Everybody was asking for it, so here it is. This is going to be an all-inclusive tutorial on the BAT that will take you from starting the model to getting the lot into SC4. I hope to establish all of the absolute basics you will need to create the building of your dreams, texture it, light it, export it, define the properties in the Plugin Manager, place it on a lot, and seeing it in game.
There will be a few of the more advanced features covered, but by and large this will be a basic tutorial for beginners. Below you will find the index of all pages (I divided each section into a different page to save page-load time for all those on dial-up, and to save my sanity when trying to organize this tutorial). This tutorial will cover a Commercial Building, but the lessons learned here could easily carry over to a Residential, Landmark, or even an Industrial Building. I chose Commercial as they are usually boxes, and it would be easier for me to explain to you (and for you to model) a rather simple building. Without further ado, I now present the tutorial.
(At this point, I am assuming you already have gmax, the BAT, the Plugin Manager, the new Lot Editor, and the SC4 patch installed on your system. If you don't yet, go get them now.)
Well, to begin any good tutorial, we'll have to begin at the beginning. In this case, we need to familiarize ourselves with the BAT/gmax. Firstly, open the BAT by double-clicking the "SC4 BAT" icon on your desktop.
NOTE: I refer to the "BAT" and "gmax" as interchangeable terms. In reality, gmax is the modeling program, the BAT is simply the pre-made Maxis lighting rigs and export tools (among a few other things). Just remember that if I say "the BAT" or "gmax," I'm referring to the same program.
Once you get the BAT to open, take a minute to look at the interface. It's broken down below:
- Command Panel - you'll be doing most of your creating from here. This is also where the "rollouts" everybody talks about are. I refer to this panel often, but I'll put screenshots to show what I'm talking about.
- Main Toolbar - extremely useful shortcuts to the menu bar commands.
- Bottom Bar - the two most useful things here are the X, Y, and Z boxes, as well as the "Snap" button (discussed later).
- Menu Bar - just about everything within the BAT can be accomplished from here, but many are duplicated in other tool bars.
- Bottom Bar #2 - all your zoom, rotation, and pan commands are here.
- Viewports (not numbered) - four different views are shown here. The default is top, front, left, and perspective, but you can customize them to show anything you want them to. If I ever say "start out in the left view", then I mean to use the Left Viewport when creating whatever I'm having you create.
Helpful Tips Regarding the Zoom, Pan, etc Controls:
- Zoom - with this button clicked on, you can left-click in a viewport and, by moving the cursor up and down, zoom in and out.
- Zoom All - similar to the "Zoom" button, but it zooms all active views at the same time
- Zoom Extents/Zoom Extents Selected - zooms the view out a fair distance (haven't been able to figure out the difference between the two selections yet--but I'm sure there is one).
- Zoom Extents All/Zoom Extents All Selected - "Extents All" moves all active viewports out, "Extents All Selected" (when pressed) zooms in on whatever object(s) are selected.
- Region Zoom - my favorite, allows you to drag a box into one of the viewports--when you let go of the mouse button, the view zooms into and re-centers on the box you created--the box is not an object.
- Pan - with this button clicked on, you can left-click in a viewport and move the view around.
- Arc Rotate - very fun to play with; with this button clicked on, you can left-click in the viewport and drag the view around to any angle your heart desires.
- Min/Max Toggle - very simply, it makes the active viewport large enough to fill the area that all four viewports are currently occupying.
NOTE: Any button with a little arrow in the lower right-hand corner (look really closely at the picture above at buttons 3, 4,and 7) means that button has more than one option. If you click and hold the button, gmax will pop a little box above the button giving you all possible choices. Take note that all of the button choices are available, even the currently selected one.
Now you're going to want to make sure the units are set up correctly. The BAT does ship with these set up automatically, but it never hurts to make sure. After all, you wouldn't want to spend two days modeling your dream building and then realize the scale is way off, would you? Take note that with these settings, the grid lines that are shown will give you the SC4 scale. In other words, the lighter-colored "blocks" will be 1 meter on each side, and the darker-colored ones will be 16 meters on each side - or one tile in SC4.
Ensure "Generic Units" is selected.
Customize>Grid and Snap Settings
Home Grid>Grid Spacing 1.0 and Major Lines 16.
System Unit Scale: 1 Unit= 1.0 meters
Helpful Tip Regarding the Viewports
If you right-click on the viewport name in the upper left-hand corner, it will give you this menu. You don't necessarily need to worry about all the options, but the most important ones I will explain. "Wireframe" is the default view for the Top, Right, Back, and Left viewports. The "Other" option gives you additional display options (I'm not going to explain them all - you can experiment and see what they do). If you uncheck "Show Grid", the grid lines will be hidden - unless you really want to do this I wouldn't recommend it. The "Views" option will let you pick from all of the different available views (the only views you need to concern yourself with at this point are Front, Back, Left, Right, Top and Perspective - but you can choose to see your model from perspective of one of the cameras, or lights, or anything available). The "Configure..." option will take you to the same window as Customize >Viewport Configuration... You can play with that to see what it can do, but it's not really necessary.
