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Creating models for 3D games - a few questions

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Hello, I am just a beginner with Blender and 3D software in general, so please bare with me and my stupid questions. I have looked through the forums, and couldn't find a clear enough reply to my question. Well, that's what happen when you are as newbie as me. Anyhow, as you may have guessed, I am following the manual, doing all the tutorials for starting 3D artists, and so on. I am learning Blender because I would like to help a friend create models for a 3D game, using the Panda3D engine. I have some questions concerning the "logic" of creating models for games. 1) Which are the key secrets to create models that look good with low polygon count? From what I read, the secret is mostly in using wisely UV maps and other texturing techniques, am I right? 2) How do you know which is the right size for a model to be used at a later time as a building block of a bigger scene? Like in any other engine, in Panda 3D you have to import models into a sort of basic scene editor - so trees, houses, weapons, critters, everything is a building block. For example, let's say I have to create a table, a house, a landscape - how do I make sure relative sizes are ok? I couldn't find a tutorial or a clear page of the documentation about size of models. 3) How do you choose which is the best texture size to apply on each model? Do you which is the average texture size in games nowadays? Well, that's all I can think of right now... any help in understanding something of all this, would be invaluable!

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Original post by MishaBear
Hello, I am just a beginner with Blender and 3D software in general, so please bare with me and my stupid questions. I have looked through the forums, and couldn't find a clear enough reply to my question. Well, that's what happen when you are as newbie as me.

Anyhow, as you may have guessed, I am following the manual, doing all the tutorials for starting 3D artists, and so on. I am learning Blender because I would like to help a friend create models for a 3D game, using the Panda3D engine. I have some questions concerning the "logic" of creating models for games.

1) Which are the key secrets to create models that look good with low polygon count? From what I read, the secret is mostly in using wisely UV maps and other texturing techniques, am I right?
2) How do you know which is the right size for a model to be used at a later time as a building block of a bigger scene? Like in any other engine, in Panda 3D you have to import models into a sort of basic scene editor - so trees, houses, weapons, critters, everything is a building block. For example, let's say I have to create a table, a house, a landscape - how do I make sure relative sizes are ok? I couldn't find a tutorial or a clear page of the documentation about size of models.
3) How do you choose which is the best texture size to apply on each model? Do you which is the average texture size in games nowadays?

Well, that's all I can think of right now... any help in understanding something of all this, would be invaluable!

1. It takes practise, I can never get it right, I'm no expert.
2. Most 3D programs have a grid that you can turn on that'll measure the models in "units" so you can scale them accordingly
3. Highly dependant on the size of the object, the zoom level and which engine is being used.

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1) Which are the key secrets to create models that look good with low polygon count? From what I read, the secret is mostly in using wisely UV maps and other texturing techniques, am I right?

There's no secret. First, learn the technical stuff to learn how to use the program. Also, learn the artistic stuff so you know what something actually looks like. Then, study existing models for proper topology and edgeflow. The 'key' is alot of practice, its not secret, but its not spoken of enough because its a bit discouraging. Don't even begin to UV Map and texture until you can model well. A good texture isn't going to hide a bad model, a great texture is wasted on a poor model.

Quote:
2) How do you know which is the right size for a model to be used at a later time as a building block of a bigger scene? Like in any other engine, in Panda 3D you have to import models into a sort of basic scene editor - so trees, houses, weapons, critters, everything is a building block. For example, let's say I have to create a table, a house, a landscape - how do I make sure relative sizes are ok? I couldn't find a tutorial or a clear page of the documentation about size of models.

Use your Modeller's standard world units, or feet/inches, or what have you, and keep it consistent. You can also import/reference existing models to check size.

Quote:
3) How do you choose which is the best texture size to apply on each model? Do you which is the average texture size in games nowadays?

Again, this takes alot of observation and experience, but some things to keep in mind:
The closer the object to the camera, the larger the texture space it will need.
Wise use of UVMaps and texture can optimize your texture space. But generally someone who understands textures (an artist) with some experience should make those calls, but he should also understand game performance/memory concerns and know what other games are using. Generally, games are using (some definite, some approximate):
RTW: 256x256
Elder Scrolls: 512x512 per equipment (so about 2048x2048 of texture space per character)
Half Life 2: 1024x512 and up (to 2048x2048 for Alyx and the like, I'd think)
Call of Duty 2: 1024x1024 for bodies, 512? for heads
LotR: BfME: 512x512 and 256x256

Again, to properly size textures you really understand how much, or how little, detail you can fit into a certain texture space, and you need to know the role of that texture.

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