Section 7 (Part 2): Learn 3D Modelling – The Complete Blender Creator (Udemy) Course

Update time! If you have not read my previous blog post, perhaps it is worth checking out first before reading on to understand the work scope for Section 7, Game Asset Pack, in the Blender course I am taking. Recall that I mentioned I will be concentrating on the following assets circled in red:

PlanningYourRoom (focus #1,2,4,6,10)

Most of the assets circled in red are essential and modular meaning that they are necessary and should be able to assemble together like building blocks. This way, when exported to – say a game engine – it will allow the user to quickly construct a room or building of any size with varying levels of lighting aesthetics (i.e. – number and placement of wall torches).

Just as a reminder, I am and have been deviating away from most of the content in the course (I explained why in my previous blog post). In turn, I’m learning that using additional, external resources and tutorials and also experimenting and doing things on your own helps! And now, onto modelling the assets!

Brick Wall (Asset #1; essential + modular)

wall(textured)

For the brick wall (very low-poly, 82 faces), I had initially used a simple plane to map and bake an image texture onto it. I then realized it would be problematic though if the wall was viewed from the side. While it likely would not be viewed from the side since a room is almost always contained entirely by its walls, this was a concern for the room entrance (see Asset #6 below). So, I added a bit more geometry simply by extruding the plane out and then re-mapping the texture. Bear in mind that I do have a high poly version of it with individually-sculpted bricks – ideally used in a rendering of a scene with up-close camera angles/shots rather than a game asset as with this low-poly version.

Cobblestone Floor (Asset #2; essential + modular/tileable)

cobblestone floor

For the cobblestone floor (relatively low-poly, 506 faces), I struggled with this particular asset the most. I had actually re-done it several times and am still thinking of re-doing it differently (I followed pananag’s tutorial for constructing tileable medieval stone floor on YT). This particular asset was tricky for two reasons: 1) individual cobblestones should look round as in the reference picture, 2) it not only needs to be modular/tileable but should also appear seamless when assembled together. For point 1), subdivision surface and/or multiresolution modifiers could easily make the cobblestone appear round, however, this greatly increases the geometry – which for the floor, should be kept low-poly. For point 2), making it tileable without the entire floor looking patterned once assembled together was impossible unless I increased the size of it, but this would make it useless to construct small rooms. Furthermore, since there are two different material types, it was difficult to make it look seamless. Anyone have thoughts/ideas to get around these two issues? I will have my ear to the ground for this – pardon the pun!

Room Entrance (Asset #10; essential + modular)

room+wall entrance

For the room entrance (relatively low-poly, 4343 faces), I started with a simple cube (lol). I scaled the cube by flattening and elongating it. I then sculpted it to resemble a wooden plank (following most of Grant Abbitt’s tutorial for sculpting wood on YT). A second wooden plank was constructed and the two pieces were duplicated and given some variation using proportional editing. All four pieces were then aligned and joined to form the doorframe. I then took the existing brick wall asset (see Asset #1 above) and removed some geometry in the middle to make a doorway. Finally, I joined the wooden doorframe with the wall. Once this high-poly version was completed, a decimate modifier was used to bring down the insanely high poly count.

Wall Torch (Asset #6; essential)

walltorch

For the wall torch (low-poly, 453 faces), I started with a cone for the rigid joint. Two cylinders were used to construct the arms and just simple extrusion and beveling was done to create some of the detail. The internal Blender physics engine in cycles render was lastly used to generate a flame (following Olav3D’s tutorial for creating a quick fire animation on YT). I then added a simple material node setup (glossy BSDF, ColorRamp, and Layer Weight) to generate a chrome-like material for the torch.

Rock (Asset #3)

rock (medium)

For the rock (low-poly, 175 faces), I started off with a metaball, which was immediately converted to a mesh so sculpting could be done on it. Once I had the general shape of the rock as pictured in the reference image, I added a decimate modifier to bring down the high poly count. Using a simple yet ingenious material node setup (following Blender Smoothie’s tutorial on making a rock using built-in textures on YT), a rather realistic look was given to the rock. I won’t show the node setup here as it is massive and you won’t be able to see any of the parameters, but have a look in the linked video if you are interested!

Crate (Asset #4)

crate

For the crate (low-poly, 664 faces), I started off with a cube (of course…). Keeping it entirely a single mesh, I subdivided it several times – just enough to construct the outer housing. I then UV unwrapped and mapped two different textures: one for the inner planks and another for the outer housing. This was the first non-essential asset I had modelled actually (before the rock) in which I didn’t follow any tutorials so I’m pretty proud of how this one turned out. I’m equally excited to do the same with the barrel.

