For my final project for 3D modelling I was tasked with creating a game asset from internet references, go through the production stages and submit a showcase video of our model. I decided to take this a little step further and design my own model, animate and show it of in a scene wear a character would be able to hold the prop. I will be going over the steps I took to create this model: Plan, Modelling in 3DS Max, UV Mapping, Texturing, Animating, Making it game ready.
When I first started drawing out my sword I had a rough idea of what I wanted it to look like, I knew I wanted a sword that would have more than one use and my first idea was to make the hand guard have an axe tip so the character could also use the sword to punch with and deal damage, similar to a knuckle buster in some ways. While I was drawing out the dimensions I then came up with the idea of making the sword extend into a larger sword for an extra mechanic.
Having the dimensions planned out I used a grid to re draw the sword to scale, for reference images when modelling.
With my reference images setup it was quite easy to model the sword into separate parts, the most challenging part of the model was the pummel. The pummel required a gem of sorts in the centre and a claw shaped holder to hold onto it. At first I tried to model these parts separate, but the poly count required to achieve this was unnecessary, so I tried it again but this time shaping the gem in a way that I could extrude the claws out making it all one piece. This gave a better affect than my first attempt and a poly count I could be pleased with.
Finally I went through the model reducing as many polys as possible and removing as many triangles as possible. With previous experience working in game engines and working with 3D assets, I knew an average model would have around 1000 – 2000 polys, maybe less for a more simplistic model. The guard of the sword took up most of the polys and so I really focused on reducing that as much as possible without loosing quality. Then I went through and adjusted the smoothing properties to give the best effect possible.
With such a low poly count I decided I would then create a Scabbard to go with the blade. I simply created a box then moved it over the sword and cutout were the blade intercepts. shaped it suit the design of the sword, fixed up the poly count and smoothed the edges.
UV Mapping and Texturing
Now it was time to create a UVW for my model and my original plan was to create several materials and apply it to the different parts such as the blade, guard and handle. I thought this might be a good option if I wasn’t making a game asset, so I decided to make one material instead and use different textures to determine how the model behaved and reacted to light.
After texturing the base albedo colour I imported it into the Unity game engine to check how it looked in a different rendering environment. I expected it to look a little bit different as it did but not that much so I continued onto other textures. Having previously worked with assets in Unity I knew I was going to get different affects when working with lights so I decided to do some quick tests with an emission texture. One thing I found is I was not able to create one singular texture and make the model glow with different colours in 3DS. I knew Unity could read colour maps for emission and so I stopped using 3DS max and used Unity to check the output from there on.
I wanted the model to have extra detail but without a drawing tablet I knew I would struggle on creating a normal map. So I turned to the internet for an easy way to create normal maps. Finding a great site that takes the albedo of your model and generates a normal map by reading the darker and lighter points. This was not going to produce the greatest results, but better that not having one at all. The last texture I created was the secular, by taking the albedo and adjusting the brightness of different sections.
- Credit for Normal Map : http://cpetry.github.io/NormalMap-Online/
This was a very simple step in regard to making the animation, I modelled the sword in a way that by extending the sword would not affect the shape of the texture to much visibly. The only issue I faced was getting the animation to work in unity. One thing I was not aware of was that Unity cannot read 3DS Max’s vertex animations without a bone. There was the option to use a plugin that would make this work, but for the sake of doing as much work on my own I went with using bones. Three bones, one for the tip of the blade and the pummel that extends, and one for the rest of the vertexes to keep them in place.
The last thing for me to do was to put this model together in a showcase video, though as this is not apart of the pipeline for creating a 3D game asset I will leave these steps out and end this blog,