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  • phillippbo

    BAT Essentials Part 3

    Links to other parts of this tutorial: part1part 2, part 4

    Minute Details continued







    Next, we'll create some simple exhaust pipes (these are usually what's on the other end of the exhaust fan in a bathroom). Just like with the HVAC, it'll be much simpler to hide everything. In the top view, create a tube of any size (tube can be found in the same place as box - Create Tab >Geometry) and adjust its settings like shown. Just a little note here, "Radius 1" is the outside radius and "Radius 2" is the radius of the inside circle. When you create a tube, you first have to create the outside circle (click and drag), then you'll create the inside circle (move the pointer around until you've got it something like you want it) and click again to set it. Just like all other geometry, you also have to give this one depth, so pay attention to your other viewports.

    Rename the tube "Roof Junk - Exhaust Pipe".


    We've got the pipe done, but it wouldn't look right just sticking out of the roof. To make it appear to have "flashing" (the piece of material that covers the area where the pipe pokes through the roof - water-proofs the hole so that rain doesn't get in), clone your tube and make its settings like so. There is no need to adjust X, Y, and Z because everything is sitting on the ground already (gmax is going to see the bottom of the tubes as the "top" because that's the first part that was created). I changed the color of the base so it's easier to distinguish between the pipes in the perspective view.

    Rename the new tube "Roof Junk - Exhaust Pipe Base". (if you end up with a lot of these, it's very helpful to be able to distinguish between the bases and the pipes themselves when it comes to texturing)

    Now, group both of them and name the group "Exhaust Pipe". Just like with the HVAC, we're only going to make one of these for now, so move them up onto the roof like shown:


    We're not quite finished with the roof yet. To spruce up this big expanse of roof, we're going to add duct work. While it is unusual for smallish building like this to have much on the roof, it's mostly what we'll see in the SC4 environment, so it's OK to fudge reality to make something a bit more interesting.


    In the top view, create a box, change its parameters like shown, and move it up to 5.3 meters. For this particular object, it really won't matter where you put it on X and Y so long as its 5.3 meters in the air (so it will sit on the rooftop). Rename this box "Roof Junk - Ducting Endpiece".


    Next, clone your first box, adjust its parameters like shown, and move it until its approximately like that. If you restrict movement to the Y arrow, it will make that much easier. Be sure to rename this box "Roof Junk - Ducting". (I did change the color of this object so that it's easier to see in perspective.) Continue cloning your pieces (rotating if necessary) until you end up with something like below. Placement for all roof junk is not critical at this point, because you'll probably just end up moving everything around later. I created the ducting like this because it's simple (and ducting is pretty simple-looking in real life) and because it'll make you're life much easier if you plan to re-use this ducting on another model.

    Now would be another good time to save.


    So far we've been focusing on the roof, but there are some other minute details that need addressing. While our model looks good, it couldn't hurt to do a little sprucing up.


    Remember that unsightly gap on the back of the side walls? I said before I was going to show you how to fix that, and I'm going to do that now. Instead of playing around with the wall until the windows line up correctly (cause that could take a lot of messing around, including the glass and window frames), I'm just going to fill it in with something that'll look good. For this wall, we're going to put a small electrical box. It won't have to be anything fancy, because it'll probably only be a few pixels in the game anyway.


    For small details like this, don't worry about getting just the right placement. In the left view, create a box and change its parameters like this. To put it on the left wall, do an X move to -8. Rename this box "Misc - Electrical Box".


    How many electrical boxes don't connect to wiring in some way? Since the SC4 City Council has decided that all wiring within the city limits is underground, simply clone your box, rename it "Misc - Electrical Wiring Tube", change its parameters, and move it down until its about like I have it. It is perfectly OK for the box to stick below the building, as that will not show in game anyway. If you were so inclined, you could clone both these objects and move them to the opposite wall at this point, but I wouldn't think that'd be necessary as most smallish commercial buildings don't have several electrical connections. But what do we put on the right wall? I'm not going to put anything, because later we'll move a couple of roof pipes back there. This gives the illusion that you have a Mechanical Room on the left side (most modern buildings have one - its where all the telephone lines, power lines, and gas lines come in and connect to various equipment - also, many of these rooms will also have air returns and numerous other things that make the building live and breathe). The pipes on the right side will give the illusion that behind the blank wall-space lies the bathrooms. Your Sims have to relieve themselves some way, don't they?


