Game Modeling Using Low Polygon Techniques / Edition 1

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The multi-billion dollar computer game industry is growing at an incredible rate, and the competition to produce real-time games with faster, more realistic effects is fierce. Mastering real-time issues is a challenge for even the most seasoned developers, but one essential tool for overcoming real-time problems is to use low polygon models. The Art of Low Polygon Count Modeling teaches modelers how to create game-ready 3D models using any 3D application. Through step-by-step instructions, modelers learn the necessary skills, organizational techniques, and most effective ways to use 3D applications to create low poly models. Tutorials and "how-to" guidelines, teach users modeling techniques from the initial sketch phase to final development.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781584500551
  • Publisher: Cengage Learning
  • Publication date: 8/22/2001
  • Series: Charles River Media Graphics Series
  • Edition description: BK&CD-ROM
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 400
  • Product dimensions: 7.37 (w) x 9.20 (h) x 1.05 (d)

Meet the Author

Walker is a computer game artist, comic book illustrator, and instructor. He attends the exclusive Joe Kubert School of Cartoon and Graphic Arts Inc. in New Jersey, and works for Ensemble Studios where he helped design and create the award-winning games.

Walker is a computer game artist, comic book illustrator, and instructor. He attends the exclusive Joe Kubert School of Cartoon and Graphic Arts Inc. in New Jersey, and works for Ensemble Studios where he helped design and create the award-winning games.

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Read an Excerpt

Chapter 4 Introduction to Low Polygon Techniques

Software Programs

3D applications are everywhere. You can get freeware, shareware, low-cost and even high-end professional packages. Anything that allows the user to model in 3D will get the job done. Following is a list of 3D software programs that might be worth purchasing:
  • Discreet 3D Studio Max
  • Alias Wavefront Maya
  • New Tech Ligbtwave
  • Maxon Cinema 4D XL
  • Rober McNeel and Associates Rbino
  • Eovia Carrara
  • Caligari truespace
  • Hash Animation:Master
These are all excellent programs to use for modeling 3D objects, and everything in this book can be created using any of these programs. 3D modeling programs all involve the use of polygons, vertices, and faces. Most of these applications also use nurbs, but for practical purposes of low poly modeling, we'll stick to using polygons. Now, there's no need to go out and break your bank account just because you don't have a certain program (but if you really want to, go ahead). Some of the software listed above can be purchased for around $200 (Animation: Master), and they can all do about the same job, although the higher end tools will have additional features. (If you are a student, most of these companies offer special student pricing or you can try purchasing through companies such as journey Education.) The end result is that all of these programs allow you to model in 3D.

The tools that will be used are universal with almost all the programs. They might be named slightly different, but they will perform the job just the same. To make the modeling process easier, we have kept the tools used down to a minimum. Following is a list of tools that will be used throughout the entire modeling section, so if you've got these, then you should have no problem.

  • Move, Rotate, and Scale
    These actions are used for maneuvering around the 3D model and scaling an object in size. These are also standard for any 3D application.
  • 2D Line tool and 2D Shape tools (Splines)
    The 2D tools are used for outlining and creating the basic shapes of the 3D models. It is basically like using a pencil, except that you can extrude it into a 3D form.
  • Vertices, Edge, and Face tools
    These tools are used for selecting, creating, and deleting polygons and vertices on a 3D model. This is standard for any 3D application. They are commonly found under the Edit Mesh option.
  • Extrude
    The extruding tool is used for creating a three-dimensional shape out of a flat two-dimensional outline. It is commonly found in most 3D applications.
  • Duplicate and Mirror
    The duplicate tool is simply the command for copying a selected 3D object. The mirror command is used for flipping the object around so that you have an exact opposite copy of the original model. Both of these tools can be commonly found under the Edit menu button.
  • Weld
    Welding is used for attaching two vertices together. This tool will be used quite a bit, so make sure that you know where it is. The tool can usually be found under the Vertices option menu.
  • Divide and Flip
    The divide tool is used to create a new edge on a polygon. It is often needed when creating more of a curve to the surface of the polygons. The flip command simply turns the selected edge over to the other two vertices. Both of these tools are found under the Edge option menu.
  • Polygon Counter
    The polygon counter keeps track of how many polygons have been created on the 3D model. This can come in handy if you have tight restrictions on how many polygons you are allowed to use.

    As noted above, the tools used here are very simple and easy to understand. We are not going to use any "special features" to create the 3D models. This is what makes the process work. A good working knowledge of any 3D application is required before moving on. If you have just purchased a 3D modeling program, please take the time to read the program manual and get a firm understanding of the tools listed above.

    3D Modeling Made Easy

    Now that you know which programs are available and which features you need to focus on, let's start with the modeling process. Just as in drawing, there is a pattern and method to modeling an object in 3D. Let's look at some practical ways we can create 3D objects.

    We have divided the 3D modeling process into the following six major steps:

    Draw it With a Line Tool
    This step is the first and probably most important step. Here, the sketches need to be placed in the background of the view ports or under a drawing tablet. The only tools needed for this are the 2D line tool, and the 2D object tools. With the 2D line tool selected and the sketches in the background, we will outline the side view of the character. Each part of the sketch, such as the arm, leg, body, or head, is outlined separately. This step is used to get the most important features of the model. By outlining the individual pieces, you will be able to concentrate more effort in a single area rather than attempting to model the entire character at once.

