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Reddonquixote's Q1 Project

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  • Original Poster
  • Btw, this is what I had when I cancelled the project!

    That was looking really good, why did you stop?


    I look forward to the project, this is the only BAT project that I have actually been too! :D

    That means you have photos to share?? :party:;)

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    I agree with T Wrecks :lol:. That's one heck of a prototype. Glad to see you're attempting this building :D


    I really like the interactive aspect of this that you've got going on. And for the record, for noobs like myself, your "amateurish, clumsy, inefficient modelling techniques" may actually be quite helpful, so don't hesitate to post them ;)

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    Woah a whole new project and new thread!!! Great stuff. Really looking forward to the base of the building, while I love the tower, the base is fantastic :D 


    Good luck with the project and I will definitely be keeping track of this thread! 

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  • Original Poster
  • Thanks for the support everyone. Here's the next update.




    Sounds obvious, but to make a good BAT you need to do good research. Particularly when you're not familiar with the building and/or the building is quite complex. Both is the case for me for Q1.


    I always start with a map. Google maps is good because it also has a building footprint on it which is very useful, and of course in Google Earth you can use the measuring tool to get the lot's dimensions.



    And the same thing again, in aerial view:



    Here's where I spot the first complexity. The lot is not square. It's pretty close though so it shouldn't be too much of a problem down the track. I will need to make a decision at some point how much of the complex I'm going to include in the BAT.


    Using Google Earth measuring tool, I find the lot is about 96mX190m. (the North and South boundaries are different lengths, 190m is the longest side). Divided by 16, the game lot should therefore be 6 tiles by 12 tiles.


    Next I measured around the building footprint just to get some idea about the buildings dimensions. This is pretty rough though. On a normal square building you can do this much more easily in Google Earth using the measuring tool again. This I composited in photoshop:




    Not being familiar with the building's shape, I have difficulty trying to picture how the footprint translates into the skyscraper. In Bing maps, I find a building footprint which is much more stylised and extremely useful. I can overlay the stylised image over the top of the aerial photograph and I can see how the building fits with its footprint.






    While I'm in Bing, I view the building from all four sides. Obviously extremely useful given SC4 is also viewed on 4 sides, and the viewing angle isn't dissimilar either. About 80% of my reference points are done from Bing. Here's Q1 composited from Bing images:


    (I've shrunk this right down, the actual image is over 3500 pixels wide and 6MB)




    Now if they could just knock down those other buildings so I can get an unobstructed view :P .. its pretty good though!


    Next I go into Google Street view and do a few laps around the block, scouting for details that eluded me from the air. This is important, the way things look from the air can be vastly different from the ground. Neither is always right. You need to check details from different angles, different times of the day to get clarity. Here's some views from the street:



    Probably one of the best references if you're lucky enough to find them are achitectural drawings.






    That's it, I think I'm ready to start making a prototype :thumb:

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    This is exciting! Great to see how you research a building, might inspire more people to do the same and create more buildings! :P

    Once you release the Q1, you could make this thread for all your projects outside of Melbourne if you're planning to do any. 


    Can't wait for this release Red! :D

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  • Original Poster
  • Prototype


    I'm going to base my prototype on the stylised footprint image. Because the building is diagionally placed, its going to be hard to model like that, so I'm going to reorient the image so its upright. Fyi, I use 3DS Max 2010.



    Then I'm going to import the image into the 'top' viewport. You do this by pressing Alt-B, locating the image in Files, then setting to 'Match Bitmap' and 'Lock Zoom/Pan'




    Once I have the image displaying in the top viewport, I trace the outline using the line tool under Splines




    It should look something like this:




    I then convert the splines to editable Poly polygons. That's for each of the splines selected, in the modify panel rightclick>editable poly




    Just jumping ahead a couple of steps, I can see from my references those triangular buildings are two-story. I select the polgons and extrude them, 12m x2. 12m is obviously very high, but this is just a prototype, and the footprint image is actually massively overscaled. 12m floor looks visually about right proportionate to the building footprint. It doesn't really matter though at this stage.






    Now, doing a bit of scouting around Google Street view I see there is another structure along side the building that wasn't included in the footprint image. I use basic geometry, scale, and rotation to place these into approximate position, cross-referencing against the aerial photographs.




    Again, moving around to the other side of the building, I see that the gaps between the buildings are arcade entrances. One of the gaps is too narrow, so I need to reposition the pieces slightly. I then add on some of the upper pieces.