Alas, this is pretty much what I have so far! Here’s a quick prototype scene I put together in a few minutes. This full HD rendering (1024 samples) took approx. 20-25 minutes:

prototype_#2

I will likely be re-doing the cobblestone floor (I think I have some ideas actually…) and continuing to model the rest of the assets (or at least have a general idea to low-detailed versions of them over the next week or so). Hope you enjoyed reading today’s blog post and I look forward to writing the next one as always!

– Taklon

Section 7 (Part 1): Learn 3D Modelling – The Complete Blender Creator (Udemy) Course

Yikes! Has it already been almost an entire month since my last blog post?! Indeed, I’ve been rather busy with other priorities and haven’t had as much free time as I would like for Blender. Nevertheless, I did have some time to continue with The Complete Blender Creator Course and thus started on Section 7, Game Asset Pack. It turns out that Section 7 is by far the lengthiest one in the course, consisting of nearly 11 hours worth of lecture time (by comparison, Sections 5 and 6 were only 5 and 7 hours respectively). Section 7  is also comprised of the most ambitious and demanding project to-date, utilizing nearly all the skills learned previously and then some, along with additional techniques through external tutorials (i.e.- YouTube).

Unfortunately, unlike all the other sections in the course, the content in Section 7 seems to be quite poorly organized. Heck, there was never any mention on what a game asset pack even was to begin with – this was left entirely for the student to research or find out along the way. And while the objective itself was clear, the requirements and specifications for it were rather vague. You see, the goal in Section 7 is to design and construct a room or a building. Here, the instructor used a Gothic church as an example for students to follow along. The issue then presents itself by way in which the course is designed; that is, each lecture presents different “challenges” that the students should complete in order to show an understanding of the lecture material while simultaneously adding progress to their personalized project, but not everyone will be constructing a Gothic church! As a result, most of what the instructor showed simply should not and cannot be followed due to the stark differences in the scope and style of a particular student’s project compared to the instructor’s.

On top of it all, the instructor introduced several ways to help manage a larger project: Version Control (via SourceTree, a free Git GUI software), File Structure and Naming, Level of Detail (LOD), Modular Design, Linking Datablocks and Linking Blend Files. These are all optional but beneficial considerations in larger projects despite the variability in their usage. Although for the sake of keeping this blog post short, I will not delve into how each of the above works. However, I will explain the importance of LOD and Modular Design further below.

Now obviously, with a much larger-scale project, the design and planning phase is absolutely more crucial. Not to mention, there is far more freedom to choose what will be included in the scene. For instance, we were told to come up with a list of at least 10 models or assets for the room or building. After some deliberation, I decided to model one of the stages in an online Japanese 2D Flash MMO game called Puppet Guardian (パペットガーディアン);  here, the room is an underground laboratory within a castle tower:

Section 7 - Planning Your Room

At this point, it became apparent to me that a game asset pack (in Blender) is a specific set of 3D models that can be exported easily to a game engine such as Unity or Unreal Engine. As mentioned earlier, I found there are two useful considerations that the instructor described and demonstrated in his example of a Gothic church: LOD and Modular Design. I have learned that the best way to design and make a game asset pack is to try and start with a low LOD; details may be added later if desired, necessary, and/or possible. Some models, particularly essential assets such as walls or floors, should also be modular. In other words, they should be modelled in a way such that they can be used as building blocks. This way, if exported to a game engine, they can be used to quickly construct large stages, levels, environments, etc.. It was at this point that I decided to poke around and look for external tutorials on YouTube in order to model my first two essential assets: brick walls and cobblestone floor.

First, I modelled a high-poly brick wall via sculpting (click here to see the tutorial I followed along on YouTube). For the purposes of keeping a low-poly count and considering the notion to start with a low LOD, I also constructed a low-poly brick wall through texture mapping and baking; the latter which appears to be something that the instructor teaches much later in Section 7 except I felt there was a need to learn ahead.

highpolybrickwall

lowpolybrickwall

Next, I modelled a low-poly and high-poly modular (tileable) cobblestone floor (click here to see the tutorial I followed on YouTube):

lowandhighpolycobblestonefloor

Still, despite having completed both of these assets, neither are set in stone – pardon the pun; for instance, I may decide to re-design and re-model the floor later. I guess for the next while, I will be be primarily focusing on the essential assets and then moving onto some of the other assets (see below circled in red):

PlanningYourRoom (focus #1,2,4,6,10)

Actually, as a matter of fact, I do have some progress with low LOD modelling for a few of the assets; bear in mind that details still need to be added by increasing geometry (e.g.-subdivision, sculpting, etc..), UV unwrapping, texture mapping and baking, material nodes, and so forth. Nonetheless, here is a quick screenshot of a prototype scene in the Blender 3D viewport (not an actual render):

prototype

No doubt, Section 7 has completely dashed my hopes of completing this course by the end of this month. As such, I will definitely need to set a new deadline. Anyway, thanks for reading as always and I look forward to sharing more of my progress so stay tuned!

– Taklon