Focus of Tutorial: Create windows on an irregular shaped surface.
Program: Max (however you can use this technique in other applications as well)
Difficulty: Newbie - Moderate - Expert
My goal here is not to create a high-res replica of the interior of a starship, rather it's to simulate this using a few textures and a few polys. It is my hope that you will take this knowledge and expand upon it and use it in your own creations. Additionally this is just one way to insert windows onto a Starship's hull. I hope you find this useful.
I turned on the snap toggle and angle snap toggle for this tutorial in Max. (Just FYI)
1. Create a box in the front view port (Length 100, Width 200, Height 100) that will be used as the inside walls of our virtual interior. The walls will consist of 3 sides - left, back, and right, a floor, and a ceiling. So this means you can delete 1 of the sides all together.
NOTE: Other shapes can be used for the interior walls, for example a half cylinder.
2. To delete the side in 3D Studio Max simply convert your newly created box into an "editable poly" by right click on the object and selecting it from the drop down menu. Now click on the "modify" tab.
3. Now that your box is an editable poly, we will delete a side and refine our shape. I should point out that I'm going to create a room with a slanted exterior wall like you would see on the saucer section of a starship. (I reference "trek" because it's easily referened - this could apply to any space ship). Click on the [+] symbol next to "Editable Poly" and click on "vertex" it should turn yellow.
4. In the left view port select both of the lower vertices of the face that will be deleted. Move these vertices out to create the slanted angle that will match our exterior wall's slope.
5. In the Modify rollout click on "Polygon". Now click on the sloped face or your box and delete it.
You will notice that the **normal of the faces on the inside or your box are not visible. This is because they are facing outward. We need to turn them so they all face inward.
**A normal is a vector that is perpendicular to a surface.
6. Click "ploygon" again from the modifier list to turn the selection off. From the Modifier List drop down select "normal". This will flip the faces of the our 5 sided box. Because this shape will be on the side of our starship (not shown) it won't matter that you can see through them. But you will be able to see the textures applied to the sides when viewing the room through the windows. More on that soon...
7. At this point you could simply place this 5-sided box behind your windows. But I'm going to take a moment to create the exterior slopped surface to better illustrate the effect. For this next section I'm going to
make a line in the left view that will serve as the exterior hull, and then I will cut windows into it, give it some depth, and we'll be ready for the textures.
8. Create a line (like mine or your own) in the left view using a spline.
9. I'm going to refine my line to make it smooth but this step is not required.
10. Because your line will be create at zero.. you'll nee to move it right so that it goes just beyond the right side of your box (in the top viewport). Once moved, from the Modifier List select, "Extrude". I used a value of 340, but this depends on your scale and size of the box for your interior. Use whatever setting you'd like. Because my room will have 3 windows I set the extrude segments to 5 and will use the 3 center segments of that extrusion for my window placement.
11. Now we'll create the window cut outs. These will be simple rectanglur splines with rounded corners created in the right position in the front viewport. My corner Radius is 11 but you don't have to round the corners if you don't want too. You'll note that your orginal placement of the newly created spline is at zero again, so to make things easier and so you can see it.. move it in the left viewport so the spline is beyond the exterior hull surface.
12. Now shift-drag the spline (front viewport) to create the 2nd and 3rd window. Set it to copy and to make two copies. Now we'll attach these two new splines to the orginal. Select the orginal spline window shape and
right-click it and convert it to an "editable Spline". Once done, from the modifier tab, turn on attach, and click on the other two remining splines. This will merge these seperate splines into a single object. Click attach again to turn OFF this function. **I will be creating another set of windows for this tutorial, but you do not have to do this.**
Computer crashed so I had to start over, this is why the hull shape looks alittle different then the previous slide.
13. SAVE YOUR PROJECT.
14. Click on the hull surface we made from the extruded spline. Apply a "normal" modifier to turn the face normals so they face outward. Now, Right-click on this object and convert it to an "editable poly".
15. From the the "Create" tab (top right of screen) click on the "Geometry" icon (sphere). From the dropdown menu select "Compound Objects". With the Hull surface selected, Click on ShapeMerge.
16. Once ShapeMerge is turned on. Click on "Pick Shape" and click on the window splines. Assuming the faces of the hull are turned correctly you should see the shape of the windows cut into the surface of our hull.
Click Pick Shape again to turn it off.
17. Righ-CLick on the hull and convert it into an editable poly. You can also hide and or delete the window spline shapes you used to cut the hull.
18. Once the hull us turned into an editable poly again, click on "Polygon" from the modifier window. The newly cut shapes should highlite. Now you could just delete them, but we're going to use them for a bit to
give your hull alittle depth.
19. With the window faces still selected click "Extrude" (small box to the right of the words). This brings up a window. For this example I used a value of -10. Click Ok.
20. Now simply delete the still-selected faces.
21. You should really start to be able too see where I'm going with this tutorial. Now that our scene is setup properly let's move onto the texturing portion. BTW - for this tutorial I'm not going to texture the
hull or put glass into the scene. I think you can figure that out on your own.
22. Now to create a nice texture for the interior we'll need photoshop or some sort of image editing software. so start that up. We'll come back to max in just a few minutes.
Got my images from: Specification deck A starship Enterprise NX-01
23. Because the texture will usually only be visible in a fleeting moment. It's not important that your image be perfect. Just interesting to create the illusion. I found a sickbay image and simple doubled the width and extended the walls outward.. the black wall will have most of the detailing. I made 4 textures: backwall, sidewalls, floor, and ceiling. (my texture).
24. Now back in max, I think we should refine our box just alittle more to make sure we create what appears to be a seamless walled room. So I'm going to chamfer the back two corners from the open area to give it more
of a rounded shape.
25. Once your done we need to apply our 4 textures (backwall, sidewalls, ceiling, floor). Simply select the face and detach it and then apply a UVW Map to each an apply the textures normally. You will need to probably
tweek the map for the walls.
26. I grouped the room-box and replicated it.. flipped the back wall image.. and placed it by behind my upper window set.. then grabbed the entire structure, group it.. then replicated it a few times to simulate a
series of windows. That about wraps up this tutorial. You can expand on it as you see fit.. add windows, people, small objects..etc. Have fun.
Watch an animated flyby: HERE (300K wmv file).
Article by Aceman
PS: I may update this tutorial as I have more time with alittle tweaks. Please post questions if you have any and I'd be happy to see if I can help you.