at least 5 authentic pictures (or good scale model pictures) of that specific model.

- Neither a too low poly nor too high polygon count is good. Don't be shy to model details, but make every polygon count! A flat surface should only count 2 faces. Anything more is poor modeling...Double check the efficiency of your model before you start UV mapping, because after that you should no longer change the topology of a model, because of the apparent texture distortions.

- Spend more time on the UV mapping. The time you loose with working on an UVmap, you'll gain with the easier texture job. Group as many parts together. The goal of a good UV map is to make the texturing surfaces as big as possible. Minimize fragmentation as much as possible...
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Posted 19 February 2005 - 10:43 PM

EDITABLE MESH / EDITABLE POLY

Hey flyby I just have a question what format do you use for this game when you convert your models to a mesh, Editable mesh or Editable poly ?

It very much depends on the operations I need to do on the mesh. I usually jump back and forth, as you can convert one type into the other easily.

For vertices "pushing", and mesh integrity checks, I prefer editable mesh (with all edges turned visible)
However , if I need to devide edges or split faces, I switch to the editable polymode, because there are a few polygon tools that are really great (by Laszlo Sebo). Some of the tools are now included in Max6, but I find the max4script still superior , the more I prefer to work in my max4 encvironment...
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Posted 19 February 2005 - 10:44 PM

SHADOW BLEEDING - MODELING ERRORS

Shadow bleeding is ALWAYS due to modelling errors:

-coplanar faces : causes surface shimmering and in some occasions shadow leaks

- Internal vertical faces: when using the extrusion sub-modelling technique you always have the original face left. If you don't delete it, you're 100*% sure to get bleeding.

- flipped faces

- non closed surfaces at the top of the model: the shadow projection goes top bottom. If for some reason there is no top face, but only a bottom one, you're probably going to have shadow problems.

- very fine (line) bleeding can be caused by not welding your vertices

It can take some time to find the offending polygons or gaps, but it is always possible to solve the problem...


=====================================================


Alright, I took some time to find out where the problems came from with the Hs129 shadow leaking.

Because it wasn't very clear in the beginning, I used a methodical approach, starting by detaching all parts (yeah , the UV map stays intact !)

Then took the fuselage, put it in a temp game and checked for shadow errors.
I then gradually added parts till a problem came up.

It seems most of the errors come from vertical faces within the mesh object.
I think they are created when people use the face-extrude tool when modeling. So this will need extra attention in the future...

=====================================================
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Posted 08 March 2005 - 04:43 PM

RIGGING

-Always make a the model face left to right, with its gravity point at the 0,0. The height can depend on the units relative position to the ground. (fe landinggear height)

-Select ALL parts and make sure their pivotpoints are all oriented to world

-To set the properties of an object, access the "utilities" panel on the side and find the W3D button.

-When in doubt, try Killakanz tutorial about rigging

AIRPLANES:

CODE
-Housecolors :                                     geometry only
-Chassis :                                         geometry only
-Propellors :                                      geometry and bones
-WeaponMuzzleFlash (MuzzleFX):                     geometry and bones
-WeaponFireFXBone (Muzzle):                        bones only
-WeaponLaunchBone (WeaponA):                       bones only
-ParticleSysBone (Wingtip,Exhaust,Engine,etc) :    bones only


VEHICLES:

INFANTRY:
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Posted 10 March 2005 - 10:47 AM

OPTIMIZING MODELS :

I wasn't aware we were overly concerned with efficiency... That's going to add time to my modelling in the future, and I'm not sure it's entirely necessary. The Generals engine can handle some extra polies, it's not like 100 or even 400 are going to make a difference, even when there are many on screen.

Topknot:

It's not that the gen's engine can't handle a few extra poly's in as much as it is in building strong modeling skills. It's always "easy" to just plop out a model without any concern for streamlining or alignment.

But what you end up with is models that can have many issues, reguardless if it's for gen's and FPS or any game, quality should always be at the front of the desing structure. Keep in mind we're not the only ones who can "examine" or import the models in these mods, so why not make them sharp and clean ones while at it.

Like I said, granted it adds time to the modeling stage, but once done then it's solid, and if you think while modeling and trim, cut, and clean up as you go then there's really no "longer" time involded because it becoms part of your skills.

BTW, it was a nicely designed model, I am not knocking that, I am just pointing out that we should produce models that are tight and clean. Plus it makes the other(s) task involved easier due to clean lines for the uv map, and the texture artist, even symentry in the models when viewed in game, and no problems later like shadow bleeding and such in game.

I don't think you're gonna settle for a cook to half cook your food or the the mechanic to half fix your car because he doesn't need to pay attention to details...so we should expect the same from eachother.

Look at the bright side, your models tight, clean, and 209 polys lighter yet looks excatly the same as the original, no sacrafice in quality just weight..
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