Post Wed May 23, 2007 9:43 am

3DS max modeling tutorial by Alucard

time needed: around 2 hours of work if you take it easy

for this tutorial, we'll be making a space station
(difficulty, according to me, is easy to medium, somewhere in between)

when you want to make a model, you have 2 choices,
either you make one based on your imagination, or you use a sketch
most of the time, it'll be the latter (the subject of this tutorial is also going to be a sketch)

when you use a sketch, always try to get as much detail as possible, preferably a side, top, front and perspective view, in the highest possible resolution
problem is, most of the time, it won't be like that, most sketches or images are reasonable in size, but often it's only a single view (perspective in about 80 to 90% of the time)
this means you'll have to improvise somewhat on the model, since there are areas you can't see
this is also the fact with the model for this tutorial, since it's a simple perspective view, though most of the time you're able to make something decent based on the front, just use your imagination

also worth mentioning, pencil drawings can be very good resources, since they have the tendency to stay reasonably sharp even when zooming in(most of the time there's also more detail and they're in ample supply)


search a sketch, in this tutorial i'll be using this one: ... ormin2.jpg


try to find basic shapes in the model, and picture it in your mind
this step is very important, because it lets you plan ahead
almost every ship can be brought down to simple building blocks (though they might need some editing)

that's why, before making even a simple cube, always count how many turns or changes there are in the surface, and adjust the amount of segments accordingly (trust me, this is VERY important, and it'll save you a lot of trouble if you always check it carefully)

in this station, you can immediately see some basic shapes (as shown on the picture) ... ditcl6.jpg


put the basic shapes you have in your mind (or on paper if it's too hard to remember) in the editor one by one, and snap them together

for this model, we'll be starting with the main block, the one located inside the ring
making it is easy, just select box in the side menu (in the create tab, and make sure that you've got standard primitives selected in the roll down menu)
then make a box, size doesn't matter for now, only the segments matter

next you see on the sketch that it has one change on the surface, in the height, so you make sure that you've got 2 height segments (it's the number of times the direction of the surface changes plus 1, in general, it's just the amount of lines

once you've done this, give it a rough shape of the main block, and then right click on the selected object, and pick " convert to editable mesh", this will allow you to select the individual points, and drag them around (you can also select multiple points by dragging a box around them, or using CTRL+click, be careful though when selecting points in a 2D view, since when you drag select the points, you also select the ones hidden behind the front ones, and you'll move them around as well), to do this, you'll need to go to the modify tab in the side menu, and select the vertex option, then just start draggin the verts (vertices if you really want to use the long name) around until it has the right shape

here's a picture of what it should look like ... ocksa2.jpg


you see that the main block has an indentation near the top, the reason we don't do this by using segments: it's too friggin tiring
better to use a substraction, and that is what we're going to see in this step
first of all, make a simple box that's about the size of the indentation
then place the box where the indentation should be, then, with the main block selected, go to the create menu near the top (or you can use the tab on the side, but i prefer the one on the top), select compound, and then boolean, and click on it
right now, the main block has changed from an editable mesh, to a boolean, and as you can see, the modify tab has changed completely

now make sure that you've got substraction(a-b) selected in the modify tab, and then click on the "pick operand B" button, and then just select the box that's in the place of the indentation
as you can see, the box is now gone, and you've got a nice indentation right where you want it
after that, right click on the main block, and convert it to an editable mesh, so that you can make some adjustments to the verts if necessary ... ocked4.jpg

for the rest, of the model, just continue to make basic blocks and edit them, use substraction where necessary, and if you want to put 2 blocks together, i suggest you use attach when they're an editable mesh, it's in the modify tab
(for the large circular section of the station, i suggest you use a tube with some height segments, and edit these with the scale tool, it's really handy for enlarging certain vertex formations)


after you've built all of the main blocks, you can start adding detail
this will probably take some time, but you can also do it by using greeble (can be found via google, and also elsewhere in this forum)
it generates small details randomly on a surface, though watch out for the polycount, since it'll get blown sky high if you use it too much


admire the result, this is how my version of the station looks like, i made a few adjustments to suit my own personal taste, but it's a quite exact replica (don't ever try to be too exact, otherwise you might spend hours and hours on end on some small details, and according to me, most of the time, it's a waste of time ... tioua0.jpg

some general tips:

when modeling, know your program, use tools like scaling, mirror, clone,... a lot, they'll save you a lot of work
use modifiers as well, they can save you a lot of time, and in most of the cases, they do a better job than you (bend for example)

try to keep it basic, most of the time, even the most complex of forms, can be simplified to a number of basic shapes, USE THEM!!!

and of course, most of all: be patient

Edited by - RQAlucard on 5/23/2007 10:45:21 AM