    We're now going to create a light fixture to stick by the back door (the front door will have a light under the overhang - but I'll get into that later). In the top view, create a sphere (it's in the same place as the box, cylinder, and tube - click and drag) and adjust it's parameters like shown. It's perfectly OK to guesstimate the X, Y, and Z here as exact placement isn't critical (unless you're a control freak - LOL), but I set mine as shown. Rename the sphere "Lighting - Back Door". You could go into more detail on the light, but it really isn't absolutely necessary. Well, now, we've got a bit of detailing, but our windows look a little plain. Let's create some sills for them, shall we?


    In the top view, create a box and set its parameters as shown. Take special care to make sure that "Length Segs", "Width Segs", and "Height Segs" are like this (will become important in a few moments). You can try eyeballing where to place it, but it'd probably be easier to just trust me and put X, Y, and Z thus. You do trust me, don't you?

    Rename the box "Windows - Sills".


    This is where the segments becomes important. First and foremost, apply an edit mesh modifier to the box and change your selection method to "box" (see earlier on this page for how we changed it to "circle"). In the left view, drag-select (drag the box) around the middle set of vertices - notice they turn red. It's very important to select the vertices this way, otherwise when you click on vertices you'll select only one at a time instead of the middle set all the way across. Now, Z move them up to 1.4. Next, drag-select the vertices on the lower right-hand corner and make sure that you see only one red dot. You'd Y move them to -0.2 (this puts them directly on top of the bottom middle set of vertices, so they'll look like they disappear, but they're still there). Be sure at this point to click on Edit Mesh in the rollout so you exit the vertex editing mode. You now have a nice, basic window sill, but it seems to be lacking something. Next, we'll spruce it up a bit.


    Just like we did for the overhang over the back door, we're simply going to outline the top of this sill. In the top view, snap a line on the front and sides of the top and make its parameters like so. Don't forget to add an edit mesh modifier or it will not show in the render.

    Rename the line "Windows - Sills Decoration".


    We're not quite done yet. It'd be a good idea to highlight the bend on the front (you will probably have difficulty seeing it in SC4 - but this will help). In the front view, snap a line across the "bend" (the two middle vertices directly below the top) and change its parameters as shown. Make sure you add an edit mesh modifier to this line or it won't show in the render.

    Rename the line "Windows - Sills Edge".

    Select both the new lines and the sill and group them as "Windows - Sills". Just like we did for the window openings, clone and array your new sills around the building. Notice that with them grouped you can see the X, Y, and Z for the group. A little tip, if you want the sill to protrude exactly the same way on all walls, the X for the left wall would be -8.225, the right would be 8.225, and the Y for the back wall would be 32.225. This is because your lines added some size to the entire sill.


    We're still not done modelling yet. I know what you're going to say, "Jeez, I just want to upload something to the BEX. Why do I have to go through all of this?" Simple. If you want a building that's going to actually look like a building, then you can't scrimp on the details. The sad thing is this building will not even get anywhere near as detailed as something as seemingly simple as Vu Quest or Vu Med!

    Now would be a good time to save again.

    Next, we'll put some concrete in front of the doors. Very simple, so shouldn't take me much to explain.


    In the top view, create two boxes and adjust their parameters like this (you don't have to create both of them at the same time). If gmax wants to give them the same length, width, and height segments as the window sill that was created, that's perfectly fine, but they're not needed so I changed that. I did hide the front overhang so you could actually see the concrete on the front.

    Rename the boxes "Foundation - Front Entrance Concrete" and "Foundation - Back Entrance Concrete" respectively.

    See, that wasn't so hard was it?


    Promise, this is the last bit of detailing. To round out the building, we're going to put decorations on the corners. Since I'm trying to keep this simple, create a box in the top view, and make its parameters and X, Y, and Z as shown. Rename this box "Misc - Corner Decorations". All you'd do now is clone the box and move it to the other three corners (X for the right is 8.0, and Y for the back wall is 32).

