This has been a Planet Postmoderna Base Camp Demo “learning experience”–not the first but a real P-A-I-N, nonetheless. It doesn’t help that I am perfectionist and yes, I am still not 100% satisfied. This is also not to mention that I am still learning 3dsMax and Photoshop. Still a 5 on the “noob” scale of 1 to 100. Of course, now that I think about it, this whole project has been a learning experience.
I actually thought I had been okay with the initial results of the model in Unity, our tool of choice for the demo development. This was until I read this article on the CG Society website: Hard Surface Texture Painting. After all that I did, well, I had to do it over. Of course what work I finally did comes hardly close to the examples illustrated by the article’s author, Stephan-Morell. He rocks!!!
The development of the Admin Building for Base Camp all started with the original concept art designed by Vladimir Milosevic. The building is designed to be the main support point for quests and the intro to the storyline on the planet and at Base Camp, the “home base” for all new settlers. I loved the concept that Vladimir drew up. He is an awesome artist and modeler.
I gave the concept over to another one of our modelers while Vladimir was out of pocket back home with “life.” We know how that always comes into play. Norbert Gaeckel (another great 3D modeler) took the reigns and modeled the concept in Cinema 4D. At first, we had a lot of back and forth in order to get it right–most of the problems were related to the UV Mapping–but we finally got it. As you can see below, at first, it was pretty messed up.
Of course, fixing that was a small part of what lay ahead for me. I took the FBX file (a file format used in Unity) he sent me and pulled up the UVs in 3dsMax. The texture on the building was stretched out in areas where it needed more detail. I basically had to take the initial UV map and split it into two separate ones. The original one placed all the model’s faces on one map. Not that this was not a good approach but remember, I am a perfectionist. Mind you also, I knew nothing about how to do this 3 years ago. 🙂 I am a sales and marketing guy remember? But… when I put my mind to something….
Now for anyone out there that is not familiar with all of this, think of the UV as how everything is placed in 3D space as far as the image and wrapped around the model. A model is created in 3D Space (XYZ coordinates) but UV is like a layer on that. Don’t even ask me to explain it! Here is a Wiki Article, UV Mapping, that explains how it works much better than I can. The way I picture it is how our Grade School World Map takes the surface of the world and flattens it out on one plane so all of us can see.
The changes I made allowed for more detail on the model to be rendered from the texture. Did I say that right (‘addressing all you “Pros” out there if you stumbled on this by accident)? Basically, it looked better.
Thereafter, I began the tedious process of creating the color map texture in PhotoShop. Boy did that take me forever! I created what is visible on the model as well as addition textures for physical texture appearance (normal map) and glow (emmissive map) for the lights. That one took me a long time to get just right too.
In order to create perceived visual bumps and imperfections on the model, I converted the color map to greyscale in PhotoShop so I could use a nifty tool, the Nvidia Normal Map filter, to make a normal map. Now for you non-techies our there, Nvidia makes graphics cards, the hardware in your computer that makes all those great game visuals possible.
Of course, I tried my best to correct the resulting normal map. My final actually did not look exactly as the following. You can see though that just running the greyscale image through the filter made a bumpy mess!
A normal map helps create the preception of texture or bumps by adjusting the way light bounces off the surface. Pros, did I say that right? If not, here you go. Read this great article on the Polycount Forum website.
Of course, and this is a slap in the face for me, it turned out I was doing it all wrong. I converted the greyscale image directly with the filter. LOL!!!! I learned from another handy article about Normal Maps that I messed that up.
I followed James O’Hare’s article, step by step. Much better, I must say. I created a drawn greyscale image the was white in areas that are supposed to be higher and black in areas that are supposed to be lower. Grey is the middle.
What do you think? Definitely different from the original greyscale huh?
The resulting normal map also looks different.
Now when you take all these textures and plop them into the appropriate shader (now, I am not going to explain that one! You will need to read up on that.), you get a result that really combines all the textures and gives you the desired result. As you can see from the screenshot from Unity, the shader interface is on the right. It shows all of our textures applied.
Okay, now I am getting tired of typing. This is the longest entry I have made here in awhile! Take a look at the final screenshots from within the Unity 3D engine. Enjoy!! And by the way, the settler character was also made by Vladimir. It still is not finished and needs some more work to keep that chap’s skin from coming through his clothes. Another blog entry for the future. 🙂
Now off to finish the Farming Module. Stay tuned for more….