Creating hard-surfaces in 3ds max
Gameloft artist Victoria Passariello describes some of the 3ds Max processes used in the creation of her mech: Sniper Bob
I made this model entirely in 3ds Max, so most of this tutorial will focus on the main techniques I used to model it. I will also cover some Photoshop steps for the texturing process too.
Building base meshes
The first step when creating hard surface modeling (also applicable with organics) is to establish all the base meshes. Once placed, we can start adjusting the shapes, scales, proportions and gesture.
It is important to define this general view of the model before starting to make any detail. Of course, we will being adjusting shapes and proportions during the entire process but it is a good idea to set up as best we can
in the beginning.
Defining the meshes
Once all of our base meshes are well-placed and adjusted in shapes and proportions, we can start adding some general details to them. Don't go very in deep with details in this step; we are just suggesting the principal details on the pieces. Later on, we will walk around each individual piece and add deeper details to them.
Now is when we look deeper at each piece and add the details to them. In this step I walk through every single piece making lines, cuts, screws, and all those details that look good on mechanical parts. The tools I use the most in 3ds Max to do so were: Bevel and Extrusion of polygons, Edge Extrude, Connects, Array, and Chamfer, as shown in the
As you can see, I work my pieces thinking that they will have a TurboSmooth modifier applied to them after, so I know I need to make connections near the borders to support the smooth effect.
In this project I use one nice trick with the TurboSmooth modifier. This is a very cool trick because you will obtain a perfect smooth to the piece without having too many loops in the geometry. This will cost more polygons in render-time, but fewer polygons in the viewport while working, so you can have the iterations in 0 and use only the render iterations.
First, I build the piece without any edge loops, or at least I only need to make very few loops on the bigger pieces. It is important to apply the correct Smoothing Groups to each polygon - this is the key for the TurboSmooth modifier to
Then I apply one TurboSmooth modifier with 2 Iterations and check the Smoothing Groups option under Surface Parameters. This will smooth the geometry but will respect the changes in the smoothing groups, keeping the sharp edges between them.
Finally I add another TurboSmooth modifier on top but this time with only 1 Iteration and without checking the Smoothing Groups option. Now, we've got a nice smooth surface to the geometry without the need of adding too many loops.
Building the ammo belt
To make the ammo belt I model one single piece, and then repeat this several times and attach all of them together in the same object. I make a Spline with the desired shape, and then I apply the Path Deform Binding modifier to the object and pick my spline under the Pick Path button. After that, I select the correct axis under Path Deform Axis and pressed the Move to Path button so that the object will move to the same place where the spline is.
Finally, I play a bit with the Stretch value until I find the one that works better for me (you can also try changing the Rotation and Twist values for more variations. The good thing about this is that once you make all of these steps you can modify the spline and the object will still follow it.
For the UVs I separate all the pieces of the robot by similarity in color and shader, this makes it much easier to work their textures in Photoshop. So, I finish up with 6 texture maps: The main and exterior body, interior pieces and joints, cables, pistons and tubes, little pieces, details, screws and the weapon.
Lighting and textures
First of all I set up my HDRI light, one Key light, one yellow Fill, one Blue RIM and some blue little fill lights for the face. After that I bake an AO map using Render to Texture.
I follow these steps for making the textures in Photoshop:
1. Add Solid Color layers for the main colors
2. Research metal textures and add them on top of the colors in Soft Light blending mode
3. Paint over the yellow details
4. Add the rust by masking one solid color
5. Add the peel the same way as the rust, by masking one solid color
6. Finally I add some texts and logos here and there
I follow the same process with the rest of the textures and make the final render using VRay.
The result: Sniper Bob.