How To Select Objects
(selected objects become highlighted in white)
- Click on individual objects--using the cursor, click on individual objects in one of the viewports - if you hold down "Ctrl" on your keyboard, then you can click on multiple objects to select them (if you accidentally select something you didn't want to pick, simply click on it again with the "Ctrl" key still held down.
- Drag Select--hold down the left mouse button in a viewport and drag a box around the object(s) you want to select - when you release the mouse button anything within the box will be selected.
- Select By Name--press the "H" key on your keyboard (this is know as a "hotkey") and it will give you the "Selected Objects" window (above right)--you can choose to hide things you don't want to see and use standard Windows list selections (discussed below) to pick from the list--notice that you can select by name (type what you're looking for in the blank box above the list), so name everything.
Windows Selection Methods "Shift" select - hold down the "Shift" key and either use the arrow keys or cursor to move up/down the list (you must have at least one object already selected in the list) - this is a "sequential" selection "Control" select - hold down the "Ctrl" key and click on names in the list - very useful if you want to select multiple objects that are not listed sequentially.
Quick and Dirty Guide to Basic Geometry Part 2
(3d World) This is a rough approximation of the 3 dimensional world. Keep in mind that here, the 2d world (that of the X and Y axes - also known as "the ground") lays completely flat, but it retains the same grid point system. Unlike the 2d world, however, the 3d world also adds the Z axis, which moves up and down above and below the 2d world. This also adds another value to the point system.
Anytime you move "up" (above ground), Z is positive. Also, whenever you move "down" (below ground), is negative.
So, in this system, if you wanted a point that was 3 spaces to the right, 2 spaces back, and 5 spaces down, you'd represent it like this: (3,2,-5)
This is the world you will be dealing with in the Front, Back, Left, Right, and Perspective viewports.
Think about it like this: If you wanted to move a wall to the right, 8 meters, you'd make X = 8. If you wanted to move the same wall backward 16 meters, you'd make Y = 16. If you needed to move that very same wall 3 meters into the air, you'd make Z = 3. This example would also be expressed as: (8,16,3)
Keep in mind that even though the Front, Back, Left, and Right viewports look like the 2D world, they are in fact a flat representation of the 3d world. Don't worry too terribly much about keeping this completely straight - if you ever get confused, the little X, Y, Z thing in the lower left-hand corner of the viewport will remind you which way the axes are oriented. I hope this didn't confuse anybody, but I think at least this basic understanding of geometry is very important if you want to model in the 3d world. I'll try to explain it the best way I can as we go along, and it'll eventually become second nature to you.
NOTE: One tile in SC4 is 16 meters by 16 meters. This means that if you want your building to be a certain size, you will need to keep this in mind. For example, if you want the building to fit one a 2x3 tile, then it would need to be no larger than 30 meters by 46 meters (2 meters subtracted from each side as the Lot Editor does not allow overlap on buildings). Please keep this in mind as you are modelling--nothing is more heart-breaking than exporting your model only to find it's way out of scale. It is possible t scale the entire thing later, but that can become extraordinarily tedious and can be avoided by keeping this in mind at all times.
If you zoom out far enough in the viewports, the smaller "blocks" (the 1 meter boxes) will disappear and only show the larger "blocks" (the 16 meter boxes). This is very important to remember because when you first open the BAT, this is how the blocks will show (only the 16 meter boxes will be seen). If you model to the grid like this, you're building will be HUGE.
OK, enough preaching.
I was in the National Guard at one time, so my motto, like so many in the Infantry, is K.I.S.S. ("Keep It Simple, Stupid"). There is no need to make anything more complex than it has to be, and the simpler I keep something the better for my wee little brain. I refer to this concept often, so just forewarning you!
You're now ready to start modelling your building!
There have been many tutorials, explaining things in many different ways. It can become confusing. I tend to model with "extruded splines", so that's how I'm going to explain it to you. Hope it doesn't confuse anyone.
Before getting started, it's a good idea to sketch out your idea (or, if modelling from a real-life building, make sure to have plenty of pictures and facts about it available). I usually don't sketch anything out as I prefer for my building to grow "organically", but I will at least have a general idea in mind.
When I first began modelling, I always kept a notepad file open with the dimensions of everything I modelled. I know, that's very tedious and anal, but it really helps. Trust me, when you get part-way through a building and forgot how large the front windows are, or how wide that loading dock door is, or how tall the building itself is, you'll be kicking yourself for not jotting it down for easy reference. Besides, with more experience, you can always "eyeball" it later. I do NOT recommend eyeballing it when you are first starting out - you might be heartbroken later on when something didn't turn out exactly right (trust me on this - plenty of heartbreak here) and you'll spend a lot of time guessing at things and not actually modelling.
