Wednesday, 2 January 2013

TUTORIAL - Adding Face tessellation to imported Geometry

I few months ago I posted a tutorial for importing text into 3D max in the most efficient and fluid manner, this has been one of my most popular posts and thought I would follow it up with a little work around for adding face geometry to that imported spline.

Now, I know there are a few plugins out there that can help with this; for example Marius Silaghi's Quad Cap Pro which adds dynamic tessellation to any capped poly object, but if you are working on a shoestring, or you are a simple hobbyist then it may not be feasible for you to purchase these.

This is a slightly tricky but affective workaround to this great plugin.

Let's start by explaining the problem.

Here we have an imported spline.

 From this we can extrude out the spline to create a 3D object.

What if we want to add detail to the front face?

We cannot use any TurboSmooth or Meshsmooth modifiers as the geometry will NOT add the face geometry in properly.

So what are our options?

You can start with a Bevel Modifier, instead of the Extrude Modifier.

This will give you a little extra face geometry, which will then allow you to add a little more detail, if all you want is 3D text, then this should be fine.

Still this is not create real face geometry.

You can then add Quadify Mesh with Extrude or Bevel Modifier, this does give you face geometry but the mesh can be difficult to control and messy when working with any Smooth Modifier or 3rd party sculpting program.

So, how do you get the smooth, clean mesh we are looking for?

We need to start by adding the extrude (or bevel) to our imported spline and add extra segments to the mesh to allow the depth poly's to be almost square.

 Then, we are going to use an advanced feature within the ProBoolean Modifier (located within the compound objects rollout).

So first we need to add another random piece of geometry into the scene but not touching the spline in any way.

Then select the spline (Ford) and choose ProBoolean from your compound objects rollout, and with the default settings in place (namely - Pick Boolean: Move and Operation: Subtraction) click the "start picking" button and select your other random piece of geometry. All being well, the box and your spline's segments should be removed from the object leaving you with your original spline geometry again.

With your ProBoolean selected still, we need to scroll down to the "advanced options" rollout tab in the modifier panel. Under the "Quadrilateral Tessellation" box click "Make Quadrilaterals" and set the "Quad size %" to about 0.4, this should deliver a dense highly detailed quad mesh. The tessellation used in this method allows the spline (now mesh) to be very cleanly subdivided.

Once you are happy with the level of tessellation don't forget to collapse the ProBoolean down to an EditPoly. 

This should allow the mesh to be smoothed using any standard Turbosmooth Modifier, while holding those lines well, and therefore offering a better final mesh to use.

As you can see by this closeup, the edges are now nice and smooth, and the face geometry is clean enough for us to start working with.

I hope this helps! If you want to see a video of this process click here

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