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Old 26th October 2006, 11:16 AM   #1
CGMike
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Default Best approach to low-poly house modeling?

Hi all,

I feel dumb even asking this question but it's something that I'm sorta struggling with. I'm basically trying to model some low-poly houses for a game engine. Some will have interiors, some won't.

However, what I'm running into a problem with - and I know it's self-imposed - is the best approach to creating them. I mostly model more organic things - like terrain, cliffs and things of that nature (no pun intended). However, things with structure seem to mess me up a bit.

Basically, when one is modeling a low-poly house, or building of any kind really, for use in a real-time 3D game/engine, are they modeled in separate parts? Like.. do you create the main "frame" of the house and then things like roof or support pillars are separate and merely positioned in place?

I'm trying to approach it from a "all-on-one approach" where everything is from the same mesh and it's proving rather aggravating at times.

Just curious what approach some might suggest? Is it better to model homes and such as separate objects?

Again.. very newbish question, I know... but I think I'm probably complicating things for myself more than I need to, so some outside advice would be very helpful..

Thanks!
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Old 26th October 2006, 12:40 PM   #2
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Default Re: Best approach to low-poly house modeling?

From my own experience, I usually modelize a building/house in a single mesh.
This way I'm sure to have a proper model base, ie. with no extra and unneeded surfaces.
Then I "cut away object" some surfaces (roof, windows, doors, balconies, chimney, ...) for texturing purposes (except if I 'm using a big texture map for the entire model).
The polycount stays the same, only the amount of vertices increases ... but who cares (?).
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Old 26th October 2006, 12:51 PM   #3
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Default Re: Best approach to low-poly house modeling?

For a building, I can't imagine you ever doing much besides basic box modeling.

Create a box. Subdivide the box with either Knife tool or surface extrusions. Create window and door apertures with "Make Hole".

Create mouldings and other detail with Indent and Bevel.

Use extruded poly lines for anything odd shaped.
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Old 26th October 2006, 01:10 PM   #4
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Default Re: Best approach to low-poly house modeling?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Stiglr View Post
For a building, I can't imagine you ever doing much besides basic box modeling.

Create a box. Subdivide the box with either Knife tool or surface extrusions. Create window and door apertures with "Make Hole".

Create mouldings and other detail with Indent and Bevel.

Use extruded poly lines for anything odd shaped.
Hmm... seems like I'm doing pretty much what's been suggested here. For some reason I just seem to run into trouble with certain things.. like creating a roof that isn't a perfect "v" shape, but perhaps has more curve to it, etc...

Guess it's just a matter of practice and, like I said, most of my work is more organic/natural than architectural. So probably just not used to it.

Thanks! :-)
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Old 26th October 2006, 01:58 PM   #5
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Default Re: Best approach to low-poly house modeling?

To further your non-perfect roof example...

to make it less-than-symetrical, after you've described the basic contour, subdivide it, then grab groups of vertices along the lines leadiing to the center of the roof, and move them up and down to create the effect you want. You can go anywhere from using say four lines on the same Y axis height and move them all together... to creating a falling-apart roof with very random areas where the surface may have sunk in from rain damage or tree strikes.

Or, you can let the computer randomize the contour with the Noise command.

I suggest, as I usually do, getting a copy of the User Guide from the Downloads page of this site and look through it. Not only do you learn more about the various commands, you get ideas about how you might use them, and guidance on how to create types of models you might not be familiar with.
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Old 26th October 2006, 03:12 PM   #6
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Default Re: Best approach to low-poly house modeling?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Stiglr View Post
To further your non-perfect roof example...

to make it less-than-symetrical, after you've described the basic contour, subdivide it, then grab groups of vertices along the lines leadiing to the center of the roof, and move them up and down to create the effect you want. You can go anywhere from using say four lines on the same Y axis height and move them all together... to creating a falling-apart roof with very random areas where the surface may have sunk in from rain damage or tree strikes.

Or, you can let the computer randomize the contour with the Noise command.

I suggest, as I usually do, getting a copy of the User Guide from the Downloads page of this site and look through it. Not only do you learn more about the various commands, you get ideas about how you might use them, and guidance on how to create types of models you might not be familiar with.
Hmmm... Yeah I figure working with the vertices will come into play.

I think the thing that's making me stumble more is modeling doorways and windows.. I don't just mean holes cut into the base object.. I mean fully modeled and realized doors.. complete with frames, windowpanes, etc. That's why I ask if maybe it's better to leave some things as separate objects. I can't seem to grasp how to work that all into a single contiguous model. It's dumb, because I'd think a house should be easier to model than something natural like terrain, etc because you're dealing with straight lines, flat faces, etc.

For example,
http://www.3d-imaging.co.uk/media/3-d_house_plans.jpg

How would one recreate the model in that picture? Would it really be all one model, or would any part of it be separate 3D objects?

I think what I'm having the worst time with isn't the actual tools to use, or how to use them - I'm usually very efficient in both aspects, once I know what I need to do. What's getting me is determining the actual approach to take in using them.
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Old 26th October 2006, 03:42 PM   #7
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Default Re: Best approach to low-poly house modeling?

