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--This thread includes various links and descriptions for 3d modeling and image editing programs. If you have any suggestions or comments, or even find something you think is a problem, please drop me a PM or reply to the thread.--
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Free E-book various professionals from all over the virtual gaming and entertainment industry contribute to.
http://www.artbypapercut.com/
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Before anything else, here are some terms. (Open spoiler to view).

Spoiler: show
Edge: A line between two points, or vertices.

Vertex: A point defined in space(vertices for plural).

Triangle: A 3 sided flat surface.

Polygon: A flat surface such as a square or octagon made up of triangles.

Quad: A 4 sided polygon, or a square, comprised of two triangles.

Face: A face is a flat surface of a three-dimensional object.

Bone: A pivot point put on a model for animation of geometry.

Rigging: The setup of bones on a 3d model to prepare it for animation.

Polygon Modeling: A technique in 3d modeling where basic shapes are made into complex objects.

Digital Sculpting: 3d modeling that is similar in technique to clay sculpting in real life.

Texture: An image applied to a 3d model, also called a Diffuse Map.

Normal Map: A texture that imitates detail by making a flat surface look more complex than it actually is through shading or distorting certain parts.

Spectral Map: A texture that determines how light will be reflected off of a surface and how bright it will be.

Bake: Baking stands for when you take a highly detailed model, "take a picture" of its surface, and create a Normal Map to use on a lower detailed version of that model.

UV Map: A UV map is how a program applies a texture to your 3d model, like XY co-ordinates.

UVW Map: Similar to a UV map, but adds a W, or XYZ instead of XY.

UVW Unwrap: UVW Unwrapping is a very common technique used to apply a texture to a model.

Topology: The surface and geometry of your 3d model.

Reference Image: A image such as concept art put in the background of a 3d modeling program for a modeler to create the shape of an object proportionally.

Modifier: Some programs have modifiers that you can apply to your model, they do various things like increase the detail of the topology so you can add more detail or smooth the surface of it, among other things.

Shaders: Shaders are computer programs that create shading, or the perception of depth and distance. Modern shaders have many purposes includes affecting or creating lighting, post-processing effects in games, hue, saturation, and colour.

Draw Calls: (very simplified) Draw Calls are when a game loads each resource needed for a 3d scene. It’s important that you know if the same model is used over and over again in a scene, it will run slow due to “calling” on that object model and image multiple times, but if the various models were placed are combined into one big model, it will be much more optimized as it will only have to render it as a whole model with one image, instead of rendering each model individually.

For the best description I’ve encountered on draw calls, I suggest reading this great Q&A from the Unity Community

LOD(Level of Detail): Level of detail is decreasing the complexity of a 3D object and/or its texture as it moves away from the viewer to improve performance. Using level of detail increases efficiency by decreasing the workload.

Particles: For particles I suggest reading this great article from www.pxleyes.com

Smoothing Groups: Smoothing groups are what determines if the surface of an object is hard or smoothed and there is usually more than 1 smoothing group on an object for different surfaces on the model.


--Basic description of each program and what it does essentially--

I won’t waste anyone’s time with expensive software (up to 4000$+) so I’ve split the programs into two different categories, Free and Bought. (Almost every bought program has a trial if you want to try them out though, and the Autodesk products all have educational versions for college students.)

FREE
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Blender
A free 3d modeling software with wide community support, used by many indie studios for its low cost of FREE, abundant features, and ease of use. (Apparently Arcitecht uses it along with Zbrush and 3D-Coat.)
Blender Link


Sketchup
Formerly known as Google Sketchup, Sketchup is an intuitive modeling software that is well known for its ease of use.
Sketchup Link


Sculptris
“Sculptris is an elegant, powerful and yet easy to use 3D sculpting software.”
Sculptris Link


GMax
GMax is a free modeling program derived off of much earlier versions of 3ds Max.
GMax Link


Milkshape 3D
"MilkShape 3D is a low-polygon modeler, which was initially designed for use with Half-Life. By and by many file formats and features have been added. "
Milkshape 3D

Wings 3D
"Wings 3D is an advanced subdivision modeler that is both powerful and easy to use."
Wings 3D
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BOUGHT
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Mudbox
Mudbox is a digital sculpting software developed by the software company Autodesk.
Mudbox Link
Full capability 30 day trial - Educational Version for certain college students - $795

3ds Max
3ds Max is a modeling software developed by Autodesk, it comes it two versions, 3ds Max(For games and entertainment) and 3ds Max Design(More suited for architects).
3ds Max Link
Full capability 30 day trial - Educational Version for certain college students - $3,675

Maya
Maya is also a modeling software developed by Autodesk, the difference being it's designed with a focus on organic modeling in mind, such as people or plants.
Maya Link
Full capability 30 day trial - Educational Version for certain college students - $3,675

MotionBuilder
A software by Autodesk that is used to create interpolated and smooth animations for character models.
MotionBuilder Link
Full capability 30 day trial - Educational Version for certain college students - $4,195

Zbrush
Zbrush is a digital sculpting and painting program that utilizes “powerful features and intuitive workflows”.
Zbrush Link
$699

3D-Coat
“3D-Coat is the one application that has all the tools you need to take your 3D idea from a block of digital clay all the way to a production ready, fully textured organic or hard surface model.”
3D-Coat Link
Has a trial- Currently discounted versions until July 1st, 2013

TopoGun
"TopoGun is a stand-alone resurfacing and maps baking application."
TopoGun Link
Very limited trial for evaluating the product- $100
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Polygon estimates for models in TDL
While these are the general guidelines, keep in mind a model could be much less than 1000 while still looking great, and smaller items such as soda cans, bags of chips, batteries, etc. should definitely be less than 1000 polygons.