Let's get to it, shall we?
The building we're going to create, "BAT Tutorial, Inc", is going to fit within a 3x3 lot in SC4. Why 3x3 you ask? Well, because it's my tutorial and I can make whatever I want, and (even better) buildings scaled this size are small enough to be actual businesses without losing the details you're going to be toiling upon - oops, i meant "working on", Vu Industries slipping through there, sorry bout that! Besides, I think 3x3's are perfect for a small business (gives you plenty of room for detailing the lot - like parking lots, which take up an entire tile by themselves). The building itself will be 1 tile wide by 2 tiles deep. This means that it can't be any larger than 16 meters by 32 meters (don't worry, when you start modelling your buildings, you can fudge, and add a little here and there, just remember to not get too carried away or else you'll end up with a 12x12 before you know it!).
Do not "model to the grid" (in other words, don't base your building on the grid lines you see when you first open the BAT). When you first open the program, the viewports are zoomed out far enough so that each box is 16 meters square instead of 1 meter. Don't say I didn't warn you.
We're going to create the front wall first. To do this, we're going to create a rectangle by clicking the "Splines" button, then clicking the "Rectangle" button. The cursor will turn into a cross-hair when you move into the viewport (gmax is telling you that you can now create a spline). Within the "Front" viewport, click and drag a "box" of any size (do not get all caught up in creating the perfect size right now - it can more easily be changed after creation). Now, gmax will helpfully name it "Rectangle01" and give you the current size in the "Parameters" rollout. Since this building will fit within a 1x2 box in SC4, we'll need to resize it. MaxisBrian suggested that to model buildings with "normal" ceilings to make the walls 4.5 meters tall. Since this will be a business, and most businesses have taller ceilings (not to mention it makes everything nice and even), change the Length to 5 and the Width to 16. Since the settings are correct, any number you type in a box like this is already set to "meters". That's what was meant by "1 Unit = 1.0 meters".
NOTE: The BAT will create the object directly on top of whatever axis you're looking directly towards. So, if you are in the "Front" or "Back" viewport, the object will create with it's Y coordinates at 0. If you're in the "Left" or "Right" viewport, then it will created with it's X coordinates at 0.
At this point, you will need to rename your object. I have my own particular naming scheme of object type-object name. This way, it's much easier to find by name later (if you're looking for the left wall, you'd go down the list until you find "Wall - Left"). You can also define it's color if you'd like. It's not too terribly important, but it can help the object stand out (and give you an idea of your color scheme for later). This object will be named "Wall - Front".
NOTE: I can't stress this enough: NAME EVERYTHING. Even if you don't feel like it, even if it's too hard. For the sake of your own sanity, give everything a name. You'll thank me later when you have literally hundreds and hundreds of named objects to sift through to find that front door frame.
To keep everything as simple as possible, it's best to move your rectangle so that it's centered. Select your rectangle (click on it in the "Front" viewport - unless it's already selected), then click on the "Select and Move" button. Now, make X = 0, Y = 0, and Z = 2.5. Whenever you move something around in this manner, it's helpful to remember that this will move the object relative to it's center (with a few exceptions, but I'll mention those if and when it comes to those objects) - meaning that these coordinates put the center of the rectangle at zero on the X and Y axes, and 2.5 meters in the air. Didn't ya just know all that math you learned in school would be good for something one day? Don't worry about the "building needing to be centered on X and Y for export" at this point - it's very simple to do later, and this will make modeling much easier for you.
TIP: When you're moving things around, sometimes the objects will get out of view. You can easily re-center the viewports on the selected object by hitting the "Zoom Extents all Selected" button.
Now, we're going to create a door. Simply create a rectangle in the front view (since the wall is sitting directly on the X axis, the door is already sitting in the wall) and adjust it's Length and Width like so. The settings for this door are not exactly to scale, but this makes a good-sized doorway for a double-door, or an entrance into a foyer. Notice I didn't change the name or color of the object? I'll explain in more detail later, but trust me, it's not necessary. Now, using the "Select and Move" button and the X, Y, and Z boxes, move the door to X = 0, Y = 0, and Z = 1.8 (this centers your door on the wall and makes it 0.2 meters off the ground - half the door's height plus the 0.2 meters). I trust that you know what that'll look like, so I won't post a screenie.
Now, we're going to make windows for this wall. Still in the front view, create another rectangle and set the Length and Width thusly. This one is also probably not to real-world scale, but I think it'll look nice when all's said and done, so there. LOL. (Not to mention the fact that it will make everything much simpler.)