    Now here's where making a prototype comes in handy. I use this process to work out complex shapes like the concentric rings, their positioning and the manner in which they wrap around the building. Its true I can work this out on the real model, but this allows me to rough them in and see in advance the types of challenges I'm likely to face when I model them properly. For these, I used a circle spline, which I enabled rendering. I could have probably just have easily used a tube.. but I didn't.




    I then used soft selection to mould them into a tear-drop shape. I converted to an editable poly again and deleted the sections of the circle I didn't want. I end up with something that looks suspiciously like the milennium falcon :P




    Here you can see there are 4 rings. I will soon discover, and add on, a 5th ring which I had missed. Again, this is why I find the prototype so useful. These are mistakes I don't mind making when I'm throwing rough shapes together. Oh, one other thing, I didn't recreate these rings everytime, I just copied and rescaled the first one I made.


    For the next bit, I add on some of the driveway pieces. Here I realise this is actually a really good building to do this project with, there's a bit of everything - Glass, pool water, foilage, complex shapes.. and here we have a sunken driveway :)




    Nothing very interesting here, this is just starting the base of the tower. I took a copy of the tower footprint, raised one to 24m, and the ground level one I extruded 24m, and scaled the top polygon outwards so it has a tapered shape.




    For anyone who likes skyscrapers, this is the best bit, making the tower. I know from the references there are two layers per floor, a glass layer and a floor/ceiling layer, and I also know the glass layer is taller than the floor ceiling layer. I probably didn't get these proportions right in respect to one another, but that's not too important for the prototype. To help with my sanity, I made the glass layer light blue and the floor layer dark blue. That way when I get to the top I don't get confused whether its a floor or a window, and miss one. I make the floor 8m and the glass layer 12m. There are 57 floors before the first set of balconies. I replicate the 2 layers using the Array tool.





    I find the preview button really useful to see what the result is, to make sure you have the right numbers in all the right boxes. For example, the x-y-z parameters can change depending on which viewport is active. You might think you're going up but you go sideways instead!




    Now, we're nearly there only a couple more steps to go, but here's where it all starts to get hard, and go wrong. Now that I've worked it out (and i'm not convinced I have in fact) its seems relatively straight forward. The balconies gradually recede across 3 floors until the outer wing disappears. The outline is traced with glass and steel structures forming an elegant sweeping shape up the side of the building... but this took ages to work out. Again, this is what the prototype is for, to iron these complexities out now.




    To make that little railing piece, I just used the line tool with rendering enable again, this time set to radial. Not sure if its really radial, but for this purpose is fine. I use the 'snaps toggle' set to vertices, and trace a line along each one of those corners. I then go into the side view and even them up a bit so they have a smoother gradient. This is going to need more mathematical precision in the real model.


    Now I go up six more floors, and I get more balconies in a similar, but not same, style. These ones go across 4 floors, the lower balconies are rather larger, and I note there are parts of the steel structure sweeping backwards that at first glance look like they are oddly shaped apartment roofs. To add to the complexity, at the rear of the building, a small narrow overhanging facade has suddenly been added into the shape. When I make the real model, I will do this all very differently, but its good to know what I need to plan for.




    Now this is the last one. Not sure there's much more to say. Once the floors extend past this point, the glass is two-story high. That's worthy to note. Modelling wise I just extend up the rest of the required floors, indenting where required. For the roof I just took a floor and scaled it on x-y axes so its smaller. Oh, the big antenna is just a cylinder that has been bevelled and extruded a few times. Then the sweeping rails were created just using the method described above, except I went right round the top of the building this time.


    I also realised at this point, those two tall columns that go all the way up the rear of the building - I modelled them with the building foortprint, but its easier, and more accurate, to attach these on last.




    There you have it, the Q1 prototype. Last couple of things I need to do before export - I rescale the building to its proper size and heights, re-rotate it back to its original orientation, and scale everything up 133% as per standard BATing conventions.




    I got some really good learnings out of making the prototype that should help me when I make the real thing... coming up next...


    Hope you like this update :)

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    Wonderful.  Extremely glad that you are sharing this information. Hopefully it encourages other to start batting...There are some many desirable buildings out there and other that need an update...


    Glad to here that this may stay as an essential guide on the Omnibus.


    Is there a way to get a legit (not pirated) free version of 3dsmax?

