Making Of 'The Post Apocalyptic Hunter'


Hi everybody!
First of all: Please excuse any mistakes in spelling and grammar, this is not my mother-tongue, so be mercyful, ok?
When I was asked to write this making-of, I didn't really know what to write about to be honest.I always think that my modeling-technique is so obvious that there's not much to say about it! But the day "the hunter"
got published in the 3DTotal-Gallery, I received 52 (!) eMails from users who had questions about the modeling, the materials, the rigging etc... Oh yes, I answered almost all of them, as I promised. I got serious trouble with my boss.

So I decided to build this making-of on these questions and to link them to something like a tutorial (it's my first tutorial and it might be a bit confusing.. I'll do my best ok?). I thought this might be much more interesting for you than a tutorial that's concentrating on one or two "uninteresting" points...

This making-of is going to touch areas like "the basic idea","basic modeling","basic materials","how to create it in a way that it can move", and it will also include some general tips which you might find useful.

BUT: This is NOT (not not not!!) going to be a "step-by-step" tutorial "from box to bot" or something like that.
So you should already know the basics in your modeling software. It doesn't matter which software you're using. Every 3D-Package has it's pros and cons and its totally up to you what you're doing with it! I hate discussions like "What's better: Max or Maya? Or Lightwave? Or Softimage? Or..or..or.."
I've seen pictures made with freeware-progs that were better than some of the stuff made with "professional" software...honestly.
I'm using Max5.1 and many free-plugins for max as well. You can find all free-plugins that you might need for this tutorial here:
My hardware is: AthlonXP 2600+, 1 Gig Ram, Radeon9800.
This making-of is made for beginners and advanced artists, so if you're a professional or an advanced advanced: Don't waste your time, you already know everything
OK then! Can we start? Here we go...

Chapter 1 - The Idea behind it

The Idea behind it
"I'm going to create a robot? Ok then! Take a box for the head, one for the body, 2 for the arms and 2 for the legs and you're finished!"

No, you're not.

Before I start modeling, I already know what I'm going to create. This is the best part of it! Don't miss it! You can create EVERYTHING you want!! So why create something like a rubber-duck or a coffee-machine! (unless you love rubber-ducks and coffee-machines, don't get me wrong.
Well, I love Sci-Fi. I know that many people make scribblings of their models before they start and I believe that this is an excellent way to start! I'm not doing this, I prefer to imagine the model, model the basic shape, print it out on the good old paper and then draw on it, adding details and correcting proportions etc.

So I knew what I wanted to create. A post apocalyptic character. A robot. A robot, that has to use modern weapons, built of scrap-metal and classic-style weapons! A character that looks like it's at least 15 years old and still working...
I wanted to create a humanoid robot-creature... a martial-arts fighter! - so that was enough for me to start. I could imagine it...

Chapter 2 - The modeling - some basics

I know there are dozens of ways to model and there's no right and no wrong way. There's only YOUR way. When you start with your 3D-Software, don't listen TOO much to people who tell you "this is the perfect way to model!". (by the way: Sometimes those people have never published an image themselves.. keep an eye on that)
Try everything and then decide which way you want to go.
In 3DMax, the most popular modeling-technique is probably box-modeling. That means, you start from a box, (sub)divide it, extrude, move and tweak vertexes, polys, edges and so on until you get the shape you wanted. You can compare this technique
to someone who models with clay.
There are at least 10 other ways to model, I'm mainly using two of them. Box-modeling and the "poly-by-poly"-Method.
While I use Box-modeling for mechanical objects like robots, cars and stuff like that, I use the poly-by-poly-method for organic models, for faces etc.

Fig. 1

Fig. 1

Fig 2 & 3

Fig 2 & 3

Fig. 4

Fig. 4

Ok, so you've seen my robot naked.

Question two: How did you make those inlays and "detached" parts of his armor?

SEE PIC 5 for explanation

They are not detached. They're modeled into the armor. I'll explain how I did those parts on a simple model:

Step 1: Create your basic shape (here a simple box)
Step 2. select some polys (here: red): PIC6
Step 3: Extrude them inwards by 1, then extrude them outwards again by 1.
Step 4: Smooth your model ;o) Voil·! PIC7

And that's it! Be creative! Chamfer, bevel, extrude! Add different materials to your selection.
Of course, some of those parts of my model are a bit more complicated, but they were all modelled in the same way. Extrude inwards, extrude outwards. Some of them were not extruded, some have been beveled. I also chamfer a lot of edges to add definition to my shapes.