    Extrude All Objects
    Extruding the objects is exactly what it means. Each piece that was outlined with the 2D Line tool will be extruded. Some objects will be extruded to the full width of the sketch (if they are not going to be duplicated), and the others will be extruded to half the distance of the sketch (this will be used if the object needs to be duplicated). The extruding process is helped out by having the front view of the sketch as the background image or right next to you. The front view sketch gives the width and secondary outline of the character, which is used to determine the distance to extrude the 2D line.

    Refine The Shapes
    Refining the shapes is the first step in making each side of the character presentable. Here, we begin working each extruded object out. The front view and perspective view of the model needs a lot of attention. By taking the front and back view sketches, we correct the secondary outline shape. The secondary outline is simply the outline of the front view. This is also the stage where most of the tweaking and softening takes place.....

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Table of Contents

Concept Art: Tools of the Trade, Time to Sketch It, Male and Female Figures, Cartoon Characters, Animals and Creatures, Vehicles, Nature, Cover Designs, Conclusions, Modeling in 3D: Modeling Techniques, Tools/Software, What is L.O.D. Testing?, Modeling the Figures (Barbarian, Lady Marine, Civil War Soldier, Human Hand), Modeling Cartoon Characters, Modeling Animals and Creatures, Modeling Vehicles, Modeling Nature, Review of Modeling, Textures: Introduction, Tools for Texturing, Getting and Using Textures, Texturing Figures(Barbarian, Lady Marine, Civil War Soldier, Human Hand), Texturing Cartoon Characters (Hero, Villain, Weapon), Texturing Vehicles (Car, Hi-tech Van, Mechanical Warrior), Texturing Nature (Tree, Plant, Flower), Final Note on Texturing, U.V. Mapping Coorindates: What are U.V. Mapping Coorindates, Tools of the Trade, Maps and Placement, U.V. Mapping Male and Female Figures (Barbarian, Lady Marine, Civil War Soldier, Human Hand), U.V. Mapping Animals and Creatures (Horse, Stegosaurus), U.V. Mapping Vehicles (Car, Hi-tech Van, Mechanical Warrior), U.V. Mapping Nature (Tree, Plant, Flower), Conclusion, Final Assignments: Putting it All Together, Doing Your Own Character, Check list of What to Do, Conclusion.

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Welcome reader!
If you have ever wanted to learn how to create those amazing low polygon 3D models used in today's hottest video games, then you have come to the right place. Game Modeling Using Low Polygon Techniques is your first and last step in learning to create game-ready 3D models. Through our simple, step-by-step methods, we will teach you the necessary instructions, organizational techniques, and proper use of your 3D applications, to provide you with a complete working knowledge of low polygon modeling. Game Modeling Using Low Polygon Techniques has been designed to benefit anyone interested in making 3D models, from the amateur all the way to the professional. This book establishes solid foundations and principles for modeling low polygon 3D objects - from the initial sketch phase to final development - which can be used in a game.

Our belief is that a visual media requires a visual book. This book offers both written descriptions as well as in-depth visual references consisting of more than 500 images, which can be found on the companion CD-ROM. By presenting a complete set of comprehensive step-by-step images for each concept, the book provides an animated style that matches the techniques you'll be learning. Detailed "how to" guidelines are included to teach you about the conceptual phase, and to explain how to create UN. mapping coordinates (a technical term for where the skins are placed on a model), and texture your models correctly.

With these tools, you'll be prepared to branch out and work on your own creative ideas. To keep things focused, we selected a set of very basic tools necessary for modeling your characters and creating their textures. Because of our careful choices, a wide range of 3D applications may be used to apply these methods and techniques with little difficulty. If you follow the exercises in the sections ahead, you will be prepared to design, model, and texture each of the awesome characters and models covered in the book.

So start up that computer, grab a comfortable chair, and get ready to create a whole world of characters that utilize some of the simplest techniques and industry-proven tips and tricks.

We hope this book serves you well in your future projects and that you come away with a true understanding of Game Modeling Using Low Polygon Techniques.

Good Luck!

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So you want to make a living as a game artist? The crucial words being make a living.

If you want to develop the skills necessary to land a job making a living as a game artist, then you are looking at the right book. I should know for I have spent the last ten years hiring computer game artists. I have sifted through thousands of demo reels, resumes, Web sites, CDs, and resume submissions on every imaginable type of media. In short, if you master what Chad and Eric Walker have laid out in Game Modeling Using Low Polygon Techniques then you will increase your odds of getting a job in the game industry astronomically.

This book will help you win the war against the term "starving artist." I have always hated this term because I was always the kid looking out the window or drawing cool pictures, and it was predicted that I would probably be an artist when I grew up (the word "starving" implied by the worried look in my parents' eyes and their wringing hands). With computer technology being what it is today, artists have become more and more in demand as the personal computer has brought with it the computer game, the Internet, and a host of other technologies that demand more and newer content. This book will not only help you develop 3D assets that are applicable to games, but also for the Web sites that are increasingly turning to 3D content so viewers can see their products in real time 3D.

Keep in mind that the fate of the starving artist doesn't need to be yours. You can expect above poverty level salaries as a computer artist and this book is definitely the place to start.

Luke Ahearn, Art Director
The Army Game Project

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 3, 2001

    About Time!

    I have been attempting to learn the trait of 3D game modeling for several months now and finally came across a book that solves my problems. This book has very easy step by step instructions, with extremely helpful pictures. They even give you all the models and textures on the CD! If you're looking for a book to further your skills or are a newby to the game modeling world then this book should be your first pick!

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