This is where the settings for the grid come in really handy. Notice I made the window exactly two meters wide? Using the grid behind it as a reference, click on the "Select and Move" button to line it up with the grid lines like below:
Notice how the X and Y arrows have changed? Y will always show as a green arrow, Z as blue, and X as red (unless there's some place I overlooked that lets you change their colors). If you hover the pointer over them, the bar below/beside the point will turn a different color, indicating it's "active". When this happens, you can left-click and hold, then any movement you make will be restricted to that axis. In other words, the way it is now, no matter which way I move the pointer, the object will only move up and down. Very, very useful. This is true regardless of the viewport you're currently in, including "Perspective".
What kind of office building would it be with just one window on the front wall? To fill in the remaining space, you'll need to make more windows. There are at least two different ways that I know of. "Array" (the button that looks like a dot with several spheres around it in the Main Toolbar) and "Clone". It's not necessary to array here, as there are so few windows (but I will get into the Array tool sometime later). What you're going to want to do is "Clone" your existing window to create an exact copy.
There are two ways to accomplish this. From the Menu Bar, you can go to Edit & Clone (sometimes very useful), but that creates a copy directly on top of the existing shape. The easiest way to make a clone in this example is to hold down the "Shift" key on your keyboard, then drag the rectangle (it helps to use the movement technique described above for this so you don't have to re-align your windows vertically). Take note that there will be the outline of the new object while you move it. When you release the left mouse button, gmax will give you the window below.
Don't go and get all click-happy here, you have an important choice to make. If you choose to click the radio button next to "Copy", then the new object will be an exact duplicate of the object selected. If you click the radio button next to "Instance" then it will also be an exact duplicate, but any changes you make to the original also affects all instances (copies) of it. In other words, if later you decided this window should be 1.5 meters wide instead of 2.0, then you only have to change the original and not each and every single one. Extremely useful for a large project.
You also have the option to make more than one copy, but I wouldn't recommend doing that unless you really, really want to. Also, if you choose to, you can change the suggested name that gmax gives at this point. After all those decisions are made, simply click "OK" or hit the "Enter" key on your keyboard and your copy is created. Conversely, if you hit "Cancel" or the "Esc" key on your keyboard, the action is cancelled and no copy created.
You don't have to make all of the windows copies of the first one. Unlike the real world, it doesn't hurt to make a copy of a copy of a copy of a copy... You can simply clone the last object you placed so you don't have to click and drag all the way over to the other side. Did I mention I'm also lazy?
TIP: It might be useful at this point to make a clone of one of the windows and put it off to the side. Since these windows are simple rectangles, you don't absolutely have to, but it will save you from having to create it all over again later on...... I did mention I'm lazy, right?
Got it so far? Ready to go on? Good. Now we're getting into the fun stuff.
The first thing you're going to want to do is "collapse your object to an editable spline". Huh? What did I say? Don't worry, that blank stare you probably have right now is exactly how I felt the first time I saw that in print. To do that, select the "Wall - Front", go to Modifiers Patch/Spline Editing Edit Spline. The Command Panel will change to this:
Whoa! There's a whole lotta stuff there, huh? Don't worry, most of that is not anything you need to concern yourself with (at least, not until you get closer to claiming "expert" status on the BAT). The only two buttons you need to concern yourself with right now are "Attach" and "Attach Mult.". If you click on "Attach", then you can go into one of the viewports with the pointer, which will turn into a funny-looking cross hair with bubbles around it (can't get a screenshot of one, but if you try it you'll definately see what I'm talking about,) when you hover over an object. That can be very useful, but a little tedious. Instead, we're going to click on "Attach Mult.", which gives us the next window:
From here, you'd select the splines you want to attach. Notice I didn't pick "Rectangle06"? All that we want to attach to this wall is the windows and doorway. Rectangle06 is the last copy I made of the window and put off to the side. If you attach it, strange things will happen when we get to the next step.
- Be sure not to attach it. -
Once you have everything selected, click the "Attach" button or hit the "Enter" key on your keyboard.
*Poof* The BAT has now made all of your other objects a single object. This is why renaming the windows and doorway was unimportant before. Since they have all now become one object, they will take on the name and color of the spline with the "Edit Spline" modifier on it. At this point it might be wise to rename the extra rectangle as "Windows - Opening".
That wall doesn't look very much like a wall, does it? We'll take care of that in the next step.
TIP: If you're ever confused as to which direction X, Y, and Z are (they are constants, but in a 3D environment such as this, it's easy to get turned around), the little bugger in the corner of the viewport helps tremendously. It shows you which axis is which in the current view. Take note that is independent of the X, Y, and Z displayed with the "Select and Move" tool - those are dependent on the view that you're in. This is because for "Select and Move", the orientation of X and Y is based on the object and not the real world. A little confusing, I know, but play with it for a few minutes and you'll see what I'm talking about.