    Save your file yet again.


    Congratulations! We now have a completed building model ready for texturing and lighting. What I've just shown you how to do took me weeks to learn. Don't worry about the "tessellations" and weird things you see happening in the perspective view. The more detail you add and the larger your model gets, the more likely perspective will get "choppy". It's absolutely nothing to worry about, it's just that perspective view is sort of like a low-quality preview. If I were to render this building right now, you'd see it looks pretty good so far.

    Texturing - The Essentials

    We've now got a completed model, but to avoid it looking like some nightmarish cartoon creation, we'll need to texture it. If you have your own textures you'd like to use, you are perfectly free to do so. Below, I included all of the textures that I've used for this model. Take a moment to download them and put them in:


    This is assuming that you let gmax install to the default path. If not, you'll need to change the above path to wherever you installed gmax.

    Texturing can be very simple, or extremely complex depending on your level of skill and what it is you want to come out with. I'm not going to tell you everything that texturing can do, and in some places I've simplified the options available to better explain it to a beginner.

    Please Download:

    Now that you have all of the textures we're going to be using, let me give you a quick overview of texturing and the Material Editor.


    First and foremost, you'll need to apply a UVW Map to the object you want to texture. This is not absolutely necessary for solid geometry (such as a box), but it can save a lot of effort later on.


    Above is the illustration of the texturing rollout. Under UVW Mapping, you'll find the "Gizmo", but don't feed it after midnight. *crickets chirp* Yeah, I know, bad joke. At any rate, you can manipulate the UVW gizmo to do all sorts of things, and can be very useful if you're trying to get a texture to line up just so. It's way too much to explain, just play with it and you'll see what it can do. Down in the Parameters rollout, you'll find all sorts of new goodies. Under "Mapping", you can choose the characteristics of the map. Breakdown:

    • Planar
      Creates a flat texture - good for flat objects or plain textures, bad for anything else.
    • Cylindrical
      Awesome for getting perfect alignment on cylinders.
    • Spherical
      Same as cylindrical, but for spheres.
    • Shrink Wrap
      Does some strange things - haven't played with it much but I'm sure it's good for something.
    • Box
      Probably the one you'll use the most - great for just about anything, but perfect for boxes.
    • Face
      Can be very useful - places one copy of the texture on each face of the object.
    • XYZ to UVW
      I'm sure it's good for something, but I've never used it.

    Under those choices, you have several important boxes. I really don't mess with length, width, and height, but if you're looking to manually change the size of the UVW Map you can do that here. The next three are probably the most important boxes in this rollout:

    • U Tile - tells gmax how many "copies" of the texture to place left/right.
    • V Tile - tells gmax how many "copies" to place up/down.
    • W Tile - haven't got a clue what it does - I've made changes but it doesn't seem to affect anything.

    If you make changes here, you'll notice that it's not quite the same as tiling in Windows (like on your desktop, for example). If U and V tiling are set to 1, then the texture will be stretched across the entire UVW Map. If you set U tiling to, say, 2.5, then gmax will copy the texture across the map two and a half times, but it will only stretch it up one. I'd suggest playing with them so you can see what they do, it's kinda difficult to explain.

    The bottom of the rollout can give you some important options. I've never played with the Channels, so can't really tell you what they do. Under Alignment, the X, Y, and Z radio buttons will rotate the UVW Map to align with the different axes instead of aligning with the object. The only two buttons I've used here are Reset and Fit. If you've played around with the UVW Map and screwed it all up, you can hit Reset to undo some complex rotations you've done with the Gizmo. If you've messed around with the different Mapping options and now the UVW Map no longer fits your object, you can hit Fit and it will automatically re-size the UVW Map to fit the object.


    Before we can get into actually texturing this bad boy, we need to become a little more familiar with the Material Editor. The first time you open it (by clicking that round button highlighted above), you'll get the window titled Material Editor, click "New". You'll then get the New Material window, select "Standard" and hit "OK". Once the gmax Material Navigator window opens, highlight "Bitmap" and hit "OK" (or you can double-click on "Bitmap"). In the Select Bitmap Image File window, navigate until you find the texture you're looking for, pick it, and hit "Open".

