3ds Max Modeling for Games: Insider's Guide to Game Character, Vehicle, and Environment Modeling: Volume I

3ds Max Modeling for Games: Insider's Guide to Game Character, Vehicle, and Environment Modeling: Volume I

by Andrew Gahan
Pub. Date:
Taylor & Francis


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3ds Max Modeling for Games: Insider's Guide to Game Character, Vehicle, and Environment Modeling: Volume I

With 18 years under his belt in the game industry, a key contributor to the MotorStorm series, and the creator of the 3ds Max in Minutes video series (at FocalPress.com), Andrew Gahan delivers the expert techniques in 3ds Max Modeling for Games, 2nd edition. This updated edition is packed with new tutorials that will enhance your modeling skills and pump up your portfolio with high-quality work in no time. Along with Anthony O'Donnell and a team of experts, Gahan covers all of the fundamental game modeling techniques, including character and environment modeling, mapping, and texturing. Finally, a bonus section in 3ds Max Modeling for Games offers readers insights and tips on how to get their careers started in the game industry.

    • New, expanded tutorials take readers of all abilities through full character and environment modeling from beginning to end
    • Companion website (3d-for-games.com) offers a robust, supportive forum where readers can get commentary on new work, develop skills and portfolio art, as well as network with other game artists on a variety of projects. Also features project files for all tutorials in the book and enough support images and photos to keep the budding artist busy for months
    • Completely updated gallery allows the reader to build on various models

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780240810614
Publisher: Taylor & Francis
Publication date: 08/15/2008
Pages: 336
Product dimensions: 7.50(w) x 9.20(h) x 0.90(d)

About the Author

Andrew Gahan is a leading industry expert in next generation consoles and digital gaming. His roles have included Senior Artist, Lead Artist, Art Manager, Art Director, Art Outsource Manager, and Producer. Andrew is an expert in all gaming tools for commercial game development, including: 3ds Max, Maya, Photoshop, XSI, Gen Head, Z Brush, Mud Box, and Poly-boost (as well as other 3ds max plug-ins).

During this time Andrew has worked on 14 standalone published games as well as sequential spin-off products; as well as developing a number of military training systems for the Warrior - Armoured Fighting Vehicle, Harrier and Tornado aircraft.

In the last decade Andrew has been involved in recruitment and development of artists, including theoretical and practical training. Andrew has been a freelance consultant helping companies to develop and improve tools and applications that are used by artists in the digital gaming industry.
Andrew is currently a visiting speaker and advisor at Liverpool John Moore University for the MA digital games course; and is an external advisor at the University of Bolton, supporting the development of their forthcoming 3D related courses.

Andrew has judged the Independent Games Festival for the past 2 years.

He has been a visiting speaker at Liverpool John Moore University since 2005, and will also be a speaker at the University of Bolton for the forthcoming 3D Games Modeling course.

Andrew Gahan has given numerous media interviews, of which a recent selection is given below:

15 December 2007. Interview with Gamasutra magazine Media consumption: MotorStorm's Andy Gahan.

Television interview for 1-up.com with Pete Smith (Executive External Producer, SCEE (Sony)) in San Francisco, during GDC (Game Developer Conference) in the Sony Store for the launch of MotorStorm.

Television interview for GamerTV with Pete Smith (Executive External Producer, SCEE (Sony)) in San Francisco, during GDC (Game Developer Conference)

Read an Excerpt

3ds Max Modeling for Games

Insider's Guide to Game Character, Vehicle, and Environment Modeling
By Andrew Gahan

Focal Press

Copyright © 2009 Elsevier, Inc.
All right reserved.

ISBN: 978-0-08-092796-1

Chapter One

Low-Poly Asset 1 (30-minute tutorial)

Introduction to Modeling

This first tutorial is designed to get complete beginners up to speed on the basics of modeling using primitive objects and applying textures in the simplest way. In the games industry, we lay out the textures in a slightly different way than in this tutorial. You'll learn that technique in Chapter 2, which covers more complex mapping techniques, but to get any complete beginners through their first complete object build, I have explained the most straightforward method first. This chapter also introduces you to some of the preferences, settings, and shortcuts that will speed up your modeling and give you better results.

Setting Up 3ds Max

To begin with we'll start with some basic settings for 3ds Max. Go to Customize > Preferences > Files. Enable Auto Backup, set number of Auto Backup files to 9, and set Backup Interval (minutes) to 10 (see Figure 1.1), then click OK.

Next we'll set up the units we'll be modeling in; these vary from studio to studio, but in this book, one unit equals 1 cm. Go to Customize > Units setup ... and, select Metric, and then click OK.

