Snowfella

Making of an AK-74M for Ground Branch

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Alrighty, I've got the ok from John to be making this in public and do a running commentary including in progress shots. Call it something along the lines of a development blog to show the different stages one of these models go through.

What I'll be doing is a snapshot of the model after each session and also try to explain alittle about the workflow I use.

I've already got 2 sessions down on the model and will be posting those renders up shortly.

 

Bit of a disclaimer though, keep in mind that I'm rusty after over 2 years worth of a break from modeling and I've never been much of a texture artist. I've generally sent John models with only base textures completed, leaving it up to him to add an appropriate amount of loving wear and tear.

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Update 1

 

Starting to block out the model from scratch, about 1.5 hours worth of work including finding and setting up a reference background.

ak-74m-1.jpg

 

Most of the time spent building up the front of the rifle, with only a basic box made for the lower reciever. Might not look like much but there is methods in this madness (or is that the other way around). Starting out making the cylindrical bits like barrel, flashhider and such gives me a base thickness for the rest of the model. Without proper reference for thickness, be it real world measurements or top/down photos, if I were to start with the reciever I'd truly be guessing how thick to make it. So by starting with making the cylindrical parts, side photos give a perfect reference to their diameter, I can then work my way back and scale new bits to fit in with the barrels diameter.

At this stage no time has been spent removing unseen faces or optimising the mesh.

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Update 2

Another 1.5 hours worth of modeling down. Bad time of year for me to be working in the old computer room, it's got no heating and it's bloody freezing in there!

ak-74m-2.jpg

 

Using the barrel as reference I've started working out the relation of thickness of other parts. Some minor changes around the front of the rifle but mainly worked on stock, reciever, pistol grip and magazine. Stock and reciever are separate meshes as John want's the stock to be folding, still got to figure out how to make the hinge between them work properly.

For now everything is symmetrical, I'll be adding in the non-symmetrical bits as I go along. That way I can work on only one side of the rifle using a symmetry modifier until I get it right, collapse the stack, weld my 2 halves together and start cutting out the different features. As soon as I start getting un-symmetrical pieces added I'll duplicate the render to show both sides.

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@Flogger23m: that's the whole idea mate ;) Least when you are making something that needs to tie in with a real life object. In a way all I'm doing is tracing over a photo just like you would with a lightbox and pen, only difference is it's being done 3 dimensionally.

 

Update 3

 

Another 1.5 odd hours spent, likely be another session spent later on today aswell.

ak-74m-3.jpg

 

Few more bits and pieces made, trigger, trigger guard and mag release. Fixed a few areas on the mag that was out of spec and started detailing up the upper and lower recievers. Still symmetrical but I'll soon have to step away from that in order to cut out the ejection port on the other side of the rifle. I've also got alot of optimisations that need doing as there's cuts running top to bottom on the recievers that really add nothing to the overall shape and cuts that terminate without tying in with the rest of the mesh.

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Not bad for 9 hours or so of work. How much time does it typically take to create an object of this size/detail?

 

As for tracing a lightbox with a pen, that is difficult enough for me!

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9 hours? I know I flunked out of uni maths but atleast the little I learnt pointed towards 1.5x3 adding up to 4.5 ;)

Have to be honest here and say that I can't really remember exactly how long it used to take. I'd guess something along the lines of 10 to 15 hours for the base mesh. Another hour or 2 to get the smoothing right, currently I haven't done any changes to smoothing. Another 5 or 6 hours to map out the whole model for texturing.

Then add on another 12 to 15 hours to create a highpoly mesh for normal maps and a few more hours to extract both normal and lighting maps.

That just leaves the painting of the colour and specular maps plus adding painted details into the normal map.

 

So it's not exactly a quick process, even if I was to do it as a 9-5 job 5 days a week it would still take well over a week to create one model withough textures.

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Thanks. I'm using 3ds Max 9 exclusively for my modeling, 3dsm was the only program supported when I started out modding for Ghost Recon oh so long ago and I've stuck with it ever since. Gone through a few version upgrades since then but I stopped at V9 as it really does everything I need it to do.

 

Put in another hour and a half this afternoon but don't really have anything worth showing as most was spent on the front handguard. Curse the Russians and the designer of the AK74 handguard! :wall: I could model in all the ribs but it's going to eat up to large a portion of my poly limit so I'm going to have to figure out a clever way of combining geometry and normal map to make it look good. Likely take a few attempts before I get the right balance between the 2.

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The first 2 renders was just a skylight with light tracer turned on, in the third render I also tossed in a faint direct spotlight. It's no real idea to start playing with lighting until I have smoothing and a normal map in play.

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Colin   

IT IS GOOD TO SEE YOU BACK AT WORK.

 

It is amazing how something like this makes it`s way into a game and in game acts a looks like the real thing just amazing.

 

Real NICE Snow.

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Biro   

Nice to see you're still going strong Snow. I have no doubt that your modelling skill will be up to date in no time! :) I do have a question though...I know you manually paint (or atleast used to) textures in photoshop. Have you looked into using Mudbox for this yet? I'm not experienced in it myself at all, have only used it for sculpting some terrain, and painting some logs but I have watched some tutorials at youtube and it does seems damn nice for this purpose.

 

Take a look at this M60 texture tutorial, they even set it up for UDK;

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It's nice to be back, especially since about a year back I doubted I still had it in me! Tried starting an airplane model for fun but even with cross section guides I just could not get it right, gave up after a day or 2 of messing everything up!

 

Never tried the mudbox approach to texturing, although I tried another program back in the day that did something similar. Think it was bodypaint 3D if I remember right, never really worked that well though.

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Great work. How many polygons will it be when finished?

 

Just did a version of a G36 and wanted to know if the 12,000 polys was too much. Here's an image of it.

 

 

14loo6w.jpg

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9 hours? I know I flunked out of uni maths but atleast the little I learnt pointed towards 1.5x3 adding up to 4.5 wink.png

Have to be honest here and say that I can't really remember exactly how long it used to take. I'd guess something along the lines of 10 to 15 hours for the base mesh. Another hour or 2 to get the smoothing right, currently I haven't done any changes to smoothing. Another 5 or 6 hours to map out the whole model for texturing.

Then add on another 12 to 15 hours to create a highpoly mesh for normal maps and a few more hours to extract both normal and lighting maps.

That just leaves the painting of the colour and specular maps plus adding painted details into the normal map.

 

So it's not exactly a quick process, even if I was to do it as a 9-5 job 5 days a week it would still take well over a week to create one model withough textures.

 

mother-of-god.jpg

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Great work. How many polygons will it be when finished?

 

Just did a version of a G36 and wanted to know if the 12,000 polys was too much. Here's an image of it.

 

 

14loo6w.jpg

Right on! I was hoping for a G36!!

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12k polys does sound alittle high, is that poly's or tri's btw?

I've been given a max of 8k tri's without any attachments in play in order to make the model handle 1st person view, doubt I'll go that high on this one though as the AK's shapes are pretty uncomplicated. Plus there's so much detail that can be "faked" using the normal map.

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Thanks I will try to reduce.

 

It's made in sketchup so when I import to 3DS Max 12 it says it has both 12,000 polys and tris. Don't really know much about all this.

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Guessing it's already triangulated from the import then. A tri is simply the smallest face available, made up of 3 connected vertices, and is generally what you want to be counting as models tend to be triangulated on export. A polygon on the other hand, as the name suggests, can be made up of any number of vertices connected into a face.

Generally good practice either sticking to quads (4 verts making up one face) or tri's, that way you know how the model will be triangulated on export. Anything else can react weirdly when it gets triangulated and mess with your smoothing.

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