    NOTE: You can use the following formats for textures: bitmaps (.bmp extension), JPEG (.jpg or .jpeg extension usually), PNG files (.png extension), Adobe PSD Reader (.psd extension), Targa Image File (most commonly with the .tga extension), and TIF Image File (.tif extension). Bitmaps and Targas are the most used texture types, and tend to not cause issues. I'd recommend, if you have to choice, to use bitmaps exclusively, but Targa files will do (and most people don't have software that can convert Targas to Bitmaps).

    Also, while going through the textures, you may get a window that tells you there was an error reading a certain file. This only seems to happen to me on .tga files. I just click the "cancel" button as it's not anything to worry about. The funny thing is that if you apply that .tga file as a texture in gmax, the program suddenly doesn't have any other problems reading it. Go figure.

    Once you've gotten through all that rig-a-ma-roll, you'll end up with the window below:


    There's a whole lotta stuff in here, but I'll only explain the basics you'll need to know. First, the big buttons:

    • "New" - lets you start a new material (texture).
    • "Pick" - gives you an eyedropper-like pointer to choose the material (texture) already on an object.
    • "Apply" - puts the material on all selected objects.
      (you can also drag and drop the "ball" onto objects to do this - the objects do not have to be selected).

    Next, the numbered items:

    1 - Allows your texture to show in the perspective view - if the object shows as just plain gray, make sure this button is clicked.
    2 - Lets you go back up to change diffuse, opacity, and the like (explained below).
    3 - Lets that multi-colored background show behind the texture - very useful if you're making a window texture.
    4 & 5 - U and V tiling. Note that while you can change the UV tiling from here, I would strongly suggest that you don't - it's much more easily accomplished from the UVW Map on the object itself. Also, you can choose here to mirror the U and V (U is left/right, so a mirror would flip it so it goes right/left, and V is up/down, so a mirror would make that down/up).


    If you hit the "up arrow" button described in the last text section, then you get this window. Everything at the top functions the same, but I'll explain the numbered ones below:

    1. You can select from "Blinn", "Metal", or "Phong" here. Supposedly, selecting metal is better for metals, but I honestly haven't noticed much difference. The default is blinn, so that's where we'll leave it.
    2. Do NOT click this box, unless for some reason you really need to. With this box checked, the texture will apply to both sides of an object with no back (like a flat rectangle), but if its on transparent windows, strange things happen when you try to do lighting.
    3. If you are trying to make a simple window texture that doesn't need a bitmap, or pretty much any simple color texture, then you'd hit the big gray box so that you can use the Color Selector (not shown). The Color Selector is pretty much self-explanitory, just pick the color you want and fine-tune it.
    4. You won't need to worry with this box unless you create a new material (hitting the "New" button). When you do that, you'll have to hit the little box with the "M" (wouldn't be shown on a new material) to pick your bitmap - incedentally, if you hit the "M", it will take you back to the previous picture.
    5. I wouldn't worry with this one at all. It will make your objects "glow", but it really doesn't look that great.
    6. Opacity is how "see through" your object is. You can put any number from 0 to 100 in this box, 0 being completely clear (not visible at all) and 100 being totally solid (not letting you see anything behind it). If you hit the little box, you can pick an "Opacity Map", which will give you the same approximate results as putting a "Diffuse Map" (number 4's little box) and turning the opacity down (but it does do some complex things we don't really need to get into).
    7. Specular Level is how much light your object will reflect. Don't get too carried away with this unless you want people to be blinded by your object! (The little ball at the top that shows you a preview of your texture will change accordingly to give you an idea of what it will look like.)
    8. Glossiness is basically how "shiny" your object is. When used in conjunction with specular level, you can get pretty impressive shininess to your objects. Again, don't get too carried away. (The little ball at the top will change with this one too.)

