Sunday, 8 May 2011

Crazy golf- building the scene (part 1)

For a while now, I've been steadily putting my newfound skills with Maya into action with the construction of the set and assets for my animation. Since a lot of work will ultimately have gone into this process, I have decided to post my progress in stages- I know that if I leave it all until the end, it will be overwhelming to say the least!

Scale is very important. The assets for my animation such as the golf ball and club, for example, must be correctly sized when compared to the course itself. For this reason, I have paid particular attention to the grid when modelling, switching constantly between centimetre and metre units to ensure everything is in proportion. I always find it easier to work on the setting first and consider the objects in relation to it, so my first decision was to make the basic course path.

As per my designs, the astroturf is surrounded by a row of bricks, so, my first task was nice and simple- a brick. Beginning with a cube, I used the scale and move tools to elongate the shape, paying attention to the side lengths for accuracy.

After judging from my designs how long the hole should be in metres, I used the cmd+D duplicate shortcut to copy the brick, and then moved the duplicate in-line (leaving a small space for the mortar between the bricks). This is where a great little trick came in. After having duplicated an object with cmd+D, holding shift+D then automatically continues duplicating, placing each brick in a perfect line with the same spacing I chose previously. This feature enabled me to quickly create a row of bricks.

Soon enough, the brick outline for my golf hole was taking form. I was careful with the scale when coming to a right angle, to ensure I did not end up with any weird half-bricks on the corner- though this did require me to slightly adjust the width of the path. Not a problem, of course! 

The tricky part was the arc at the end of the hole. To ensure the bricks formed a proper circular curve, I placed a temporary sphere into the scene and positioned the bricks around it. I did find that using the cmd+D/ shift+D feature actually copied the duplicate's rotation too, and so I could simply press shift+D and let Maya continue the curve perfectly. This was problematic however as the slightest angular difference determined whether the bricks followed a circular or more oval path. Suffice it to say, this part was a trial and error process.

Eventually, the series of bricks was complete, less one crucial thing; the mortar between them. Since objects in Maya can intersect one another without issue, I decided to create the mortar as a constant block, running through the bricks, that would be visible in the gaps between them.

Making sure to keep the mortar slightly narrower than the bricks, I made use of the 'cut faces tool' to add perfect 45-degree angles at the corners. Using the move tool, I could easily move the vertices to continue the mortar in a different direction.

The bricks with mortar can be seen below. Of course, without textures, it is difficult to really see the difference. Many of the textures seen from this point on are simply placeholders, ones that I added at the time to better see what was going on. For a detailed look at my final textures and bump maps, check out my previous post here!

With the brickwork out of the way, I moved on to the floor- consisting of one huge plane! The shape will undoubtedly be altered in the near future to provide some interesting scenery, but for now it is function over form, something to simply tell where the floor will be and judge the positioning of other assets by. 

Adding the astroturf matting was actually a relatively easy and rewarding process, as finally the hole began to take form. It started as a cube, scaled down to become flat. For the initial length of mat, I was able to scale the shape lengthways. This would not work for those right angles though. 

Wherever the mat needed to go around a corner, I made use of the 'Insert edge loop tool' feature to add a series of edges, in line with the corresponding set of bricks. The extrude tool then enabled me to pull out the sides far enough to cover the space. This process was repeated until the entire hole was covered.

A series of edge loops created plenty of vertices to manipulate when it came to that arc, which were quickly moved into position to follow the curve of the brickwork. 

With the basic shape of the hole now defined, I moved on to the smaller, albeit just as important, details. The golf hole was interesting as it allowed me to make use of Boolean operators within Maya. I should note that before modelling the hole, I found through quick research that a golf hole must be 4.25" wide, and at least 4" deep- a perfect opportunity to set the grid to inches, then! 

I created a cylinder, 4.25" (well, as close as possible) wide, and set this into the floor where I needed the hole to be. Using the Boolean 'difference' under the 'Mesh' menu, it is possible to subtract one object's material from another. For example, placing the cylinder through the floor and selecting it and the mat, enabled me to remove all material within the cylinder- making a perfect hole in the mat.

Now for the best part! The plane beneath the mat also needed a hole, and so I repeated the Boolean process- but this time, instead of cutting out a hole completely, the plane formed a cylindrical pocket around where the cylinder had been. I now had my golf hole!

The next few stages were relatively straight forward. As opposed to the hole having a completely flat bottom, I knew that I wanted a shallow 'bowl' shape. I added two sets of edges to the bottom with the interactive split tool, then used the move tool to pull them downwards, creating the desired shape. Next, for the drainage holes lining the base, selecting the faces and using the extrude tool to pull them downwards was all that it took. Lastly, I changed the material on the inside faces to something resembling white plastic.

As you can see below, the finished hole coupled with updated textures is certainly looking more like a crazy golf course! 

The last element I shall cover in this post is the blue foam mat at the beginning of the course. Again very simply, this began as a flattened cube just like the astroturf. I assigned a suitable colour and texture, creating an appropriately worn surface, before making the small holes using the difference Boolean as per the golf hole previously.  

That's it for now! I will add part two soon so keep checking back to see my progress!

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