Question three: How did you create all those cables?
Well that's easy to answer. The cables are all renderable splines. In Max you can create a spline and then tick those 3 beautiful boxes as seen in PIC8 (below):

Choose renderable, display render-mesh and generate mapping-coordinates. Now add any texture you want and you got a beautiful cable! Easy, isn't it? The best thing is: They can easily be animated afterwards as well.

Chapter 2 - The modeling - some basics (continued)

Question four: How did you model those parts of the gun? See PIC9
Alright... as you probably all know, the boolean operations in MAX are really, really bad. NEVER ever use boolean operations if you want a clean mesh! I actually use boolean operations sometimes if I want an old-looking, distorted shape and want to save time. I'm not joking! You see those belts around the hunters waist/hip? Those are simple boxes which have been created by the "intersection" - boolean operation together with a copy of the torso! They've been scaled and extruded afterwards. Looks really unregular, doesn't it?

Booleans in Max are crap. It's as simple as that. Unless you've got this expensive program called power-boolean, leave it.
So if you want circular-shaped holes in your model, you need to be creative...

You don't have too many possibilities! I know exactly three of them:
1. Go to editably-poly mode, select a square (!!!) poly, extrude it inwards, smooth it.
You'll end up with a circular-shaped hole.
2. Use the shape-merge compound-object, shape-merge a circle on your object and extrude this shape inwards.
DO NOT smooth afterwards!
3. Use shapes right from the start and extrude those shapes. That's how I did those holes here.

See the following pics for further explanation:

PIC10: Draw your basic shape, use splines.

PIC11: Chose one of those shapes, convert it to editably Spline.

Then attach all the other shapes. Go to the modeling-menu and chose the bevel-modifier. Chose values like shown in PIC11 or whatever values you need for your model! I sometimes get asked "how do you model 3D-letters in Max?" - That's the way to do it!
Just experiment with the bevel-modifier. Combine it with the symmetry-modifier and you'll get fantastic shapes!

Chapter 3 - The Materials

OK! Well.... I'm very lazy. I hate UV's, I hate mapping coordinates, I absolutely hate UVunwrap. I love simple mappings, I love procedural materials, I love everything that saves time.
So I always try to get as many procedural materials as possible. Procedural means: The materials consist of calculated maps which can be tweaked by paramters. You normally don't use any bitmap-textures for them.

So, what's the point in making those procedural mats if you can also draw your maps in Photoshop (or Painter, or whatever...)?
Both methods have advantages and disadvantages.

If you use bitmaps, you have control over every single pixel. That means, you can basically create a lot more random looking maps, you can paint scratches, dirt, rust, paint etc. If you're good at drawing that might be the way of your choice. It also renders a lot faster.The disadvantage is, it's not half as dynamic as procedural materials! If you change the shape of your model you need to re-adjust your UV's and re-adjust your textures. By the way: If you need really good textures you're on the right web-site! Go and get those Texture-CD's from 3D-Total! They're excellent and contain tons of photoreal textures, including bump-maps...! I haven't found anything like it somewhere else.

If you use procedural materials, your main advantage is that you can quickly change the look of your whole model by tweaking one or two parameters. In this case, I built ALL those materials using procedurals. The rust, the dirt, the scratches - they're all controlled by a single parameter. That gives me the possibility to change the look of my model from brandnew to totally scratched, dirty and rusted by only changing one parameter.

By the way: I used the "supernoise"-map from blur-studios for it. Go and get Supernoise! it's a lot better than the normal noise-map that comes with max....
The disadvantage is: It renders longer and it takes a long time to create those materials (but you can use them for as many objects as you want afterwards without needing any UV's!). I'll show you how to do it in this tutorial.

Alright.. I'm not going to show you how to texture using UV's and Bitmaps. That might be part of a future-tutorial though.
I'm going to explain to you now the basics of creating blend-materials, using only procedural-materials.
We're going to start with a VERY simple Material. Just to give you some idea of the amount of materials used here: "The Hunter" consists of app. 40-50 procedural materials which are mixed together to about 10 blend-materials which are then cloned and tweaked afterwards.