That's not a dumb question by any means.

In order to do realistic doors and windows, I suppose it would be best to outline basic rectangular areas with either Knife or Divide Surface operations on the walls. Then Combine surfaces so that you have a single door or window surface that's separate from the wall, and move the vertices to make sure the separated aperture surfaces are the dimensions you want.

After you have doors and windows "blocked out", then you can go as wild as you want in making them as plain or as ornate as you need.

To create a jamb or frame, Indent the aperture surface. For ornate doorframes and windows, perhaps do a few layers of indents and bevels, and extrude these in or out to create the desired ornate effect. Finally, select the innermost area and either Delete it to cut out the aperture... or perhaps subdivide it further to create panes, or quadrants for a molded wooden door...etc. Or for a sliding window or storm window, you might only Cut Away Object and use this as the basis for a more fleshed out 3D window object.

For those circular windows in the door, you might want to create a circular Disk object as a tracing guide, align it in a Ortho view, then Create enough new Vertices on a subdivided surface and move them in place to describe the curved surface, which can be deleted or populated with panes of glass (change the Surface Material). (the other option would be to create a cylinder and Boolean Cut it out of the door, but I predict this will create a huge mess of superfluous vertices you'll then have to clean up...but you might try it and see if it works...)

For the eaves above the roof windows, you could create several plys of the roof, and extrude out certain sections and reshape those to create ornate wood facings. Or, if you're working from a blueprint, just trace the shape of the ornate roofing eave, extract the surface out to make it 3D and just Merge it with the rest of the roof.

You have a lot of options and flexibility to do whatever you want. You only have to have a grasp of what is possible, and the ability to "think like the program" to make it as quick, accurate and automatic as possible.

Whether your house is a contiguous object is probably not a consideration. By the time you end up finishing it, at the very least the walls will be separate from the roof, the windows and the doors. But you will create these fixtures from the basic wall structure... if that makes any sense.
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Old 26th October 2006, 03:43 PM   #8
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Default Re: Best approach to low-poly house modeling?

To continue...
I just tried another approach to it and I can identify one area in particular that trips me up every time and stops me dead in my tracks.

Creating doorway that's "inset" from the rest of the house structure.

No matter how I approach it I run into this same problem.. that is, no matter how I get to the point of having the door frame, I have to extrude the door area into the house. What I end up with is the bottom face of the house still stretching to the edge, so I have an extrusion that's leaving a visible surface which shouldn't be there. I can't just delete it because then I'm deleting the entire bottom surface of the house which I don't want either.

Further, I've tried booleans (which I've read time and again are not the best way to model as they can create sloppy results with visual artifacts), and I'm not getting good results that way either. I'm trying to carve a rectangular box out of the house.. and no matter what combination I use, B-A or A-B, selecting "subtraction" as the operation to perform, nothing is being subtracted. I see a bunch of extra vertices being created, but where there should be a hole, there's still a solid surface.

So I dunno... the more I try to model a simple house, unsuccessfully, the more ridiculous I feel. It should *not* be this troublesome.
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Old 26th October 2006, 03:51 PM   #9
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Default Re: Best approach to low-poly house modeling?

About the Boolean first: you likely did not check the box that tells AC3D to delete the original object. So, when you do the operation you're left with the original, uncut house, and another copy of the house with the door cut out of it. But they're the identical dimensions, so you can't see it...and the original's covering the door!


As for your door extrusion problem, I'm not completely sure I understand what you're getting at... but I'll try and answer what I think the problem is.

If you create a separate door shape from a rectangle, and then extrude it through the walls, the wall will continue to show. But, if you describe the shape of the door in the wall with its own separate surface(s), and extrude these inward or outward, that should create the inside of the frame without any wall showing through.

Or perhaps what you need to do after the extraction is to go back and select any "wall" surfaces left behind and simply Delete them, creating a perfect hole.

If I'm not helping you, it's probably because I can't see what it is you're doing. If you can, post some screen grabs of your process.
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Old 26th October 2006, 04:18 PM   #10
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Default Re: Best approach to low-poly house modeling?

Here's a screen-cap of what I mean by the extrude result...

You see the door inset has been extruded "into" the house... but you still see the back face of the bottom surface from the base house object. I shouldn't see that. The only thing I can think to do is keep some kind of "ledge" beneath the door and not have it go all the way to the ground, but that's not what I'm after.

If I delete that bottom surface, I've just deleted the entire bottom of the house, though I suppose I wouldn't see that anyway. But I'm sure there's gotta be a better way of going about that.

Something just isn't "clicking" with this whole process to me.

Ask me to model you a tree, or a cliff, or a waterfall, etc.. I can do it. Houses, or anything structured completely eludes me.

Hope the screencap helps.

As for the boolean.. So what you're saying is that when you perform a boolean, it's creating a copy of both operands and that's what's being deleted, not the original object?
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