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Making of “Jeep Willys”

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Date Added: 1st February 2018
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Martin Ostrolucký and Rudolf Herstek take us through the creation of their World War 2 "Willys" jeep, using 3ds Max, Substance Painter, and V-Ray...


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We are Martin Ostrolucký and Rudolf Herstek. Together, we're going to show you the steps involved in creating a model of the iconic World War Two "Willys" jeep. After seven years of experience in the games industry, we founded Cassa Game Industry as a way to support young game developers and artists. It is one of the reasons why we want to share our experience with you and present you our workflow of "Willys" jeep.

The project

The "Willys" Jeep is one of the most popular military vehicles of World War 2. The first version of the 3D model was created in 2013 and has gone through several major changes to become the AAA game asset you see today. You can almost track our increase in experience and skill in the changing quality of the model. Take a look at the images below!

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Goal and references

At the beginning we made the decision to create a AAA game model using high quality PBR textures. We wanted it to look realistic, not stylized and we also needed a model ready for rigging and animation. First we searched online for many useful references of the vehicle. We sorted through them and decided upon vehicle design, damage level, surface color, and relevant symbols and texts usable as decals.

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3D modeling

Blueprints can almost always be found for real object modeling (vehicles especially). They are a great place to start - and will allow you to easily shape most of the key features. Places like www.the-blueprints.com have a huge and useful selection of blueprints. Ideally a blueprint shows an object from all sides.

High-poly model (HP)

Many would argue whether it is better to create a low-poly (LP) model and then smoothen it into an HP model or the other way around. It depends on the project to a certain degree but usually it is easier and better to start with a HP model when you model unique assets.

We have placed blueprint pictures on a plane, farther from viewport center and farther from the model so that they wouldn't obstruct the view.

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We modeled the object starting with big main features and then moved to more detailed ones. Most of the time a plane is the best thing to begin shaping a piece of sheet metal. First you shape it according to the blueprint, then you use shell modifier to add thickness. To make it round we use Turbosmooth subdivided 2-3 times. We always work with simpler object topology to maintain control over the process, and not get lost in too many polygons. We apply this approach to almost all aspects of the model creation.

For example let's see how we created the tire design. We started with the plane and modeled one tire sector. The pattern repeats itself 80 times around the tire surface so it is enough to model it once and then copy it one after another over the surface.

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Using the weld function we connected all the little parts and then added two bend modifiers. The first one created convexity and the second one bent the plane to a circle. Finally we used weld vertices to finish the tire. If you have trouble to close a circle, we recommend adding reset xform and setting the object to pivot before you move on to bend modifier.

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And the final result look like this:

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Objects made of cloth (eg. seat padding or the gear shift cover) are best created in ZBrush. Before you export a HP model from ZBrush, we recommend reducing the model using the decimation master function. It can lower the poly count by millions without a significant visual change which is good for the baking workflow.

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Low-poly model (LP)

The final HP model went through a feedback phase; we made some last changes and advanced to the LP modeling phase. As long as a model has a good looking topology, all you need to do is to remove supporting geometry and optimize the object to a minimum of necessary polygons.

For example the Jeep bodywork for LP models consists of just a big monoblock, but for a HP model it is more effective to use more elements and avoid unwelcome effects that may cause problems in some cases. Let's see how we work on this one:

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Model (A): you can see its geometry is suitable for a cube but it is harmful for the curved area at its base. A solution may be to have the cube as a separate element (B) but you would lack a natural curved joint between the cube and the curved area. If the joint area is very important and you can't use supporting geometry, you can create a third model which combines the first two and isn't connected to any of them (C).

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Unwrapping a model

Before moving on to texturing we had to unwrap the jeep. You can see texture pixel density on various model parts below. The smaller a checker, the higher pixel density. For example to unwrap the model we used more space for small text plates than we needed for most other model parts combined.

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During the unwrap layout, we also highly recommend starting with larger objects, and doing the smallest ones last. It's easier to place small objects in gaps between big objects.

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continued on next page >

 
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