Double Decker Bus Progress

In response to my response to a Polycount thread looking for freelancers, I was sent an art test using this bus, the AEC Regent III:

I was given a budget of one 1024×1024 Diffuse Map and 1000 Quads (not, as you might expect, Tris, an oddity recently confirmed by my contact at the company).

I’ve been working mostly on a Hi-Res which will be used to bake an AO map that will hopefully capture much of the detail I want. This is my first attempt at such a low-res asset, so I’ll be learning as I go.

Beginning of the first pass Hi-Res.

Further detailing.

Beginning to form the ridges.

The point when I originally called the Hi-Res “done” to get started on reducing down to my poly limit.

Beginning to reduce, I think I was at 1,700-something Tris when I pulled these screenshots, and that was before I got the clarification from my contact that my goal wasn’t 1,000 Tris, but 1,000 Quads.

Finalized 1,000-Tri model and UVs, right before I got my clarification on target polycount.

This was also about the time I started getting serious crit about the quality of my Hi-res; however, it seemed to be centered on detail, not technique, so I attempted to fix up the details.

After attempting to round everything out with a few more bevels, resistance kept growing among my criticizers. My Hi-Res was limited by the fact that I wasn’t taking advantage of smoothing tools. I’d always had difficulty handling round shapes in 3D, but never figured out just how much of an Achilles Heel it was until a couple helpful Polycounters suggested it and threw a couple subdivision modeling tutorials my way*.

As much as I was, understandably resistant to the idea that everything I knew was wrong, I was eventually convinced to give it a try, and it’s certainly helped with my issues. It’s not exactly quick-going, but I’m still new to this workflow; ideally, once I build up some subD instincts, I’ll get much quicker, and probably less hung up on little details than I was in the past. I don’t even want to think about how much time I’ve wasted throwing tiny little bevels into Hi-Res models by trial and error to get something round, or trying to tweak a shape that I’ve already made “round enough” but is suddenly in the wrong place.

Now, I’m finally getting close to the point where I can start adding back in the same level of detail I had on my old “Hi-Res”, but with smoothing so that my ridges are actually round and you can’t count the number of bevels on my rounded corners.

Adding in more details. Windows are mostly roughed in, but since I haven’t finalized the geometry behind them (i.e.extruded it in). Started to place some of the other details like the grille, the vents, the headlights and the doors.

Modeled out the lower panels, started adding little details like the mirrors, fuel tank, license plate. Finally bit the bullet and carved out the hollows for the main lower windows so they can actually sit correctly.

Wheels still need work. Upper half still needs a lot of love (placing the windows properly, figuring out panels etc.) The main body still needs to be recombined (or at least have everything line up properly to get rid of gaps). Little details like the lights need polish, and the headlights aren’t really attached yet.

Painstakingly cut out the geometry behind the windows and little gaps in the panels like the fuel cap, license plate and… thing that looks sorta like a foostep… I don’t know, but it’s in all the reference. Hopefully this’ll get easier as I get more used to subdivision work. I’ve been at this way, way too long, so I think I’m probably going to need to start the low-res, if not because the hi-res is “done”, then at least because I’ll probably go insane/procrastinate more if I have to putz anymore with the little details of the hi-res.

Went back in and remodeled the wheel wells and tires. Hopefully they’re less bubbly now. I don’t know why, but for some reason I had started with a cube on those wheel wells instead of the infinitely more straightforward option of a cylinder. Started re-tweaking some of the smaller details like the curved bit in front of the left-side windows. It needed more detail and the curve was all wonky.

Added the ridges. Troubleshooting the “bubbliness” around the upper windows. Tweaked some of the other curves that weren’t curvy enough for my tastes.Attempted to work around some scaling issues (specifically, the top is too wide because of the position of the windows and the ridges).

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*On the off-chance that I’m not the last one jumping onto the Subdivision modeling bandwagon, here are the two tutorials I used to help make the transition less painful:

Don Ott’s intro to Subdivision modeling

Racer 255’s tutorial

Both kinda assume that you’re familiar with your modeling program of choice, and they’re both Max-oriented, so hopefully you’re either familiar with Max or familiar enough with 3D’s concepts that you can relate them back to your package of choice.

I’ve also found it helpful, if a particular shape is giving me trouble, to build a simplified version out of a cube with some extrudes and use that to figure out where my control edges should go. It’s a lot quicker than using trial and error on the whole mesh, and in a couple spots (like the windows), it’s led to meshes that I can just integrate wholesale into the model itself or replace the old problem geometry with. It’s also very helpful to work in small chunks and stitch it together only when you absolutely need to.

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