A good tip for any beginner is: Go and get the simbiont-materials from Dark-Tree! They're available for free for almost all 3D-Programs and they're really good - as long as you don't use them plain! You need to mix them as well, then it starts to look great. I used those simbionts for quite a while until I understood how MAX-materials work. Then I tried to build my own ones... and learned a lot!
That's really a basic rule: If you want to make an old-looking material, don't try to get it done with a single material. Rather build 2,3,4,5...10 materials and mix them! Then you can create very random looking materials without too much effort.

Chapter 3 - The Materials (continued)

We'll start with a simple "rusted-paint" material (this will be VERY simple, it won't look too good. It's simply for explanation how the method works.. try to understand how max creates materials and then simply... guess what? ... be creative!
First go to your material-editor. (in max, press m)
Get a new material. Create a plain "raytrace" paint material, something like shown in PIC12 (no, I'm not going to explain that process, that's very simple. All you need to know is included in the tutorials that come with max). Name it "Paint" (YES, name your materials unless you want to become mad.)

As you see, it's very simple. Just a shiny, glossy material with fall-off in the reflect-channel /set to fresnel) and, just for the nice look, a hdri-image in the environment-slot. We will remove that later as soon as we render in a proper environment. If you want to use hdri-files: Go to and get the free hdri-plugin from the download-section! Thanks to splutterfish for that....

Now we need a rust-material, don't we?
Here it comes:
Make a new material, "standard" is ok, name it "rust". Chose the diffuse-channel - add a supernoise-map (yeah, get it now if you haven't got it already).
Change the two colours to dark-brown and a medium brown. This will be the main colour of the rust later on.
Then click on the "supernoise"-button.
See PIC13 for details.

Leave all the other paramters like they are for now.
From the menu chose "mix" now, chose "keep old map as sub-map". That allows you to keep your supernoise map as one of the two sub-maps in the mix-map that you've just created! Then drag your old supernoise-map into the second slot and chose "copy". Tweak the colours a little bit to get more randomness, also change some of the main paramters like size etc. (I can hear some of you scream "Idiot! Why don't you explain that better?!" --> Because it's not important for now! This is only going to be a demonstration, not "the" real material. The parameters always depend on the size of your object so you have to TRY which parameters work well for you.)

But for all of you who are really nosy: See PIC14 for the values I chose

Alright. Go back to the Mix-Map and chose 50 (percent) for the mix-value for now. You might tweak that later on if you like.
Name the Mix-Map "rust-colour".
Now go back to the root-layer, from there on go to the bump-channel. For the bump-map choose the map you've just called "rust-colour". Choose "instance". So you're using one map in two channels - that gives a much more "realistic" look later on. And you can change the look of your material by changing ONE map.For the bump-value chose something like -50. (that means, the rust is "deeper" than the paint. Well, not really, but the rust will look more like it has grown into the paint) SEE PIC15.

Now we come to the interesting part!
Choose a new material, make it a "blend" material. Put "paint" in channel one, put "rust" in channel two. For the mask choose a new supernoise-map.
Adjust those values of the new supernoise until it looks good to you (remember? There's no "right" way! Try it! You won't learn it if you only copy my values..). Now your material should look something like this tea-pot in PIC16...

Not too good? Right! It still looks very crappy. (Does this word exist in english? Sounds funny in German though!)
But did you understand the basics? You mix different maps until you achieve the look you want. From here on, simply add new mix-maps to your materials, especially (!) the mask-channels of your blend-materials. Please go and get the electricity-plugin from blur as well as this will provide you with really nice irregular maps. Also get the "scratch"-map.

Chapter 3 - The Materials (continued)

Use them as much as you can! Try to keep your maps simple on the one hand but on the other hand try to make your materials as random as possible.... Try to mix several blend-materials!
You might hopefully come up with something like this: PIC17 (another 3 layers were added in the bump-channel)

That doesn't look "real" too, but you can work with this material very well and mix it into other materials again...