We will now begin to model a simple object. First, we'll create a primitive object and scale it approximately to the correct dimensions. We will then apply texture maps to the object, UVW map it, and do some quick renders of it using 3ds Max's built-in scan-line renderer.

If you don't understand what I mean by "UVW map", search for the term using the new InfoCenter, or press F1 for help and search for the term "Unwrap UVW Modifier"-it explains everything you need to know about this. This goes for anything you don't understand or aren't sure of-just search through the help feature and it will all be explained to you. Feel free to browse the help too. You'll find lots of cool things that would otherwise take you many years to find out on your own.

Creating a Cardboard Box

First we're going to create the box (Create > Standard Primitives > Box) and set the dimensions to 45 x 45 x 50. If your box is being displayed in wireframe in any of your viewports, just right-click in the viewport and press the F3 key.

With the box selected, right-click it and select Convert to editable mesh from the Quad Menu.

Now you need to save your progress. Always name your files with a relevant name to make it easier to find your assets later. As this is the first save file, we'll create a few folders to store all the files that you'll be working on while using this book. Go to save the file (File > Save as ...), create a folder called 3D Modeling for Games, then create another folder inside the one you've just created called Chapter 1. Now save your file as Cardboard box1.max or Chapter1_001.max.

We have completed the modeling part of this tutorial. Now we have to apply the texture maps to the faces of the box and our first asset will be complete.

3ds Max Shortcuts

There are a few viewport configurations to help you to speed up the mapping of the box. Go to Modify, click the Configure Modifier Sets button, and select Show Buttons from the menu.

This action displays a set of buttons beneath the Modifier List rollout menu that can be configured to have all your most often used modifiers. Set the Total Buttons value to 10 and add Edit Mesh, UVW Map, and Unwrap UVW to the buttons, as we will use these modifiers the most in the first few chapters of the book. Do this by finding the modifier on the alphabetized list and drag it onto the button. To find a modifier on the list easily, just keep typing the first letter of it on the keyboard and you will cycle through all the modifiers with that letter (for example, press "E" for Edit Mesh). Then click OK to close the Configure Modifier Sets window.

Texture Mapping Your Box

With your box still selected, go to Selection, click Element, and select the box. This should highlight all the faces (press F2 to toggle the highlighted selection).

Now click UVW Map from your newly created modifier set and check Box Mapping from the Parameters menu.

Next, right-click UVW Map in the Modifier stack and select Collapse All from the pop-up menu, then click Yes-you want to continue at the prompt, as we don't need to preserve the stack in this instance.

With your box still selected, click on the Material Editor (on the top toolbar) and change the standard material to a multi-sub object material as shown in Figure 1.8, clicking OK to discard the old material. If you keep the old material by accident, don't worry-it doesn't matter either way in this instance, as we are creating new ones.

To keep this first tutorial simple, I have already prepared the texture maps that you'll be using from photographs. In Chapter 3, we will cover this process in a lot of detail, showing how to take photographs, how to modify them in Photoshop, and how to apply them to models.

To add the textures into the material editor, select the material ID from the vertical list and load in the texture map for each side of the box. Although there are ten materials displayed in the editor, we'll just use the first six listed: Material #2 through Material #7 in my case. Yours could have different names, depending on how you have used 3ds Max previously. Don't worry if your names don't match mine at this point, as they can be renamed.

Click on the first material in the list, next to ID 1 (Material #2 in my case) and assign a Bitmap material to it. To do this, click the small square button on the right of "diffuse" in Blinn Basic Parameters, select Bitmap from the top of the pop up menu, and click OK.

Now load Box1_top.jpg from \Chapter 1\Textures\ on the accompanying DVD.

There are two ways to assign the next material to ID 2. The first way is to click on the Go To Parent button, then click the Go Forward To Sibling button (as shown in Figure 1.11a and b).

The second method is to click the Go To Parent button twice, then select the second material in the list (as shown in Figure 1.11c).

Then repeat the process of clicking the small square button to the right of "diffuse" in Blinn Basic Parameters, selecting Bitmap from the top of the pop-up menu, and clicking OK.

As you assign each material a texture map, click the Show Standard Map in Viewport button ([??]) so that when you Assign Material to Selection, the textures are visible on the object.

Repeat this process for ID 2 through ID 6, loading the remaining five texture maps into the material editor and ending with Box1_ base.jpg being assigned to ID 6.

