Construction Scene WIP

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  05 May 2013
Construction Scene WIP

Hey, this is my first WIP on CGsociety - I thought I could do with some help and critique along the way.

I'm working on a portfolio and will be focussing on one complete realistic environment with a hero Excavator.

My background is in construction and will be the theme and I plan to pick a job similar to one from work which I'll recreate, I've not decided exactly what yet but I plan to do some concept sketches and make it a bit more artistic. So basically do the stuff that I never had the chance to try on salary (yet! ).

I've modelled this excavator over the last two weeks in 3DS Max, it's pretty high poly, about 11million. I'm using 2 sub-d's of Turbosmooth on most objects and 3 sub-d's on surfaces that are mostly curved.

Image was too large to upload here but this should work:

or here

I'm not sure the approach I'll use for texturing yet. Anyone able to share some ideas on how they'd tackle this? I'm planning to spend about two weeks to finish the Cat texturing/shading.

Also would you tend to bake the normals into a lower res mesh or brute force high-poly-it all the way? I'm going to be producing stills and depending on how time goes - perhaps an animation - or I may save that for another project.



Last edited by MisterS : 05 May 2013 at 09:44 PM.
  05 May 2013
First of all, it's an excellent looking model. I made something similar a few years back (2006) when I was still not that skilled. Mine only came to about 250,000 triangles and I didn't use any Sub-D at all except for the seat so I unwrapped it in the traditional way by unfolding the objects.
  05 May 2013
Cool - I couldn't face modelling the interior quite yet I'll see what else needs modelling once I start working on the composition. Spent the day watching a few tutorials and I think I'll just muddle my way through it - and initially try and get as much out of procedurals as possible.

I'm just resetting my Xforms and it's screwed up my tracks.... again! fun and games. Did you rig yours? If so what method did you use?
  05 May 2013
Ah, XForm - the modifier that's both a blessing and a curse. I didn't really know how to rig back then so all I did was animate the treads which I did by using a path for the tread segments to follow, while adding a little animated noise to the path to simulate rolling over rocks causing the treads to jostle around. It ended up looking quite realistic.
  05 May 2013
Here's a little update - it took me a long time to figure out the approach I wanted to take, I tried several methods including unwrapping the thing, but it was taking too long to be feasible on paid gigs so I started from scratch several times.

I spent a lot of time looking at the techniques of Neil Blevins and decided on using procedurals as much as possible with a UVW projection on each side.

Today is the first day I started to get a half decent shader on the way - the render shows a rough and ready dust layer which I plan to refine some more - just one side has a projection mask on it at the moment but plan to do 6 sides, and maybe a different material for each side piece as you can see the repeat. Anyway, I'm hoping to make some swift progress soon!

One problem I'm having is with the black paint base material - it's an Arch+Design meterial but it should be black.

Here's a link:

  05 May 2013
Aaaaah, always wanted to do one of these since the first time opened a modelling program. Looks great, keep it up!
  05 May 2013
The dust layer looks very... dust-like, so no problem there. I would pay some regard to how the dust will be distributed. It won't be uniform; there'll be a thicker layer of dust on top-facing surfaces and also the less accessible parts of the chassis will have less dust or none at all. An AO pass (once everything is in place) would be a decent rough guide. I'm thinking that the main body once sitting on the chassis will block a lot of dust so it will progressively diminish the closer you get to the central "hub" (where the body rotates).
  05 May 2013
Nice work man! I had a job recently where I had to deal with some land movers. The client provided the models, but they were pretty ordinary.

Rigging wise, I needed quite a bit of control over the arm movements so I parented everything up. Otherwise, you could run an IK from the bucket to the arm, then use the rotations to automate the cab swivel for an all-in-one solution.

The hydraulics are just two opposing look-at constraints (with at least one pointing at a dummy)
For the cables I used a CV curve with a 'Spline IK Control' modifier to parent it.

The joint between the bucket, the hydraulic and the arm was a bit of a pain - this is how I did it:

And of course, there's the tracks. Easy to setup manually, less easy to automate. I didn't have enough scripting knowledge to completely sort it out myself. I got it to the point where it automated fine whilst moving along the one axis, but when the digger rotated, the track rotation speed slowed the closer it got to 90 degrees. I couldn't work out how to based my formulas on world space rather than object space.

But yeah looking good dude.
  05 May 2013
Thanks for the comments guys.

DrSrsen- that will be really handy - I've not rigged it up yet but plan to. Thanks

Telemachus - onto refining the dust layer now. Any ideas if you can save a photoshop document out without a specific Alpha channel but still preserving the transparency of all of the layers in the document so that I can use the image alpha as a mask?

In the attached render I had to copy my layers, merge them, hit preserve transparency, paint everything black, and then merge with a white background so I ended up with a black and white mask without an alpha.

I tried all I could to get Max to just use my straight tif just for a mask with no joy. Best I got was by unchecking premultiplied in Max, where it says "RGB channel output" I set that to "Alpha as grey", and then running that through an "output" to invert it (as the bitmap invert didn't work on the alpha.
  05 May 2013
Here's another update:


  05 May 2013
That latest rendering looks very impressive. About the alpha thing, I was messing around and found that I could save the image as a TGA file with an alpha-channel at 32bpp. I created the alpha-channel manually then pasted layers on to it that corresponded with what I wanted to be transparent (they become grey-scale once pasted). Then I used the same file for both diffuse and opacity maps, for the opacity map, setting "Mono channel output" to "alpha". I've probably misunderstood your question though; I don't use alpha channels very often as I am still learning these things myself.
  05 May 2013
Nice Job! Solid effort!

I think knowing what camera angles you'd like to present your model will help you prioritize what parts of the model get your texturing/lighting efforts. Once you have camera angles that you really like then you can drill down on your list on what stays modeled and what can benefit from bump/normal maps. But you have a solid start already.
  05 May 2013
Telemachus - yeah I think your method might be the best bet - I'll try that tomorrow when I start photoshopping the car body textures.

Fcorder058 - do you mean replace some of the geometry with normal maps? Or create new ones for debris and general bump? And first off I plan to create a turntable flash file so I'm intending to texture all sides.

Whilst it might seem a waste doing the whole thing, the repetition is helping me to improve.

Say the intention is to put this in a mid day lit environment - would people tend to use a simple light rig or separate lights for diffuse and spec?

The undercarriage image - I've just refined it a little more. I forgot to turn the blur down on the bump noise maks but will sort that next time.

and I made a start on the carbody base shaders:

Thanks again for your feedback.
  05 May 2013
The tracks are looking fantastic, did you paint in the blend alpha or is it all procedural?
  05 May 2013
Thanks man - the actual tracks are procedural.

Metal, paint and dust shaders blended together using composite maps with layered noises, AO, and a vertex paint channel. And lots of tweaking!

Pretty much using the techniques found here:

and here:


I have a question for anyone: as my projected texture map aspect ratios are determined by the aspect ratio of my Planer UVW map projection (set to 'fit'). Does that mean that the keep to power of two rule is completely out of the window?

For example, my left undercarriage projection map is: 4096x952.

If I made it 1024 high it wouldn't line up with the geometry as the UVW map was set to "fit".

Onto my carbody textures. I need larger maps than 4k, can I just freestyle on resolutions from here for those or will I be shooting my self in the foot later down the line?

I would love to mipmap these later, I don't even know if you can mipmap non 1:1 AR images...

6k for a side view of the carbody is probable around the sweet spot.

Last edited by MisterS : 05 May 2013 at 05:05 AM.
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