    I've said it before and I'll say it again, texturing can be very complex. I have simplified the above operations to an extent to be able to explain them to you as quickly as possible, but still be thorough. You will discover things can operate differently than I explained, and you'll probably find better ways to go about things yourself.

    Before we get started, just a little tip. When you texture an object, even though you can see it in the perspective view, that's not necessarily exactly how it will show in the render. It's been my experience that the BAT render will lighten any textures you make up, and the SC4 environment will tend to lighten them up even more. Keep this in mind as you select textures, because you'll probably need to pick a texture a few shades darker than what you actually want it to look like.


    We'll begin at the beginning. Start by creating a new material and follow through above to select "mjbB00002.tga". Make sure the little box that lets the texture show in the perspective view is clicked on. Select "Wall - Front", apply a UVW Map to it, and pick "Box" from the rollout. Hit "Apply" in the Material Editor to put the new texture on the wall.

    Wait a minute, just who the heck made those bricks?


    Well, since the up and down looks fine (ie - the bricks look like the correct height), then we'll need to adjust the left to right tiling, which means we change U Tile. Change it like so. Why 2.5 you ask? Don't have an easy explanation, I just played with the number until it looked about right. Notice that, just like mirror in the Material Editor, you can check "Flip" and it will do exactly that - turn the material over.


    To finish out the walls, select each one individually, apply the UVW Map, and apply the texture. Be sure to make the U Tile on the back wall to 2.5 and both side walls to 5. Why 5 you ask? This one's actually easy. Since we tiled 2.5 on the front wall, and the side walls are double the length, then we'd need to double the tiling to get the same effect.

    You might notice that the bricks don't look right in the picture above. This is due to the perspective view in gmax, if you want to see what they actually look like, then you'd need to rotate the perspective view until you're looking directly at the object.

    NOTE: When I'm texturing a building, I usually make the perspective view the maximum possible by hitting the Min/Max Toggle in the lower right-hand corner.


    Next, we're going to texture the foundation and the roof overhangs. Create a new material (hit the "New" button), navigate until you can select "marble22.bmp".

    NOTE: When you create a new material after you've already created your first one, it will not follow through the same way. When you click "Standard" and then hit "OK", gmax will take you back to the material editor with a blank, gray material. You'll need to hit the little box next to "Diffuse" (#4 in the above example - the box with the M on it - it only has the "M" when you have a created material) to pick your texture.

    Pick one of the foundations on the front, apply a UVW Map, pick "Box" and hit apply in the Material Editor. For this texture, we'll need to change V Tile like follows (select each object in turn and apply UVW Maps and the texture like we did for the first object):

    • Foundation - Decoration: 10
    • Foundation - Decoration01: 10
    • Foundation - Decoration02: 40
    • Foundation - Decoration03: 40
    • Foundation - Decoration04: 10
    • Foundation - Decoration05: 10

    We'd now do the same thing for the "Roof - Overhang". Again, we'll need to change V Tile as follows:

    • Roof - Overhang: 50
    • Roof - Overhang01: 50
    • Roof - Overhang02: 25
    • Roof - Overhang03: 25

    You should now have something that looks like the above picture. Take note that I assumed here that you had followed the instructions for cloning and arraying your decorations exactly the way I wrote them. If you did not, then you will need to adjust the above numbers to reflect where your overhangs and foundation pieces are.


    Next, we'll do something a lot easier. Create a new material and pick "marble2.bmp". Now, pick "Misc - Corner Decorations", apply the UVW Map, pick "Box", change the V Tile to 5, and apply the texture. Repeat for the other three corner pieces. You should now have something like the above.


    This one's going to be even easier than the last one. Create a new material and pick "gravelroof2.bmp". Pick "Roof - Surface", apply the UVW Map (leaving it as "Planar" is fine for this one), change U Tile to 16 and V Tile to 32 (we're making this map tile in 1 meter squares) and apply the texture. You should end up with something like this.

    Pretty easy so far, huh? Well, good, cause now we're going to start getting into the hard stuff. Don't worry, I'll try not to let you get lost.



    Lighting - Make the Night Yours

    So, now we've got a completed building just crying to be exported, but there's one important detail missing. Lighting. You can have the best BAT building in the world, but if it doesn't light at night, it'll be pretty bland, right?