Here's how they should be assigned:

ID 1 - Material #2 - Box1_top.jpg

ID 2 - Material #3 - Box1_sid1.jpg

ID 3 - Material #4 - Box1_sid2.jpg

ID 4 - Material #5 - Box1_sid3.jpg

ID 5 - Material #6 - Box1_sid4.jpg

ID 6 - Material #7 - Box1_base.jpg

Remember that your Material number may differ from the numbers I have. As long as you match the ID (number)-for example, ID 1 goes with the corresponding texture map, in this case Box1_top.jpg-you'll be okay. Also make sure that you remember to select Show Standard Map in Viewport [??].

Now that we have assigned texture maps to all of the materials, we will apply the material set to the box and apply the material IDs to the faces of the box, allowing us to see the texture maps.

With the box still selected as an editable mesh, click the Assign Material to Selection button to assign the material set that you've just set up to the box you're mapping. At this point, you should see that a lot of the box's faces now have texture maps on them. These currently correspond to the default face IDs, which are not necessarily the ones we want, so let's go through and check each face of the cube individually to make sure that the correct texture map is applied to the correct face on the box.

For this model, we must do this carefully, as some of the packaging tape on the box wraps around onto the adjacent faces. Look out for mistakes when you complete the model.

To get the correct map onto the correct face, first select the face of the box that is on the top of the box in the perspective viewport. Go to Selection and select Polygon. Scroll down from selection until you get to the Surface Properties rollout box and in Material, make sure that Set ID: is set to 1.

In the perspective view, select the polygon on the left-hand side and assign the ID to 4. Depending on how the box mapping oriented each of the box faces when we mapped it, the texture map may not be oriented the correct way. If this is the case, we'll need to modify the UVW Mapping coordinates to correct it.

From the Modifier List, click the button Unwrap UVW, which adds the Unwrap UVW modifier to the modifier stack. Below the modifier stack, adjust the vertical scrolling menu until you find Parameters. Once you have found the Parameters section, click Edit. The Edit UVW window will pop open.

From the pull-down menu at the top right of the new Edit UVW window, click on the rollout and select Map#1 (Box1_side1.jpg). Now we need to select all of the vertices (left click, drag bounding box around all vertices, then release the left mouse button). You'll know if you've gotten them all as they all change to a red color (see Figure 1.15).

Now we need to rotate all the vertices to the correct orientation on the cardboard box, but first press the "A" key on the keyboard to activate the Angle Snap shortcut. We rotate the vertices (select Rotate at the top left of the Edit UVW window) until the text on the texture map is the right way up on the cardboard box model in the viewport.

There are a few options that I like to set to help me see the map more clearly when doing this type of mapping. At the bottom right-hand corner of the Edit UVW window, click Options. This step brings up some extra settings for editing the UVWs. Uncheck Tile Bitmap and set brightness to 1, which is useful in that it will help you see the texture sheet a lot more clearly. This option can also be set from the top menu, by selecting Options > Preferences (Ctrl + O) and adjusting it in the Display Preferences menu.

Next, right-click Unwrap UVW in the modifier stack and select Collapse All, then select Yes to clear the stack.

Now we'll continue mapping the rest of the cardboard box. Left-click on Editable Mesh in the Modifier Stack and press the "4" key on the keyboard (the shortcut to Select Polygon).

Other useful shortcuts of this type are:

1 = Select Vertex, 2 = Select Edge, 3 = Select Face, 4 = Select Polygon, and 5 = Select Element.

With Edit Polygon selected, select the other visible front polygon in the perspective view.

Repeat the mapping and unwrapping procedure on the second side that you can see in the perspective viewport, but this time, set the ID of the face of the box to ID 3.

To see what you are doing more clearly in each of the viewports, right-click on the name of the viewport and select Smooth and Highlights from the pop-up window.

On this occasion, the second box side texture map on my model is the correct way up, so there is no need for me to unwrap the UVs. If yours doesn't match this, repeat the previous process.

To help you to see the model more clearly while in the Perspective view, click on the Maximize Viewport Toggle (bottom right of interface). Now click on Arc Rotate Selected (to the left of the Maximize Viewport Toggle) and rotate the object so that you can clearly see the rear two sides of the cardboard box. You can also close the material editor or minimize it for a good look at all sides too. Feel free to have a play with the new floating controllers (in the top right) of each viewport to change your view, too.

Select the polygon on the left and assign it ID 2. If the texture map is not orientated correctly, quickly right it by following the mapping procedure from mapping the first side of the box (Unwrap UVW, Edit, Select Map#2 box_sid1.jpg, select vertices, rotate to correct orientation).