Level Of Detail Guidelines:

High Detail (first person/close up): 1000 polys
LOD 1(three feet or less): 800 polys
LOD 2(mid-ranged): 400 polys
LOD 3(Far Away): 200 polys
LOD 4(Very far away): 50 polys.

Goal: Maintain silhouette.

Also, if you want to post models for TDL in the survivor creations section, be sure to include the polygon count, pictures of the wireframe, and the normal view of the model in all of its glory.
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Below are (in this order) free programs for creating textures or manipulating images for your model, free game engines how your model performs can be viewed, and finally general tutorial websites and specific tutorials.

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Image Manipulation Softwares

xNormal
xNormal is a free program that bakes all the maps needed, normal maps, spectral maps, ect. The cool part is, it can bake textures from your high poly model, and apply them to your low poly model, which helps if you don't have a program like Zbrush or Topogun.
xNormal Link


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Gimp: http://getgimp.com/
Gimp has most of the capabilities Photoshop has, but is a free software. While Gimp may look daunting at first, it is actually easy to use when you become used to it.


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Paint.Net: http://www.getpaint.net/
Basically an advanced Windows Paint with much more capability and backbone. This could be used hand in hand with gimp for photo touch-ups.


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A few links of publicly available game engines to see how a model will perform in a game engine.

Unreal Development Kit

CryEngine 3

Unity

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Tutorials

GENERAL
http://www.polycount.com
http://www.3dmotive.com/
http://www.3dtotal.com/index.php
http://eat3d.com
http://www.justmakegames.com/
http://www.cgrats.com/
http://www.free3dtutorials.com/
Youtube can be your best friend, use it.


SPECIFIC
--Sketchup--
The best sketchup tutorial out there for games I have seen, the principals shown are pretty awesome for making quality optimized models in sketchup.

3ds Max but applicable to everything for modeling guns- Credit to xxswatelitexx for finding
Arenovalis’ Tutorial Series
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3ds Max, 3ds Max Design, Mudbox, Maya, and MotionBuilder

Are these all to be used together or only one for everything?
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TAZ6804 wrote:
3ds Max, 3ds Max Design, Mudbox, Maya, and MotionBuilder

Are these all to be used together or only one for everything?

Usually you'd choose 3ds Max or Maya, Mudbox and MotionBuilder are more specialized and would most likely be used alongside the others. But they all support importing and exporting that would allow you to work with all four together if you wanted.
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Thank you so much for this!
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For extreme detail on such things as pre-rendered cut-scenes you may want to have a look at mudbox also; it too is by autodesk.

of the programs here, 3ds max is an all round program which has a bit of everything included, perfect if you aren't specifying too greatly.

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Is there anything better you would suggest just for simple 3d modelling for weapons ?
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TAZ6804 wrote:
3ds Max, 3ds Max Design, Mudbox, Maya, and MotionBuilder

Are these all to be used together or only one for everything?

You will probably start out using one main program, but over time will develop a workflow using aspects of each, whatever suits you best. For example, I am big on sculpting so I use zBrush for high poly and some texturing, 3d-coat for retopology, UVs and more texturing, and blender if I need to create a mesh to sculpt off of.

http://3d-coat.com/
Check out 3d-Coat. Its a pretty cool, underrated piece of software.
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maya represent here :P
for zbrush starter tutorials i recomend this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6-hRle7SpyA as a starter, helped me out the other day.

TAZ6804 wrote:
Is there anything better you would suggest just for simple 3d modelling for weapons ?

Arent really any program that is made for any specific models what ive heard, you can do all of it in the major programs.
Although i have heard 3ds max being a little more model friendly than maya. But you can do weapons in both (and blender to for that sake). You just need to find the right tutorials and not try to build a transformers the first thing you do :P
i would be thankfull if someone could pm me when avatars are back online

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Arcitecht wrote:
http://3d-coat.com/
Check out 3d-Coat. Its a pretty cool, underrated piece of software.


Ill add that to the list, it looks quite useful!

And as for the differences between the programs, there are many different aspects to make a 3d model.

3ds Max, Blender, ect. are usually used for making the base model or (of little relation to a base model) a hard faced model(A model that has many hard angles(like a box) to export to Zbrush, Mudbox, ect.

Mudbox and Zbrush are sculpting programs, base models are imported which are usually used for organic models such as a persons head or body. (Zbrush has a more Dynamic range of capabilities than Mudbox from what I have seen though.)

MotionBuilder is used for easily animating a object.

Now while you could get all these fancy programs for different things, you can actually Do everything with a combo of, say, Blender and Zbrush. In example, base model in blender, export to Zbrush, export back to blender, UV map it, export back to Zbrush, texturize, export texture file and photoshop(or watevs), export back in and apply, export back to blender, animate and rig the model, add collision boxes, then export to a game engine or your local programmer.

You export to a programmer because the animations need to be scripted and snug with the engine.
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http://www.topogun.com

Topogun, very useful for retopologizing high poly models.
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Thanks for that mate, ill be sure to add it!
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just a little correction, the video i linked wich is a zbrush startup vid. You put it under mudbox tutorial when it should be zbrush tutorial :P
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Thanks for telling me
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I think GMax should also be mentioned as its a free version of 3Ds Max.
http://www.turbosquid.com/gmax

It also has an Open EULA that allows you to export md3 files to games.

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But otherwise its a great post
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xxswatelitexx wrote:
I think GMax should also be mentioned as its a free version of 3Ds Max.
http://www.turbosquid.com/gmax

It also has an Open EULA that allows you to export md3 files to games.

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But otherwise its a great post


Oh no, someone found GMax. I'll add it anyway since you asked, and toss Milkshape 3d in as-well.

And thanks!
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Really nice post!
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Cnaff wrote:
Really nice post!


Thanks, I hope it was helpful.
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