    By the time you finish with this page, you should have a general idea of how night lighting works. I will by no means cover each and every single possible topic (again, tutorial would never be finished), but I think this will get you off to a good start.


    First thing's first, if you still have the Material Editor open, it may be a good idea to go ahead and close it so it doesn't get in our way. Good. Now, you should be pretty familiar with the above tab for Splines and Geometry, but now we're going to hit the next button, "Lights".

    This looks deceptively simple. I mean, after all, there's only 5 buttons. Trust me, it's a little more to it than it looks like, but it's nowhere near as complex as you may think. We'll now explore what the difference between the lights are:

    • Target Spot
      Well, it's a spot light (begins at a single point and expands as it gets farther away from it's origin). This is great for simulating the light coming from light fixtures, but only effectively illuminates the surface its shining on. As the name implies, this light has a "target", which makes it easy to aim just so. Keep in mind that when creating this light, you have to create the light itself and the target.
    • Free Spot
      Also a spot light. This one has no "target", however, and simply shines in whatever direction you point it. I never use this one as "Target Spot" is much easier to control.
    • Target Direct
      Direct light can best be thought of as similar to sun light. Unlike the spot, which starts at a point and expands outward, the direct light is uniform in size. In other words, the illumination area (or "hotspot", explained below) is the same size at it's origin as it is when it ends. Just like the name implies, this one has both the light source and a target. Also, just like the "spots", it's only really effective for illuminating surfaces within it's shaft of light.
    • Free Direct
      The same as "Target Direct", but has no target.
    • Omni
      "Fill" lighting. Remember how I said that the spots and direct lights aren't effective at anything but lighting the surfaces they're "aimed" toward? This is the light that does the rest. This one gives a nice "fill" effect to the lighting, illuminating surfaces not touched by the spots or directs. Don't get too carried away with these, else you'll end up with something that looks like it's four inches from the center of the sun at night!


    Now things start to get a little more complicated. This is the rollout for the lights and has a whole mess of stuff in it! I'll explain what's here as best I can.

    1. On Box
      If checked, your light will be turned "on" and will render (it shows in the viewports as yellow). If unchecked, your light will be turned "off" and will not render (it shows as black in the viewports).
    2. Cast Shadows Box
      Will allow your light to cast shadows of the objects they fall on. With it off, no shadows are cast by the particular light this box is unchecked for. With this box unchecked, the light will paradoxically (ooo, I'm using big words) shine through walls, even if they have no opening.
    3. RGB Boxes
      Allows you to change the color of the light - I haven't got a clue what the HSV boxes do, I've never messed with them.
    4. Multiplier
      Affects how bright your light is. The default is 1, and you can use decimals. Don't get carried away here, this box will indeed multiply the brightness of the light by whatever's typed in - very easy to make a new star this way (LOL).
      (Note that the Affect Surfaces area was skipped - I've never played with it, but it can do interesting things from what I understand).
      - The "Spotlight Parameters" area is titled differently depending on the light -
    5. Show Cone Box
      Will allow the light cone to show, but doesn't work very well (or at all, depending on who you ask) in the SC4 enviroment. Shows for Directs and Spots.
    6. Overshoot Box
      Allows your light to "overshoot" it's cone. In essence, it will cast light in all directions, regardless of it's "cone". I don't use this box, it does bad things. Shows for Directs and Spots.
    7. Hotspot
      The brightest part in the center of your light cone/area. Basically, its the evenly-lit area directly underneath a light source. Shows for Directs and Spots.
    8. Falloff
      How far the light extends beyond the hotspot. This is the area where your light will gradually dim until it fades out. Shows for Directs and Spots.
    9. Circle/Rectangle Radio Buttons
      The shape of the light. Pretty self-explanitory. Shows for Directs and Spots.
      - Skipped Aspect because I never use it. -
    10. Projector Map
      Allows your light to project a "map", or picture, similar to a movie projector. Shows for Directs, Spots, and Omnis.
    11. Target Distance
      Will tell you, or let you adjust, how far away from the light source the target is. For "Target" lights, it tells you how far away the target box is. For "Free" lights, it will let you manually type in how far you want the "target" to be.
    12. Near and Far Attenuation
      Affects how your light fades in and out. Basically, the Far Attenuation is how far the light takes to fade to darkness (similar to the Falloff) and the Near Attenuation is how far it takes the light to obtain full brightness. If you click the "use" box, then gmax will use whatever settings are here, and the "show" box will put a representation in the viewports of what the settings will do. Don't worry if you don't completely understand these, it can take some getting used to.
    13. Decay
      I wouldn't use this, but if you so chose you can set the light to get brighter the farther away from the source it gets with this.
    14. Shadows Parameters
      With the "Cast Shadows" box checked, the "On" box here will also be checked. You can also play with the way shadows are cast in this box.


