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JA-forreal
12-01-2003, 08:31 PM
I have been building many different types of architectural structures lately. I am using polygons for easy transportation between apps. Some elements like windows are modeled and duplicated onto the surfaces of groups of different types of buildings that share similar geometric features. I always work in 3d software with mass production and automation in mind. I hate redundancies in modeling, animation, lighting, textures etc. If one element of my project shares similarities with another element, itís going to be duplicated.

My main worry as I work along as a 3d artist is in not taking advantage of all resources that are available on the subject matter of my task at hand.

I have never seen a good book or resource on polygonal architectural modeling. Most of my architectural modeling techniques have come from my 3d modeling methods that I apply to character and object modeling. X amount of subsurface subdivisions for the most part. I build rather large cities so I have to keep the polycount low.

My current trial and error derived method includes the use of complex curves transformed into polys and extruded. I try to stay away from using lots bevels as I have found that bevels can produce many geometric problems and are not always as clean as pure extrusions. I use a heavy amount of uv maps on my models. I can be sloppy with the bevels and use a combo of alpha uv maps and procedural textures. But there are issues with texture blending at times. I donít use software that supports Ngons, etc. So I try to keep things quad or tri poly related.

Can some point me to a good book or resource for tried and proven techniques used for creating professional polygonal architectural models? I just want to review other methods building of polygonal architectural models. Thanks.

qiv
12-01-2003, 09:06 PM
hullo :)

i am quite intersted in that topic as well ...
but i dont have any idea ;)
just yesterday i read, you should bevel every edge. but do you use subdivision surfacaes afterwards?
will you notice every bevel?
or cant you see bevels too fare away, too little? :)
--
gn8, qiv

Ibox
12-02-2003, 03:52 PM
You really require a strong understanding of architecture in order to make things go smoothly for ya... in fact the modeling part is perhaps easy compared to the visualization required to create something which works well...

My advise, for what it is worth would be to build a library of building materials... exterior sheathing/facings, stuctural components ie, beams, joists, studs, blocks etc, wiring, plumbing, heating/venting, insul, vapor barriers, interior coverings etc, then assemble as in real world... more or less hehe :)

Tons of work for sure, but think of those cross section shots eh :D

JA-forreal
12-02-2003, 06:57 PM
Originally posted by Ibox
You really require a strong understanding of architecture in order to make things go smoothly for ya... in fact the modeling part is perhaps easy compared to the visualization required to create something which works well...

My advise, for what it is worth would be to build a library of building materials...

Tons of work for sure, but think of those cross section shots eh :D

I have the materials, models, skill, ect. What I was actually looking for is more resources to aid me in problem solving and model issue debugging is it were. Then I will add these to my tutorial, design, modeling, texturing and lighting resource database. I draw from my project database like a cook takes a pinch of this and that to spice up the stew pot. An artist gazes on the scene outside their window and draws from that information as their visual spices. May data base is like my cabinet of visual and technical spices. Every database feature is cataloged and named. Then I can apply my mouse clicks and pen strokes and take visual samples from my database as needed.

I have noticed that compared to the other assets in my project resource database, my resources for 3d architecture are almost non-existent. My photo references are packed.

For instance my edge loop modeling part of my database is packed with information on those processes.

I am not the kind of 3d artist who approaches his work loosely. I assume nothing and know everything about the project at hand. I may not always know the exact tried and tested method for modeling a specific piece, but I know from my past experience how to shape objects exactly as I see them. This is not a technical approach but it works. I prefer taking a more technical approach to doing any ď3DĒ task over trial and error any day. But Iím prepared to do any modeling task. Any.

I donít believe that one man or woman is a island. So there is always someone else out there who has a better way of approaching the same 3d task with more efficiency. Thatís why I hang around here on cgtalk.

Iím not satisfied with producing a good piece of work unless every detail of that work style can be duplicated on future projects with the exact same quality. Art gives me the look I want. My technical understanding of how I arrived at the artistic look is priceless.

I work in stages and record my work in files for backup and future references. I love dvd storage.

I have a pretty good 3d art factory rigged up for now. But hopefully I can make it more productive.

I wish that we had a 3d production/workflow forum so that we could swap work styles.

Well I just swapped a few of my own. Maybe Iím too project oriented and technical for a 3d artist, but please, we are 3d artist. Whatís 3d art without painfully detailed hardcore techniques? Hehe.

Well, enough of that. Do you have any good links to anything on 3d architectural modeling? That would make my day. Forreal. Thanks.

robin
12-02-2003, 09:35 PM
woow what a long post ;)

JA-forreal
12-02-2003, 11:01 PM
Originally posted by robin
woow what a long post ;)

Well hopefully my request is a little clearer now. Hehe.:)

I had not realized that building a 3d city could be so complex. Modeling is only one part of it. Layout and detail variations with only a few models is almost puzzle like. I'm shuffling my buildings all over the place with random duplication. And that's the easy part now anyway.:thumbsup:

I just need more data on 3d architectural modeling to "draw" from. Hehe. Any 3d architects on cgtalk that can offer their tips on the subject?