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    I've favorited this page. I've found, there are modelling techniques in here that are extremely helpful, which I was completely unaware of (such as the array tool for example!). I want to thank you for taking the time to make an easy-to follow and remarkably useful tutorial. :thumb: It'd be great if you could keep this going ^_^ (And by the way, I may even attempt to make another version of this tower along with you lol)



    Is there a way to get a legit (not pirated) free version of 3dsmax?



    You want to go to here: http://students.autodesk.com/?nd=download_center

    It's a free student trial for three years I believe. That's the one I'm using either way.

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    I've favorited this page. I've found, there are modelling techniques in here that are extremely helpful, which I was completely unaware of (such as the array tool for example!). I want to thank you for taking the time to make an easy-to follow and remarkably useful tutorial. :thumb: It'd be great if you could keep this going ^_^ (And by the way, I may even attempt to make another version of this tower along with you lol)



    Is there a way to get a legit (not pirated) free version of 3dsmax?



    You want to go to here: http://students.autodesk.com/?nd=download_center

    It's a free student trial for three years I believe. That's the one I'm using either way.

    Thanks Ace.  I will try to see if I can download..  I am not a student so I don't know if I qualify... :( 

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    Here another interesting tuto, Reddon, Thanks a lot for your work on this ;) . It's good to see how to model an building like this one. Cylinder buildings and ovals always make me afraid, and here you've explain how create windows and frames ! Thanks one more time :yes: !


    I've just one question, where can we found map or plan of buildings for the background ?

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  • Original Poster
  • Hi Darknono - architectural plans are a rarity to be honest. To find them is just luck of the draw. I found these on google images, but I have in the past found them on dedicated architectural sites, like Emporis, or on websites marketing the building's development or realestate. It was just lucky for this project these one were available relatively easily.

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  • Original Poster
  • Lower Terraces


    This is a bit more of an exciting update. This time we're making the first of the winged terraces.


    Picking up where we left off, we need to select the top most glass layer (light blue) and using the array tool, create a copy at the next story. (Dark Blue)




    To make it easier to work with, select and hide everything else but the new floor.


    Hollow the new floor out by selecting the top (and if necessary, bottom) polygons, and deleting them.




    I select the row of vertices at the rear of the building, and using the move tool, I slide them along the Y-axis to position them where the thick dark line on the architectural base drawing shows.




    But you can see the wing is now too thick. This isn't very precise, you will need to use your eye to line this up. or at least, that's how I did it. Basically, I used the scale tool, and scaled out along the X-axis. Then you need to reposition the whole row so that the centre line remains vertical.




    You may find you have overscaled or underscaled, keep adjusting it and repositioning it until it all looks aligned again. What you're looking for is the centre line to be vertically straight, while the wing is evenly wide all the way along.




    Now we just want to ensure the centre line is perfectly aligned. I believe there are tools that do this, but I find this is just as easy - Select the central vertex that's at the front of the building and copy its x-coordinates from the number input field. Select the one at the rear and paste the x-coordinates. It takes longer to explain it than to do it!






    I haven't decided if this next bit is necessary yet or not.. after doing it I kind had to undo it again. I haven't got as far as working out if its going to save me some grief later, or was a complete waste of time :P


    What I did here is after aligning the x-axis, I positioned the vertex along the Y-axis so its sitting on the line of the drawing. What we noticed when we dragged these down is they are curved, while the drawing shows a straight line. We're going to line them up so they are straight.




    We use the same method as when we aligned the centre vertex on the X-axis coordinates, but this time we position them evenly along the Y-Axis coordinates.




    While I was thinking of it, I just inserted a couple of extra panels into the back of the wing using the connect tool.




    Now back to the bit we straightened up, we select and extrude the first four windows, all the way to the original back of the building again.. But, now it doesn't line up anymore, the building is curved and our extruded piece is straight :(


    We need to fix this, and its a very crude method. Unhide the rest of the building, and in the top view, zoom in really close and use the move tool to reposition the vertices back into alignment with the curvature of the building.






    The next step is to create a roof-duplicate of the floor. We've covered that in the previous section (hint: use the array tool, and don't forget to shorten the height by half)


    Now we make another duplicate of the previous floor, using the array tool again.




    We need to create the first stepped terrace. Start by selecting the window closest to the wing.




    We do 5 negative extrudes, mine were -5m each. You can press the apply button to keep extruding, then ok when you're finished making them all. Once the extrusions are done, we need to delete the polygons at the top and bottom of the shape, and just leave the side pieces.