Now you want to "slap an Extrude Modifier on it." Basically, go to Modifiers, Mesh Editing, Extrude.
Surprised you, didn't it? Shocked me when I first saw it, too. No worries, though, all you have to do is change the "Amount" to something more appropriate. To give your walls some "depth", my suggestion is 0.3 - in real-world terms this means that your wall is 0.3 meters thick (or for we Americans who *refuse* to learn the metric system, that would be 0.98 feet - but because I'm lazy we'll just call it 1 foot). I know what you're going to say - "But phillippbo, we're not making a bunker, we're making an office building. Why is it so darn thick?" Simple. In SC4, there are some things that need to be exaggerated or else they don't show very well. Trust me on this one, 0.3 is a minimum for wall thickness.
Congratulations! You have now successfully made the front wall with it's appropriate openings. Now, go to File & Save As... and save your model. With all the horror stories I've heard about the BAT, make sure you save it often. It might not be a bad idea to also save several copies (put one on your desktop, on a diskette, or if you have a burner onto a CD-R). This way, if something goes all buggy and your file becomes corrupted, then you don't lose but so much work.
I save all of mine in the "gmax/Scenes" folder instead of the "gmax/gamepacks/BAT/scenes" folder. Some people have mentioned that their files have become corrupted saving them in the BAT/scenes folder, and none of mine have yet, but you never can be too careful!
Creating Walls B - "Completing the Building"
Now that you've got the basics down for creating wall with extruded splines, we need to round out our building. Some people model one complete wall at a time, which is fine if you're modeling after a real-life building. I'm not saying there's anything wrong with that. This is not how I model, however. I think it's best to get the basic shape down, then add detailing to it later. Alrighty then - are we having fun yet?
As you'll recall from before, this is where we left off. We're going to need to make some more walls! I'm going to make the back wall next. You actually have two choices here: create an entirely new wall or clone the existing wall and move it back. For the sake of simplicity, I'm going to clone the front wall.
Since I already know how far back I'm going to move the wall, I'm not going to use the "Shift/Clone" method. Instead, I'm going to use "Edit > Clone" method. You get the same clone window, but this time it's important to pick "Copy" instead of "Instance". This will become important in a few minutes. Be sure to rename your wall "Wall-Back".
To move your wall, we'll use the "Select and Move" button. It is not necessary to select your new wall is it will already be the wall selected. Make Y = 32 and hit "Enter" on your keyboard. Your wall will now be moved back 32 meters.
Note: Notice how the grid lines become darker every 16th box? This is one reason it's very important to make sure the settings in the BAT are correct. With it like this, you can easily see the scale of your building because each darker box represents one tile in SC4. (I zoomed out in the top viewport to show you.) See how the front wall extends out from the X axis instead of going behind? This is not too terribly important but to keep with my K.I.S.S. theme, I'll show you an easy way to fix that. First you'll need to select "Wall-Front". Then you'll need to change the Extrude modifier... wait a sec. What?
Seems that all of our options are gone. I guess we'll just have to create the wall all over again....
.....unless you want to use the method below:
In the Command Panel, click on the "Modifier" tab. This is actually where most of the rollouts you'll be working with are. Now we can see our extrude amount and change it. Remember how our wall extended out from the X axis? It's a quick fix, simply change the extrude to -0.3 so that the extrude reverses itself.
Whew, that was a close one. Don't even have all four walls up yet and already having problems.
I don't really think that I want the back door looking exactly like the front, so we're going to change this. Remember this is only one way to do it, but if I tried explaining every single possibly way to do something this tutorial would have never been finished.
The front wall is going to be in our way. You could simply move it, but then you'd have to move it back. I'm lazy and don't want to go through all of that trouble. Instead, I'm simply going to hide it so it's not getting all in my way. Do this by selecting "Wall - Front" and right clicking. It gives you the above menu. You can do many, many things from here, but we're simply going to use the "Display" functions (the greenish color). If you pick "Hide Unselected", everything but the currently selected object will disappear from view. That's not what we want, so we're going to pick "Hide Selection" so that the front wall will disappear from view. (I'm sure you can picture what this will look like - so no screenie for this either - you don't really want me to burn out my copy of Fireworks, do you?)
To make changes to the existing object, we'll need to edit it. Select "Wall - Back" and go to the Modifier Tab. In the modifier list, click the plus beside "Edit Spline" to display the edit spline rollout. Select "Segment" so that we can move the sides of the rectangle around (notice you can also use the buttons in the "Selection" rollout below). If you choose "Vertex" you can move individual vertices (corners) of objects around and "Spline" lets you move entire rectangle around.