Kenzo77
12-03-2003, 03:05 PM
This is a really great post, thanks JA-forreal for starting it. Good information. I have been trying to find more info about Architectural Visualization (which is why I was following this post), i.e. learning some of the basics of modeling for architecture without having to go to school for it. Any words of advice or links anyone might have to get me started would be greatly appreciated. I've been to CGArchitect but it seems like it's geared towards those already in the field.
Thanks...

qiv
12-03-2003, 03:36 PM
what about showing some pics ;)
it looks like you are wings and yafray user? :)

JA-forreal
12-04-2003, 11:20 PM
Originally posted by qiv
what about showing some pics ;)
it looks like you are wings and yafray user? :)

I will have some pics to show soon. I have been using some new city building tools that make building 3d cities more dynamic than manually positioning structures and more productive.

I am not entirely sure whether being an architect makes one more suited to produce good looking 3d cities than a cg artist. But as to designing cities with sound structural engineering knowledge and implication this is definitely where a cg architect excels. That's probably why many architectural firms hire 3d artist.

I have two cousins who work in the auto industry as automotive design engineers. However I have seen 3d concept car designs that look better than some of the designs that the engineers come up with. Its just that their designs will make to the highway and most artist designs will just end up in a gallery or portfolio.

I am a 3d artist so I don't want to become a 3d architect. But I wouldn't mind looking at their 3d architectural mesh building processes etc. I know that most pro 3d architectural software's uses some form of procedural modeling topology, nurbs, etc. But I can translate most methods of 3d modeling styles to suit my needs as a 3d modeler in any app that I use.

It would be nice if we had more contact with others in the expanded cg community. We have much in common. We could aid each other with various 3d project issues.

JA-forreal
12-05-2003, 12:42 AM
Here is a secret tip for gathering image data for architectural structures. Search the web for real-estate websites. They are often packed with images inside and out of structures. It worked for me.

Often a goldmine of ideas and resources is hidden inside of the mundane world around us.

Bonedaddy
12-05-2003, 07:56 AM
I find that I do a lot of this as well, as my main interest is providing virtual sets or set extensions for movies.
I think that polys are the way to go, and I try to keep to quads, mostly because I find it helps maintain the geometric rigidity of buildings. Triangles are like cheating.
Books on architecture help out because they give you things to work off of. In the same way that you can use an established stereotype as a clue, or filmic shorthand, so too can you use old architectural styles, to hint at various ideas, feelings, etc. subtly.
I dunno, I wish there was more stuff on this too, but because it's fairly simple to model (compared to characters, at least), I think it gets short shrift.

-J

Ibox
12-05-2003, 05:34 PM
more is not always better, however better is always more... yet, bigger is usually always better, when it comes to architecture ;)

Have fun eh

JA-forreal
12-05-2003, 08:24 PM
Originally posted by Bonedaddy
I find that I do a lot of this as well, as my main interest is providing virtual sets or set extensions for movies.
I think that polys are the way to go, and I try to keep to quads,
Books on architecture help out because they give you things to work off of. In the same way that you can use an established stereotype as a clue, or filmic shorthand, so too can you use old architectural styles, to hint at various ideas, feelings, etc. subtly.
I dunno, I wish there was more stuff on this too, but because it's fairly simple to model (compared to characters, at least), I think it gets short shrift.

-J

I try to hold it down to quads too. When I first started modeling buildings I often got frustrated because I was approaching my task more rigidly. I would use connected geometry only. As I always start with a box I would divide, cut and extrude out shapes without disconnecting the geometry too much. But now I can use the dimensions of a door or window to model other doors or windows. I do more resurfacing and detail swapping now.

I have thought of some ways to near automate most of my modeling and detailing processes. My models are built to be used as environments for a cast of 3d characters. I was going for photo real then I settled with a great looking 3d stylized render palette. I wanted to also set up my texturing process to flow along with the same speed as my modeling process. So I setup pattern base guides for everything. Now I had the problem of making each environment and all its elements look consistent with the flow of the world in which everything lives while allowing me to make diverse changes and looks at will.

It's so important for me to lock down and control the design, modeling and production techniques for my environments structures. And as it goes with 3d art, the sky's the limit and there are almost no restrictions to fantasy. It's just that my form of fantasy has to be more consistent with my clients realities. I need more architectural detail options and better 3d architectural production methods.

I recently found a great building modeling tutorial on Maxons web site. It made use of Illustrator ai file curves for adding enhanced surface detail to polygonal surfaces. I had never thought of using that approach for my current buildings.

I would simply draw the curves in Blender and turn them to meshes. I know that many poly modelers use this method in Lightwave, Max, etc. They often start with a nurbs, etc. and convert the parts or objects to polys. The Maxon tutorial is a good idea of the type of variable modeling methods that I'm trying to incorporate into my workflow. I am a Macromedia Freehand artist and I have been using ai files to produce 3d curves since I started using 3d apps like RayDream Studio. However I have never used ai files with my more recent way of modeling buildings in Blender and Wings3d. Sometimes a great tutorial like Maxons tutorial helps me to gather my production assets and reexamine all of my options.