    We can see they have extruded in a straight line, but we need them in a curve. In the top view, select the vertices in pairs and slide them along the X-axis, manually positioning them until they follow the curvature of the wing, and are positioned in the same spots as where the windows used to be!


    Now we can complete the floor by using the Cap Holes modifier. The Cap Holes modifier will basically cover any open parts of the shape with polygons. Use carefully, it doesn't work well on complex shapes with multiple holes on different planes. Luckily it does work well with open ended flat-planed objects like our building floor.






    Once you have applied the Cap Holes modifier, and you're satisified with the result, you can right click and collapse all to make it a permanent part of the object. Duplicate again, to make a ceiling layer, and again to make the next level.


    I'm not going to post the next floor, its the same as the one we just did, except instead of 5 extrudes, we only need 4.


    The next layer is the last layer, and we're going to use a different technique. After making the duplicate of the previous floor, we start by deleting the cap-holes polygons we made, and the two remaining pieces still attaching the wing to the main structure. We now have two separate pieces with big holes in the sides of them. We need to plug those holes up.


    Using the snaps toggle, and the line tool, we trace a line around the missing windows.




    Then we convert to an editable poly - it has created a patch over the missing windows. Select the top and bottom edges of the patch, and use the connect tool to create the three windows.




    The patch is still a standalone object, we want to make it part of the existing building structure. To do this we use the attach tool.


    There are two ways to use the attach tool, you can either press the large Attach button, and anything you click on with the mouse will be attached to the original object. For more precision, you can press the little square button next to it, that will bring up the name list and you can select exactly what you want to attach by name. If you use the first method, don't forget to unclick it, you will end up attaching other objects by accident!




    Once the piece is attached, you can tell because its changed to the same colour now, we need to weld the vertices. We select the four corners of the new set of windows, and we see we have 8 vertices. Select Weld to make the 8 vertices into 4.




    Use the same method to plug the hole in the back of the wing. Cap the holes and that layer is done. Dont forget to make a duplicate ceiling layer :)


    We're about half way...


    Now we need to unhide everything again, so we can make the window frames.


    We drag a horizontal window frame from the layer below, with snaps toggle on, and pressing shift, we create a duplicate horizontal window frame snapped into correct position. But its the wrong shape!




    Withe snaps toggle still on, we drag the existing vertices one by one so they conform to the new building shape. We don't have enough of these though. To complete the action, we use the insert tool.






    We need to replicate these onto each layer. I drag one more up onto the next floor, and use the array tool for the rest.




    The vertical ones I drag up from below, but only where needed.






    For the ones we couldn't drag up, we just make them new.




    Here's the really tricky bit, I saved another version before commencing on this.


    Start by selecting just the new set of floors we made, the ones with the terraces, and hide anything unselected.

    Select one piece, and then attach everything else to it. All objects on the screen should now be one object.

    We then select only the polygons that are make up the wing.




    We need to slice a diagonal line through these, in order to achieve this we need something to anchor the slice to. In the side view (Left), we create two boxes, one above the building, and one to the left of the building. They need to be positioned such that if we visualise a straight line from one box to the other, it would slices through the polygons where we need to.




    This is a little bit tricky and clumsy, we turn on the snaps toggle again, and also the Quickslice tool. We click the top-right of the lower box and hover above lower-left of the upper box (Glad we have pictures!). We only hover to check the angle. Only click once we're happy we are intersecting the pieces at the correct angle. It not, we move the two boxes up/down/left/right until we get something we're happy with. For me, I'm looking for a starting position halfway up the lowest window, and ending directly to the left of the right-most window.




    We then select the polygons we want to delete, and delete them.




    This next bit is really ugly. I can't think of a better way to do it though. Basically, wee need to cap the holes in the diagonally sliced pieces, but cap holes won't work this time, its too complex.


    We need to create a plane that has the same number of segments as our curved wing. Mine has 24.




    In the top view, move the vertices so they roughly align to the shape of the wing, and in the side view, rotate it so it roughly aligns with the angle of the slice. If you don't do these steps, its gets really hard to do the next bit.




    With snap toggles on (we're getting good at this now).. we grab each vertex and snap it to the corresponding position on the wing. Basically, we're creating a manual Cap-Hole.




    We use attach and weld to make it part of the object, and we select each of the individual polygons. We then use auto-smooth to make it look better.




    We need to fill in the missing window frames:




    And now here it is... a sweeping winged, stepped, terrace :thumb:





    Phew.. that was a bit of a marathon... let me know if there is anything you want more information on.

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