Now, the back wall should look like the above picture (sorry about the lack of white lines around the edges of the wall in the front viewport - happened when I resized the picture). Using the "Select and Move" tool, you can either eyeball it (ugh), or you can type values in X, Y, and Z. Since I'm going to make this door narrower, I'll pick the right-hand side of the doorway (whichever segment, vertex, or spline is currently selected will show in red) and in the X box replace 1.25 with 0.75. Now, select the opposite side of the doorway. Notice the value for X is now -1.25? Geometry, gotta love it! This time, replace the -1.25 with -0.75. This makes the door 1 meter narrower - perfect for a single door. Now, you'd click on "Extrude" in rollout to finish editing your object:
You can now unhide your wall (right click in the viewport and pick "Unhide All") and zoom back out to see your creation.
The next step is to create the side walls. Again, there are many ways to do this, and I'm only going to explain one of them. Create a rectangle just like you did for the front wall, but this time do it in the left viewport (to get back to where you can create a spline, pick the create tab - directly to the left of the modifier tab - and click on the splines button):
Don't forget that we're going to have to re-size this wall (make the settings like above - the walls are 5 meters high and the building is 32 meters long - still have your notepad file open?). Rename the wall as "Wall - Left". Also, don't forget that this wall is sitting directly on the Y axis. Using "Select and Move", change it's position thus.
I'll explain the X, Y, and Z to make sure you understand why we're setting them like this (remember that when using typed-in values like this X is always side to side movement, Y is always front to back movement, and Z is always up and down movement). If you really don't want to know why and just want to keep modelling, skip past these next few screenies.
First of all, we need to move the wall out to the where it should be on the left-hand side of the building. Since the center of the wall is sitting at point 0 on the X axis, we'll need to move it left by half the length of the front wall (the front wall is 16 meters wide, so we need to move the side wall 8 meters). Remember my quick guide to geometry on the "Getting Started" page? Because we're going to be moving to the left of the origin, X would be negative.
Next, we'd need to line it up properly with the front and back walls. Since we are moving the wall backward and going above the origin (in the 2d world), we would change Y to be a positive number. Since we're moving the middle of the wall halfway between the front and back walls, Y = 16. Lastly, just like the front walls, we need to put the wall so that it's sitting on the ground, so Z = 2.5.
Jeez, that math can really get tedious, huh? Don't worry too terribly much if you don't get it right now, I just wanted to put that information out there to try to help everybody understand why the system is the way it is. Take a breather, you need it!
Moving right along, remember that window I had you clone way back on the last page? You'll find out why it's important now. Instead of having to create new windows, all you have to do is pick your window (you don't need to make another copy of it - this is what we needed it for) and rotate it 90 degrees. To accomplish that, press the "Select and Rotate" button, then type 90 in the Z box. Remember, if you put a negative number here, the object will rotate clockwise. If it's a positive number, it'll rotate counter-clockwise. For this object, that's not important at all (but it will be important if you are going to rotate 3d objects). Also, if you move the pointer over one of the arrows, it will turn into a circular arrow. Just like with the "active arrow" method on the last page, these arrows will also change colors when they are "active". When the arrows are active, you can left-click and drag the pointer up and down to rotate manually. Very useful when trying to get perfect alignment, not so useful when you're trying to rotate by an exact amount.
Remember the tip I gave you on the last page about the "active arrow" movement (where all movement is restricted to whatever arrow is colored differently)? This is where it can come in handy. Make sure you select the "Select and Move" button - otherwise you will rotate the window when all you want to do is move it. With that method, the only thing you will need to do manually is move the window opening back until it lines up with the grid just like on the first wall.
"But, phillippbo," you ask, "it's still way out from the wall. I thought you said that'd do weird things when it comes to extruding?" You are very correct. What you will need to do now is type the same value for X that you have for Wall - Left (-8.0). Now the window is sitting perfectly on the wall.
Ok, so at this point you have a side wall with one bitty little window in it. That just won't do. You could use the same method we created the front windows, but there's gonna be so many of these. I'm so lazy, I don't want to do that. Instead I'm going to use a handy little tool called "Array". Make sure that you are in the Left viewport, and, with the window opening selected, click the "Array" button in the Main Toolbar. It will give you the window above. Now enter -3.0 for the X box beside the number one, make sure that the radio button is selected next to 1D, and make sure the "Count" boxes are like shown. You'd then hit "Enter" to change the "Total in Array" box or OK to create the windows. Take a look at the "Total in Array" box (number 5). This will tell you how many objects you are cloning, and can be extremely useful.
NOTE: Just like with the Clone tool, you can choose to make copies or instances here.
Numbered items 1 and 4 are all that we are worried about right now, but I'll explain all of them (for items 1 through 3, only worry with the "Incremental" column for now):
NOTE: "Array" is one of the tools where X and Y are no longer constants in "real world" terms (like my geometry lesson) and are based on the viewport that is currently active. Based on the view that's active (as far as gmax is concerned, that's your "perspective"), X will always move left (negative numbers) and right (positive numbers) and Y up (positive numbers) and down (negative numbers) when you're using 1D cloning. It's a little much to explain here, but 2D cloning is a bit different.