Collapse the stack again, press "4" and select the fourth side to map. This time, set the ID to 5 and adjust the UVW mapping, if necessary, so that it matches the example.

Finally, rotate the Perspective view (Arc Rotate Selected button) and select the bottom polygon of the cardboard box. Set the ID to 6 and adjust the mapping, if necessary. On this side of the box, pay close attention to the packaging tape on the texture map and make sure that it lines up correctly with the tape wrapping around onto the sides of the box. Once you're happy with it, that's it-you're done. Congratulations on completing this model!

Common Problems

When building assets like this one, always make sure that all of the texture maps are the same size and resolution. Differences in resolution have a massive impact on the quality of your finished model, and even if the maps are supplied to you, always check their size and color depth to make sure that they match where they should.

With models containing patterns that wrap around the object, make sure that they line up correctly on all sides.

Rendering Your Model

To produce quick renders of your model for an object database or for a progress portfolio, first we need to set up the environment.

At the top of the screen, select Rendering then Environments and Effects from the dropdown menu, or alternatively press "8" for the shortcut. For this type of quick render, I usually set the Global Lighting Ambient to around 150, the Tint to approximately 200, with the intensity at 0.5, and the background color set to something neutral or close to white (around 230). In this case, as I'll be using the render just to put in a progress portfolio, I'll be using 230 for the background. It will help the object stand out and will be a lot less messy to print in color.

Once you're happy with the settings, close the Environment and Effects window and rotate the viewport until you're satisfied that the view is showing off the best of the model. I like the detail in the cardboard on the top of the box and I also like the staple details with the rips on the sides, so they will be most prominent in my render.

Go to Rendering, Render or type F10 as a shortcut, opening up the parameters for the scanline renderer. In Output Size, click the 800 x 600 button and click the Render button (bottom right of parameters pop-up). You should now have a render of your cardboard box. If you want a render that is of a slightly higher resolution, instead of clicking the 800 x 600 button, click the Image Aspect lock button and type in 1920 (or whatever size you like) and press Return and then the render button. You can render images at any size you like.

Try adjusting the Ambient light, Tint, and Background color settings until you render an image that you're happy with. But keep the render nice and clean if it's for a portfolio. You can always add it to a themed style sheet in Photoshop for your final portfolio later. Keeping it clean will enable you make any style changes later on a lot more easily.

Moving On to Chapter 2

In the next chapter, we will be building a slightly more complex asset. You will learn how to lay out the texture map, making the most of the available area, and we will also look at a slightly more complex method of laying out the UVs for the texture. We will be using some new tools to create the new asset including Slice, Extrude, and Scale, and we will be producing another render for your portfolio.

Well done for getting to the end.

Chapter Two

Low-Poly Asset 2 (1-hour tutorial)

Modifying Primitive Objects and UV Mapping

Congratulations, you're at Chapter 2 already! Hopefully, you've managed to complete the first tutorial without encountering any problems. If you skipped the tutorial, try to at least flick through it so that you know what we've covered, especially the 3ds Max setup information and the UVW mapping. As we have to cram so much into this one book, we will not be repeating things. Because of this, I advise you to complete the tutorials in order so that you don't miss anything, even if you know what you are doing. There could be something important that you miss, which could cause problems for you later on, if you don't understand it.

On to the second tutorial. This time we will be creating another primitive object and using a lot of different actions, including: Editable Poly, Select and Uniform Scale, loading background images, keyboard shortcuts, object properties (see-through and backface cull), Boolean (Cut & Union), deleting faces, and Target Weld for vertices.

Let's get started. For this tutorial, we will use some reference photos (already provided in \Chapter 2\Textures\) to build a fairly simple model. It will involve slightly more modeling than the first tutorial and a little more complex mapping. We will use the reference photos as a guide to model from, and we will use them again to create the texture map.


Excerpted from 3ds Max Modeling for Games by Andrew Gahan Copyright © 2009 by Elsevier, Inc.. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents

Introduction to 3ds Max. Creating, Unwrapping, and Texturing Simple Models. Creating Complex Objects from Primitives. Vegetation and Alpha Maps. Low-Poly Vehicle. Creating LODs. Normal Maps. Gallery. Creating a 3D Environment. High-and Low-Poly Characters. Portfolio and Interview.

