Part 1 - Intorduction
I'm gonna explain to you, through this tutorial, how I created "Boulevard". I will focus specially in the texturing part but in addition I'll refer to the whole scene creation process. I won't repeat some concepts you must have read in other tutorials. The idea is that I will show you the way I face a project, and tell you about the way I turn ideas into reality. Just from my experience.
I hope some of the principles, tips and techniques I'll explain below will be useful for you. I tried to use in this tutorial, 3D concepts that you can apply in any 3D package. Maybe you can find some tools that are not available in all 3D programs, but sure there's an analog tool or way to get that in your software.
Before starting I have to thank to Tom and Chris, and all the guys from 3D total team, for their support, trust and patience.
I've organized this tutorial in several parts:
Part 1 - Intro and Conceptualization
Part 2 - Modelling
Part 3 - Texturing
a) Bitmap Processing
b) Material Design
Part 4 - Lighting and Rendering
The genesis of this model was an image I found in an English book for Spanish students that I borrowed from my girlfriend
(picture in the right). That was the starting point. From that point onwards, I just used references from real world, pictures from magazines, books, internet, and so on, and my imagination.
In the first part of the project, what I call "planning", you usually set the general parameters for the whole process. For example, in this specific case, I decided it was going to be an outdoor scene, based on an initial picture of an old style building. It was gonna be lighted by sunlight, maybe using GI, and it was going to look like a picturesque old town scene. I think you always have to imagine how it will look, and the impression it's gonna produce in the spectator. Of course that sometimes, the project take another course during the creative process because of different and multiple events, but you have to keep in the way you set at the beginning so you won't lose general overview and you can choose the best approach to the problems and difficulties you'll find.
A point that I always take into account is the following: You always have to know what your work is for. I mean, if you create a scene for getting a still picture is not the same as if you want the scene for animation. A scene that will be rendered with high quality settings is not the same as a scene for low quality output.
For example, in this scene I created, I didn't use textures with a bigger size than 1200 pixels (height or width). That quality was not necessary because when I began, I knew that I'd render a long camera take, and the output resolution wouldn't be higher than 800 x 600 pixels. I think it's a good point to take into account, 'cause you can be working for nothing, because you won't see the difference.
When I set up all the initial parameters, I pass to the next step: modeling the geometry.
Part 2 - Modelling
Modelling in this scene is quite simple. In fact, the object organization in 3D space was more complex than the modeling process.
Most of the objects in the scene are parametric primitives, sometimes with subtle modifications. The buildings are boxes turned into meshes and modified through sub-object selections (extruding faces, moving vertexes, cutting, and so on). The building in the center is an extruded shape, and then modified at sub-object level. I used Boolean to generate the windows and interiors. lose general overview and you can choose the best approach to the problems and difficulties you'll find.
The stairs, cornices, stair-steps, rafters, the balcony, and some bricks are all boxes or beveled boxes. I usually get complex parametrics adding subdivisions and then, using a noise modifier to give more irregularity to the geometry (remember that things are no perfect in the real world). The windows were made with boxes, boolean and sub-object modifications.
The stone blocks that make up the portal are beveled boxes + a subtle noise + a taper modifier. I added a Meshsmooth modifier to smooth the surfaces a little. Parametrics objects were used for the barrel (+ spherify), the water tubes (+ bend), the chimneys, etc.I used renderable splines for the aerials, the plants, chains, and the balcony fence.
I used lathe for the stone decoration over the stair-rails, the pot of flowers, and the lamp on the right (I set de segments to 4 to get the four sided shape). The bird over the lamp was modeled with patches.
I used a super-spray particle system for the smoke that comes out of the chimney on the left. I applied to the PS a material with the face option checked. After that I linked the super spray to a wind space warp to randomize the motion, and get a smoke look.
As you can see, there are no secrets in the modeling. Parametric objects and modifiers are the base tools. If I need more details in the geometry, I manipulate it through sub-object modifications (pulling vertexes, moving polys, extruding, beveling, cutting, slicing, and using any poly-editing tool available in the software). Boolean and lofting are compound objects I frequently use and which I consider extremely powerful (specially lofting technique).
In the beginning, I usually place a camera that gives me a real approaching to the final shot, so I can locate objects in the right place, according to the camera field of vision.
When I finally completed the modelling part, I moved to the next step: texturing.