- Move - indicates how far you want each copy to move - based on the object's side. For example: if you had a square that was 3 meters wide and you wanted each one to be 1 meter apart, then you'd enter 4 here.
- Rotate - tells gmax what kind of "spin" you want to give the cloned objects. Haven't played with it much, but it can be very useful if you master it.
- Scale - indicates how much you want to scale the cloned objects. The number you type in here is a percentage. For example: if you wanted each copy to decrease in width by 25% each time it was copied, you'd enter 75 in the X box (you're telling gmax that you want each copy to be 75% of the width of the previous copy). Can be very useful, but I haven't found a use for it yet (at least, not in any of my buildings).
- Array Dimensions Box - how many copies you want to make. For 1D, it's how many you want created across (in this case, we're making 10 windows). For 2D, it's how many up/down. And 3D does some interesting stuff (I over-simplified what 2D does - but that's not important right now).
Don't worry if the above seems a bit much. It took me about a week of playing with the "Array" tool before I could figure out what it did. I've only given you a basic idea of it's function here, it's a very powerful tool that could be a tutorial in and of itself.
Enough of that, on with the tutorial!
Now you have your 10 windows going back along the wall.
Whoa there, partner! See that unsightly gap at the back? Normally, I'd go through the effort of playing around with the window's width or the array distance until I got it pretty darn close to perfect. Since I'm trying to keep everything as simple as possible, however, we're just going to leave it. Besides, I can use that to show you an important lesson later. What you'd do now is put an "Edit Spline" modifier on "Wall - Left", attach all of the windows, and extrude by -0.3 (this prevents the wall from extruding out from its current position). Then, you'd clone an instance of your wall and put it on the opposite side (change X to 8.0 and change your extrude to 0.3 to make the wall extrude inward instead of outward). Don't forget to rename the new wall "Wall - Right". You should now have this:
Don't worry about all that silliness at the corners where the color is bleeding over. As long as you use the same texture for the side walls as the front, that shouldn't show. Congratulations! You now have four walls with all the appropriate openings.
Important Detailing: Windows, Doors, and the Roof
So, now we've got four walls, but we're far from done. Now, we're going to add some details to make our building begin to look like an actual building. I'm going to start with the roof.
In the top view, create a rectangle of any size, then adjust it's length and width like shown (this will make it the exact same dimensions as the building without having to make hairy adjustments - see, It's a Good Thing™ that I had you make sure the walls extruded the way they did). Now, to center it, set X and Y like shown so that the middle of the rectangle is moved to the center of the building. Just like we did for the walls, place an Extrude Modifier on the rectangle and set it to 0.3. Since we want this to be on top of the wall, make Z = 5. Rename the rectangle "Roof - Surface".
Farther down the page, I'm going to show you how to make transparent glass. Because the windows will be transparent, we're also going to want a floor in this building. To do this, make a clone of the roof, rename it "Foundation - Floor", and make it's Z = 0. You'll end up with the picture below:
Next, we're going to make doors. For this step, it's very helpful to hide anything you're not working on. Since we'll be working on the front door, select "Wall - Front" and "Hide Unselected".
Next, you going to want to turn "3d Snap" on. It's actually pretty simple to do this, click the button shown below.
NOTE: The 3d Snap button has more than one option: 3d Snap, 2.5d Snap, and 2d Snap. The only ones you'll be worried with are 3d and 2.5d. See the picture below for an explanation about their differences (just remember that if you hold down the mouse button, a little window will pop up giving you the different options).
Click the "3d Snap" button down near the Z box, then go to "Grid and Snap Settings" (Customize >Grid and Snap Settings...) and pick "Vertex". There's a lot of options in this window, and most of them are self-explanatory. Just be sure that when you close this box that you use the "x" in the upper right-hand corner. Do not click the "Clear All" button unless that's what you really want to do (don't laugh - we've been trained by Windows to hit "OK" or "Cancel" inside windows like this - it's very easy to hit it without thinking about it).
When you create geometry with the 2.5d Snap on, it does line it up with whatever you were "snapping" to, but gmax creates the shape on the X or Y axis (depending upon which one you're looking directly towards). With 3d Snap on, gmax does the same thing, but this time places the vertices of the rectangle directly on top of the ones you are snapping to. Don't worry, I'm going to show you "snapping" in more depth below, just remember that 2.5d puts it on the axis, 3d puts it on the object.
Back to creating the front door.
