Wednesday, February 28, 2018

54. Monster Truck Basic Modeling Process

       Welcome to my next blog post where I share a basic insight into creating models for my game projects. For the vehicles, I attended car shows to gather references to model from. I took pictures of the front, back, sides and top of the vehicle to help with the modeling process. There are many ways I approach this and often I try different methods. This blog post simply illustrates the basic workflow I follow. The first part is to block out the 3d model. This step is about keeping the geometry simple and getting the proportions and shapes right. I often start this in sketchup to keep everything low-poly and simple. I normally don't model the vehicle in its entirety. I model individual components of the vehicle separately to be assembled later. For example, I will model the chassis, wheels, suspension, seat, and engine separately and then import the models to into one scene to configure the vehicle. Below is a screenshot of the final assembly. 

Final Assembly
       I use Sketchup for this to keep everything low-poly and pretty basic. Once the assembly is complete, I export the model as a .3ds file to later be imported in 3D Studio Max. After touching up the model in 3ds Max, I export the model as a .fbx file and import it into Autodesk Maya. I am aware that Sketchup can export .fbx file types. I've encountered issues when I import an .fbx file exported from Sketchup such as missing faces and gaps in the models' geometry. I've found ways to fix most of them however, when exported as a .3ds file from Sketchup, all of the detail, textures and geometry is retained with no issues for the most part.

SketchUp Feature Request: Customizable Navigation
       First, I’d like to say that SketchUp is an amazing application. I would like to suggest a feature that would make not only my work in SketchUp more enjoyable, but others as well. Like myself, there are many who use other 3D software alongside SketchUp. What it SketchUp offered options to suit users’ preferences that allow them to customize their navigation controls? What if the user could click on settings and assign different keys or a combination for changing the navigation controls. We’ve seen this feature work well in videogames. Allowing the user to somehow emulate the controls of their favorite 3D App would enhance their experience in SketchUp because it would be more pleasant and consistent when going back and forth between programs. For example, I am an Autodesk Maya user for the most part as it’s the modeling program I am most familiar with. I am use to holding down the ‘alt’ key, then dragging the left mouse button to rotate, the middle mouse to pan and the right button to zoom. As much as I enjoy using SketchUp, often times I forget that everything is different and find myself spending a few extra minutes trying to adjust.

For example:

Alt + Hold-Left-Mouse = orbit view
Alt + Hold-Right-Mouse + Drag Right = zoom view in
Alt + Hold-Right-Mouse + Drag Left = zoom view out
Alt + Hold-Middle-Mouse = pan view

Hold-Middle-Mouse = orbit view
Roll-Mouse-Wheel = zoom view in/out
Shift + Hold-Middle-Mouse = pan view

       I often start out modeling SketchUp since it has the ability to do a number of things much faster than Maya, but because the navigation and tool hotkeys are so different from one another, I stumble over my old habits trying to use them more so. Wings 3D for instance lets you set a preference as to how the navigation works, and better yet it has a drop down list of 3D apps that you can emulate. Many users feel at home when they enter Wings right because they instantly know how to get around. If SketchUp allowed the user to assign the mouse buttons along with the modifier keys to navigational functions then you could make SketchUp navigate the way you want instead of being forced to learn a new system or have to adjust to it all of a sudden after spending a few hours in a different program. In short, to have user’s 3D navigation muscle memory they’ve built up by a different program to be supported would supplement very well. Anyway, I just figured a feature like this would help many 3D users out there besides me adapt more easily to the way SketchUp works.

       I often go back and model different components of the vehicle separately and add them back in such as the engine and the springs. 

Textures Turned Off




  1. hey any chance i can get the final model by chance, id like to put it into a video game :)

    1. Hello Dan, first my apologies for replying back so late. This particular monster truck model is not free however I am currently working on a couple of monster truck models that will be free to download. I should have them ready sometime next week. I will post a link in the comments.