    Now I'm going to explain the difference between the methods of applying night lighting to your buildings.

    Default Night Windows

    The same type of night lighting Maxis used on their buildings for SC4. Doesn't look too terribly realistic, unless it's applied to rather small windows/objects. It will only show the texture, although Maxis did include a few different colors with the BAT (Beige, Blue, and Green - found on "Utilities tab >BAT button >Parameters" rollout). Pretty limited in scope, but does, indeed, light up the windows. This is the most basic type of night lighting. To get this to work well, you will need to model each individual pane of glass. (See Vu Burger for an example.)

    Mixed Lights/Default Lighting

    Gives you a bit more realism. With this method, you can use the night lights discussed above to light vestibules or around the exterior and the default textures for the window panes. Works well for larger models where interior detail is unimportant (and where you've "faked" interior detail with textured rectangles behind the glass). To get this to work well, you will have also had to model each individual pane of glass. (See Vu Med for an example.)

    All Night Lighting

    Gives you the most realism. With this method of lighting, you will spend much more time on this section of your model, but you will also be able to have more control over your lighting's colors, brightness, and areas affected. This will also allow you to still be able to see inside of the building during the night. This works very well for buildings where all of the windows are transparent, and you've spent a lot of time modelling the contents. For this to work really well, you will have also needed to model interior walls. It is unnecessary to model each pane of glass with this method - a single, large pane of glass within the wall will do nicely. (See Vu Quest for an example.)


    Since I don't think it's necessary to go through modelling the interior walls and such for this tutorial, we're going to use the "mixed" method of night lighting. First, we're going to put a spot light under that front overhang.


    We're now ready to create our first light. Since we're going to place a light underneath the front overhang (it is not necessary to model a fixture as you'd never see it in SC4), pick "Target Spot" under the Lights button. In the front view, click somewhere near the bottom surface of the overhang and drag downward - you'll get something like the picture. When you first click, gmax places the "lamp" wherever you clicked (looks like a cone), and as you drag moves the cube-shaped target downward. When you release the mouse button, the light is created. Notice that the light cone is also visible - the lighter inner circle is the "hotspot" and the darker outer one is the "falloff". The lamp and the target are objects that you can move around indepedent of each other. Take note that no matter where you move the target, the spot will point towards it. You will now have two new objects, "Spot01" and "Spot01.target". Be sure to select the "Spot01" (and not it's target) to change the parameters.

    NOTE: When you're placing night lights like this, the default lighting is disabled so that you can see what you're doing. Don't panic when your model turns black, it's supposed to do that. Also, do not use the perspective view to fine-tune your lighting. Trust me, the perspective view will give you a general idea of what it will look like, but only a render will show you more precisely.


    Move "Spot01" and "Spot01.target" until both are approximately centered on the concrete. Now, be sure that the target is sitting inside or just below the concrete's surface (so that the light targets the concrete). Be sure to check Cast Shadows, and change the Hotspot and Falloff as shown. There, see. That wasn't so hard, was it? On to the back door!