I like the cgtalk forum process because I can leave a thread for a few days while I'm working and come back to it later to find refreshing tips and comments from other 3d artist. This process alone can be one of my best resources for finding workflow improvements. Thanks for all of your great tips.

brianemsu2
12-23-2003, 03:32 AM
Hi,
This post sounds like something I would like to know about.
I am trying to figure out the best way to go about modeling architecture and I was wondering if it is better to keep parts of the building combined by extruding and booleans 'union' or to just model separate pieces (doors, windows, etc.) and move them to their respective places on the building without actually combining the pieces into one mesh.
-or- to model in NURBS and convert to polygons later or something like that.

One of the reasons I am wondering this is for texturing reasons later on down the line and also, I want to smooth out one part of the building but unwanted smoothing gets applied to other polygons when they are connected.

jtlloyd
12-29-2003, 04:43 PM
One major thing that you have to think about when designing a city is the urban context and the info-structure. You can have all the pretty buildings in the world in your model, but if they are not positioned correctly and are not dense enough, they all become seperate objects in an image/space.


brianemsu2 - I would keep all the object seperate from each other. Other wise when it comes to texturing it will be a real pain in the a$$.

mr Bob
12-30-2003, 12:35 PM
to be a good architectural visualizer you need a very good understanding of architecture , i trained as an architect orginally , and i did work as a visualizer for many yrs before going on to different things.
One thing you have to remember is as a visualizer is your building someone elses vision from your posts i think your just making life to complex for yourself and trying too hard , if you want to get employment in this field theres no time to mess around , normally you turn round a still in 3 days from start to finish.
and its not exactly rocket science either , import your cad data and extrude those splines , for walls, windows etc and texture light , maybe use v ray or brazil etc , most of the work for finishing stuff is done in photoshop , for sky people , and colour changes subtle effects etc ... its not hard , thats why theres not much information on it.
if you want to work in this field learn photshop, 3d studio max and autocad , becasue those are the tools 98% of all firms use.
and for a related web site check out www.cgarchitect.com. theres some good stuff in the gallery so you will then be able to see the required standard.

hope this helps B

JA-forreal
01-04-2004, 07:23 AM
Originally posted by brianemsu2
Hi,
This post sounds like something I would like to know about.
I am trying to figure out the best way to go about modeling architecture and I was wondering if it is better to keep parts of the building combined by extruding and booleans 'union' or to just model separate pieces (doors, windows, etc.) and move them to their respective places on the building without actually combining the pieces into one mesh.
-or- to model in NURBS and convert to polygons later or something like that.

One of the reasons I am wondering this is for texturing reasons later on down the line and also, I want to smooth out one part of the building but unwanted smoothing gets applied to other polygons when they are connected.

Model everything in sections. You may want to maintain a modular styled system of modeling so that you can reuse parts later. Use the frame of the part that your want to remodel as a base guide for other modeling projects. You can use this "frame" to start other modeling projects quickly. Polygons make this type of modeling so easy.

Wings3d is a good choice for this type of task. It allows you to erase areas inside of a model and add new geometry. Itís edge selection tools and group extrusion tools are some of the best. You can also add as much detail as your skill allows. Someone mentioned character modeling. I do all forms of 3d modeling and I find that modeling buildings can be far more complex than human character modeling at times detail and structural engineering wise. Whew! But we can use many forms of 3d modeling trickery and textures to even fake such complex detail.

I found some good architectural resources in local Libraries. Books on historical structures are a great guide for the artistic images alone. If you live in Europe you are surrounded by such detail and textures. Got a cheap digital camera and a video camera? If you live in the States, whether you are in the southwest or northeast, cities from Chicago, L.A., New York, and Santa Fe to San Francisco are filled with new and classic forms of architecture. We are 3d artist. We can turn an abandoned old factory into the environment for a cool characters scene.

If you have a DVD burner or a CD burner, you can archive the photos and videos that you collect for reference guides.

However, I do think that the pure 3d artist approaches 3d architectural modeling a lot different than architects. They take notice of subtle details that may not be important to an architect. Often we model not just the structure but also itís aging or weathered details. We may add character to a structure with unique window signage, a stylized iron gate, etc. Thatís the fun part.


But some complex parts of 3d architectural modeling are beyond the scope of are own artistic creative tooling.

I am working with some new modeling tools made possible by a Blender coder and the ideas of an artist and the suggestions of the Blender community. A while back I had mentioned something about a similar type of model automation system here on CGtalk. It was not well received for some reason that I donít remember. When it comes to 3d modeling and arranging large scale cities in 3d software, dynamic automation is not just needed, it is required. I will get into this a little more in the near future.

But for now, I hope that this thread grows and it become a greater resource for 3d references to architectural modeling styles, tutorials and other information. Thanks for your comments.

onlooker
06-17-2004, 03:19 PM
For instance my edge loop modeling part of my database is packed with information on those processes.

Where is this database?

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