Tweak those Maps a little bit , add new ones and you might as well end up with something like this: PIC18, PIC19, PIC20!

I know, it sounds difficult, but it's not! Try it for a while and you might become a great fan of proc. textures as well. It's interesting and exciting.
I hope you understand that I can't go into detail too much here, otherwise this "making-of" would become too long.. but if you have any questions on this part, please email me or check my homepage (as soon as it's running again) and you can download some materials there.
All the materials of the "hunter" were made in this way. Sometimes it's only one single parameter in a single map that makes a material look good. So you need some dozen test-renderings to find out which parameters to tweak...

Anyway. I have to continue now:

Chapter 4 - How to create a robot so that it can move afterwards?

One question from me to you: How many robots have you seen before in real life? None? Shame on you.
So what does that mean? If you want to model something you haven't seen before, you need to model it in a way that looks credible. AND: If you can't make it - FAKE IT!
Hey, it doesn't need to be perfect! Just keep an eye on the mechanical parts. Don't exagerate it! If you put too much stuff in the area of the joints, you can't move them afterwards. If you lack detail, it will look unreal. What I normally do is, to model the basic shapes. Then I put it in a neutral pose and add very simple joints whereever they're needed. After that I "fill" the space with "unnecessary" but still functional looking parts like cables, screws, bolts... etc. BE CAREFUL when doing that. You might end up with something we all know: Stiff legs, stiff arms, stiff fingers....

It cost me some time to rig my robot. Some people have asked me: Did you really rig the whole thing?
Of course I didn't. If you look carefully, you'll notice that most of the cables don't start at one part of the body and end at a different one. Most of them are placed on a single part of the body.. That means, you don't have to deal with them when you animate the whole thing! The more cables you have like that, the better. All the other cables which have to move can be animated with different techniques. I can't describe this closer, that would certainly take too much time. Check out your tutorial CD that comes with the full version of MAX, there are good tutorials on it that describe exactly this problem. Rigging and skinng is a complicated subject and has been handled in many good tutorials so I'm not wasting your time describing this whole issue again.

Chapter 5 - General Tips

Another tip from me is: Before you start with your model, create a simple "skeleton" with cylinders. Have a look at your anatomy-books (if you don't have one yet, get one) and create simple primitives with the correct proportions. The size of your creature, the length of the arms, legs, hands... then model one part after the other and remove those placeholders. That works a lot better than simply starting from scratch.

AND another tip: If you can't figure out how the joints have to be created (and they HAVE to look credible, otherwise your whole model will lack credibility!) go out on the street, look for the next roadworks and examine the machines that you'll most likely find there. Look at their mechanical parts! The hydraulics, the cables, the joints... all this stuff can be imitated. Do it. Don't re-invent it unless you think it's necessary. Use patterns that the viewer is used to. (and don't mind the roadworkers shouting at you)

AND another one: (you heard that one before!): If you can't make it - FAKE IT! There's always more than one way to get to your goal, and quite often it's not the first one you try!

AND another tip: Especially when building something like a detailed robot: Hide all the parts that you're not working on at the moment! So you can easily handle hundreds of thousands of polys without needing an extreme powerful machine.

Group all the parts that belong together! Name them correctly! (My hunter contains appr. 2400 parts - I named all of them (or at least the groups)! What do you think would happen if I had not named them and had to find the left index-finger again?

My final tip and probably the most important one for EVERY 3D-Software: This is something a real professional freelancer from Germany (Johannes Schlˆrb) said (it's stuck to my mind): Your eye determins the realism, not your rendering-software! If it does not look real to your eye it doesn't matter if it's calculated in a "correct" way! Tweak it until it looks real!

OK... that's it! I hope you found some of this "making-of" helpful. And I also hope you're not disappointed because you expected a STEP-by-STEP-Tutorial how to create this whole thing.

Again: If there are any questions left, please send them to my email adress and I'll answer as many of them as I can. Please do understand though that I still have to work and earn some money. And if I don't answer, please be sensitive... do not send it again and again and again.. I'll answer as soon as possible. Oh yes, I'm not going to answer silly questions like "could you please make a nice monster for my sisters bithday" (<--- that was actually a real request!!) or "where can I download
MAX for free?" ... don't even try it.

Thanks for reading!


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