    Next, we're going to create the illusion that our light fixture on the back door actually lights up at night. This is actually a two-part process. First, create a Target Direct (note that it's easier to do this in the left or right view). Since we want the light to shine towards the wall so that it casts a circular glow on the wall, click somewhere behind the wall and drag towards the light fixture. Gmax will name the light "Direct01". This will light up the entire model in perspective view! To correct that condition, check cast shadows and change hotspot and falloff as shown. Next, move the target so that it sits on the wall centered within the light fixture (hotkey "H" is very important, it's nearly impossible to pick that tiny little target by clicking in the viewports). Now, move your light source (in the case of directs, the arrow-looking thingy) until it lines up with the target (try to make sure it's pointed directly towards the target) and is approximately at the edge of the concrete.


    Remember I said this would be a two-part process? To finish the illusion that the light fixture is actually lit up, create a new target spot. Place the lamp on the light fixture, and the target on the concrete just in front of the edge of the foundation. Gmax will name this one "Spot02". Why in front and not directly underneath? Because if you shine a spot directly down on a solid object, the only light will be on the object with Cast Shadows turned on. Be sure to check the cast shadows box and change the hotspot and falloff to what I show. It's important to remember to do this, because gmax will remember the hotspot and falloff for the last light you created.

    I have no idea what kind of measurements the hotspot and falloff correspond to since they are different for spots and directs. Trust me, after playing with lights for days on end, these will do just nicely.

    I'll get a little more in-depth with lighting like this later on (in the advanced tips section).

    At this point, add the preface "nitelite" to all of your new lights. This way, they will only be turned on at night. If you don't, then they will always be on, making your model way too dang it bright.

    ex. Change "Spot01" to "niteliteSpot01" - gmax will automatically change the name of the target.


    If all of those yellow lines and such for the night lights is going to be in your way, you can go to the Display tab (the screen-looking thing) and check the objects you want to hide. Take note that the model itself will stay dark. We're going to light up the windows the easy way (for now), so click on the Utilities tab (the hammer), click on the BAT button, then expand the Parameters rollout. Under Night Windows, change the drop-down box to "Blue".

    Next, select random panes of glass on your model and preface the name with "nite". This tells gmax and SC4 to replace that window texture with the default night lighting texture (in this case, the blue one) instead of the window texture. Take note that when I'm lighting windows like this, if I ever light a window on a corner, I also light the one on the other side of the corner to give the illusion of a "corner office". For this model, I picked 14 windows listed below:

    • Windows - Glass
    • Windows - Glass02
    • Windows - Glass04
    • Windows - Glass06
    • Windows - Glass07
    • Windows - Glass10
    • Windows - Glass11
    • Windows - Glass12
    • Windows - Glass15
    • Windows - Glass16
    • Windows - Glass20
    • Windows - Glass23
    • Windows - Glass24
    • Windows - Glass26

    You might also notice that I lit some windows in groups. This is because I think this building's rooms, for the most part, will be more than one window wide.

    You'll also want to change add nite to the front of "Lighting - Back Door".

    Now would be an excellent time to save.


    Time for some fun! Make sure the perspective view is the port that's active, click on the Utilities tab, the BAT button, and expand the preview rollout. From here, you can pick what your preview render will look like. You can pick from zooms 1-5, and views from north, south, east, or west (S is the front, N is the back, E and W are the left and right walls). We don't want to really see the detail in this model, we just really want to get an idea what it looks like, so under "Preview", make sure quality is set to low, the view is South, and hit the Day & Night button. You'll get the front view of your building in both day and night renders, something like this:


    You will need to move the night render window to see the day render. Looks pretty good, huh? At this point, you could render all four sides and fine-tune your lighting if you'd like. I think it's going to look fine, so we won't do that (but you can if you want to).

    We're almost ready to export. If we exported right now, then when you got to the Lot Editor the building would be doing all sorts of "floating" (the box showing the building would be in one place, but the actual model would show somewhere else). Don't worry, we're going to fix it. I don't expect you to do all that modelling for nothing!

    Links to other parts of this tutorial: part1part 2part 4

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    User Feedback

    Really bummed out that Page 2 of Part 3 ends without applying textures to the rest of the building. Hard to believe the the author intended to us to figure out how to texture the rest on our own. Page 3 starts with an entirely textured building that only lacks lights to be completed. Very disappointing!

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