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3ds Max Modeling for Games: Insider's Guide to Game Character, Vehicle, and Environment Modeling: Volume I 3.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 9 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
You really have to have a head for this stuff to REALLY get it. Don't get me wrong, it has some stuff for new people, then it gets more complex. And in the Author's defense, he does urge you to apply what you learned to your own hobby work throughout the book, but by the time you get to character modeling, he'll have you doing some pretty advanced stuff. All the direction given to you is sort of under the mutual understanding you know exactly what he's talking about. But let's say you know enough to get yourself in trouble, you'll be learning a lot of really snazzy stuff that gives you a bit of insight into how customizable 3ds Max truly is. Either way, I think you'll get a whole lot out of this book and it's definitely worth buying.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Sad_Santa More than 1 year ago
I ordered this book on Dec.15,2008 thru Eurobooks for my son for Christmas. He would have loved this book - if he had ever gotten it. They supposedly ship from 30 minutes from where I live. Order status says it shipped same day - so I can't cancel the order. I got orders from 2000 miles away which I ordered a day later. It's been 15 days, no book, and no response to my emails, on Dec 23rd, 27th, or 30th. They have my money. B&N hasn't responded to my emails either, except to say they got them.

Sorry about the rating - not for the book. ZERO stars for EuroBooks!!!!
B&N finally responded with a flimsy excuse - no help until after January 6, 2009. Maybe I'll get the order in time for my sons birthday in 6 months.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is a great book, and highly recommended for anyone looking for an insight into the working practices of the games industry.
It contains everything you need to know to be able to produce high quality 3D models, with loads of really useful info, specifically relevant for games production.

There¿s a load of in-depth, and very easy to understand tutorials covering a wide range of topics. Initially guiding you through the basic fundamentals of low-poly modelling and texturing, through to more complex `next-gen¿ techniques such as normal mapping.
The 3D modelling aspect of the book focuses primarily on max but I found that many of the principles are relevant to all 3D packages
The DVD is also extremely useful, with relevant max files and example assets for all the tutorials, and tons of photo reference to allow you to jump straight in and make your own models!

This book will prove invaluable to any aspiring 3d artist and is full of useful information for anyone looking to develop a portfolio in order to get a job in the games industry.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I use Maya personally and up until now, I'd never used 3D studio Max but I found the content of the tutorials so easy to follow that I had no problem producing something decent within an hour or so.
The DVD is extremely useful and packed with all sorts of stuff.
Highly recommended.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
I¿ve played around with 3ds max for a few years but never really got to grips with it until now. 3ds Max Modelling for Games has taught me more in a month than every other book and DVD I¿ve wasted my money on all together. The book is extremely simple to begin with, taking you through modelling a box, step by step. Now I thought that this was a joke initially until I realised that the tutorial was not about modelling a box, but about setting 3ds max up properly with automatic backups, units, scale and the core principles of mapping and unwrapping textures. It even shows how to get a great looking render out of the simplest of models ¿ something I had struggled with in the past. The book moves on teaching more complex modelling techniques, more complex mapping and even how to take your own photographs and turn them into great looking texture maps ¿ I didn¿t expect a number of great Photoshop lessons in a 3ds Max book. Again the tutorials get more complex and cover normal mapping, dirt maps, ambient occlusion, scratch maps, specular maps, and complex lighting and rendering. But the best thing about the book is that all of the tutorials grow all fit together as pieces of the final finished scene which is an abandoned warehouse. The models, the vehicle, the character ¿ everything all fits together to make a scene with lots of rendering advice to put a good portfolio together. Finally the book ends with some of the best advice I¿ve ever seen on putting a portfolio together and how to act in an interview. I haven¿t been able to put this book down since I got hold of it and I¿m now looking forward to the massive character modelling tutorial. 5 stars from me. p.s. The book has an accompanying website with extra content promised too.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is the definitinve guide to starting out modelling for the games industry. The book shows you exactly what you need to do to start creating 3d models and textures to be used in todays commercial software titles. Once you have a good grasp of basic modelling, the book takes you through texture creation and using photographs to create texture maps in Photoshop. Once you have a good grasp of modelling and texture creation, the tutorials get progressively more advanced in simple to follow, step by step tutorials ending in some really complex character modelling and texture baking. To end everything off, you are guided through a nice environment modelling tutorial and give you a great professional approach to putting a portfolio together and how to conduct yourself in an interview. This is the very best guide to getting into the games industry on the market, and is completely up to date with 3dsMax 2009 and next generation techniques. As well as the book there are hundreds of refernce photos from a photoshoot in an abandoned mental hospital in England - more than enough to keep an artist of any ability busy for the next 6 months. As well as the photoshoot and lots of example models to copy and adapt, there is an acompanying website with new content, photoshoots and tutorials planned throughout the comming months. Highly recommended