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Chapter 8. Environmental Modeling > Modeling a Ground Plane

Modeling a Ground Plane

Now that the cliff model is done, we have something that we can alter and reuse for other cliffs and mountains in the scene. Before we do that, though, there has to be a ground plane to put these mountainous bodies on. Compared to the cliff, this will be a very quick and easy exercise, especially now that we've established a workflow for using Displacement and Normal mapping.

Open up a new 3ds max 7 scene, and, in the Top viewport, create a Tube primitive with the following dimensions:

  • Radius 1 = 3000

  • Radius 2 = 29000

  • Height = 5000

  • Cap Segments = 11

Next, apply an Edit Poly modifier to the tube. Enter Polygon sub-object mode and marquee-select the whole bottom of the tube in the Front viewport. Then click the Grow button in the Selection rollout several times, until every face is selected except for the top cap segments of the tube. Delete the selected polygons. This leaves us with only the cap segments on the top of the tube (Figure 8.26).

Figure 8.26. Making the valley floor with a modified Tube primitive.

Rename the tube LoRes_valleyfloor. Merge in the LoRes_herocliff model from your previous file or from Landscape_CliffDisplace.max. Move the LoRes_valleyfloor object down so that it intersects just above the bottom edge of the cliff (Figure 8.27).

Figure 8.27. Placing the LoRes_herocliff model in the scene.

Quickly map the LoRes_valleyfloor object by putting a UVW Map modifier on it, with the Mapping type set to Planar and aligned with the Z axis.

Right-click the LoRes_valleyfloor object, and in the bottom right Quad menu, choose Convert To > Convert to Editable Poly.

Right-click the LoRes_valleyfloor object again, and choose Clone from the bottom right Quad menu. Make a copy of the LoRes_valleyfloor object and rename it HiRes_valleyfloor.

Open the Material Editor, go to an empty Material slot, and click the Get Material button. In the Material/Map browser that appears, choose Mtl Library in Browse From and click the Open button in the File section. Find the HiRes_valleyfloor.mat file on the DVD and open it (Figure 8.28).

Figure 8.28. Loading the HiRes_valleyfloor.mat file.

Double-click the HiRes_valleyfloor material to open it in the empty material slot. Apply the HiRes_valleyfloor material to the HiRes_valleyfloor object. Then apply a Displace Mesh (WSM) modifier to the HiRes_valleyfloor object with the following settings:

  • Custom Settings

  • Subdivision Displacement

  • Spatial and Curvature

  • Edge, Distance, Angle = 30, 30, 30

  • Delaunay Subdivision Style

Wait for the displacement to display on the HiRes_valleyfloor model. Once you can see the displacement, go back to the LoRes_valleyfloor model and add some extra edge loops with the Ring and Connect tools, as we did with the cliff. Then raise the geometry on the LoRes_valleyfloor to roughly match the raised displacements on the HiRes_valleyfloor model (Figure 8.29).

Figure 8.29. Adding geometry to the LoRes_valleyfloor model.

Drag the HiRes_valley floor material to an empty slot, and rename it LoRes_valleyfloor. Delete the Mix map from the Displacement map slot of this material, and then apply it to the LoRes_valleyfloor model.

Repeat the same Render To Texture process that we used on the herocliff models to generate Normal maps. Then hide the HiRes_valleyfloor to see how the Normal-mapped LoRes_valleyfloor looks. Open the file Landscape_ValleyFloor.max to see how it compares with your file.

Open Landscape_Terrain.max to see how the cliff has been modified and duplicated to populate the environment.



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