Making Of 'The Building'

This scene was created mainly in 3dsmax and rendered with VRay. All textures are 3DTotal textures without exception, and just to show you how good they are, I decided not to modify any of them, but used each one of them as they came off the discs.

This making of is split into two sections. The first section is a tutorial about making the walls with splines and extrusion, and the second part is the making of The Building scene.

Part 1: Making the walls

Note: This tutorial is for those that are new to spline modeling. What vertices, segments, or a spline can do is fantastic. I start just about every building this way and once the spline is complete, I convert it to a polygon model and I work from there. But, before doing so, I save a copy of the spline/extrusion model, in case something goes wrong later, I can go back quickly and rebuild the wall..

Let's get started, I hope you will not have difficulties to follow this tutorial.

1 - First, turn on the snap toggle (both 2D/3D will do it) and from the Shapes tab select the square tool and draw a rectangle like in the pic below.

2 - Right-click on the line while selected and convert the rectangle to an Editable Spline.

3 - On the right under "Start new shape" uncheck the little box.

4 - Make sure your first large rectangle is still selected and draw a smaller shape inside of it.

5 - Now go to the Edit panel and select Segment mode.

6 - Hold down Shift and with the selection tool select all inner segments, highlighted with red in the pic below.

7 - While you're still holding down Shift, drag the selected rectangle's all segments to the right, so the cursor will blink blue each time you pass a grid crossing. Now you should have the outline of the wall with two windows.

8 - Click anywhere in the viewport to deselect all segments, so none of them is red. And now let's do it again: press/hold Shift and select all inner segments, basically the two windows, and drag them to the right, so when the cursor is passing over the grid points, it will comes on in blue. Now you should have 4 windows.

9 - Let's practice this a little more: click anywhere in the viewport, press/hold Shift and select all segments (the 4 windows you just drew), and this time move them down until you feel like it, to make another 4 windows. This is going to be your second floor.

Note: you could do this by drawing single windows each and every time, but it's a lot faster this way. Try a 20 story tall building and you'll see I'm right. Once you get used to this simple routine, you can (and you WILL) use it for a lot more other things too while modeling. You will figure out how easy it is to make a building (or many other things) this way, also, how easy to edit them in seconds just the way you want it. Honestly, I seldom use the snap toggle, but at the begging it surely will help you. Please notice that you can move and change any segments, vertices, or even entire splines within the *whole* spline. Save your work, so if something goes wrong, you don't have to start all over. That's a major pain.

10 - Select any of the windows and drag it down to make a door as seen in the picture below.

11 - Select the right vertical segment of the door and move it by one grid square to the right. Repeat it with the top segment too, so you practice a little. Your door should be 4 squares wide and 5 squares tall.

12 - Select the door's top segment and press Delete to get rid of this segment.

13 - Make sure your entire spline is still selected and go the Shape tab and select a circle. Again, make sure "Start new shape" box is unselected (pict03.jpg). Now, place the cursor in the middle of the door between the two top vertices, wait till the blue box comes on and draw a nice and fat circle like in pict13.jpg. Once it's done, go back to the Edit panel..

14 - You still should be in Segment mode, so just select the two lower segments of the circle and press Delete. You should see the same just like in the picture below.

15 - Now got to the Selection menu (in the Edit panel) and switch to Vertex mode.

16 - We're going to weld some vertices, because the partly deleted door and circle's segments must be continuous. If it weren't a continuous spline, no door would show up in the final work.

17 - With the selection tool select both vertices: the doors and the circle's.

Note: it looks like you have only one, but that's actually too, sitting on top of each other. Go and scroll down in the Edit panel until you find Geometry and within that - Weld. I normally pump it up to about 200, or higher. Don't ask me why, I just crank it up, so my welding won't fall apart. And now click the Weld box. Do it both ends of the circle. These are the vertices that will connect the half circle and the door to each other.