After you click the "Rectangle" button, and before you actually create the object, go into the "Mesh Settings" rollout (you will probably have to click the "+" symbol next to the name) and check the two boxes shown. These boxes will make sure that the rectangle you create will not be a simple rectangle, but will be rounded like in the 2.5d and 3d Snap pictures above. The default thickness is 1.0, but we definitely don't need a shape that thick (or else nobody would actually be able to fit through the door). Change the thickness to 0.3. A little note about the "Sides" option. The way it's set now, the "tube" that makes up the sides of this rectangle will have 12 faces. If you are going for a rounded look, you'll need to put at least 10 in here. If you're looking for something a little more squared-off, then anything less than 6 will do nicely, but there is a minimum of 3 sides (it takes at least 3 faces to make a 3d object). Don't worry, if you put anything smaller than 3 here, gmax will change it for you.
In the front view, move the cross-hair around until you get a blue cross on the top-left corner of the door opening. Gmax is now telling you it's going to "snap" to that vertex.
Drag your rectangle until you get the blue cross on the lower right-hand corner of the door opening, then release the mouse button. Rename the rectangle "Doors - Frame Front".
NOTE: Anytime that I say "snap a into ", I'm talking about doing what I just showed you.
Lastly, we're going to give this frame the illusion that it's actually a door frame and not some kind of decorative piece. In the top view, zoom in on the door opening and drag the door frame backward until it's outside edges line up with the front and back faces of the wall.
VERY IMPORTANT NOTE: In order for any geometry created like this (by clicking the two boxes) to show in the final render, you will have to "collapse to an editable mesh". (Go to Modifiers >Mesh Editing >Edit Mesh).
Now, to create the door for this wall (there can be many ways to do this, I'm just going to show you a very simple way right now), repeat the above steps (you may want to hide the door frame so the rectangle doesn't try to snap to any of the verticies on the frame - just don't forget to "Unhide All" after you're done with the door itself), but this time be sure to uncheck the "Generate Mapping Coord." and "Display Mesh" boxes after you've created the new rectangle (make sure your door frame is not selected when you do this) so it will be a simple rectangle. In the top view, you'll want to move your new door so that it's centered (front to back) in the frame - with 12 sides on the frame its really easy - you'll see what I'm talking about.
Rename the rectangle "Doors - Front".
Be sure to add an Edit Spline modifier to the door (that way, it's easier to change later). This isn't completely necessary at this point, but it would be a good idea to go ahead and put a UVW Map on this rectangle (Modifiers >UV Coordinates >UVW Map). We aren't going to be texturing it just yet, but when you put the map on it, the door itself gets "filled in", like so:
The next thing to do would be to create windows. Just like I said before, there are many, many ways to accomplish this. For the sake of K.I.S.S., I'm showing you one way.
First, you'll want to snap a rectangle in the window just like we did for the door frame, but this time we'll only have the thickness set to 0.2. Why, you ask? Simple, how many window frames have you seen that are the same thickness as door frames? (Don't answer that, I'm sure you could prove me wrong.)
Rename the newly created frame "Windows - Frame".
Next, we're going to create a spline line to act as the "divider" between window panes (you know, where the lock always is). The easiest way to do it is snap a line across the top of your window opening (you may want to hide the frame so that you don't have any trouble - just "Unhide All" when you're done with the line). Keep in mind that when working with lines, unlike most other shapes, you don't click and drag. Instead, you only click when you want gmax to put in a vertex. Therefore, be sure to click when the "blue cross" comes up for each of the top corners of our window opening. Since gmax will let you put in limitless verticies, it will have the next vertex showing, ready for clicking and placement. To avoid making any more verticies, hit the "Esc" button on your keyboard.
Don't forget to "Unhide All" to allow the window frame to show, if you hid it before.
Next, move the new line down until you get it where you want it (it is OK to eyeball here).
Now that you have the line in place, put an Edit Spline Modifier on the "Windows - Frame" and attach your line (just like we did when we attached the window and door openings to the walls). It will now become one object. Don't forget to add an Edit Mesh Modifier to your complete window frame, or else it won't show in the render. Make sure you do that now because you'll kick yourself if you don't. This building is only going to have 28 windows, but a medium-sized office building could have hundreds - meaning a lot of tedious work for you later if you don't take care of that now. Just warning you (trying to save everybody some of the heartache and pain I've gone through). Ok, ok, enough of the preaching. The next thing you'll need to do is snap another rectangle (again, hiding the window frame can be useful) in the same opening, uncheck the "Generate Mapping Coord." and "Display Mesh" boxes after the new rectangle is snapped, apply a UVW Map to it, and rename th...
Editor's NOTE: The final text for this tutorial has been cut-off/lost at some point. Hopefully it can be restored in future. In the meantime, here is the basic version of what you need to do:
- Apply the UVW Map to the Window, giving it a new name.
- Copy this new set of window shapes (after attaching them together) to all the other windows. All the information to clone items in this way, including rotating them can be gleaned from the rest of the guide.
- Once you've got all the windows in, named them appropriately and ensured each one has both a UVW Map and a Mesh modifier applied you should be good to start part 2.