17 - We're almost there. Go to the Modeling panel and drop an Extrude modifier on your spline. And this is it, you've completed a wall with some windows and a door. Now click the "Maximize viewport toggle" in the lower right corner of your entire 3dsmax desktop and see all 4 viewports at the same time. This is what you should see, like in the image below.

I know it doesn't look much like a house, but if you've followed the tutorial carefully, you'll be able to build your own, much better looking house. Spline modeling is very powerful, especially for those that understand how things will change once you start converting Corner vertices to smooth, or Bezier. Take your time and try your own things out, any 2D shape can be converted to spline and that's where things can go really crazy. With this method you will be able to model countless things and very fast. It works much better than 3dsmax's boolean operations. This is how I modeled the walls, the cart wheels and those stones around the windows. In this tutorial I kept it simple, anyone can follow it, step-by-step, even if this is the first time you're using 3dsmax. Well, just about.

Part 1: Making the scene

1 - First, I created the two main walls, since they will be the spine of the image. Every other object will relate to them: locations, sizes, etc. I used splines and extrusion for making them, as you can see it in the attached example tutorial. I've spent quite some time with them, because if they are not right, everything else will be a mess and it's a bit difficult to go back and redo a bunch of things. These walls were converted to polygon objects after I felt like they looked good enough.

2 - then came the small roof structures and windows. Mostly I keep my models simple. Some of them are so primitive, you wouldn't believe. But, if they're small in the picture, then why complicate them, which increases the number of polygons.

3 - the roof tiles. I knew I was going to make a bunch of them, so again, I kept them simple. They were done with splines and extrusion. First I made one row for reference, then I built a roof. Then later this roof was used for all of them. Mostly I shaped them with the Slice modifier, or when it wasn't much visible, I just roughly deleted some polygons to speed up the process. Finally I dropped a Noise modifier on each one of them, that makes them uneven, thus quite natural.

4 - as you can see, a lot of other objects were created from primitives. For example all pieces made from wood were done this way. It's simple and fast. Where I wanted the object(s) to be somewhat uneven, not so "engineered" looking, I added some more Noise to them. The texturing was simple too, I just dropped a Box UVW modifier on them and that's it. Where something didn't look the way I wanted, I started changing the Gizmo's position and size. The little tree was made with Onyx Tree Pro, since it's very fast. All flowers in the windows were done with PlantStudio 2, which is a free plant generator and it works quite well.

5 - ah, the fryers! Now, these guys were a pain in the neck, because I'm not much into body modeling. I made these fellas quite some time ago, but did come handy, or what? Their heads were done with a free head designer script, which I got from, I think it was in the modeling section. There two different pigeons
in the scene: one with the spreading wings, the simple ones. They were also made with polygon modeling. Again, I kept them simple, and that's why they don't have eyes, legs and other less important parts. You see them from a distance, so no need for invisible details. By the end of the scene I ended up with 1.6 million polygons, so it's understandable that I want to keep everything as simple as possible.

6 -the grass was created with a free script, called Nature Painter. (This too can be downloaded from What's great about this plugin is that you can make random grass with it, but also random stones/pebbles. You need to be careful with it, because this can really increase your polygon count. This grass field added about 200 000 polygons to the scene.

7 - here is a closer look at the flowers. As you can see,I would NOT render them from close, they are soooo rough. But, just like the pigeons, they look good enough from a distance.

8 - and we got to the end, pretty much. The picture was rendered with global illumination and this shot is just to show that before I do a final render, I do a textureless GI render to make sure there are no bad, or damaged areas and all models are healthy. I used a single Direct light and used VRay shadows. I didn't use area shadows, since in a nice and sunny day most shadows are sharp and that's what looks natural. In VRay the skydome was turned on and I cranked up HSph's value to about 150 to get nice global illumination. In the Irradiance map section the both min and max rates were set to -1. And that's all, I hope this overview gave you an idea about how this picture was done.

Thanks for taking your time and to 3DTotal for the wonderful textures!

Ferenc J. Haraszti

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